French catamaran builder Lagoon has launched a new 51-footer that is an evolution of the best features of previous models combined with new additions. With a new rig and an open interior, this swanky cat will find a solid target market in both charter and private use.
Like its predecessor the Lagoon 50, the new Lagoon 51 is the work of VPLP and Patrick Le Quément, and in fact it shares the same hulls with a slightly different bridgedeck in between. The new model gained 2 feet in LOA with longer swim platforms but also slimmed down by about 2,000 pounds.
Lagoon’s nod to sustainability now includes construction using recyclable hemp instead of traditional glass fibers and the addition of flexible Solbian solar panels on the bimini and coachroof that add a total of 2,728 watts of power for more energy autonomy at anchor.
The big story is the placement and size of the rig. A few years back, Lagoon moved the mast aft on all of its models to open up the foretriangle and allow options for larger headsails. They made the mast taller to maintain a large mainsail, where most of the sailing power on cats comes from. However, most people didn’t use the larger headsails, instead opting for the self-tacking jib.
With the new model, Lagoon returned the mast to a more forward position and shortened the spar by nearly 10 feet. This does three things: It opens up the interior; it makes sailhandling easier; and it also creates a larger flybridge surface up top.
The Lagoon 51 dials in some fancy outdoor spaces. First are the wide, low swim platforms, which make boarding easy from both the dock and dinghy. The hydraulic platform in between carries the tender but also makes a great teak beach when it submerges below the waterline.
Up in the cockpit, there’s a plancha grill integrated into the transom and a dinette for eight that makes the perfect dining spot. A sink, drinks fridge, and lounge are to starboard.
On the foredeck, there’s enough room for a lounge as well as twin trampolines, and we did an extensive test of this area with beverages handed to us from the galley via the forward opening window.
The big draw, of course, is the flybridge with its three distinct areas including twin forward sunbeds, the helm in the middle, and the C-shaped dinette aft. Dual staircases port and starboard lead up to the flybridge so there’s never a traffic jam. The helm is on the centerline with a long bench seat behind an angled dash with a B&G MFD, wind instruments, autopilot, and remote windlass control. Three Harken winches on the sides manage the sheets and three integrated sheet bins collect the spaghetti of lines.
I’m not a fan of centerline helms for two reasons—the visibility directly ahead is interrupted by the mast, and when docking, you can’t really see down either side and still be near enough to the wheel to drive. This same arrangement was on the 50, and it’s one thing that should have been examined in the redesign.
With the mast moved forward, the salon inside opens up. In fact, the compression post is barely noticeable, tucked in behind the settee backrest. The outboard-facing nav desk to starboard is seamlessly integrated into the salon but still provides a dedicated space for ship’s business with a B&G MFD, a second VHF radio, and autopilot control so you can drive from inside. The galley is aft to port and split with a three-burner Eno stove and sink to port, and Isotherm refrigerator drawers and ample countertops to starboard.
Layout options include four to six cabins and three to four heads but in a configuration you may not expect. In the owner’s version, the master suite occupies the entire starboard hull with a truly generous walk-in closet amidships. The port hull holds fore and aft cabins with two heads and a surprise stateroom inserted into the same space as the master closet in the other hull. For charter, up to six cabins are available, but for private use, it would be a crime to miss out on that owner’s suite.
Smart changes include returning to gravity fed holding tanks rather than electric, using a new white oak Alpi veneer that brightens up the interior, and adding Beneteau’s Seanapps communication, geofencing, and maintenance app, which makes its first appearance on a Lagoon.
Our test boat was hull No. 1 and we sailed on the flat and shallow waters of Biscayne Bay. There are 1,646 square feet of upwind sail area between the square-top main and overlapping genoa, but our electric headsail furler was inoperable, so we sailed instead with the main and the 1,087-square-foot Code 0, which put some energy into this big boat.
We just kissed 8.9 knots at 75 degrees apparent wind angle (AWA) in 13 knots of breeze. When we cracked off to 130 degrees AWA, we slowed to 7.5 knots. We were a bit zealous with the big sail, and in one of our jibes, we wrapped it into an hourglass, which shut down the day’s sailing. That’s when we anchored and opted for cocktails on the foredeck.
The new model displaces nearly 44,000 pounds dry, which is lighter than her predecessor. Nevertheless, the standard propulsion package was enhanced to twin 80-hp Yanmar diesels. Under power we cruised at 2,700 rpm and 8.7 knots and took it up to wide-open-throttle at 3,400 rpm and 9.2 knots, but that last half knot is hard won when it comes to fuel consumption.
The Lagoon 51 is an amalgam of smart new additions combined with the best features from past models. Over 300 hulls of the previous 50 were sold, and if that’s any indicator, the Lagoon 51 is likely to ring the sales bell loud and clear.
LOA 50’ 4”
Beam 26’ 7”
Draft 4’ 6”
Sail Area 1,646 sq ft w/square-top mainsail
Displacement (light) 43,910 lbs
Engines Twin 80-hp Yanmar
Designer VPLP, Patrick Le Quément
Base Price $1 million (excl VAT)
New Boat & Gear Review 2024