34 years on from the original Lagoon 55, the new iteration shows how much catamaran design has evolved towards loft living with a sea view from the terrace. François Tregouet reports
The number 55 holds a special place in the history of Lagoon – it was its inaugural model, launched back in 1987. The 2021 version of the Lagoon 55, still designed by VPLP, is the quintessential modern cruising catamaran according to the world leader in the multihull market. Yachting World was able to hop aboard to measure just how far we’ve come from one millennium to the next.
Legend has it that the first Lagoon 55 was christened Lagoon, and that her owner drew the logo, the now famous palm frond, on a restaurant tablecloth.
After years of sailing on the family’s First 456, she wanted to ‘sail flat and have more space’. Convinced of the advantages of the catamaran, she wanted the silhouette to ‘resemble that of a monohull’.
Thirty-four years later, three design studios were involved in the creation of the brand-new Lagoon 55, including former Renault chief designer Patrick Le Quément on the exterior design. The imposing topsides deliver taut lines, sculpted bows and a pronounced lower chine to maximise interior living space yet minimise wetted surface area.
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A new feature from the Bordeaux-based yard is that the sugarscoop transoms extend beyond the topsides to make access to the boat easier. Once aboard, two steps lead up to the cockpit which is flush-decked with the aft platform. With the mainsheet track now on the bimini the aft beam disappears, freeing up the view and your options for moving around: this is a real terrace on the sea.
Such fluidity of circulation is also to be found in the forward cockpit, no longer ‘dug’ into the foredeck but integrated seamlessly on the same level as the trampoline. With its comfortable seating, two options for sun protection and communication with the interior via the opening front window, this is a completely revised living space.
Higher up, it seems there’s now no longer a question of whether to have a flybridge on a 55ft cat – it’s a mandatory feature. The optional rigid bimini obviously means the boom is quite a lot higher, compelling the crew to undertake some challenging manoeuvres.
A second access to the flybridge on the starboard side deck, an option not fitted on our test boat, will avoid the need for any further acrobatics. Without it, it’s a long way from the helm to the foredeck via the aft cockpit to, for example, set the Code 0.
These couple of reservations aside, the flybridge has a lot going for it. In addition to the forward and aft sunbathing areas and the outdoor galley, the forward-facing flybridge table and seating is very pleasant – in good weather and moderate wind anyway.
From their position to starboard, the person at the helm has a very good 270° view for manoeuvring off the pontoon and leaving harbour. At the foot of the mast, which has been moved aft in keeping with current trends, all sailing manoeuvres are carried out using three winches. The mainsail is hoisted and the self-tacking genoa unfurled with ease, by a single crewmember.
However, on the day of our test, the Catalan coast was building up a swell, and the wind wasn’t forecast to exceed 9 knots. There was a lack of square metres to our white sails to get the fully-laden 33 tonnes moving forward. So a 154m² Code 0 was quickly unfurled, allowing us to sail at between 5.5 and 6.5 knots with the wind on the beam.
We then bore off under the 272m² asymmetric spinnaker at an average of 5.5 knots before returning upwind (40° to the apparent) at 5 knots. The Lagoon is very easy to handle, and with a little more time – and wind– we might have validated the 8- to 9-knot average speeds claimed by the works crew on their European tour.
The third group to have worked on this version 3.0 of the Lagoon 55 is Nauta Design, who drew the interiors. The joinery and materials are reminiscent of the atmosphere aboard Lagoon’s two big cats, the Sixty 5 and Seventy 7. This illustrates the high-end positioning of the 55, which for the time being tops the manufacturer’s ‘classic’ range.
While the hulls are available with four, five and even six-cabin versions, the layout in the nacelle remains identical. The L-shaped galley on the starboard side is extended by a nice bar unit.
The large U-shaped bench seat simply invites you to settle in comfortably, still with an unrestricted view of the sea. The telescopic table also adapts to suit the use.
There is plenty of stowage space, from floor hatches to bookshelves. In the four-cabin version we tested, the owner’s cabin, aft on the starboard side, enjoys a privileged amount of space, occupying two-thirds of the hull. That said, the guests in the three other cabins have nothing to complain about, each with an en-suite.
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Some 20 examples of the original 1987 Lagoon 55 were built but, even ahead of the official launch, its namesake from 2021 has already had more orders – confirmation enough that Lagoon excels in understanding the expectations of today’s sailors. The aesthetics may no longer have much to do with that of a monohull, and the displacement inherent with such volumes doesn’t lend itself to pleasure at the helm, but you have to be impressed by the variety of different spaces available inside and out this catamaran, as well as the level of finish. Ultimately, the design team has succeeded in integrating several big innovations, especially on the exterior. In this sense, the Lagoon 55, 2021 version, is a worthy heir to the original. It sets new standards for ‘Crossing the oceans in comfort and serenity’ as was the ambition stated in the sales brochure... from 1987.