The Wauquiez PS42 raises the 40-footer production cruiser to new levels of style and practicality, writes Graham Snook

A good brand exudes quality. Seeing a logo on a car or a yacht is a visual pat on the back from the manufacturer, a little thank you from them that you made the right choice.

As I stepped on board the Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42, I spotted the ‘W’ cut out in the stainless steel plates on the coachroof sides and the stainless steel ‘Wauquiez’ on the transom. Are these clues that this yacht might be something special?

Yes they are and so she is. You could feel it as we rode down the Med swell at 9 knots, and in the sociable, safe, comfortable cockpit, but it’s down below that this yacht really impresses. The interior makes this boat unique among production boats of this size. She also has the coolest windows and light switches I’ve ever seen on a production yacht – but more of that later.

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Fold-down transom reveals liferaft storage and a fold-out step to reach cockpit level

Substance with style

Just from looking at the new launches at Boot Düsseldorf in January, I had already placed the Wauquiez Ps42 at the top of my wishlist. The layout, the styling and the quality all stood out as a superior all-round package. There is no other boat quite like her for styling – not as 40-something foot production yachts go.

She has style, but a stunning looking boat is no good if it lacks substance. And the great news is that this is an enjoyable yacht to sail too; but her performance and good behaviour on the water almost seem to pale beside the interior because this is leagues above her rivals.

You don’t find many production yachts with leather-covered wardrobes and that’s just one example of Wauquiez doing something new. This is quite a small French yard that can tailor yachts to its owners’ requirements. So if, like me, you aren’t keen on, say, the leather wardrobe pull-handles, it can replace them.

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Using leather and painted wood does seem odd for a company that can build good quality woodwork. Take the forecabin, for example. Apart from the shelf that runs either side up to the long bed, the dark laminate wood sole and the thick laminated wood surround for the mattress, no other wood is visible. The hull sides are white, the headlining is white and it is brightly lit with LED lights.

It could be like sleeping inside a fridge, but the style with which Wauquiez has added recessed areas around the lights and hull window surrounds, and broken it up with a black cove line that makes the space seem longer and wider, is elegant. This cabin has a good-sized en suite with a separate shower compartment – with the mast compression post for company.

The full-beam aft cabin has the same neat semi-minimalist feel, but with a swathe of dark grey leading the eye around the cabin until it stops at the chaise longue on the starboard side.

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Interiors are predominantly white, but design highlights raise them to something out of the ordinary

There are practical features too: the forward and aft berth cushions are split and leecloths are standard.

In the aft cabin, cushions not only run centrally, but also down the sides. The occupants of the forward cabin have only one central leecloth. There is plenty of stowage under the berths: the bases lift and are held up by gas struts. In the forward cabin there are drawers beneath the aft end and stowage forward, but there’s the option of filling this with a 200lt tank for fuel or water, which would obviously reduce this cabin’s stowage.

Aft cabin ventilation is excellent – all three sides of the cockpit mould over the berth have opening hatches, and there are more in the coachroof. Space over the berth is good too and there’s plenty of stowage behind the grey-fronted lockers and in the leather-covered wardrobe. An en suite with a separate shower compartment offers lots of headroom.

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The Wauqiuez PS42 sleeps four in supreme comfort

White and bright

These are good cabins, but it’s the saloon and galley area that make her rivals look, frankly, bland in comparison.

Many people like varnished wood on boats, and I’ll include myself among them, but with the notable exception of RM Yachts there hasn’t been a good alternative before or, when there has, it’s mainly been down to saving money or weight. I’m not saying I’m a convert, but it’s surprising how large areas of white can give a positive impression; and there’s no shortage of it on the Wauquiez PS42.

The forward bulkhead and the under deck lockers are white, so is the 2.72m white Corian galley worktop, with recessed white Corian sinks. The surface is stain resistant and it was child’s play to clean up thanks to the gently curved fiddles that surround the inside of the worktop. Drawer fridge/freezers are fitted so items can be easily found without having to clear the worktop and there is lots of easily accessible stowage.

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Blue-tinted windows – which can be made clear at the turn of a switch – help keep the pilot saloon cool in sunny climes

What isn’t coloured white, or finished in stainless steel (such as the stove or fridges) is in horizontally grained teak. This visually lengthens the galley, and the grain matches from door to door to drawer, all being edged with a bead of solid teak for good measure.

In the saloon, seating trim is illuminated by LED strip lights. The saloon sits a couple of steps up from the galley, and is raised enough to take advantage of those large curved coachroof windows. The view out from the saloon is good, although a bit more limited forward. When working at the galley you’re treated to a panoramic view.

As the saloon is raised, there are two layers of stowage, one down to the floor of the galley, the second between the tankage underneath the outboard seating and galley sole. The saloon table has some wonderfully smooth veneer work in opposing directions and when folded in half has good fiddles surrounding it. When opened, it is flat and flush and gives seating for a cosy six – only an issue with guests or if opting for the twin double aft cabin layout.

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Berret-Racoupeau Yacht Design is behing the super-modern styling of the Wauquiez PS42

The chart table is the only area where Wauquiez fumble the ball slightly. The table isn’t that easy to open (a finger groove would be good), the navigator doesn’t get a view, and with the seat back cushion in place the seat’s a little narrow and feels more like a perch than one designed to be sat on. Remove the backrest and it feels like a seat again.

With the electronics package offered, the owner gets a 12-inch iPad that mirrors, and can control, the chartplotter display. The iPad is held in a stylish anodised aluminium bracket, so hopefully you won’t have to hunt through your children’s cabins looking for it.

Beautiful details

Now for the really good bits. I’ve never been excited about coachroof windows or light switches – until now. Thank you, Wauquiez. While on the outside the coachroof windows look like almost every other boat on the water: they are not. From down below the windows have a heavy cool blue tint (in both senses of the word cool). They’re a deep azure blue and prevented the Med sun from heating the saloon like a greenhouse.

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But twist a brushed-aluminium knob, mounted on a bevelled, monogrammed plate, and in a second or two the windows lose their heavy tint and go clear.

And you have to love those switches. Whether it’s a toggle switch (with a beautifully positive click) and built in USB sockets, a plug surround, a dimmer switch for the windows or the lights, these are all in brushed aluminium, with an engraved W in the bottom corner.

Wauquiez has seen to it that the upper switches turn on the ceiling lights while the lower lights turn on the floor lights. Someone has thought about all this.

Not to be outdone by the people in charge of tinting windows and designing light switches, the person responsible for locker catches was also on fire, They obviously thought: ‘Who wants a latch you have to push in to pop out, then twist or pull?’

Their solution: to tie knots in short bits of leather and use these as pull tabs to release the latch mechanism and open the locker door in one movement. Genius.

On deck there’s lots to enjoy too. All three wires in the transom gate slide back into the pushpit – two guardrails is one too few for Wauquiez, it seems. The coamings are wide and all lines are brought back to forward of the helm. The genoa winches can only really be used at the helm, so I’d tick the electric winch option.

The lines are led in recesses in the top of the broad coamings and these act as handholds while moving around the seating. Access to the deck is forward of each helm pedestal via a step which has a good-sized rope bin beneath it.

The helm area isn’t the widest of spaces and if I’d been wearing full winter sailing kit I might have found it a little tight, but that said Wauquiez is moving the wheel forward 3cm and hopefully it’ll also move it inboard a bit too – I kept trapping my fingers between the wheel and the corner of the helm seat coaming. The corner is bevelled for the comfort of the helmsman, but it stops where the wheel is, reducing the gap.

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It’s a step up from the cockpit to the companionway before heading down again to the pilot saloon

The cockpit is set quite high – headroom in the owner’s cabin has to come from somewhere – but it didn’t feel precarious or that I was perched on top, even though the helm is as far aft as it’s possible to be. The only time the cockpit did feel high was when stepping over the bridge deck to go down below.

So this yacht is safe, stylish and practical. She was a joy to sail, too. Admittedly, the conditions were in her sweet spot with a good Force 4 and only when the apparent wind went over 20 knots did we have to ease the main to keep her composure.

The twin rudders give excellent grip in the water and the Wauquiez PS42 was unflustered even when I was trying to make her misbehave. The Jefa steering had a reassuring weight to it in the same way the door of a good car has a solid thud. On the wind we were making 32°- 36° at 6.7-7.2 knots, but on a fetch she excelled, topping out at 9.2 knots and rarely going below 7 knots on all points of sail but a dead run.

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We tested hull number one the Wauquiez PS42 off Mallorca in 12-16 knots of onshore wind

Our verdict

The Wauquiez’s styling is modern and won’t appeal everyone, especially to traditionalists, but they have been well served in the past and anyone can appreciate the quality of the build and the workmanship that’s gone into this yacht. From her vacuum-infused hull, deck and inner grid structure to the finish of the visible wood, it’s all top quality stuff.

This could be seen as a boat full of gimmicks, but it’s actually an incredibly practical boat with loads of stowage space both on deck and below, and a layout that works in port and at sea. The inclusion of leecloths and decent tankage shows that this yacht is meant to sail, not just spend days port-hopping round the Med.

I have some sympathy for Wauquiez’s rivals. The Pilot Saloon 42 is a great boat. She’s unbeatable in style and looks, is well made too (one of the better first-off-the-line boats I’ve seen) has good views from the saloon and galley and sails very nicely indeed. She is not perfect – no boat is – but she’s not far off.

Specification

Wauquiez-PS42-boat-test-sailplanLOA: 12.99m (42ft 7in)
LWL: 11.79m (38ft 2in)
Beam (Max): 4.34m (14ft 3in)
Draught: 2.15m (7ft 0in)
Displacement (lightship): 11,593kg (25,558lb)
Ballast: 3,100kg 6,834lb
Sail area (100% foretriangle): 90.3m2 (972ft2)
Berths: 4
Engine: 57hp Saildrive
Water: 415lt (90.3 gal)
Fuel: 415lt (90.3 gal)
Sail area to displacement ratio: 17.9
Displacement to LWL ratio: 197.1
Price as tested: £469,330 (ex. VAT)
Design: Berret-Racoupeau

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