Sun Worshipper By Kevin Green for Asia Pacific Boating Magazine.
Epitomising the modern cruising catamaran with two deck levels, living space to rival a 60-foot monohull and an ability to sail to windward, it’s understandable why Fountaine Pajot’s Helia 44 is already a popular buy.
The big three catamaran builders – Fountaine Pajot, Robertson & Caine and Lagoon – are pushing hard for your dollar right now and thanks to mass production and economies-of-scale they are delivering increasingly better boats at sharp prices, as typified by Fountaine Pajot’s Helia 44.
A replacement for the Orana 44, the 44-foot Helia brings some interesting innovations including the saloon-top lounge area, sheltered aft deck and a remodelled galley.
This size of catamaran is very much the sweet-spot for buyers with more space than the next model down, the Lipari 41, and a big cost saving on the larger Saba 50.
Reflecting the worldwide popularity of this model that numbers 117 since its introduction in 2012, at least eight have been supplied to the Asia-Pacific region.
Stepping aboard hull number #48 in Sydney, the styling and feel are reminiscent of the flagship Sanya 57 that I have sailed, which isn’t surprising since the prolific French design house of Berret Racoupeau was responsible for both boats. But the Helia is a much more manageable package that allows it to be easily handled by a couple.
Thanks to engines outboard on both hulls, catamarans are very controllable in close-quarter maneuvering but many have one problem – invariably your views are restricted from the helm. Not the case with the Helia, as its elevated single helm station gives confidence even to the newbie cat commander.