Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 55

by George Day

Blue Water Sailing
April 2008


 

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Advanced design and styling...
In the far north of France not far from the English channel and right on the border with Belgium lies the provincial town of Neuville en Ferrain. The town is far from the yachting centers of La Rochelle or Cannes and closer to the coal mines and steel works of Walloonia and the site of the famous Battle of Waterloo. One would hardly expect an international yacht builder to emerge from this region and or this town.

But boat-building companies start with a passion more than the logic of geography. In 1965 Frenchman Henri Wauquiez set out to fulfill his dreams of building sailboats by launching his own company in his hometown. He knew his craft well and in the ensuing years created wonderful boats bearing the brands Elizabethan, Centurion, Pretorien, and Amphitrite. He also built or finished hulls for other builders such as Ted Hood.

Wauquiez was as much an artist at his craft as an engineer so he developed a reputation for building boats that sailed extremely well, were very well built and had a special flair. Several of his boats became classics, particularly the Hood 38, the Centurion 32 and the Pretorien 35. Decades after they were built these boats continue to command high prices and the admiration of experienced sailors worldwide.

When the time came for Henri Wauquiez to lay down his tools, he sold the company to Groupe Beneteau, the world’s largest sailboat builder. Under the guidance of Beneteau management and executive Joel Jarrijon, Wauquiez has been transformed from a small specialty company into a leading builder of
premium cruising boats that embody the best in modern European styling, design and engineering.

The company now builds the Centurion and Pilot Saloon series of boats, all over 40 feet. The Centurion 40s is a sleek, racer cruiser in the classic tradition. The boat was designed to be a fast family cruiser but it has proven to be very quick in rallies and races. The little sister to the Centurion 45s, which was very successful and only went out of production last year, the Centurion 40s carries on a tradition at Wauquiez that goes back to its beginnings. In 1997 Wauquiez began building pilot saloon designs with the introduction of the Pilot Saloon 48. A departure from the performance oriented sloops of the Centurion series, the raised deck designs were intended to be pure cruising boats with sumptuous and elegant accommodations. The 48 was a hit and the Pilot Saloon 43 followed, then the Pilot Saloon 40, which was so popular that the company built 120 during the five-year production run.


Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 55

The Pilot Saloon concept is based on several basic objectives: the boat must be stylish and very comfortable for living aboard, it must sail well but be very easy to sail, it must be technically advanced in all areas and the Pilot Saloon has to afford those sitting in the raised dinette a marvelous view of the harbor around them.

This new generation of cruising boats has raised the Wauquiez profile worldwide as the company sets everhigher standards among production boat builders. The new boats are truly premier cruising boats that will hold their value for years to come while providing superb cruising platforms for their owners.

The New Pilot Saloon 55
The Berret-Racoupeau Group is well known in France and is responsible for many designs built by Groupe Beneteau. Their association with Wauquiez goes back more than a decade, thus when the company went out to find a new styling for their Pilot Saloon series, the natural choice was the design firm that they knew so well.

The Pilot Saloon 55 is Wauquiez’s new flagship. At 50 feet on the waterline, this is truly a large cruising boat that will provide a huge amount of room for the owners and the long legs offshore sailors like for making quick and safe blue water passages.

The distinctive, curved raised Pilot Saloon, with the large tinted windows bears a strong family resemblance to the PS 41 and PS 47. On a boat of this size, the long curve fits very neatly onto the hull and visually is engaging and distinctive.

The hull the designers gave Wauquiez has a quite narrow entry at the bow, fairly full sections amidships and a wide transom. With 16 feet of beam, the boat is quite wide, so it will have a lot of initial stability—it will sail upright
most of the time—and will have extra volume inside for the accommodations.
The hull and deck are infused laminates with balsa wood cores, which makes them light, strong and endowed with excellent insulating properties.

The cockpit arch that first appeared in the PS 47 is used in the 55. This fiberglass structure carries the mainsheet traveler so the sail can be sheeted from the end of the boom where you get the greatest leverage. Apart from ensuring that the mainsheet is never in the way in the cockpit, the arch also makes a good frame for mounting a bimini that can be linked to a dodger for
maximum protection from the sun or rain.

The cockpit has twin wheels, which improves visibility for the helmsman and opens up the middle of the cockpit for moving to and from the swim platform aft. The transom has a folding door that deploys to become the wide stern platform. Behind the folding door you will find the outside shower and storage
compartments.

The 55’s foredeck is quite flat and open since the coach roof forward is low. This will be a good working platform for flying spinnakers. And, there is plenty of room forward for stowing a large dinghy when heading to sea.

To make sailing and handling the 55 as simple and efficient as possible, the rig has been designed with a large mainsail, which is easily controlled from the cockpit, and a self-tacking jib, which also is trimmed from the cockpit. The stemhead fitting has been designed to accept the tack of a reacher or Code Zero for reaching and downwind sailing.

Down below the 55 shows why the boat and her Pilot Saloon sisters are so unique in the sailing marketplace. In the raised Pilot Saloon, the dinette
to starboard will seat six adults and every one of them will have an unimpeded view through the windows on both sides and on the front of the cabin.

Across from the dinette there is a small settee and the chart table. Because you can see forward through the forward windows and can see the mainsail through the overhead hatches, you will be able to stand a night watch from inside the pilothouse as long as the radar and autopilot are working properly.

The galley lies to port at the foot of the companionway ladder where it will be well ventilated and is convenient to the dinette and to those in the cockpit. It is a huge galley, even for a 55-footer, with ample counter space, huge fridge and freezer compartments and plenty of storage space for supplies.

The master cabin, which is down two steps from the saloon, lies aft under the aft cockpit and offers owners a large centerline queen size berth, a comfortable small couch and ample storage for clothes and gear. The designers have managed to arrange the cockpit foot well right over the berth and have provided ample headroom throughout the cabin and while sitting up on the double bed. The master head is well appointed and has a large separate shower stall.

Forward of the saloon, and again down two steps, there are two identical guest cabins, each with its own large double berth and private head. These guest cabins are so spacious and comfortable they will make visiting friends or family feel right at home.

If you plan to have a full time crew aboard or a skipper, the forepeak can be set up with its own access from on deck, a single berth and a small head.

The styling of the new Pilot Saloon 55 is crisp and modern. While the boat still has plenty of varnished teak on bulkheads, cabinets and doors, Wauquiez has chosen to line the ceilings and inside of the hull with light colored fabrics that add to the brightness gained from all of the large windows.

The furniture styling is very contemporary, with lots of angles, and interesting sight lines. Lighting throughout the boat is abundant with dozens of overhead and bulkhead mounted halogen fixtures, which can be illuminated in patterns to create the ambience you want.

While a leap forward into ever more modern and unique design, the new Pilot Saloon 55 is still every inch a Wauquiez as it lives up to the stringent requirement for excellence that Henri Wauquiez insisted upon and built
into the culture of his company.

A pure and thoroughly modern cruising boat for a couple or family, the Pilot Saloon 55 will make fast and safe passages, will be a comfortable and elegant floating home and will set very high standards for style and craftsmanship in every harbor it sails into.

Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 55
LOA 58’
LWL 50’5”
Beam 16’2”
Draft 7’10”
Draft (shoal) 6’11”
Displacement 42,990 lbs.
Ballast 14,550 lbs.
Fuel 110 gals
Water 211 gals
Wauquiez Yachts
Neuville-en-Ferrain, France
33 (0)3 20 03 14 61
www.wauquiez.com

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