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Demo Day Annapolis, MD October 2008
Lagoon 380
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After dinner we head back up to the room and turn on the weather channel, hoping to hear that we are going get a moderate amount of wind. Certainly the Chesapeake Bay is know for it's windy conditions which is why the largest sailboat show in the USA is held here.  What we hear is calm conditions with winds gusting up to 5 knots. 5 knots you have got to be kidding me. It appears that 2008 Demo day is going to be a non event just like 2007 when we could barely get anything sailing. In fact in 2007 we motor-sailed, not the best conditions to test a yacht, particularly a Catamaran.

Tuesday morning comes along and it is gray and there is no wind at all at the hotel, the trees are limp and a light fog has settled in. There isn't enough wind to even blow that away. Well we head off to the marina to check in for our demo sails on the Lagoon 380, then the Leopard 40 and lastly the Lagoon 420. When we arrive we find that the Lagoon 420 is sitting there and waiting for wind, the Leopard 40 and the Lagoon 380 are out doing demos. The forecasters were correct 5 knots of wind.



Lagoon 380

The Lagoon 380 comes in and we take another long hard look at her, she is really solid and well designed, just not big enough and just not enough storage for our needs, but a beautiful yacht all the same. We board and start motoring out into the bay, turn her bow into the breeze and hoist the main and the jib, all the time with the motors running and in gear. She is heavy and really hard to get moving in this light wind, but with that being said, she was not designed for these light winds, she is a blue water boat and really starts to perform in 15 knots and up. The wind is so light that it is not possible to tack without the assistance of the motors. We struggle for about an hour and half looking for wind but not finding any, so the sail is a bust, well not totally, we do know that the Lagoon 380 is just no good in light wind but all of that extra weight will come in handy in big seas and heavier winds.


Leopard 40

We head for the dock, thank the captain and head for the Leopard 40. We board and start looking around the yacht opening closets, and basically going through as much as we can. We talk to the skipper and tell him what we just experienced on the Lagoon, and we get a "Well just wait until you are out there and I will show you something" Hmm, I think lets see.

We motor out of the marina into into the bay, point the nose into the same 5 knot breeze hoist the main and jib and go looking for wind. So far nothing different, we hoisted the sails under power and sailed off at about half of the apparent wind. 

 

Immediately I could feel the difference, this yacht is faster and lighter, better, maybe and maybe not, but it is so hard to tell in such light conditions. The Leopard 40 was essentially built for the Caribbean charter market so she is geared towards the tourist, as a result she has tons of storage and the aft deck area and saloon are designed around sunset dinners on the deck with family and friends. There is little or no separation between the the saloon and aft section of the boat. It is however designed with the aft deck closed off with a walkway that can be closed off to stop the toddlers wondering off. Well to a point, young ones have a way of getting over, under or around things, but we don't have any but this was still pointed out to us. Anyway about half way into the sail the skipper says to me to furl the jib, center the traveler and tack through the wind.  So we furl the jib and so on and tack through the wind on the main in 5 knots of wind and I will be damned if the yacht deals with this without a problem at all. Really easy, and no motors, now I am impressed.  We sail along and sail past the Lagoon 420 which tacks away and we have a royal time in 5 knots or less of wind. Still not great conditions for sailing  but the yacht handled the conditions better than the Lagoon did. Why, well as mentioned she is lighter, and has less beam than the Lagoon 380 and thus does not need all that additional weight. I ask well how does she handle big seas and heavy winds, and the skipper says that he sailed her over from South Africa dodging Hurricanes, Gustav, Hannah and Ike. Great story but I wasn't there so I have to believe him. We thank him for his time and head over to the Lagoon 420.

 

Lagoon 420

After doing 2 demo sails the day is about done, and the last demo on the Lagoon 420 is to start at 4pm, still with little or no wind.  We board the 420 and she is just gorgeous, tons of space, open, modern and tons and tons of storage. This is just one fantastic yacht.

Lagoon has made a few minor changes on the 2008 / 2009 model. They have added about 18" to the mast and they found that for her weight she was under sheeted. They also recessed all the hatch openings so that you now have clean access from the stern to the bow on both the port and starboard sides. No more stubbing your toes into the dark if you have to move to the bow in the dark. They have added seating on the bow in front of the trampoline; a feature that was seen on the 440 last year. She is beamy and heavy, in fact she has just about the same beam as the 440 and is 2 feet shorter. You can see why she needs extra sails. Anyway we introduce ourselves to the captain and he motor out to the bay, by now we are expecting the same benign conditions, but we have a little evening breeze of about 10 knots, not great conditions but better than we have had all day. Again we turn the bow to the wind and raise the main and unfurl the jib. She handles this without any trouble and seems to do better in the light conditions than her little sister. She is bigger and has 2 foot more waterline and weighs about the same same the 380, as a result she can handle the lighter conditions  better without compromising her heavy weather pedigree.  I must say that I really enjoyed sailing this yacht and she was everything I expected, she tacked through the wind graciously, sailed at at about half the speed of the apparent wind and was everything and more that I had expected of this yacht. We sailed her for about 90 minutes tacking, jibing and just generally playing around.

Lagoon 420
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This particular yacht had been prepared and built to a customers specifications and had some really nice extras, stuff like remote steering which at first I thought was a little gimmicky; but I found that I was able to steer her from the saloon and would be able to do so in bad conditions. There is no need to be up on deck during a lightening storm when you can be inside. She was also fitted with a genset which was so quiet that if you did not know that it was running you would not hear it. I one item that I did not like was the hardtop, though absolutely essential, it obscured your view of the sails and the tell tales. I found myself walking to port and looking around the port side to see what was going on with the sail trim, and I could not tell where the traveler was as it was on top of the hardtop. You would have to tie a ball or something onto the back of the traveler and hand it over the back of the hardtop so that you can see where it is. Something that I could probably live with.  Back at the dock we thanked the skipper and all that were involved with organizing and coordinating our demo sails and LEs and I sat down and took stock of where we were and which of the 3 we were going to buy.

 


Buying a yacht is a series of compromises, is bigger better, price is a factor. Do you want a genset, do you want a heavier yacht with more beam. How much effort, time and energy will be needed to keep it clean and ship-shape. Can you single hand her, which of the sailing characteristics do you prefer and which features can you live without. Is there room for a dive compressor, and so and so forth. We mulled this through our minds and crunched the numbers ad decided that the Lagoon 380 was just not big enough for us, and in light of the fact that Lagoon is introducing the new Lagoon 400 next year we believe that the 380 will be no more, as a result this yacht was ruled out.
This left the Leopard 40 and the Lagoon 420, which was my preference. Both could be single handed, but in fairness to all concerned I did not believe that Lesley would be able to handle such a large yacht on her own, it is simply too big for her. Besides I am getting older and I want to clean less not more, and lastly we did not have nearly $600,00 for a fitted Lagoon 420. This left us with the Leopard 40, Lesley's choice all along, and $250,000 cheaper.

The decision became a no brainer, we settled on the Leopard 40. Delivery to be made after the Annapolis Boat show of 2009, which right now cannot come fast enough for me.  As a friend of mine said that is longer than childbirth, how are you going to cope.  That my friends is to be seen.

Now to name her ....
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