The last time we went on a sailing trip off the Italian coast, all of my friends were unanimous over getting a catamaran with a skipper and crew.
My friends and I agreed that catamarans would provide the best of both worlds in terms of creature comforts, as well as the sailing experience.
Once we had decided about the catamaran, it was easy to settle on Fountaine Pajot’s Helia 44. The La Rochelle based boat maker has been a leader in the multihull market for years now, and we wanted to experience their latest in the 40-45 feet segment, the Helia 44.
It also gave me a wonderful opportunity to write a first hand and in-depth Fountaine Pajot Helia 44 review.
Designed by the Fountaine Pajot design office in collaboration with Berret Racoupeau, the Helia 44 marks the evolutionary step up from the earlier Orana 44.
In terms of layout, Fountaine Pajot offers two choices of three or four cabins. The latter option is clearly an acknowledgment of the demand generated by the charter industry and can accommodate 8 people.
For private owners, however, there is the three cabin layout, designed to luxuriously entertain as many as 6 people, with the master stateroom occupying the whole of starboard hull.
The master stateroom in the owners’ layout, the large queen size bed is located aft with space for a private lounge and a work desk. Both of these layout options come with en-suite bathroom facilities.
Regardless of the layout you choose, it is hard not to be impressed by the sense of space and luxury afforded by the Helia 44.
Located next to the passageway, the cabins are truly cavernous and peaceful for a mid-size catamaran.
In addition, the large and cleverly designed windows allow for plenty of light so that guests are not overcome with a feeling of claustrophobia.
While the Helia 44 may be offered in twin layouts catering to both the private owners and the charter industry, the design office at Fountaine Pajot has wisely chosen not to compromise on its interior design, seeking to enhance the total social space aboard.
For example, the galley-up design allows for cooking to be done in a truly social atmosphere with provision for an al-fresco dining.
As a matter of fact, the moment you step aboard the Helia 44, it is hard not to be struck by the fact at how large and capacious it seems from the inside for a midsize catamaran.
Some of it can be put down to the use of clerestory windows in both the saloon as well as the lounging deck, allowing for plenty of natural light. It makes for a truly airy and expansive feel.
The saloon itself has been thoughtfully designed in a french chic manner that is not only plush and luxurious but also caters to all the needs aboard a cruising catamaran.
The large sofa with the adjoining coffee table is the perfect place to curl up with a book. There is also a forward facing navigation station that comes with Fountaine Pajot’s standard range of Garmin electronics.
The navigation port is well designed in terms of both accessibilities as well as 360-degree views.
The open plan galley on the aft port side comes fully equipped with some of the top range appliances including a 3 burner stove, microwave, oven, and two generously sized fridges.
The storage options are similarly plenty as well as innovative with a hatch leading to a nifty under floor storage facility.
That Helia 44 has been designed not only for socializing is clear once you are at the main helm station that is joined to starboard.
Seamlessly connected to the cockpit below through a staircase, the helm station features a large seating arrangement so that as many as two guests can join the skipper during a sail.
The sail controls are standard Fountaine Pajot, refined through years of experience, and appointed to offer easy control and maneuverability.
The saloon top converts into the flybridge area, designed alongside the helm station. The luxurious sofa on the flybridge offers another picturesque spot to soak in the sailing experience.
At the lower level, the saloon is integrated to the outside through a large slide in the door. Protected with a hardtop roof, the aft deck is a capacious 50 square meter space.
Here, you can find a large teak dining table that can seat 8 people without any fuss. In addition, there is a large bench opposite to it with a cavernous storage box beneath.
Noting the potential of this aft deck as a prime social area, the makers have provided another fridge for sundowners.
Among other clever design interventions, the provision for transom walkways is particularly novel as they allow for crew or other guests to move about without bothering people lounging on the aft deck.
Our skipper took us out on the sail aboard the Helia 44 on a perfect day with gentle winds and moderate swells.
At its stiffest, we recorded the wind at a clock below 10 knots. Under these ideal conditions, Helia had no problems in swiftly reaching a speed slightly north of 7 knots while at the same time exhibiting a level of stability we can expect from a well-designed catamaran.
Setting up the mainsail and Genoa was a breeze with the aid of electric winches.
We did get a chance to start both the engines during a period when the wind died out and found ourselves motoring at a maximum of 9 knots.
We also got a taste of its excellent autopilot function, as the electronics took over steering while we enjoyed a cold one.
Why Sail the Helia 44
1) Vast space complemented with an excellent, intuitive design
2) Interior quality and the fit and finish which rivals 5-star resorts
3) Massive storage spaces for long offshore voyages
4) Excellent sailing characteristics for a catamaran of its size
5) Top-of-the-line appliances and electronic.
Fountaine Pajot has won several prestigious industry awards in the multihull category over the years, and it is easy to see why.
Offering true blue water sailing capability, the Helia 44 is perhaps the finest blend of performance and comfort.
Indeed, if there is any doubt why catamarans have done so well in the market over the last few years, a guided tour of this boat should erase all doubts.
When it comes to sailing in style, you cannot go wrong with the Helia 44.
For more information on Helia 44 charter boat:
USA +1 954 892 5009
- Manufacture: Fountain Pajot
- Model: Helia 44
- Length Overall: 13.25 m / 43.50 ft
- Beam: 7.40 m / 24.30 ft
- Draft: 1.15m / 3.80 ft
- Air Draft: 20.44m
- Main Sail Area: 70 m² / 753 sq ft
- Genoa Area: 45 m² / 484 sq ft
- Engines: 2 x 40 hp –
- Fuel/Diesel: 1 x 470 litre
- Freshwater: 2 x 375 litre
- Cabins: 3 to 6
- Berths: 8 to 10
Contact the broker for the Helia 44 boat charter
Have you sailed the Helia 44? If so, share your experience in the comment below