The resurgent market for sailing multihulls makes this an increasingly important category in the European Yacht of the Year
A real mix of multihulls made this a diverse, tricky category to judge. It can often be the case that we are drawn to the one that gives the optimum sailing experience, but here the consensus was to reward the best multihull design offering the best response to market demand.
Finalist: Astus 20.5
When Astus asked VPLP to redesign their 16.5 and 20.5, it immediately achieved better results in speed and stability. The renowned French design firm almost doubled the volume in the floats of the 20.5 and added wave-piercing bows – something I was grateful for given the spicy conditions when I tested it!
With gusts in the mid 20s and a short, sharp swell running, the leeward float cut through the water and remained buoyant, without the tendency smaller tris have to bury the leeward bow. There is a sporty feel on the helm, communicating the abundance of power and acceleration but with good control.
It’s not a comfortable ride, but it’s certainly a fun one – and there’s space for a narrow twin berth with a chemical heads below.
Finalist: Aventura 34
With a dearth of entry-sized (and priced) cruising catamarans below 38ft these days, the Aventura 34 is a promising offering from a French brand that builds its modest-sized cruising cats in Tunisia. The overall design, the fine entry of the bows and the comparatively low freeboard is appealing, the latter certainly practical for boarding.
Unfortunately there is zero helm communication in light breeze, and a second winch in the helm area would aid tacking. But the design and modern style appeals and the quality is a step-up from the previous 33.
I like the single-level main living deck with connecting galley/cockpit and the hulls have generous-sized berths with large hull windows. The price is another pleasant surprise.
Winner: Fountaine Pajot Astréa 42
The Astréa responds to a market demanding as much volume and comfort as possible in a smartly designed and easy-to-manage package. The space is felt particularly in the cabins and aft cockpit area.
Sliding doors join the saloon and vast cockpit into one big living and entertaining area. Natural light pours in and the galley design is smart. However, the squared edges of the furniture and worktops is an example of style over practicality, and the navstation is tiny. The focus is arguably on visual quality over build quality.
The performance upgrade on the boat we trialled includes a fully battened square-top main and a Spectra genoa which, together with prime sailing conditions, ensured an enjoyable sail. Upwind in 10-15 knots, there was little feeling on the helm, but the fun factor increased with the gennaker hoisted, making respectable speeds up to 9.5 knots with the waves.
I like the helm layout in particular: it allows space for two or three people behind the wheel and provides a very comfortable watch position, with the sailing systems all methodically laid out a metre or so further forward.
The Astréa offers plenty of layout options in three or four cabins, including a clever central shower solution shared between the two cabins in one hull. The amount of volume in the forward sections will ensure guests/charterers won’t feel cheated on space in any cabin.
A yacht that’s all about the volume and comfort, the Astréa is a decidedly modern, good-looking cat that achieves the delicate balance of appealing to both private and charter owners.
LOA: 12.58m (41ft 4in)
Beam: 7.20m (23ft 8in)
Draught: 1.25m (4ft 1in)
Displacement: 11.5 tonnes
Price: 351,210 (ex VAT)
Design: Berret Racoupeau