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By Katherine Stone

Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 sailing 400The weather wasn’t cooperating for our test of the new Fountaine Pajot Isla 40. Rain, storm clouds and gusty winds greeted us when we arrived at the Outer Harbour Marina in Toronto, Ontario. But the ladies were game. I had decided, with a gracious nod from the Fountaine Pajot dealer, Steve McPherson of Navy Point Yacht Sales, to bring my original women’s crew aboard for the sail, along with two new members. As we gathered in the parking lot, the skies cleared, and the sun actually peaked through the menacing clouds. Although my women’s team had sailed J/24s, 8 meters, C&Cs and other large keelboats, none of them had spent any time on catamarans. So, this was going to be a real test with a feminine eye, to put the Isla 40 through her paces.

Think relaxing, mythical, harmony or pleasure and you invoke thoughts of a vacation on an island. The Fountaine Pajot team knew they had a winner when they started naming their new models after islands. And so, Isla, follows that new branding being named after an island off the west coast of Ireland.

Nominated for Cruising Boat of the year in 2021, this new entry-level catamaran is the perfect boat for not only a family but also a couple to enjoy and have adventures or quiet getaways. It’s more than a weekender, as its comfort, beautifully redesigned areas, incredible natural light and wrap-around views will make week-long cruises more your style.

Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 view 400Although she is the “baby” of the models at 12 meters, she carries with her the same elegant lines and luxurious features as her bigger sisters. The new inverted bows give her an additional 8 inches at the waterline and a sportier look. The displacement of less than 9 tons allows for a favourable weight to sail area of 105 square metres ratio.

a panoramic view with luxurious comfort

CONSTRUCTION

The boat exudes confidence with its construction of multiaxial glass cloth forming a sandwich around a balsa core done with an infusion process. There is also a superb safety feature with four buoyancy zones. An injected, vacuum lamination with a two-sided mould is used for the coachroof and deck. All mechanical areas have easy access, especially the engine compartments, electrical circuits and bilges. The steering rods connecting the two rudders and the autopilot are not only accessible but very robust ensuring many years of confidence in the boat’s maintenance schedule.

Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 Sailng crew 400MOVEMENT ON THE WATER

J/24 crew: Lynn, Sue, Katherine and Penny

Although the boat comes with standard 20 hp engines, the test model had the optional 30 hp Volvo Penta engines which moved us along quite comfortably. Under sail, we were greeted to 20-25 knots of wind out of the harbour and choppy seas with large swells. I had to keep looking at the wind speed to actually know that it was blowing that hard, as the boat cut so smoothly through the waves going 7-8 knots with a double reef in the mainsail and both hulls in the water going upwind. Both tacking and jibing were effortless with the three, power winch system under the coachroof at the helm station. She seemed to lose less speed when tacking if you fell off below and gradually came up closer to an upwind beat. The square-topped main and overlapping jib give the boat power and a sleek look to move efficiently and effectively through all types of seas.

DECK LAYOUT

At first glance, you have the impression of an uncluttered space with flush deck hatches. The excellent placement of handrails moving forward and a width of almost two feet on the non-slip side decks provide superb safety features. There are no shrouds in the walkways behind the traveller. The sunbathing area, right in back of the large trampoline, has the wonderfully deep soft Fountain Pajot cushions; definitely a great area for the kids to play in, or for you and your guests to enjoy a cocktail. With the helm station at mid-height overlooking a flat upper deck, there is wonderful visibility to see all four corners of the boat and supervise the kids playing on the trampoline. The large flat surface provides ample area to install solar panels. Because of the new design and inverted bows, there is a skipper’s cabin available that was not available in the previous model.

Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 aft section 400The helm station is enclosed for long passages and sports either a hard or soft fitted top with a wide skipper’s bench that easily seats two people. Visibility is outstanding for both steerage and staying connected with your crew. The three power winches made solo or couple handling easy peasy.

The aft section has room for plenty of family and friends with lots of elbow room

A real bonus is the lower height of the boom, so you don’t have to climb the mast to put in a reef or take down the sail into the lazy jacks. The mast has been placed further forward which not only provides more sailing performance, but also puts it forward of the dinette, opening up the salon below.

COCKPIT and SALON

There are davits for a dinghy and a manual system to bring the boat aboard. This allows for a larger swim platform that has two levels for both boarding and swimming. The cockpit dining area easily seats five. Four stools can be added to seat more guests and a table extension is a manufacturer’s option. The aft bench is 6 feet long and the spacious starboard lounger offers additional seating, with storage lockers under all the bench seats.

A sliding door system separates the cockpit from the salon which is all on the same level. Eliminating the sunken salon allows the windows to be larger and creates more natural light. Rounded edges can be found throughout for added safety. There is an additional opening above the galley sink which provides a serving path linked to the cockpit by a sliding bay so food and conversation can flow easily. They have even thought of a blind to cut out glare on sunny days while working at the double sink, 3-burner stove, oven and several fridges with sliding drawers. Headroom is over 2 meters providing plenty of volume and two very large hatches provide nice ventilation. The settee can be converted into a double bed for extra sleeping. There is an option to manually lift the coffee table up to a full dining table. Storage is plentiful under the table, settees and the floor. Using a suction cup, the “secret” floor storage areas can be easily accessed without anyone knowing they are there.

Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 cabins 400A new, unique innovation is that the nav station has been moved from the middle of the salon to a stand-up navigation instrument and 16” chart plotter console right inside the sliding door. The helm and navigator can converse easily and still be a part of the guest conversation. A comfortable, dry, warm watch can be kept from inside.

All cabins have full size beds with excellent ventilation and room to move about

SLEEPING ACCOMMODATIONS

The Isla 40 offers four versions: 3 cabin Maestro (with 2 or 3 baths) or 4 cabin Quatuor (with 2 or 4 baths), the most popular being the Maestro with 2 baths. This layout with a shared head gives more space to the two guest cabins. The pedestal square beds in all configurations are ample with loads of under the beds and wall storage along with hanging cupboards. A nice privacy feature is that all windows have curtains. All cabins have a deck hatch and hull porthole. My ladies’ crew thought that the design of the cabins was intriguing with brilliant storage and were surprised by the modern touches of genius. The mattresses were so soft and comfortable that we almost fell asleep!

With the two-bathroom option, the areas are spacious and modern with a separate walk-in shower in the owner’s cabin that gives the homeowners on land a run for their money. Hot and cold running water are a real treat to enjoy. The owner’s storage area with shelves and hanging cupboard may optionally be fitted with a 3kg washing machine.

Fountaine Pajot Isla 40 head 400OVERALL ASSESSMENT

The women’s team gave this model two thumbs-up with her ease of docking, sailing and feeling of stability. It was so easy for us to handle her in a large blow and didn’t require superhuman strength to do anything. We were all in agreement that although it was a high-ticket boat, the added features, well- thought-out flow and excellent quality added to the slogan, “If you try it, you’ll want one!”

The owner’s head has enough room for a party!

This 3-cabin Maestro version fully loaded landed in the port of Montreal, Canada came in at $890,000 CAN including taxes and duty. Surprisingly, the boat arrived with the mast up on the deck of the container ship, so it was ready to set sail without delay.

Delivery is now available in 2024 with a 20% deposit. Your Fountaine-Pajot dealers:

Navy Point Yacht Sales in Toronto, ON and Sacket’s Harbor, NY

Marina Lennox in Montreal and Quebec City, PQ

Signature Yachts in Seattle, WA

 

Technical specifications

Length (OA): 39.14 ft / 11.93 m

Beam: 21.7 ft / 6.63 m

Displacement unloaded: 9.5 T

Draft: 4.0 ft / 1.21 m

Sail area: 635 ft² / 59 m²

Genoa area: 387.5 ft² / 36 m²

Standard Power: 2 x 20 HP - 2 x 20 CV

Option Power: 2 x 30 HP - 2 x 30 CV

Architect Berret-Racoupeau Yacht Design

Fresh Water: 2 x 70 gal /  265 L

Fuel Capacity: 80 gal / 300 L

Originally published in the Canadian Yachting February 2022 Edition