The Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 promises speed and exceptional build quality. Graham Snook went to see if she had the wow factor on the water
There is no boat quite like this one, and it’s not often I can say that. It’s not that the Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 is unique in her design or that she has an original concept, but the interior, wow.
I haven’t seen anything quite like it on a production yacht before: custom yachts, motor boats and superyachts, yes. 42ft French cruisers? No.
Gorgeously finished teak, white and grey leather, swathes of white Corian, light surrounds, light switches and plug surrounds in brushed aluminium, and little leather pull toggles on the locker front are just a few of the details.
Then there are cool blue saloon windows that clear or darken at the twist of a knob.
As nice as the interior is, it would mean very little if she’s as useful as a foghorn in a library, just as well, then, she a comfortable and practical cruiser and the attention to detail down below has been taken to on deck too.
Conditions for the test in Palma Bay were perfect, a good Force 4 with warm bright sunshine; and the Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 relished them, topping out at over 9 knots on a fetch.
This boat had the optional 2.15m draught deep lead keel, a 1.65m draught iron keel is standard with a lead keel of the same draught also an option.
She was a joy to sail, only when the apparent wind went over 20 knots did we feel the need to ease the mainsheet, the grip from the twin, splayed rudders was unflappable.
Steering is via Jefa chain and cable, it had a solid feel and reassuring weight to it without being too heavy.
The cockpit is high, and occasionally feels it when going over the raised bridge deck, you feel a little exposed but the addition of grab handles either side would help, as would the sprayhood – if we hadn’t taken it off for the photographs.
The single bow roller is recessed into the large, shiny, fixed stainless-steel bowsprit.
Directly aft is the windlass, the chain drops straight into the bows.
Access to the chain locker is via a watertight hatch in the forward bulkhead of the deep bow locker, which itself is accessed via a flush hatch in the foredeck.
It was nice to see three guardrails, and even nicer to see that the end fittings are in the pulpit and pushpit so there are no pins to catch crew or sails.
It’s an easy step up to the coachroof from the mast, less so further aft.
Lines from the mast are led under the eyebrows of the forward facing saloon windows, to reappear at the forward end of the cockpit.
The rope clutches and Andersen size 40ST winches aren’t far enough aft for the helm to have easy access, on this boat the starboard winch was electric which made raising the mainsail a doddle.
Andersen size 46ST for the genoa are next to the helm, and the helm is the best placed to use them, electric winches are an option and, with them being far aft, it would be hard not to justify ticking the option box – especially on a yacht this size and price.
Access to the cockpit from deck is just forward of the wheels where there’s a good-sized rope locker on each side with a hinged lid to stand on.
The handholds on the binnacle weren’t very high, this will improve when Wauquiez raise the pedestals by 8 cm, but I’d still like to see them a little higher.
Deck stowage is good, there are lockers under both helm seats (port is the gas locker).
The liferaft locker that’s accessed from the fold-down transom; released from inside the lazarette locker.
At the helm
There is seating aft and outboard of twin wheels. It’s not the widest of helm spaces, but the pedestals will be moving forward 3cm.
I did find the gap between the pedestal and the wheel caught my knuckles, and if she was mine I’d be searching for a spacer to bring the wheel aft a tad.
The backstay does cut across the helm seat outboard a little, but it can also be used to hook an arm around.
Both hull and deck are balsa cored and vacuum infused, the hull’s internal grid structure is also vacuum infused after which, it’s bonded and laminated in place.
The trapezium shaped hull windows have a recess in the hull and are bonded in from the outside.
The hull has a soft chine aft and while she is beamy aft, the waterline is quite narrow which should make her less sticky in light conditions, but as she heels the waterline extends and she’ll happily rest comfortably on her chine
This Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 had the optional Sparcraft painted rig and Park Avenue boom – an anodised mast is standard.
The rig comes with Dyform rigging is standard, as does the track on the mast which makes hoisting it less of fight with friction.
The genoa cars were adjustable from the cockpit and are set against the coachroof. The bowsprit can accept an off-wind sail.
The Test Verdict
It was refreshing to see that style can be well executed and practical and that a company will throw convention to the wind to use ideas and systems not on production yachts: monogrammed light switches and plug surrounds, dimmable glass windows and pull toggles instead of latches.
Then there is the overall look of the interior and its high build quality; it really does have the wow factor.
Add to this her handling, performance and composure on the water and you’re left with a modern, spacious cruiser that will eat up the miles.
The sea doesn’t care about style, and when it gets rough, the light white hull sides will be the last thing on your mind.
But even in such conditions, the Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 should still look after you.
There are plenty of handholds and the stowage around the boat, especially in the galley, can be safely accessed without dodging airborne objects from cupboards you’ve just opened.
Would she suit you and your crew?
At first glance it could be easy to think of the 42 as what Americans term a ‘dock queen’ – she looks nice in her berth, but you’d rattle like a pea in a can at sea.
This couldn’t be further from the truth; she has style and substance.
The modern interior may not be your thing, in which case you can buy a Rustler 42.
Whether you’re sailing or in harbour, the 42’s interior is practical and, thanks to the large saloon windows, you can be out of the elements and still get a sense of place.
She has the space, both living and storage, that would make life on board for extended periods a joy.
The Wauquiez has good build quality, modern styling, she’s spacious and practical with easy handling – especially with a self-tacking jib fitted.
All boats are inevitably a compromise but the 42 seems to have compromised little in any areas.
This makes her a cracking yacht. If you want modern styling and your budget will run to it, this 42ft cruiser is an absolute must.
Facts and Figures
Price as tested: £474,332 in VAT
LOA: 12.99m (42ft 6in)
Hull Length: 12.42 m (40ft 9in)
LWL: 12.8 m (4ft 1in)
Beam: 4.34m (14ft 2in)
Draught: 2.15m (7ft 05in)
Displacement: 11,593kg (25,558 lb)
Ballast: 3,100kg (6,834 lb)
Ballast ratio: 26.7%
Displacement / Length: 197.1
Sail area: 89.5m2 (sq ft)
SA/D ratio: 17.9
Diesel: 415 litres ( gal)
Water: 615 litres ( gal)
RCD category: A
Designer: Berret – Racoupeau Yacht Design
Builder: Wauquiez Boats
UK Agent: Parkstone Bay Yachts
Tel: 01202 724917
This review was first published in our Summer 2018 issue. Back copies of Yachting Monthly can be bought at www.mags-uk.com