Lipari 41 test

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A SENSIBLE, COHERENT CATAMARAN

The Lipari guarantees the succession to the Lavezzi 40’, which the canvas bimini and the mainsheet traveler in the cockpit have condemned. Just like its predecessor, it opens wide the doors to the oceans, despite a length nowadays considered to be modest. It must be said that the previous period, with its ambition of pushing the entry level to 50’ (thanks to the talents of the architects and builders, the reliability of electric winches and navigation aids), had gone a bit far!

Everyone was able to observe the extravagant growth in the average size of cruising catamarans. At 11.95m, the Lipari41 is positioned in the heart of the segment most eagerly awaited by enthusiasts. Its qualities have kept it in the race;
this is not an outdated boat, its first appearance was in 2009!

160 examples of the first generation have been sold, as well as around thirty Evolutions, and the order book is full after the autumn boat shows. These positive messages sent out by the purchasers demonstrate the relevance of the efforts invested in this model.

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THE LIPARI EVOLUTION

Built-in obsolescence, despite the justified reservations that it gives rise to, has never been as active as regards consumer products! Carried along by the wild competition from the innovations in the digital bubble, our early perception of the aging of an object has become pathological. Boats are still resisting this collective downward spiral a little, even though certain aspects, judged to be secondary not so long ago, are accelerating the changes in marketing direction in an exaggerated way.

This is the case for the interior design, and Fountaine Pajot wanted to intervene preventively to re-launch an excellent 41’. The accessibility and the light have therefore been revised, as charter customers and newcomers to multihulls refute the perception of “closed” accommodation and an environment which is too nautical.

As the absence of an entrance threshold has become commonplace, they had to go further: the Evolution is therefore equipped with a sliding glass double door. The 40 cm saved are not negligible.

The rectangular opening portlights seen on the Helia 44’ in 2012 have been used again, and participate in this wish for ventilation. As for the ergonomics, the wraparound cockpit seat to starboard has speared, and has been replaced by a more versatile sunbathing area; exit the exterior, white-gelcoated wheel, which is now in teak. Inside, the change in style is also noticeable: the light oak Alpi facings and the ivory headlinings are everywhere.

These modern materials are suitable for the marine world and the indirect led ‘courtesy’ lighting shows them off well. The principle of light strips has also been chosen for the saloon. The superb Corian work surfaces (with drainage) in the galley, the stainless steel fridges with arge capacity drawers and a revised organization of the area complete a convincing 2013 update.

CONSTRUCTION: CRAFTSMANSHIP AND INDUSTRY

After the sail, I wanted to see the creation of the Lipari on the spot. The visit to the factory in Aigrefeuille as interesting, because I discovered the position given to avant-garde techniques for the production of sensitive parts and this, in preeminence over the traditional methods of assembly.

When I visited, the raftsmen were busy cleaning a deck which had just come out of the mould, the ideal moment to note that it was immediately almost perfect. The Lipari Evolution’s deck is manufactured using an injection process; these large parts are currently the biggest in the world manufactured using RTM (Resin Transfer moulding).

This process, which came from the plastics industry, historically concerned small elements, but advances in the field of composite aircraft fuselages encouraged Fountaine Pajot to take up the challenge. The inhouse lamination specialists collaborated and became familiar with this cutting-edge process.

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The press, capable of exerting and sustaining several tens of tones of pressure, is made up of two half-shell-impressions reinforced by a framework; the top and bottom of the future deck. You can imagine the machining precision and the rigidity required to avoid distortion! As for infusion, the composite is pre-positioned in the mould.

The gelcoats, foams, inserts, reinforcements and glass cloths are positioned very neatly, then this huge ‘waffle iron’ is closed, put under pressure and the injection is started. The resin, pushed by a complex network of drains is drawn under vacuum to the exterior, to remove the excess and obtain the ideal fiber/polymer ratio. The whole of the injection operation, not including the preparation, lasts for 6 hours! The hull is infused in a female mould.

These two processes allow the dispersal of volatile organic compounds in the environment to be reduced considerably, and have a positive impact on hygiene, safety and control of polymerization parameters. Before the deck is fitted, the tanks, engines, batteries, main electrics and plumbing are installed; then the bulkheads are fitted (plywood or balsa sandwich) and fillet-jointed.

This technique of ‘welding’ the structures (the accommodation modules are part of this at Fountaine Pajot) is carried out by manual lamination of bands of multidirectional cloth, whose aim is to link all the elements closely to each other. It is very interesting to check on the assembly line the meticulous succession of stages which are time-consuming, but decisive for the life of the boat. The fitting of the deck by bonding, bolting and internal lamination finishes the composite phase; a catamaran is born!

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DESIGNED AND BUILT IN FRANCE (CHARENTE MARITIME)

The architects, Michel Joubert and Bernard Nivelt, are amongst the modern precursors of speed on the water in multihulls. The CHARENTE MARITIME I and II catamarans, which were the talk of the sporting world in the 80s, were designed by them! Aboard we found a young dream team which was not backward at coming forward: Philippe Pallu de la Barrière, Pierre Follenfant, Fred Charpail, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant (all had a career in top level sailing) and…Jean-François Fountaine.

Thirty years later, the duo signed the plans of the Lipari (as well as many others for Fountaine Pajot, including the very famous Louisiane). From an architectural point of view, this catamaran is quite classic, there is nothing excessive about it. The underwater lines are of a well-balanced, rounded U-shape. The hulls have a generous volume, allowing good load carrying capacity, but they are only 12 m long, and the quality of the hydrodynamic flow aft depends on the crew’s restraint in this area.

Fountaine Pajot is very fond of its sacrificial stub keels; the top of the keel fits into solid monolithic reentrant, inside which it is just bonded. These anti-leeway surfaces are the best supports for beaching or storage ashore; they are intended to act as a ‘fuse’ in the case of heavy grounding or a violent impact. The smooth passage through the water is optimized by a deflector ‘step’ (only on the inside of the hulls) as well as the progressive bridgedeck-hull junction. In the tunnel, a central stiffener in the form of a false bow attenuates the possible impact of a wave.

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A FAST, VERSATILE, EASY TO SAIL CATAMARAN

On arriving aboard, the port engine locker is the first essential point of contact; the main electrical functions are gathered together here. The domestic battery bank is located on a robust plywood shelf (a lower cavity houses the engine start battery) through which the upper rudder shaft bearing passes. Two waterproof lockers hide the 220V AC switches in one, the main circuit breakers and 12V switches in the other (the winch is separate, just next to them!). The solar panel regulator and the charger-inverter are visible and accessible, but not protected from possible splashes! Diesel and sea water filters are sensibly arranged around the block; the large volume of the locker makes servicing easier. The rudder quadrant and the linking rod are also accessible; their mechanical assembly inspires confidence.

The organization of this area avoids dispersal and makes readability and maintenance easier; there remains enough space for a water maker or heating equipment. A curtain or some other removable antisplash system would usefully do away with the risks of corrosion by sea water, if the hatch is not properly closed, or the drain channel is blocked. The 3-cylinder Volvos were quite discreet when running. Maneuverability was excellent and the dissymmetrical steering position didn’t bother me. The visibility is excellent and judging the manoeuvres is made easier by the Lipari’s compact character.

Power and torque are present, the standard 20 HP engines will no doubt be sufficient, but the difference in price compared to the 30 HP versions (3,000 euros with folding propellers) is small! The cubic capacity (800 cc for the 20 HP and 1100 cc for the 30 HP), the output and the longer life expectancy, for an extra weight limited to 36 kg (the pair), would favor the more powerful engine choice. The two engines are equipped with modern alternators (35 A at 4 knots, 100 A at 8 knots!). The deck plan is simple, readable and effective A main electric winch outside takes care of the main halyard and reefing, the central one is dedicated to the genoa sheets, and the inside one to the main traveler and the mainsheet, rigged as a German Sheet (return via a block on the boom at the level of the gooseneck).

Perfect for the singlehander, adequate for a duo, but no more, because the space is limited! I would add a temporary jammer for the jib sheets, to free up the winch. The roller reefing line is returned to the cockpit via an articulated block; it can therefore be controlled using a winch, if necessary. The generously dimensioned Z-Spar mast is reassuring, and genuinely rustic. The low friction sliders and the square-headed mainsail as standard are the strong points in this department. With the mainsail hoisted (be careful not to snag the head with the topping lift!), the Lipari started sailing with no questions asked; with the genoa trimmed, we got moving smoothly at 8.2 knots at 60° to the 16-knot apparent wind.

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The boat passed smoothly through the chop; the autopilot kept us on course with no problems. At the wheel, the push-pull lines gave a good feel, with a bit too much reduction, but nothing to worry about; the directional action of the rudders was effective. During the photo session, we carried out a series of tacks and gybes, which seemed to please the 41. It passed through the eye of the wind in a lively way, with no need to free the mainsheet, accelerated in the same manner, and even the genoa passed fluidly. Handling of the traveller, positioned on an aluminum profile, was coherent and easy.

The navstation seat is comfortable; the steering position effective, with a suitable wheel diameter (it could be one size bigger). Half-laden (4 people aboard + full tank of fuel and half full water tanks), the wakes were clean and the boat slipped along nicely. We could easily imagine descending the waves downwind with a modern rolling code D-type asymmetric spinnaker, which would be a versatile solution on this type of multihull. Personally, I found the composite part of the forward longitudinal spar a bit heavy (and probably complex to produce); a compression tube (wound-fiber carbon?) and a traditional bowsprit would allow a few kilos to be saved! The feeling of being aboard a real cruising cat, designed to sail on the high seas in complete safety, is dominant. The Lipari sails well, remains easy to handle and is an invitation to go cruising.

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CONCLUSION

If we add to these qualities the efforts made concerning the interior decoration, the equipment, the finishing, and the price (basic and options), we see that the Lipari is asserting itself as an absolute ‘must’ in the 40 – 42’ segment. The Eco-cruising approach, rationalizing water collection, solar panel and hydro-generator installation and their control from the chart table via an intuitive interactive module, goes beyond a simply trendy attitude, it is commendable.

The Lipari seems to have all the characteristics of a good, reliable ‘companion’, which will take you to the other side of the world without showing off; why choose bigger?

IZVOR: MULTIHULL MAGAZIN

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