Lagoon 46 Review by Phil Ross

LAGOON’S 450 WAS A WINNER WITH CRUISERS. IS IT A GOOD MOVE TO RETHINK THE CLASSIC?

SPACE is a luxury on a yacht, which is one of the reasons why multihulls are so popular. Put two hulls together you naturally have more space. From that starting point, factors designers work on when designing a new catamaran include: enhance the usage of space and make the ride smooth and safe. Lagoon’s previous design in this range was the popular 450, which sold over 900 units. An impressive statistic, so why update on a best seller? Probably because when you can get the design team from VPLP to take a look at it, then you are assured of making it even better.

The result is the Lagoon 46.

JUST THE FACTS

Even though it is only 380 millimetres longer on the waterline it is what VPLP have done with that extra that is the eye-opener. Not just in the internal space either, the rig has been significantly enhanced to make this ride better in speed, comfort and safety. Working from its 30 years of experience in designing both racing and cruising yachts of all shapes and hulls, the biggest change VPLP have initiated is the moving of the mast aft. The mast is now placed at the halfway point from stem to stern, most other designs have it around 40 per cent.

The direct result is a reduced boom length countered with a two metre taller mast. The end effect is an increased efficiency with the increased mainsail aspect ratio, but easier mainsail handling. Other benefits include a larger headsail for more foretriangle options, along with a self-tacking working genoa. Plus, now the pointing ability is increased with the headsail able to be drawn in closer to the centreline and not blocked by the rig. While the larger foretriangle also allows for a substantial screecher for some easy, fast downwind cruising. Total sail area is increased by eleven square metres over the previous 450, with no downside in handling ability. In fact, having the mast centred, reduces pitching markedly. VPLP may have designed the hull shape, but the exterior look was handled by a team led by a former car designer for Renault. Such is the expertise yacht builders are pulling
in nowadays.

“I FEEL IT IS A SIGNIFICANT PUSH TO INCREASE THE SAILING CAPABILITY WITH THE USE OF SUCH A NOTED DESIGNER,.”

So the bows are slightly angled forward to allow for maximum forward buoyancy and the stern topsides run almost to the end of the hull. The sugar scoops are generous due to the width of the hulls. A chine is more noticeable at the bows and sunken rectangular portholes in the topsides help to break up the visual look of what is usually seen as a catamaran’s worst feature.

A flat-topped cabin top is broken up with the dark vertical windows running around the three sides and the aft deck bimini cantilevers off the back of the roof, reducing the visual impact of the flybridge steering station.

Despite both hull length and beam being around five percent bigger than the 450, Lagoon’s designers say the displacement of the new 46 is actually two per cent lighter. There has been a change in construction method at Lagoon, previously the hulls below the waterline were solid fibreglass, but now they have incorporated infused polyester with balsa core for the entire hull, above and below the waterline. Plus the redesigned hulls are wider and fuller providing increased buoyancy. This model is still quite heavy in its class but, with the increase in sail area, its sail area to displacement ratio is not far behind the more racier catamarans on the market. It is the configuration of the sail plan that ensures the yacht remains easy to sail. So, how well does it sail?

ON THE WATER

We hit Pittwater on a nice December afternoon, the breeze never really getting above 15 knots. From the flybridge steering station the view is expansive. Having the mast so close is, at first, a minor distraction but one that you get used to. I am not a big fan of the raised flybridge to steer a yacht; for me, I lose a lot of ‘feel’ being that remote from the water plus the control lines have to travel such a long distance to the rudders. However, maybe it is the larger sail plan or closeness to the foretriangle sail area, a lot of such apprehension was minimised with the Lagoon 46. At only 46 feet this is the first Lagoon of this size to have access to the flybridge from either side and directly from the cockpit. Another benefit of the increased beam.

“THE RIG HAS BEEN SIGNIFICANTLY ENHANCED TO MAKE THIS RIDE BETTER IN SPEED, COMFORT AND SAFETY.”

Controlling the yacht is easy with all the control lines at such proximity, this includes the screecher lines. Plus the flybridge includes a massive sunbed, roomy enough to have crew lounging around to assist if need be, rather than having to call downstairs for assistance. The first thing to check out, whenever taking a catamaran for a spin, is its ability to tack through head to wind. For the Lagoon 46, this is the added bonus of moving the mast aft. Sitting that weight over the centre of gravity of the hulls and increasing the size of the foretriangle means it spins easier and has more forward sail area to provide the power.

Having such a large headsail and being able to bring it close to the centreline means the Lagoon can point closer to the wind than is usual in a catamaran. We had just seven knot zephyrs passing through Pittwater but we maintained four knots of speed pointing up to 45° off apparent wind angle. The weight of the yacht kept our momentum going when the gusts passed. Crack the sheets and, of course, off she goes. Basically picking up an extra knot in boat speed with every knot of wind speed when beam reaching. Given this yacht’s pedigree of designers and builders it would be interesting to take it out on the open ocean and clock up some sea miles in a good breeze.

LOUNGE LIZARD

But let us get right down to it. A catamaran provides relaxation-central and can live or die on the comfort it can provide its inhabitants. Lagoon, along with its long-standing partnership with Nauta Design, does not disappoint. As mentioned the flybridge has a massive sunbed behind the steering station and both can be covered with a fold-back bimini or, as our test yacht was, with a solid composite bimini. Behind the foredeck trampoline some storage space has been forsaken to include another U-shaped lounging nook. These lounges do lift up to provide plenty of storage space underneath. Two of these can house extra tankage and an optional generator; or all manner of cruising gear: outboard motors, inflatables, etc. A handy table at the front of the seating area, neatly covers the anchor windlass.

Lagoon 46
Lagoon 46

The aft deck is covered by the solid bimini holding the flybridge lounge area, it has deep rain wells running all round, which also provide good hand holds. This space is ten steps across, showing how much space you can fit into a 46 foot catamaran, especially with the steering station upstairs. The engines are accessed via the aft-deck hatches just forward of the sugar scoop sterns. There is plenty of engine room space here for servicing. The propellers are set behind the rudders reducing shudder. These wide hulls give a great bathing platform on the hull transoms. The new style of Harken flat winches are here to control the traveller out of the way on top of the bimini plus the davit ropes to raise the dinghy out of the water. There is seating galore here: a long transom bench; a fold-out table that will go from serving four people to a full dinner for eight. There is a movable bench seat that can be manoeuvred depending on how you set up the table. Benchtops are matched to the indoor galley and this review yacht had a fish holding tank and outdoor fridge. Under all the seating was more storage.

Access to the indoor galley is via opening windows and a benchtop to serve from. The galley has a large sink to match the outdoor and our review yacht had a three refrigerator/freezer set up ready for long trips. A three burner cook top, microwave and oven filled out the rest along with plenty of large and small storage spaces. The mast compression post sits awkwardly in the middle of the saloon cabin but is close to the main dining table aft seating bench so does not impose itself too much; as well as providing a handy hand hold in rougher seas when crossing the cabin. The port side forward corner houses a dedicated navigation station, which is good to see for my thinking. This is a good space with plenty of room and all the necessary instruments to hand.

Lagoon 46
Lagoon 46

SLEEPY HOLLOW

just aft of the nav station is the steps into the port hull, here are twin cabins, fore and aft. Down here it is obvious the result of VPLP’s work on increasing the hull sizes, in fact Lagoon claim there is a 16% increase on average across all living areas. Each bed is a double with walk around space for easy side entry, which is unique for a vessel of this size. Both cabins has its own ensuite centrally located in the hull for less rock and roll. The elbow room in this space is suitable. Both cabins have plenty of hatches to either vent or crosswind aerate. Head room is excellent at around two metres throughout. The steps to the starboard owner’s hull lead to a large home away from home. The bed aft is a walk around queen size thanks once again to the wide hulls and chine. The head cabin is just forward of the centre and is the same as the port hull’s heads. But the difference is this head does not include the shower like the port hulls.

For the owner’s hull cabin, the shower area is a separate cabin in the forward part of the hull. It is a massive area with plenty of width and length, which includes a long bench and sink for really spreading your toiletries out. Once again there is plenty of ventilation and light throughout this hull thanks due to the topside portholes. A desk sits just forward of the double berth aft. This latest Lagoon is a departure from the norm for this builder. I feel it is a significant push to increase the sailing capability with the use of such a noted designer, over the social lifestyle aspect that catamarans traditionally cater. It must be assumed such a world leader in multihull construction has seen the market shift towards this aspect and, with the first iteration here with the Lagoon 46, they have hit the water running. The Australian agency is The Multihull Group (TMG) an award-winning importer with Lagoon catamarans in the region. The team can arrange for European or local delivery catering for each owner’s preference. Check the specs box for the website. ≈

Lagoon 46 stock