The updated version of one of the most widely-used and popular cruising catamarans in our part of the world. It features many new touches, but it hasn’t lost the strength of a winning design
by Luca Sordelli
IT WAS RAINING. I couldn’t even see the bow. Big fat drops were coming straight down and making a series of thudding sounds on the flybridge. It wasn’t a day to be out on a boat. There was no wind, and torrential rain was coming out of low, grey Sirocco clouds.
I was safe and warm in the central lounge of the Isla 40, which was securely moored at Porto Mirabello, at the bottom of the Gulf of La Spezia. It was one of the situations in which the sea and sky seem to melt into one, in which one feels plunged into a huge water bubble. The landscape and the bay are things I could only imagine, and I drew them out of the memory of the numerous times that I have tacked around here. It’s a real shame that I wasn’t able to try sailing the new 40-footer by Fountaine Pajot. The Isla 40, true to the DNA of the yard from La Rochelle, is a catamaran designed by Berret-Racoupeau which combines large areas and a lot of room on board to enjoy the pleasures of sailing.
The hub of the Isla 40 is the cockpit, with a large dining table, overlooked by the galley counter.
So what is new in the Isla 40? Everything that, thanks to the intelligent “tuning” done by the yard, makes this twelve-metre boat contemporary and appealing to the world of multi-hull fans, a group that is growing both in numbers and in demands. The clearest example of this is the angle of the bow stem, which now slopes back a few degrees. This small change gives it a meaner look, in line with what we are used to seeing now, even on single-hulls or powered craft. Another change that reflects how it is keeping up with the times is the position of the map area. It is no longer behind the windscreen, and the big chart table has been replaced by a small one, set up vertically, where all of the electronic instruments have been brought together. It is especially worth noting that it has been placed close to the cockpit, just beyond the big glass door to the lounge.
Life on board relies on a good balance between indoor and outdoor life. So it makes sense that the galley, the focus of life on board, should be located on the border between the two areas, with the counter looking out, to the stern. This dark, rainy day certainly didn’t allow me to best appreciate the link between the interior and exterior, but it did give me time to take a good look at the advantages of this boat.
I like the “half-deck” location of the bridge; it’s neither at the main deck level nor on the upper deck. That is a solution that allows whoever is at the helm to keep a close eye on everything from above: the wheel, throttles and the rigging (all of it except for the gennaker sheets, which come down in the stern) which is channelled to three winches; this means that as well as being easily able to go “downstairs” to deal with mooring and anchoring, you don’t feel cut off from what everybody on board is doing.
When set up for chartering, with four cabins each with a bathroom, you can add a room for the skipperright at the end of the starboard hull, with its entrance.
Another strong point on the Isla 40 is how different layouts can be chosen to suit the needs of different owners, from the most expert to occasional users. For people who charter it, there is a four-cabin, four-bathroom version, while for traditional family usage, two further set-ups are offered – both of them with a hull that is entirely set aside for owners (cabin, bathroom, an area with an office area and an endless number of cupboards and wardrobes). The other version can either have two cabins and two bathrooms, or two cabins and one single, enormous, bathroom amidships between the two bedrooms. Overall there is a lot of space everywhere, with headroom that is over 2.10 metres in the lounge, and just below two metres in the cabins.
There is a huge amount of usable area in the bows of the Isla 40. As well as the standard netting between the two hulls, there is also a large sun lounger below the windscreen.
FOUNTAINE PAJOT S.A.
F-17290 Aigrefeuille, France
PROJECT: Berret Racoupeau Yacht Design
HULL: LOA 11.93m • Maximum beam 6.63m • Draft 1.21m • Light mass displacement 9,500 kg • Water tank volume 2x265 l • Fuel tank volume 300 l • Mainsail surface 58 m2 • Genoa surface 37 m2
In the two engine rooms, there are two Volvo Penta D1-20s with sail-drive transmission. Alternatively, you can have two D1-30s.
MAIN PROPULSION: 2xVolvo Penta D1-20 • 4 stroke • Outlet mechanical power 18.8 hp (13.8 kW) • 3 inline cylinders • Bore&Stroke 67mm x 72mm – Compression ratio 23.5:1 • Swept volume 0.76 l • Maximal rotational speed 3200/min • Dry weight 118 kg
AS OPTIONAL: 2 x Volvo Penta D1–30
EC CERTIFICATION: CAT A – 8 people
PRICE: 304,556 €, Excl.VAT (4 cabins) (May 2021)
(Isla 40, room for everyone – Barchemagazine.com – May 2021)