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4 Ever: On board JFA Yachts' Long Island 78 Power catamaran

11 February 2021By Raphael Montigneaux

The 24-metre Long Island 78 Power offers the resilience to roam and a design that makes long periods on board a joy. Raphaël Montigneaux steps aboard a very clever catamaran by JFA Yachts

Most of 2020 was one long slog of postponed or cancelled yacht tests – but one or two interesting appointments managed to get squeezed in towards the end of the year. It wasn’t until late November that we finally got on board the first Long Island 78 Power catamaran, off Concarneau in Brittany, France.

The naval architecture of 4 Ever, by Marc Lombard, ensures incredible comfort both at anchor or while under way.
All Imagery courtesy of Bernard Galeron and FLY HD/Julien Basset

It was a dry, bright day, eerily empty of the fishing boats that ordinarily ply these waters. Free of distractions, it was perfect for discovering the quiet pleasures of JFA Yachts’ latest creation. And conditions were much more like the wild, untouched destinations where this yacht is likely to spend much of her time.

Founded in 1993, JFA Yachts is one of the last French shipyards building full custom superyachts. Most of its creations are used extensively by their owners for remote navigation, a pity for the yard’s staff since they rarely have the opportunity to show the high quality of their work at boat shows. Instead their clients, with their yachts all over the world, are their best ambassadors.

The atypical wheelhouse design provides all-around visibility for the captain.

Originally specialising in sailing yachts, the yard has also produced seaworthy explorer yachts such as the Vripack-designed Axantha (now Zeepaard) and Axantha II (now Sea Eagle), and the 42-metre neoclassical yacht Bystander, before becoming a go-to yard for large, customised catamarans, following the launch of the 33-metre full-carbon Mousetrap in 2012.

Its latest creation, the first Long Island 78 Power 4 Ever, is JFA Yachts’ 28th project. With a length of 23.72 metres, she follows a strong new market trend: the power catamaran just under 24 metres. This new market is already busy with successful French and Polish series, but 4 Ever stands out as a luxury semi-custom version, built in aluminium and composite.

Outdoor decks are huge for a yacht of this size and offer a large variety of relaxing areas for guests.

The story starts in 2016 when Frédéric Jaouen, chief executive of JFA Yachts, and the naval architect Marc Lombard conceived a new series. “JFA wanted to develop an aluminium/composite catamaran shorter than the existing Long Island 85, available in power or sail version,” says Lombard, “offering a yacht with JFA quality, far from the existing standards [on the market].”

This is not the pair’s first successful collaboration. Jaouen and Lombard also came up with the Long Island 85 sailing catamaran series, of which two hulls have already been delivered – WindQuest in 2014 and NDS Evolution in 2018. The Long Island 78 was created for circumnavigation and her construction offers two advantages, according to Jaouen. “The strength of the aluminium hull is a guarantee of safety during navigation. This takes on importance when we see the number of containers lost at sea each year. Aluminium has a great ability to bend and absorb shock where other materials would simply tear,” he says. “The composite transverse and longitudinal structure, in addition to reducing the displacement, ensures an excellent rigidity to this platform, which is more than 11 metres wide. The composite deck and superstructure, as well as the interiors in light materials, also optimise the total displacement.”

The final result is effortlessly stylish, with playful splashes of colour in leather chairs from Poltrona Frau and Cassina.

But a project only starts life upon the arrival of the client – and that client arrived in 2017. “The power version seduced the owner as soon as the draft was created,” says Lombard. The owner is an experienced sailor who has owned several catamarans; 4 Ever is his fourth, but the first without a mast. Construction started in mid-2018 and the first Long Island 78 Power was launched last summer.

From the exterior, Lombard’s design is instantly recognisable: 4 Ever’s elegant lines are picked out in Awlgrip “flag blue” for the hull and “snow white” for the superstructure. Stepping on board, the giant aft deck exemplifies one of the strengths of this catamaran – super-sized volumes for a yacht of its length.

“The idea was to create a transatlantic/transpacific yacht with good consumption and performance. It succeeded.”

The space is divided between a corner lounge and a dining area with a table for eight, with sunpads on both sides. Meanwhile, white and light blue furniture from Valdenassi and Tribù enhances the modern, casual feeling. A long seat separates the aft deck from the hydraulic platform that can lift a 4.6-metre tender of up to 650 kilograms. There is nothing revolutionary here, but the quality of construction makes the difference – take the staircase that connects this area with the upper deck, a giant piece of metal entirely designed and built in-house.

Like most catamarans, aft deck and interior are in total connection. On entering, the feeling of space is striking. The superstructure hardly creates any blind spots and the view is panoramic from wherever you are.

Aft deck and interior are in total connection. On entering, the feeling of space is striking.

The light, modern scheme is mainly composed of oak and walnut in a design by Franck Darnet, who joined the team when the layout was already created by the naval architect and shipyard. “We are here in continuity of NDS Evolution,” says Darnet. That project, also designed by Lombard, was Darnet’s previous collaboration with JFA Yachts. “The owner was confident when he arrived at the shipyard because he knew the construction quality of JFA Yachts. He had also just visited NDS Evolution. His requests were mainly for the final colour palette and the choice of some loose furniture like small Moroso stools and coffee tables.” The final result is effortlessly stylish, with playful splashes of colour in leather chairs from Poltrona Frau and Cassina.

On the port side, the galley is imposing with its large central island in granite. To preserve the panoramic view here, some pop-up storage elements can be hidden, offering surfaces free of any objects. To starboard there is a large dining area with a table for eight guests, while the front part of the space consists of an office facing the sea, and a lounge area with direct access to the foredeck. This saloon is slightly raised, allowing passengers to appreciate the view from the sofa made by Berto Salotti.

The main deck layout is designed to optimise the storage capacity and give a sensation of volume.

Both hulls are dedicated to cabins. To port, a single staircase gives access to a twin cabin and the master suite – a masterpiece in this catamaran size category. “The master cabin was slightly lengthened compared to the initial design, and the height of the portholes was slightly increased,” says Lombard, to follow the owner’s wishes.

The effect is striking as soon as you walk through the door. An extraordinary window of 3.24 square metres (4.155 x 0.78 metres) runs the length of the cabin, offering an incredible view of the sea. All cladding of the window frames is in aluminium, offering a better finish and greater longevity than fibreglass or wood. “Significant work has been done in fitting the portholes to optimise the outward view,” says Jaouen. “All this work is particularly visible in the owner’s cabin, which offers exceptional visibility.”

The master suite.

The layout of the cabin is also well conceived. The king-size bed faces the sea, with an office area and a large bathroom with a broad opening on to the cabin. Once again, details make the difference: the bathroom’s sliding door is entirely retractable, as are mirrors on the wall, revealing a hidden porthole opening on to the aft deck. When all is opened, the effect of volume and brightness is impressive. Finally, a separate toilet is located at the entrance of the suite.

The starboard hull has two access points. One at the front serves a double cabin with a bathroom that offers the same volume as the twin cabin. The second staircase gives access to the VIP cabin and the crew area. The VIP cabin follows the ideas that make the master a success: a large king-size bed facing the sea, a giant porthole offering an exceptional view, and a large bathroom using the entire width of the hull.

The cabins offer all the comfort of a larger superyacht.

In aft position is the children’s cabin, composed of two bunk beds, a table and a bathroom. The yacht was conceived for owner-operation, with 10 guests in five cabins, but this area could also become crew quarters. In addition, extra crew cabins could be created in the forward section of each hull. All of the cabins have the same equipment, including televisions, wireless chargers, USB plugs and Sonos speakers.

On the performance side, the Long Island 78 Power is also impressive. “The idea,” says Lombard, “was to create a transatlantic/transpacific yacht, with a good ratio of consumption to performance – and it succeeded, with a top speed slightly above expectations, while keeping modest, lower-consumption engines.” Indeed, 4 Ever’s twin 500 horsepower Cummins engines allow a top speed of 18 knots at mid-load. And she reaches the impressive range of 3,500 nautical miles at the economical speed of eight knots. At this speed, the two engines have a total consumption of only
16.4 litres per hour.

A hidden rail all around the main aft deck means it can quickly be enclosed with covers.

During our test, we reach the cruising speed of 12 knots as soon as we leave Concarneau. Good weather is expected but we do have a wind force of three on the Beaufort scale, with a few waves. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to 4 Ever, which cuts through smoothly and quietly. For lunch, we drop anchor off the beautiful Glénan archipelago with the boat perfectly stable (a reduced draught of 1.24 metres, meanwhile, allows her to get into most creeks).

Pottering around on the foredeck, I discover an area for guests with a lounging space, direct access to the saloon inside and a tub. It has the dimensions of a spa pool but is a simple basin of seawater, which is easily filled with a pump and emptied in a couple of minutes – a good solution, easy to maintain. A large bimini can also be quickly assembled to protect guests, while forward, many hatches give access to large storage areas.

The foredeck seating area offers a sunken, sheltered spot next to the pool, yet still connected to the main saloon.
Image Credit: FLY HD/Julien Basset

Just as relaxing is the upper deck, with a large lounge aft, protected by a bimini, and a small kitchen for guests that is well integrated into the superstructure. We also discover the main modification requested by the owner. “The owner has requested an enclosed wheelhouse, which is very pleasant,” says Lombard. This unusual choice offers a captain ample comfort for long cruises. The view at 360 degrees is ideal, and a small office and lounge corner allow passengers to enjoy the space as much as the captain. Like many aspects of this catamaran, it’s a simple, intelligent idea, beautifully executed.

This feature is taken from the March 2021 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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