Boat Review: Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42KrakenSailing
Old salts grouse about modern aesthetics. It’s just what they do, and the hard lines and spartan interiors of today’s production boats give them many reasons to complain. French builder Wauquiez, however, seems to consistently be able to marry contemporary elements with old-school sophistication, as is evident in its new Pilot Saloon 42, winner of the the mid-sized monohull cruising boat category in SAIL’s 2019 Best Boats contest.
Design & Construction
Wauquiez was formed in the 1960s and has been building its Pilot Saloon models—boats that have been popular as ocean-crossers due to their durability and speed—since the early 1990s.
The latest Berret-Racoupeau-designed Pilot Saloon 42 employs infused sandwich construction with a balsa core to provide stiffness, insulation and weight-savings. A composite structural grid is fully bonded to the interior of the hull to accommodate rig and keel loads, while an aramid layer in the bow improves impact resistance. The deck is also infused with a balsa core and is attached to the hull with a combination of adhesive and mechanical fasterners. Displacement is just under 27,000lb.
The boat has a plumb bow and a chine aft to improve form stability under a press of sail. Below the waterline, you’ll find twin rudders and a choice of 7ft 1in or 5ft 5in keels. The latter was fitted on our test boat. For easy maneuvering the boat can be ordered with an optional bow thruster employing its own dedicated battery. Standing rigging is 1-x-19 Dyform wire.
The Pilot Saloon 42 is a handsome boat with a low profile despite having a raised saloon. Boarding is easiest via an electric swim platform that lowers to nearly water level. Twin composite Jefa wheels add to the modern and sophisticated look, with angled binnacles that have exceptionally well-designed handholds allowing you to steady yourself as you move about the cockpit.
At the bow, I found a smallish Lewmar windlass mounted on deck next to the flush anchor locker hatch. The winch is offset slightly to port and seems a bit too close to the anchor roller, which extends forward and out onto the stainless steel bowsprit. I suspect the hatch will also create a slippery surface for anyone working with the windlass. The side decks are clear, and while the boarding gates are a bit narrow, I was impressed by the tall triple lifelines, which are exactly as they should be on an offshore vessel—especially if you have kids or pets aboard.
The fractional rig supports double, aft-swept spreaders and a total working sail area of 973ft with the 110 percent jib. The deck-stepped Sparcraft aluminum mast is 63ft high and therefore ICW-friendly. Rig options include a self-tacking jib, an overlapping genoa or both. All lines are led aft under the deck and are managed by Andersen electric winches and an array of Spinlock rope clutches near the helms. In addition to getting the hook away from the plumb stem, the fixed sprit also serves as a tack point for a reaching sail. The trademark Wauquiez windshield makes an excellent base for a full dodger. Our test boat was fully kitted out with teak, including in the cockpit and on deck, and looked great as a result.
You can choose between a two- or three-stateroom layout below. With the two-cabin arrangement, the master cabin is aft and two steps down, with a large centerline bed and a starboard seat sitting below an overhead indent with a series of small opening ports. Because this is an aft-cockpit design, there’s no large hatch overhead. In the three-cabin arrangement, the two guest cabins are aft, and the master stateroom moves forward where hull ports and a large hatch bring in lots of light and ventilation. Both of the heads compartments are well-proportioned and have separate shower stalls and electric freshwater toilets.
The raised saloon is really what makes this design remarkable and includes a high circular dinette to starboard that can seat six people for a cozy meal. The impressive cabin windows provide 270-degree visibility even when you’re seated and include a number of small opening ports to bring in a cross breeze.
The straight galley to port is well-laid out with lots of countertop space enclosed by a series of fiddles integrated into the Corian. The Force 10 three-burner stove will do nicely when cooking for a crowd, and the boat comes pre-wired for microwave and TV. Twin refrigeration drawers can be found just ahead of the forward-facing nav desk in the port aft corner. Our test boat also included an optional suite of Raymarine electronics with 4G radar, charting software and autopilot controls at the helms. Inside at the nav desk, an iPad repeats most information from the MFDs above providing a space-saving solution for quick-reference navigation.
The finish on our test boat was called “natural white oak” and with a white headliner and bulkheads, the accommodations were very bright, perfect for those who disdain gloomy interiors. Twin overhead hatches (including one over the stove) complemented the generous cabintop windows, which are tinted and appear opaque from the outside, a nice touch.
We tested the boat in a light 6- to 10-knot breeze on Cheseapeake Bay, and our suit of North Sails canvas included the aforementioned 110 percent genoa on a furler and a traditional mainsail with slab reefing. (An in-mast furling main is also available.)
Though a substantial boat, the Wauquiez 42 was in her element even in the light conditions, producing speeds of 6.2 knots at a 65-degree apparent wind angle. As we bore away to 150 degrees, our speed fell off to 4.1 knots under working jib alone. But I suspect an A-sail would have bumped that up a quite nicely if we’d had one aboard.
Beyond that, the boat showed signs of forgiveness for any newbie at the wheel, kept her speed up through tacks as tight as 75 degrees and accelerated noticeably, yet smoothly in the puffs. The overall feel of the boat is that of a luxury car requiring only the lightest touch on the helm.
Auxiliary power is provided by a 54hp Yanmar diesel and saildrive. However, our test boat had been upgraded with an 80hp powerplant and a Max-Prop feathering propeller. On flat water we motored back to the slip at 7.5 knots with the tachometer set at 2,300 rpm. With the engine running at 3,300 rpm, we hit 8.3 knots.
Although Raymarine multifunction displays and instruments can be found at both helms, the engine controls and optional bow thruster control are only available on the starboard binnacle with the engine throttle down at knee level. Tankage is respectable for offshore cruising, with 110 gal of fuel and 110 gal of freshwater. An optional Fischer Panda genset was tucked under the saloon dinette of our test boat along with a Mastervolt 2,000W inverter.
The Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 is an exceptional cruising boat that will be perfect for a crew of four. The three-cabin version of the boat is also available for charter via Dream Yacht Charter’s Boutique Program if you want to give this new design an extended trial before ordering one of your own. Either way, if the angled, Ikea-style interiors of many of today’s cruisers cause you to see red, consider checking out the Pilot Saloon series by Wauquiez and grouse no more.
LOA 42ft 6in LWL 38ft 8in Beam 14ft 2in
Draft 5ft 6in (shoal); 7ft 1in (std.)
Sail Area 973ft
Air Draft 63ft
Fuel/Water (GAL) 110/110
Engine Yanmar 54hp (80-hp upgrade)
SA/D Ratio 18 D/L Ratio 205 Ballast Ratio 35
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
Builder Wauquiez Boats, Neuville-en-Ferrain Cedex, France, wauquiez.com
U.S. Distributor Dream Yacht Sales, 844-328-7771, dreamyachtsales.com
Price $550,000 (sail away); $665,000 (as tested), at time of publication.