I seem to specialise in picking light wind days for catamaran reviews, and for the Lipari the wind averaged only seven knots. This was good enough to get the boat up to four knots, and to accelerate it briskly. A light displacement of only 7.6T combined with a sail area of 89sqm helped, as did fine lines forward. Fine underwater at least; above, big knuckles add room to the accommodation and give reserve buoyancy to reduce pitching.
One of the features to strike the eye is the engineered nature of the boat. Only three items of standing rigging hit the deck, and they support a mast that has its compression effect on the bridge deck reduced by the stiffening of diamonds and jumpers. The bending tendency of the forestay on the crossbeam forward is counteracted by a transverse wire rope tensioned above the vertical equivalent of a dolphin striker (the builder has christened it a seagull striker).
Access forward is well above average. Gentle steps aft lead to wide and flat side decks, and there are hand grips all the way as well as guard rails. Uniquely to Fountaine Pajot, I think, the crew will seldom need those steps. The driving position is on the main deck instead of in the cockpit, with a double seat moulded into the starboard side of the hardtop. The helmsman, naturally, has the wheel in front of him, and the crew has three winches plus sockets and pockets for winch handles and sheet tails.
There is not the usual large bank of cam cleats because many of the lines are led back to the winches only when they are needed, reefing lines and topping lift for instance. The review boat had tackles rove at the leech for two reefs, but at the luff just a naked pair of grommets. I saw why when we furled the main, and gravity flaked it into its lazy bag at express speed. When reefing, gravity does the same job for the luff, and a tape through the grommet tidies it up.
This is thanks to just five cars on the luff, big heavy jobs infested with roller bearings. They need heavyweight construction because the top pair supports what is effectively a gaff: a diagonal and a horizontal batten stiffen the top of a square-head sail. For a given mast height this gives extra sail area, and lets the sail naturally spill wind in a squall.
The interior can have four-cabin/two-bathroom or three-cabin/two bathroom layouts, the first, interestingly, being the cheaper. Our boat went for three, the entire starboard hull being given over to the owner’s suite of queen sized bedroom, luxury bathroom and library-office. Partly making up for the reduced number of doubles, an extra single was inserted in our boat in the port bow. The action-packed port hull is a model of space efficiency, with the bathroom placed amidships where most cats put washing machines and the like.
All the beds are within the hulls rather than using the bridge deck space. This gains them mattress to deckhead distance and ensures good tunnel clearance.
Cats generally have generous saloon space and the Lipari is no exception; a beam of 6.75m has to give spaciousness. With the typically huge cat’s glass area it seems even bigger. A large dinette is the main feature, one end of the settee also providing a seat at the navigation centre.
The galley is alongside the door to the cockpit, a location giving it equal access to the cockpit’s dining position. Cooking space and equipment is lavish (this is a French boat after all) with a three-burner stove as well as a microwave, a double sink, capacious fridge and freezer and heaps of storage and preparation space.
With sailing functions controlled from the main deck, the cockpit is given over to the social side, and seats are laid on for ten or so. Probably eight of them could sit around the table when set up. A hardtop shades the whole area, but sun lovers can always go forward and sprawl on the trampoline. Any children on board will certainly do this anyway.
There are davits aft, and a genuine cruising boat like this will certainly want a good RIB with an effective motor. People cruising to the spiritual home of catamarans, the Kimberley, will also want effective motors in the 41 itself. The standard twin 20hp Volvo Saildrives are no slouches, giving over 7.5 knots, but in that light wind area with fast tidal streams the 9 knots from the twin 30s the review boat had fitted would be welcome.
Price from $580,000
Price as reviewed $672,731
Length overall 11.95m
Weight, full load 9.1T
Fuel capacity 300L
Fresh water 530L
Sail area, main 56sqm
Motors 2 x 30hp Volvo Saildrives