Innovate. Sell. Innovate again. That’s the “Lather, rinse, repeat” cycle of a successful boatbuilder.
The Lagoon 450 is a fine example of this maxim at work. The Lagoon catamaran company first introduced an open flybridge design with its Lagoon 440 and sold hundreds of them over several years. Once that business was rolling along well, they changed the design to create the 450—and already have orders for many of the new models.
Any multihull this size has oodles of deck space, one of the reasons cats are so popular for cruising and chartering. The most noticeable difference between the 440 and the 450 is an inside passage between the cockpit and the flybridge that puts the sailing area in better communication with the passenger area. The two spaces are still distinct, a conscious decision by the builder, which notes that people seem to naturally divide into two groups: those who want to sail actively and those who want to simply enjoy the ride.
The cockpit is larger than on the 440. It has comfortable seating all around and could easily accommodate a big dockside party. For those who feel lazy, there’s even a large reclining lounge where you could nap or daydream underway. The cockpit table also fits in the saloon.
But it’s the open air spaces that shine on this boat. With sunbathing space on the foredeck, on the forward net (wonderful for watching the waves go by) and on the cabintop, all a skipper needs to make a cruise a success is guests with lots of exposed skin. Reserve one of the big lockers for a couple of gallons of sunscreen.
This is not a boat for the Intracoastal Waterway or other routes spanned by highway bridges, as the masthead stands 76 feet above the waterline. However, draft is quite modest, so if you want to sail on thin water unimpeded by bridges, there’s no problem.
The outstanding feature of the Lagoon 450 is its excellent traffic pattern. The saloon flows easily into the cockpit, and all the space is bright and open, so you hardly notice whether you are inside or outside. Visibility from the saloon is as good as in any powerboat, so you can sit comfortably and use the handy joystick control at the inside nav station to navigate and steer.
The three-cabin owner’s version, which I sailed, is more popular than the charter-style four-cabin model. The entire starboard hull comprises an owner’s suite, complete with a very large head compartment, a sizable shower, a comfortable settee and plenty of stowage. The port hull has two guest cabins, each with a double berth, head and separate shower.
The U-shaped galley shows the boat’s French heritage, with plenty of counter space, thoughtful details such as a dish drainer built into a cabinet, and lots of stowage in well designed self-latching drawers and cabinets. The second fridge can also be a freezer. A microwave oven is optional, but every American cruiser today will want one.
The interior dcor complements the layout nicely, with light wood and fabrics that create a clean, inviting appearance. It’s not dramatically hyper-modern, but comfortable and contemporary and all in very good taste.
The wind at Annapolis was disappointing, but the big Lagoon’s performance was not. The boat still tacked reliably and moved gently along on all points of sail in zephyrs that peaked at about 5 knots. This was surprising, considering this is a relatively heavy cruising cat loaded with accessories. We did have the optional square-top mainsail on our boat in lieu of the standard full-batten main. Perhaps that’s worth considering if you sail on chronically wind-deprived waters.
The boom is set high above the cabintop to clear the flybridge bimini, but the sheets lead to hand comfortably at the helm station, and electric winches make sail setting and trimming easy. Realistically, most skippers will start up the engines in light stuff like we had, but it’s good to know that the boat will, if necessary, keep moving in near-drifting conditions without auxiliary power.
As the largest builder of cruising catamarans in the world, Lagoon has been supplying charter fleets in tradewind zones for many years. I have sailed the Lagoon 440 in a breeze and am confident that this new model will be perfectly happy when the wind pipes up and the waves roll.
Our test boat carried twin 54-horsepower Yanmar diesels with saildrives and fixed props; 40hp engines are an option. Folding or feathering props will improve the already good sailing performance.
At a cruise setting of 2,900 rpm the boat made a hair under 8 knots in smooth water, quite a respectable performance. The sound level was quite low, only 69 dBA in the saloon at the normal 7-knot cruising speed. Close-quarters handling was equally good. The turning circle with both engines in forward at a fast idle was only one boatlength, and, of course, the boat pirouetted in its own water with the two engines pushing in opposite directions. I appreciated the raised flybridge helm station, where 360 degrees of perfect visibility made docking easy. The wheel takes only one turn from lock to lock, and despite a bit of springiness in the linkage, steering always felt positive and responsive. As with other big cats, there’s not much feedback from the rudder to the helm.
The Lagoon 450 hits a sweet spot in terms of size. It can carry a family or a couple with guests in style, but is still small enough for an owner to sail and maintain without a professional captain. While the 450 will surely show up in charter fleets around the world, it is also an attractive choice for a private owner who wishes to cross big waters and then entertain in luxurious comfort at the destination.
HEADROOM 6ft 6in
CABIN HEADROOM 6ft 6in
BERTHS 5ft 3in x 6ft 8in
FWD BERTH 5ft 3in x 6ft 7in
LOA 45ft 1in
LWL 43ft 11in
BEAM 25ft 9in
DRAFT 4ft 3in
DISPLACEMENT 34,178 (light)
SAIL AREA 1,071 ft2
FUEL/WATER/WASTE (GAL) 264/184/21
ENGINE 2 x 55hp Yanmar
ELECTRICAL 684aH (house), plus 2x105aH (engines)
DESIGNER VPLP (Marc van Peteghem & Vincent Lauriot Prevost). Interior: Nauta Yachts
BUILDER Lagoon America, cata-lagoon.com
PRICE $528,641 base; $717, 696 FOB East Coast as tested, includes sails and electronics
SAIL AREA-DISP. RATIO 16.4 (100% foretriangle)
DISP.-LENGTH RATIO 180