When I asked Fountaine Pajot’s Laurent Fabre if the new Astrea 42 was replacing Fountaine Pajot’s earlier Helia 44, his response was a firm “Non!” The reason, he said, is the Astrea isn’t just a shortened or tweaked design, but rather an all-new design for this LOA that borrows a number of features from the French builder’s award-winning Saona 47.
Design & Construction
Although only working with a foot and a half more LOA than her little sister, the Lucia 40, the Astrea’s design team at Berret-Racoupeau made a point of including more usable seating options, a voluminous interior with multiple head configurations and larger windows all around to make the boat brighter and more inviting. They even added slightly inverted hulls like those you see on serious racing machines, which if nothing else certainly makes the boat look speedier.
Construction includes a PVC foam core sandwich with vacuum-laminated outer skins. The deck and cabinhouse are made using the company’s proprietary Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) technique, and both sides are sprayed with gelcoat for a finished look from every angle. Spars are aluminum, supported by stainless wire shrouds and stays.
The deck layout has been optimized for maximum functionality and comfort, with the hydraulic swim platform alone worth the price of admission. It’s optional, so you can also go with dinghy davits, but why would you? Not only does the platform carry the tender, but it also allows you to cross from one transom to the other without setting foot in the cockpit. Best of all, it makes for a great teak “beach” the family will love.
Two steps up is a cockpit that has been configured with a lovely transom, which terminates on the starboard side in an optional plancha grill. To port is also a dinette that will seat six comfortably or eight in a pinch. A Vitrifrigo fridge and lounge for two complete this very comfortable layout.
Moving forward, I noticed a lack of handholds on the cabintop, but liked the nice beefy cleats. The foredeck includes both a U-shaped lounge that includes a footwell and room for four and a section of trampoline for those purists who like to lie there, watching the hulls part the water below. You can access the lockers beneath the seats without having to remove the cushions, a feature that will be very handy underway when things tend to go flying.
The helm pod to starboard is elevated and molded into the bimini with access from the deck as well as via a set of steps from the cockpit. The wheel sits aft, mounted on a console that is angled so that the driver can more easily see the Garmin multifunction display and instruments even when standing. Three Lewmar winches and two arrays of sheet stoppers are on the cabintop forward in a separate workspace. This allows the driver to focus on the wheel while the crew manages the sails without crowding one another. In case of singlehanding, it’s also easy to turn on the autopilot while managing the lines, as both are well within reach from this forward position.
Steps lead up from helm to the coachroof, where there is a double sun pad on centerline and space for a set of solar panels aft of the long traveler. The boom is low, making it easy to reach over and tuck in the main. Fountaine Pajot has also developed a unique hook system for the mainsail halyard, which automatically clips into the head of the sail as it’s raised and disconnects when the sail drops in the bag.