‹ Back test secondhand

Outremer 42 - She hasn’t sold her soul to the devil!

Download test

The Outremer 42 was the last boat built by the former Atelier Outremer team.  It offered an interesting update on some of the yard’s previous models.  A bit more volume, a more comfortable nacelle… a marvelous arrangement really!

The Outremer story began in the mid-1980s, under the leadership of a visionary and quirky naval architect, Gérard Danson.  He brought us the famous Outremer 40, then the 38/43 versions and then the 40/43.  Stripped back catamarans which were light and very fast, recognizable in a crowd with their fine, curved hulls.  Constructed in good monolithic polyester so that they could be repaired easily at the far ends of the earth, they had reduced interior volume and a very, very limited load-carrying capability.  The architect added a little weight with the addition of inboard motors, then solar panels… but customers were wanting to live aboard for months at a time and wanted more:  the Outremer 42 was the response that Gérard Danson came up with- and this was to be his last design, as sadly the designer passed away before the first model was launched.  There followed a tricky time for the yard, without their charismatic founder.  Then in 2007, Atelier Outremer was taken under the wing of Grand Large Yachting.  And here the career of the 42 was cut short: the new management favoured new, more modern designs.  So what does the 42 offer?  A real plus in terms of comfort, yet not losing sight of the yard’s original philosophy.  The hulls remain fine, and there are still daggerboards for going upwind and balancing the helm.  As for the rig, it carries 94m² of sail upwind.  And as for the build, the yard has remained faithful to polyester, which is cheaper and easier to repair, but is now using infusion techniques and a single mold for both hulls and the nacelle.  As for this, with its large, more vertical windows, and the coachroof overhang, it resembles more some of those boats built in big production runs…


Good potential for speed

Even though the 42 might seem a bit tame, she goes along well…  Her sail area to weight ratio upwind is 10.56m²/t.  This is a long way from the hot hatches which the yard at La Grande Motte, in the South of France, was producing in the 1980s - 21.70m²/t for the Outremer 40 - but an average for boats in build 10 years ago.  All the same, the 42 has a few advantages: a good pair of daggerboards and a particularly sleek rig, the mast measuring 17.70 meters.  So our catamaran, despite not being a front runner in light airs, bowls along at over 9 knots upwind, on a bearing of 45-50° to the true wind.  On this point of sail, most of her competitors will be giving her a knot of speed and 10°.  Other advantages of this catamaran are that the windage remains manageable: she is easy to handle under motor, and you don’t need to set the first reef until there is 25 knots of wind.  Going into a short chop, the hulls don’t slam and the crew remains dry.  In a good breeze, sheet in, and the acceleration is immediate.  With the wind on the beam, our tests at the time allowed us to maintain an average speed of 11 knots, with peaks of 13 and even one surf, on a reach, close to 16 knots.  Downwind, it’s useful to adjust to the daggerboards: halfway down when off the wind, and fully up downwind, and the 42 slips through the water even faster!  Give it a go, it’s really exhilarating…


A deck layout with big trampolines

The 42’s deck layout accommodates the coachroof very nicely, and this has gained - a little - in volume compared to the first generation Outremers.  The general ergonomics feel a little bit dated when compared to the very fluid movement enjoyed on more recent catamarans, but the 42 still does rather well.  A clever step allows you to easily climb up “on the roof” to zip up the lazy bag.  On the very wide sidedecks, it is easy to move around, but the non-slip surface is not that grippy in wet conditions.  Most of the sail handling is done at the foot of the mast, leaving free the two relaxation areas, the trampolines, forward, and the cockpit, aft.  The latter, well-sheltered by a fabric bimini, is split into three sections: to port, against the coachroof bulkhead is the single helm station.  Visibility forward is good, even over the opposite bow.  This is also where the engine controls are located.  Aft, a comfortable rounded bench seat.  In the center, a powerful winch and a bank of clutches to manage the sheets and the traveler.  And finally to starboard, a table and another bench seat.  The two sugar scoops offer excellent access to the sea, and a substantial arch carries the solar panels and acts as davits for the dinghy.  The trampolines are surprisingly large.  The liferaft is stowed fairly low down, on the catway, so it remains accessible in the event of inversion.  Anchoring has been well thought out, with the chain locker close to the mast in order to centralize the weight.  There are four lockers here, as well as two good-sized ones in the cockpit and two sail lockers forward.
The mainsail is hoisted from the mast: it’s the only really physical operation on board, since the self-tacking genoa is on a furler.


Simple but comfortable accommodation

A nacelle for living in: you enter flush-decked from the cockpit, but that is not the only pleasure.  The headroom is 1.91 meters (6’4”) and the standard of finish is very good, though a little cool.  Good light comes through a bank of windows (of which two are opening); the salon is just a bit too cozy to accommodate a full crew of 6 to 8 people, depending on the version.  To get round this issue, a few stools or poufs might be useful.  As for the cockpit, the galley is close enough to remain convivial, so guests can either stay in the salon or under the bimini.  A single sink, two-burner cooker, a good-sized worktop and six stowage areas: this is what the chef has available, though he or she may be in the way for anyone wanting to access their cabins.  The navigator sits to port, almost facing forward, and has a good workspace of 1.78m x 50cm which is split to accommodate a laptop, and still give a good view forward.  In contrast, stowage for pilot books and other documents is a bit limited.  A few steps down, and you are in the hulls.  Two accommodation layouts were offered: you could have two identical hulls with two cabins and a central heads compartment, or an owner’s version.  On this latter model, the starboard hull houses a single aft cabin, with the heads compartment forward, as far as the sail locker.  Midships, there is either extra stowage or a desk.  All the cabins are comfortable, though none have doors.  The larger crewmember would prefer the aft cabins, the bunks being 1.45m wide as opposed to 1.25m forward.  It’s also worth noting that the bulkheads which stiffen the hulls restrict the passage to 24cm at foot level in places.  However, the ventilation is excellent throughout.



A rather flattering design overall - even if the presence of an aluminum toe-rail dates it somewhat.  There is a good dose of comfort compared to first-generation models: the Outremer 42 is less Spartan than her predecessors and is well-suited to the demands of blue water cruising (power, charging capability, etc). Her performance remains exhilarating when the breeze fills in.





Points to check

With a compact and well-built structure, the Outremer 42 is a strong boat.  Nothing moves, nothing creaks, even in a well-formed sea.  Early examples, which are now around 10 years old, are still very fresh.  However, their owners will have generally covered miles and miles with them, so a thorough check of the standing and running rigging, as well as all the areas subject to high loads, is recommended.  As for the plumbing and electricity, everything is well-fitted and accessible: no nasty surprises in store.


We like:

  • Very seaworthy, with good performance
  • Nacelle and hull volume well-suited to blue water cruising
  • Overall robustness

We don’t like:

  • Accommodation is not very welcoming
  • Single helm station
  • Lack of privacy in the cabins


Technical Specifications:

  • Yard: Outremer
  • Naval Architects: Gérard Danson/Nicolas Dieuset
  • Construction: polyester
  • Production run: ten or so built from 2005 to 2008
  • Hull length: 13.10 m
  • Beam: 7.00 m
  • Draft: 0.70/2.30 m
  • Light displacement: 6.50 t
  • Laden displacement: 8.90 t
  • Upwind sail area: 94 m2
  • Asymmetric Spi: 101 m2
  • Motors: 2 x 29 hp diesel
  • Tanks: 2 x 150 liters
  • Secondhand price: 185,000 euros ex-tax

Share this article