Sporty by De­sign

Cruising World - - Contents - By Herb Mccormick

With the La­goon 450 S, sub­tle changes are in­cor­po­rated into a win­ning con­cept.

WITH THE LA­GOON 450 S, THE FRENCH BUILDER HAS TAKEN A PROVEN CON­CEPT AND IN­COR­PO­RATED

SUB­TLE CHANGES TO PRO­DUCE A CAT THAT’S EASY TO OP­ER­ATE.

or the de­sign­ers and builders of cruis­ing cata­ma­rans, the first ques­tion is of­ten the most chal­leng­ing: Where will we put the wheel? Some com­pa­nies pre­fer mount­ing a sin­gle helm on a cock­pit bulk­head, oth­ers choose twin steer­ing sta­tions out­board and well aft. De­signer Chris White’s sig­na­ture move is a for­ward wheel lo­cated right in the main cabin; in re­cent years, other man­u­fac­tur­ers have opted for a raised driver’s plat­form uti­liz­ing a ded­i­cated fly­bridge. It’s kind of con­fus­ing. The rule of thumb? There are no rules.

About six years ago, the pro­lific French builder of cruis­ing cats La­goon in­tro­duced its 450, in­cor­po­rat­ing one of those fly­bridges, and it was a re­sound­ing suc­cess. Thus far, it’s built more than 600 of them. But not ev­ery­one loved it. So when it be­gan mak­ing

Fplans for model year 2017, rather than scrap the de­sign and start all over, it de­cided to tweak its 45-footer with a fresh helm sta­tion that lit­er­ally split the dif­fer­ence be­tween the cock­pit and fly­bridge. The re­sult is the 450 S, the ini­tial stand­ing for Spor­top. (La­goon is still build­ing the orig­i­nal model, now known as the 450 F, for fly­bridge.)

La­goon isn’t the first com­pany to adopt the mi­dlevel wheel — the one on the 450 S is sta­tioned to star­board — but it’s done an ex­cel­lent job re­fin­ing the con­cept. Four steps up from the cock­pit, the broad helms­man’s seat is an arm’s length away from ev­ery­thing needed to op­er­ate the ves­sel. The B&G in­stru­men­ta­tion (wind and speed info, chart plotter, auto pi­lot) are close at hand, as are the con­trols for the Quick wind­lass and the twin Yan­mar diesels. All the run­ning rig­ging, in­clud­ing the over­lap­ping genoa’s sheets and trav­eler, are also right there, or­ga­nized in con­junc­tion with a trio of Harken elec­tric winches and a suite of Spin­lock clutches. Cap­ping it all is the afore­men­tioned Spor­top, a hard bi­mini with tinted plex­i­glass that pro­vides good sight lines for the sails.

Be­sides the aes­thet­ics, which are largely a mat­ter of per­sonal taste — to my eye, the yacht’s pro­file is a bit cleaner with­out the fly­bridge — the po­si­tion of the wheel al­lowed de­signer VPLP to lower both the mast and the boom (the sail area of the 450 S and 450 F re­mains the same), which makes the main­sail eas­ier to ac­cess and also re­port­edly damp­ens the cat’s pitch­ing mo­ment in a sea­way. It also gave de­sign­ers space for a sun­bathing deck on the cabin top.

Fans of the 450 F will rec­og­nize a lot of the boat’s other fea­tures. The dou­ble-spreader frac­tional rig em­ploys out­board shrouds for easy pas­sage along the side decks. A small sprit is mounted on the for­ward cross­beam for off-wind sails, which are sheeted to a pair of winches in the aft cock­pit. That cock­pit has a U-shaped set­tee to star­board and a daybed to port. For loung­ing, there’s also a long, cozy set­tee for­ward of the coach roof, just aft of the tram­po­lines. There are 10 open­ing hatches on deck and a pair of open­ing port­lights for­ward on the tur­ret win­dows.

The U-shaped gal­ley to port is just in­side the saloon door and ad­ja­cent win­dow that ac­cesses the cock­pit. The nav sta­tion is just for­ward of the gal­ley, with a gen­er­ous L-shaped set­tee and din­ing ta­ble to star­board. We sailed the three-cabin ver­sion with the own­ers state­room to star­board and a pair of dou­ble cab­ins to port; one could also opt for four cab­ins, with one in each end of the boat.

We sailed the 450 S on a light-air day on Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, with the true wind hov­er­ing at around 6 knots, and the boat ac­quit­ted her­self very well, mak­ing over 4 knots hard on the breeze. Tack­ing through 90 de­grees was easy, even in the soft winds, which is not al­ways the case with cruis­ing cats. Dur­ing mo­tor­ing tests of the dual 45-horse­power Yan­mars in con­junc­tion with our Boat of the Year tri­als, the 450 S was one of the fleet’s qui­etest per­form­ers.

You can’t re­ally call the 450 S a suc­ces­sor to La­goon’s ear­lier ver­sion of the boat. But as a wor­thy sib­ling, she more than lives up to the ti­tle.

Herb Mccormick is CW’S ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor. For more photos and model spec­i­fi­ca­tions, go to cruis­ing­world.com/ la­goon450s.

The sig­na­ture fea­ture of the La­goon 450 S is its new and im­proved, re­vamped steer­ing sta­tion to star­board.

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