It’s a famous tune, and many a crooner has given it his or her all, but for my money, only Frank Sinatra could do these lyrics justice: “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking, and when she passes …” That, my friends, is entertainment.
Fittingly, creating entertaining moments seems to be a major theme of the new Ipanema 58, from the French builder Fountaine Pajot. The company is well known for using clever place names for its ever-expanding series of comfortable cruising catamarans, and the iconic Brazilian beach seems appropriate for a sensual, sun-seeking machine. It’s also suitable in an ironic sense; after all, why bother visiting Copacabana, Ipanema or any other shoreside resort when you can just bring your own long, tall, personal beach scene right along with you?
Yes, in every dimension, this is one gargantuan vessel, but before we get into the particulars, it must be established that the Ipanema is also one fine sailboat. On her maiden transatlantic voyage from France to Maryland, the professional delivery crew registered a 245-nautical-mile day (averaging a nice round 10 knots) with a top boat speed of 16 knots in a 40-knot squall under headsail alone. Sweet.
Our Boat of the Year tests were conducted on a more languid Chesapeake Bay day in winds that plateaued at around 10 knots. Even then, the combination of the big square-topped main and roller-furling gennaker provided plenty of payload, powering the surprisingly nimble cat at almost 7 knots upwind and 7.5 slightly cracked off. And steering the boat from the elevated perch on the flybridge, so far removed from the water, was an otherworldly experience — it seemed as if we were floating on air. Behind the wheel, I felt like a blimp pilot, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. But enjoyable sailing is only one of the boat’s objectives, and for some owners, I’d imagine, it won’t even be the primary one. This is a yacht aboard which you could throw three or even four parties in different spaces at the same time, and none of the guests at any of them would be forced to commingle.
At anchor in the islands, it would be hard to forgo the open-air pleasures of the upper deck and its commanding view, replete with lounges, sun pads and amenities (wet bar, refrigerator, barbecue) galore. Should showers threaten, the ample cockpit can easily seat a dozen or more under the shaded hardtop, with similar accouterments in the upstairs parlor. If the kids are rambunctious, simply send them forward to the spacious trampolines and accompanying daybeds. Everyone wins!
Then there’s the main saloon, with the hideaway flat-screen TV, an ample galley that could work in a commercial kitchen, oodles more couches and settees, and of course a plethora of full-size appliances, including a fridge, dishwasher, washing machine and so on. That’s where you’ll find me, hanging with the cooks.
The accommodations, naturally, are equally luxurious. There are three different versions, including a six-cabin charter layout — our Boat of the Year judges named the 58 the Best Charter Boat for 2016 — and a couple of other arrangements that incorporate a dedicated owner’s stateroom. With a seven-figure price tag, sadly, I probably won’t be one of those lucky owners. But I could totally get into a charter trip, and I’d even bring my music. Hey, is that Ol’ Blue Eyes?! Man, the Ipanema 58 strikes all the right chords.
Herb McCormick is Cruising World’s executive editor.