Multihulls Special 2021: Lagoon leads the way
In the first chapter of our ‘Kings of Cats’ cover story in Issue 59, Yacht Style profiles market leader Lagoon, which recently passed the 6,000 mark for cruising catamarans.
The Lagoon 55 was launched earlier this year – see full Review in Issue 59; Photo: Nicolas Claris
The Lagoon 55 (see REVIEW, Issue 59) was among many new catamarans scheduled to premiere at this year’s International Multihull Show at La Grande Motte in the south of France. However, this year’s edition was cancelled a month ahead of the event – as it was last year – leading Lagoon and many other catamaran builders to organise alternative ways of showcasing their new models.
In the meantime, Lagoon celebrated completing its 6,000th catamaran since its first launch in 1987, which underlined its reputation as the most prolific builder in a sector featuring fellow French builder Fountaine Pajot, with around 4,000 units since 1976, and South Africa-built Leopard, with about 2,500 over the past two decades.
“Passing the 6,000 mark is a huge milestone for us,” says Thomas Gailly, Lagoon Brand Director. “It shows the kind of trust our clients have in our boats and know-how.”
Over 1,000 people work for Lagoon, which builds its catamarans from 40-78ft in multiple Groupe Beneteau facilities in France. The 40, 42 and 46 sailing catamarans are built in Dompierre, an hour from Nantes in the Vendee region.
Launched last year, the Lagoon Sixty 5 completed the brand’s ‘big four’; Photo: Nicolas Claris
Further south, the stunning CNB (Construction Navale Bordeaux) site on the River Garonne in Bordeaux is the production site for the Lagoon 50, 52, 55, Sixty 5 and Seventy 7 sailing models along with the Sixty 7 and Seventy 8 powercats.
Lagoon passed the mark of producing 400 boats a year in 2017 and kept on increasing its production capacity until Covid rocked the boat last year, forcing production to stop for two months during the lockdown.
With Covid having a dramatic impact on travel, many major charter companies reduced their orders, which affected Lagoon along with other cruising catamaran builders. Simultaneously, though, there was a notable uptick in orders from private clients, again a trend echoed at competitors.
Lagoon produces models from 50ft upwards in Bordeaux; Photo: Nicolas Claris
“Due to Covid, there was a real slowdown in orders from charter companies due to many of their bases remaining closed, but we’ve been keeping good pace due to very strong demand from private customers. Actually, Covid drastically increased the demand through the entire Lagoon range from private customers,” Gailly says.
“People are trying to find a way to escape from it all and how better than on a catamaran. Living on the sea was a dream for many and the situation led them to make this dream come true. Because of our production capacity, we’re able to offer the best lead times in the catamaran industry for most sizes, which led us to be quite successful over the last year or so.”
Lagoon’s numbers remain strong, but Gailly concedes the brand faces growing competition from both established builders and new players in a sector that appears to be expanding in popularity each year.
The Lagoon Seventy 8 heads the brand’s powercat offerings; Photo: Nicolas Claris
“There’s more and more demand for catamarans around the world and this has been true for years now. This has attracted other shipyards to invest more and more into this segment or even start their own range,” he says.
“Lagoon is one of the most experienced players in the industry and long ago became the biggest. It also has the biggest dealer network, so you always find the support you need, which is essential when buying a boat.
“Finally, we keep ahead by always innovating. We’ve done it again with the Lagoon 55 and its new concept of an open terrace on the sea. This is a brand-new way to live aboard and enjoy your boat that no one else is doing.”
LEADER OF THE PACK
Lagoon has certainly set the benchmark in Asia, where its dealers include Simpson Marine, the region’s biggest dealer with over 100 staff in seven countries. Simpson Marine has sold over 400 Lagoon cats and is the brand’s representative in Hong Kong, Taiwan, parts of mainland China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
A Lagoon 46 was recently delivered to Thailand; Photo: Simpson Marine
“Lagoon has been around for almost 20 years in Asia. People know and trust the name now,” Gailly says. “We work with great partners who have an excellent reputation for professionalism and capability. Being the leader is also a way to attract the best dealers, in terms of sales and service.”
The Lagoon 55 is the brand’s third-biggest sailing catamaran, behind the Sixty 5 launched last year and the Seventy 7, whose release in 2016 kick-started the emergence of the brand’s ‘big four’, which also includes the Sixty 7 and Seventy 8. The very first Seventy 7 sailing catamaran was sold to the Philippines, while another has recently been sold to Japan.
Gailly said he’s “very happy” with initial sales of the Lagoon 55, which is a significant step up from the 52. Major differences include a vastly increased beam, completely redesigned aft cockpit and transoms, a full flybridge, saloon skylights and a much-improved foredeck.
The Lagoon 55 is the brand’s third-biggest sailing cat; Photo: Nicolas Claris
“The volume of the 55 inside and outside is really amazing,” Gailly says. “Together with the Premium Services we will offer, she’s a logical link to our big four.”
Lagoon Premium is a new service the brand is offering for its 50ft-plus models. A new online platform allows clients to choose from a wide array of options including hull wrapping, tableware, cutlery, personalised cushions, towels or bed sheets, extra electronic equipment, security equipment and toys. The platform also allows owners to follow the production of their boat in Bordeaux.
“We launched Lagoon Premium because of more demand for customisation and personalisation,” Gailly says. “Everything the client orders is installed directly on the production line or loaded onto the boat, so clients can just come to the shipyard, turn the key and start their adventure.”
Elegant saloon in the Lagoon 55; Photo: Nicolas Claris
Lagoon’s capacity in Bordeaux has benefited from the added space made available when the production of CNB sailing yachts was moved to Groupe Beneteau’s facility in Monfalcone, Italy, although the sailing yacht brand has since been sold to Solaris. The space previously used for CNB is now dedicated to the Sixty line, but Gailly says Lagoon will not rush orders to catch up with demand.
“On our ‘big four’ models, the strategy is to focus on quality more than quantity. For instance, for the first year of the Sixty 5, even though we already had strong demand, we made only one vessel and took time to test her before starting the next ones. We know this clientele well and how important it is to maintain our standards and key values.”
While the ‘big four’ have had significant sales in Asia, Gailly says the Lagoon 46 and 50 are now the most popular models in the region.
A Lagoon 50 in Hong Kong; Photo: Simpson Marine
“They are recent models with the best price positioning on the market. They answer Asian clients’ need for volume, comfort and a large list of optional equipment. We also have big hopes for the 55.”
Meanwhile, Excess, the new Groupe Beneteau brand focused on higher-performance sailing cats, now has its current fleet represented across the Asia-Pacific.
The Excess 11, the brand’s 37ft entry-level yacht, marked its Asia debut at the Japan International Boat Show in April, having earlier been the star of an ‘Excess Tour’ in Yokohama.
Japan is home to an Excess 11, the new brand’s first model in Asia
Australia is home to an Excess 12, which was displayed at the Boating Rendezvous in Sydney last October and is set to appear at this year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.
The Excess 15 is the brand’s largest model and a unit sold in New Zealand participated in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers at the end of last year as the 48ft 5in catamaran makes her way ‘home’ via various stops including Tahiti.
Lagoon and now Excess benefit from efficient hulls by VPLP, a specialist in offshore racing, as well as Groupe Beneteau’s focus on responsible production and sustainable materials.