Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) gives multihull performance enthusiasts a chance to see first-hand how the different models perform in an unforgiving and daunting open ocean race. You might be surprised how Lagoon ranks.
But Lagoons Arenâ€™t Performance Catamarans... Or Are They?
Every year in November the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) gives multihull performance enthusiasts a chance to see first hand how the different models perform in an unforgiving and daunting open ocean race against other models. This is the perfect opportunity for anyone considering an offshore catamaran to dismiss the cheesy sales pitches, the pretty pictures, and the online armchair warriors with biased opinions toting why their boat is the best boat; and simply watch the racers run until they hit rum in St. Lucia.
The ARC is a cruisers race, not all are professional sailing teams, it is primarily made up of people like you; undertaking a mission in which a very small percentage of persons on this planet will ever experience. For some, it’s a life long dream, for others it’s another notch in the belt; nonetheless, it’s something every avid sailor should aspire to attempt at some point.
There are two different ARC Races to watch the Multihull Division compete in this fall. The larger of the two begins on the 20th of November and runs from Gran Canaria to St Lucia. The lineup of 30 different multihulls includes 14 Lagoons, 3 Leopards, 2 Fountaine Pajots, and 2 Catanas; in addition to an Outremer, Lazzi, Prout, Garcia, Chris White, Dean, Nautitech, and Nigel Irens. This will be the race to watch, especially because for the first time ever, there will be two of the all-new Lagoon 42’s competing. This entirely new design piggybacks off the successful platform of the Lagoon 39 and Lagoon 52. These new designs have already turned a lot of heads and continue to verify Lagoon’s commitment to performance and cruising comfort is ever improving.
The offshore racing visionaries at VPLP designed the new platform. This is the same team that designed USA-17 for the BMW Oracle Racing team, which became the first American syndicate to win the America’s Cup since 1992. The transition from Lagoon’s 3rd Generation of catamarans to the 4th include maximizing power and minimizing pitch by moving the mast aft to allow for a larger foresail and a revolutionary self tacking jib. This subtle improvement simplifies single handed sailing from the helm and minimizes crew fatigue. They also increased control of the mainsail in rough conditions by shortening the boom and increasing the height of the spar. The sleek chines and beveled hulls perfectly balance the plumb bow with the buoyant stern. If you haven’t seen the new design yet, you should; but don’t get too excited as the design’s demand has pushed back availability for most until late 2017.
The 2nd is the ARC+ race, which is two weeks underway and consists of 12 different Multihulls competing from Gran Canaria to St Lucia via Cape Verdes. The Multihull Division includes 7 Lagoons, 2 Catanas, and 2 Fountaine Pajots; the Open Division also has a Sunreef 70. On the 14th of November the vessels completed the first leg of the race to Cape Verdes. As of the 17th of November, the vessels are on the move to St. Lucia.
Reviewing the in-progress ARC+ race in addition to previous years ARC results, there is one thing that can be said about the outcomes. Year after year, this is where Lagoon Catamarans truly shine. Not only because 51% of the multihull division contenders are currently utilizing their proven designs, but also because they have consistently placed in the top tiers. In 2015, 60% of Top 10 Trophies in the Multihull division were awarded to Lagoon Catamarans.Â After completing the first leg of the ARC+, The Lagoon 52S was awarded overall winner across all classes, and the Lagoon 52F was awarded 5th place. The Lagoon 450F placed 3rd in the Multihull division and the Lagoon 500 placed 4th in the Multihull division. A personal favorite, the classic Lagoon 570 placed 3rd overall across all classes and 2nd in the Multihull Division, and was in first position at the start of the 2nd leg when this was written.
All of these accolades attest to the quality of performance in addition to the well-known live-ability and luxurious comfort these catamarans provide. Despite the manufacturers competitor’s assertion that the catamaran is heavier, beamier, slower, etc.
To address those head on, I would urge anyone looking at catamarans for performance and circumnavigations to consider that Lagoon has repeatedly taken the moral high ground and discloses the true displacement of their vessels fully loaded with options, equipment, fuel and water, while others disclose a displacement of the base model alone with empty tanks and no additional equipment, some go as far as removing any items that are not screwed on including floorboards, doors, fixtures, etc.â€¦ before disclosing displacement.
In the compromise of comfort and performance, I would also encourage the simple understanding of fundamental naval architecture and physics. Take for example the compromise between a cube and a sphere being pushed through the water. The cube has the greater wetted surface area in which translates to more accommodations, yet more resistance. The sphere on the other hand has the smaller wetted surface area, translating to fewer accommodations, and less resistance. The best design is the best compromise between the sphere and cube.
In the end, performance is only one aspect of a catamaran and there are a lot more variables that should be measured. Many people dream of circumnavigating, but very few actually do. When considering your next purchase, focus on the variables specific to you including layout, affordability, and resale value in addition to performance. Different models have different advantages, and the more equipment added on will always increase displacement. Align yourself with a professional team who understand both your short term and long-term goals, whether they be perfecting the fundamentals close to shore or experiencing a Transatlantic ocean passage.