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Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 review: This could be the yard’s most popular catamaran yet

Yachting World

  • July 30, 2020

This Elba 45 looks set to be one of the most popular Fountaine Pajot cruising catamarans yet. Sam Fortescue travels to Portugal to find out why

Product Overview

Manufacturer:, price as reviewed:.

Such was the hype surrounding this yacht that Fountaine Pajot had sold over 100 Elba 45 hulls before the first one even emerged from the mould. The customer response persuaded the La Rochelle-based catamaran builder to start work on a second set of tooling so that it could complete more than 50 of these yachts each year.

True, at 45ft LOA, it is bang in the sweet spot for cruising cats, but even so it is almost unprecedented to have pre-sold the first two years’ worth of production.

Armed with that knowledge, my expectations were high as I crossed the protected waters of the Río Sado just south of Lisbon in Portugal for the sea trials. And though I certainly wasn’t disappointed by what I saw bobbing at the dock, it takes more than a glance at the Elba 45’s lines to understand the appeal she exerts.

That’s not to say that first impressions aren’t good. As with most modern catamarans, the Elba 45 has towering topsides, especially towards the bow, so has quite a physical presence. Couple this with the extensive glazing of the saloon and the large hull lights, and you have a modern-looking boat. Olivier Racoupeau’s design is aerodynamic in the way that Lagoons, for instance, are not: she has slightly back-swept forward windows and a flowing curve to the coachroof.


The new Elba 45 is the next generation of the successful Hélia 44, with faster hulls and greater interior volume

There are a few small details which give away the degree of careful thought that has gone into this new model. There is a useful skirt to the transom wings so that you can step easily aboard from the side, for instance. And on this model, the davits had been replaced with the optional ‘transformer’ bathing platform (€17,200), which can hydraulically raise a tender up to 3.2m long, and 150kg in weight.

The headroom under the hard top is also excellent. It all adds up to about two years of design work across some 150 meetings between Berret-Racoupeau and Fountaine Pajot. “The 45 is the core of the market of Fountaine Pajot, so we were not allowed to make a mistake on something that didn’t work,” Racoupeau tells me phlegmatically. “It’s always such a big challenge to innovate or take a risk.”

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Design challenges

Although Racoupeau designed the Elba 45’s hugely successful predecessor, the Hélia 44, he went back to first principles on the new boat, testing a range of new hull shapes with lower drag. “We reduced it [drag] by 10% and that helps the boat sail better at medium and high speed, and more efficiently under engine,” Racoupeau explains. “It may not sound like much but, for us, that’s a big deal.”


Lounging space on the flybridge has been increased threefold in the new model

The design team even managed to make the hull some 15cm longer and 15cm beamier in the process, introducing a small chine in the aft section. “This kind of hull shape will be used on future Fountaine Pajot designs,” Racoupeau confirms.

Another big focus for design work in the new boat has been the flybridge. The Hélia, too, offered a lounging space under the boom next to the helm station, but the Elba 45 has really gone to town.

Seating for four or five and a big sunpad cover more than 10m2 – nearly three times the area offered by the Hélia. On an overcast day in Portugal, you don’t really get it, but it’s not hard to imagine dinner with a view up here, and it means good company for the helmsman mid-ocean.

There’s a console with drinks holder and a convenient little recess for belongings, and still space for solar panels along the trailing edge of the hard top. The trade-off is a slightly higher boom, which in turn raises the centre of effort of the sail, creating more lateral force.

“We have really enlarged the flybridge with more comfortable areas and relaxing areas,” says Racoupeau. “At the same time, I really wanted to keep the classic Fountaine Pajot steering position in the middle, where it’s safe. I didn’t want to put it on the flybridge.”

That helm strikes an effective compromise between an outright flybridge, which adds cachet for some, and a bulkhead steering position peeping over the coachroof. There’s room for two behind the wheel, and a roomy pit ahead of it for someone to grind away at three large Lewmar 50 coachroof-mounted winches.


There is plenty of room to keep the helmsperson company

If you were single-handing, you’d need to engage the autopilot to move round and trim, but all the sheets and control lines apart from the optional gennaker or code sail come back to the helm station, mostly on nice short runs that keep friction down. Even the genoa sheets come back across the coachroof: great for sail handling, but posing a risk with their flailing in the tack.

Elsewhere on deck the Elba 45 boasts an impressive range of outdoor space, with the emphasis on eating in the cockpit and lounging either there, on the flybridge or on the foredeck sunpads. The deep cockpit offers sofas and a sunbed so you can choose where and how to conduct your afternoon siesta. And you can opt for a built-in plancha grill or a barbecue next to the transom seating unit.

For all that, though, the most noticeable fruits of Racoupeau’s redesign are found inside. “Volumes in the saloon and in the cabins are much bigger,” Racoupeau claims. I don’t have a Hélia on hand to make the comparison, but one thing strikes as soon as I enter the saloon: this boat is all about liveability and interior space.


A new lounging area has been created at the forward end of the saloon, whose wrap-around windows are larger than ever

At 17m2 area, the saloon may not have changed shape much, but it has been reconfigured to make the galley more open and improve stowage. The boat is no Tardis, though, so of course there is a compromise that won’t suit all. “From our personal experience, we saw that we make less and less use of the chart table,” Racoupeau explains. “We go there for information, but not to sit down and work like we did in the past.”

So the chartplotter and instrument panel has been demoted from the front of the saloon to a smaller area around a technical cabinet on the starboard side of the aft door. You can still pull up a chair and consult the read-out – which is now just a step from the bottom of the helm station stairs – but there’s no dedicated space to spread out a chart and get to work with the plotter and dividers.

This is an issue that divides sailors. But if you, like me, rue the loss of the chart table, then at least the coffee table or the flat surfaces behind the sofas would serve.


The galley has shifted to the aft end of the saloon, and the chart table demoted to a shelf by the instruments

Interior size matters

The volume previously dedicated to the chart table has been used to increase the saloon and galley. “We have introduced the concept of the meridienne,” says Racoupeau, “a place where people can have a drink, read something on the iPad, lounge in a chair; always staying in the middle of the area to be able to discuss, share with friends.”

This is a successful ploy, with the deep, comfy L-shaped sofa looking more like something borrowed from the superyacht world than standard yacht seating.

The galley is well equipped, with the sink along the aft bulkhead of the saloon and the hob to port, punctuated by the stairs down to the cabins below. Splitting the galley in this way may not be ideal, but it does create more space, and keeps the connection with the cockpit via the swing-up aft window and fold-away door.


The cockpit layout is flexible and convivial thanks to the opening doors and windows that connect it to the saloon

The standard boat offers a large 190lt refrigerator to starboard, and an optional 130lt refrigerator or 90lt freezer by the sink. Freshwater capacity is a reasonable 700lt, and there is an option to include a 60lt/hr 12V watermaker for bluewater cruisers , or a beefier 180lt/hr model on the 220/110V system.

Two basic interior configurations are offered – the maestro (owner’s) version, which dedicates the whole port hull to a double cabin with fold-out TV, dressing table, truly copious clothes storage and a large shower room and heads.

The alternative is the charter-friendly four-cabin, four heads set-up, costing an extra €4,000. There is also room for a single crew berth in the starboard bow and a crew heads to port, although this would chip away at very handy sail locker space.

Racoupeau’s redesign has also opened up the vestibule between the two starboard cabins by removing the wooden ceiling that divided this space from the saloon on the Hélia. “It gives the feeling of more room, with more fresh air in the corridor and in the hull,” he says. “From my point of view this is the worst place in normal catamarans: dark and enclosed.” It sounds like a small detail but, strangely, he’s absolutely right.


The double cabins all feature semi island beds

The quality of the finish is as you would expect in a series yacht, all in a light grey oak for the furniture, dark oak flooring and a choice of neutral upholstery as standard. It all feels very sophisticated and urban, but arguably lacks a bit of warmth. Luckily, there are plenty of options.

However, the area in which Fountaine Pajot excels is in its hull lay-up, using a sophisticated vacuum infusion process for consistent high quality. They use polyester and vinylester resin over glass, with a final coat of epoxy primer under the antifouling. The spacious transom engine compartments reveal how neat and tidy that finish is.

The yard also insists on some good additional design features, such as the way the stub keels are mounted. They are simply glued into a deep recess moulded into the hull, so there are no keel bolts to rip out in the event of a grounding or of striking a submerged object.


In the ‘maestro’ version, the owner’s suite fills the port hull offering a large amount of storage space

Those keels provide helpful ballast low down to make the boat more stable, but they also slightly improve tracking to windward. During our test, we didn’t see more than 12 knots of true wind, so the boat was only occasionally hard pressed as gusts punched their way down the steep mountainsides. However, she managed a decent 40° off the apparent wind without making excessive leeway, judging by the wake astern.

The Elba 45 is fun to sail in that nippy way catamarans are: you look down and realise that you’re barrelling along at 8 knots without even trying. With the fully battened main and the standard 120% genoa, we managed an easy 7 to 8 knots beating into around 12 knots of true wind.

Powerful mainsail

It is designed with an 18.1m mast with double diamond stays for a good amount of bend and a more powerful mainsail shape. There is also an option to have a lighter carbon fibre mast. It all adds up to a maximum 74m2 fathead main and a 45m2 genoa.


The larger headsail keeps boat speed up in light winds and means that there is less need for a dedicated reaching sail. Unfortunately we weren’t able to test this claim because our boat, rushed down to Portugal for sea trials, didn’t have the correct mast.

Nonetheless, there is the option of a central longeron which protrudes beyond the bow to provide a tack for reaching and downwind sails, at a cost of €5,850. The sail itself costs about the same again and should have made speeds of 10-11 knots feasible in the conditions we had.

I found the wheel a little undersized for the boat, and too sticky – something that could no doubt be rectified. A feature I liked better was the ingenious hook sheave mounted on the car that pulls the mainsail up the mast. Thanks to the sheave, there’s a 2:1 purchase on the halyard already, but the hook pulls the headboard of the square-top main in close to the masthead. It doesn’t engage until the halyard is nearly bowstring taught, keeping the sail loose for a low-friction raise.

Standard propulsion comes from a 40hp Volvo Penta diesel in each hull, coupled with fixed props. You can upgrade to 50hp units for a relatively modest €1,000 per engine, which would make a worthwhile option if you’re expecting to spend a lot of time motoring. And for less than €1,900 ex. VAT you would certainly want to upgrade both with the 18in Volvo folding prop to reap an extra knot or so of boat speed.

A greener option?

Fountaine Pajot realises its boats are large chunks of non-recyclable plastic, but is nevertheless trying to cultivate greater eco awareness. Solar panels and water management systems aim to make the boats less polluting, while the manufacturing process aims to use fewer dangerous chemicals and waste is minimised and recycled.

But the biggest potential green win comes from a tie-up between FP and Volvo Penta, which is using the smaller Lucia 40 as a testbed to co-develop their own electric propulsion system.

This would undoubtedly be a comfortable boat on which to make an ocean crossing – the design work by Racoupeau and Fountaine Pajot has seen to that. But remembering that old adage about the 85% of the time that bluewater cruisers spend at anchor, the Elba 45 excels at offering big volumes for living on the water. You may spend a bit more time on passage compared to a more performance-orientated cat, but comfort ensures you’ll barely notice.

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Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

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elba 45 catamaran

Announced early September 2018 and launched in 2019, Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 replaces the successful Helia 44.

Elba 45, a resourceful sailing catamaran

What's thrilling about this new Fountaine Pajot model?

Not only does Elba 45  present all the latest shipyard innovative characteristics, it surpasses the industry standards.

Fountaine Pajot catamarans are appreciated for their performance. So is this 45 feet yacht, which benefits from dynamic hull design with  inverted bows  and enhances sailors' experience with a thoughtful helm station for best maneuverability .

Oustanding features of Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

A convivial yacht.

Where would you rather relax on your boat in the Caribbean?

Many of our clients love the large flybridge , which was also implemented on the previous Fountaine Pajot model Saona 47 . Whether you would like to just sit and feel the breeze, enjoy a romantic dinner when anchoring or share drinks with friends, the flybridge is very generous for a yacht this size. The wide sunbed is also brilliant to soak up some sun, read a good book or enjoy a little siesta!

You will appreciate the many possibilities offered by the ingenious cockpit, with several sofas, sunbed, benches and the long dinner table. The lounge deck  also features a exceptional relaxing and sunbed space with many large cushions.

But that's not all: A  brilliant Beach Club electric platform is available as a Fountaine Pajot option, to bring further fun and space for the crew!

Living aboard Elba 45

Fountaine Pajot is a pioneer in terms of comfort aboard cruising catamarans. The design of its models benefits from all new material and building techniques as well as being on the cutting edge to adapt to new sailor lifestyles.

First-Class cruising

Why would you have to choose between a performing and an attractive yacht?

This new 45' cat presents a modern and elegant design to suit today's tastes. Standard colors of this model will suit most owners, and optional Fountaine Pajot colors are available for upholstery, floors and all canvasses.

Large windows and hatches bring a lot of natural light inside the boat , whether in the saloon or in both hulls. The panoramic view from the lounge is just stunning. Large windows also open for natural ventilation.

Elba 45 refreshing interior

The design team has worked hard to provide you with ultimate bliss at sea. The living space is very generous and always better optimized.

The saloon is a vast convivial living area including a large sofa with low or dining table and a very open and practical galley. All galley details are thought off to include all equipment needed, storage and working surface.

Interior fittings in the Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 in all cabins allow to settle comfortably. There is practical and discreet storage all throughout the catamaran. The Maestro Suite and all cabins have  en-suite bathrooms , with separate head in the Owner's hull.

When you visit this new 45 feet catamaran or pay attention to pictures, you will notice many details are designed to make life easier. 

Available layouts for Fountaine Pajot Elba 45  

This Fountaine Pajot model is available in 2 configurations:

Elba 45 Maestro owner version : Owner's suite portside with large bathroom and separate head, and 2 guest double cabins starboard with en-suite bathrooms. Elba 45 Quatuor versuon : 4 doubles cabins and 4 en-suite bathrooms.

Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 – Boat price and options cost

I want a fast Elba 45 price quote

Buy your Elba 45 tax-free with Caribbean Multihulls

Our partners provide you with yacht finance offer, how to calculate the overall price of your fountaine pajot elba 45.

Fountaine Pajot prices change every year in January and in August. Price lists applying to your Elba 45 purchase will be the latest running to date of order and payment of deposit (20% as per Fountaine Pajot shipyard requirements).

Not sure about your yacht equipment? Don't worry! You do not need to choose all options straight away. Our New Yacht sales team will let you know the various deadlines for you to think further about your project.

Step 1 - Choose the cabin configuration of your Elba 45 (as of August 1st, 2023)

  • ELBA 45 MAESTRO (Owner)  - 3 cabins for 686.700 euros*
  • ELBA 45 QUATUOR  - 4 cabins for 694.900 euros*

Deposit is 115,000 €

Fountaine Pajot ELBA 45 Smart Electric option

  • Smart Elec 65 pack  153.615 €
  • Substitution of the battery banks with 2 x 27 kW  11.704 €
  • 6 kW AC inverter  7.838 €
  • Upgraded charger  13.585 €

Step 2 – Find the price of your Elba 45 equipment pack

Fountaine Pajot New 45 equipment pack versions

  • Elba 45 Grand Large  pack price: 21.500 Euros*
  • Elba 45 Oceanic  pack price: 38.000 Euros*
  • Elba 45 Comfort pack price:  55.000 Euros*

Step 3 - Cost of your Elba  45 personalized options (as of August 1st, 2023)

  • Motor upgrade 65HP     4 194 euros*
  • Electronics   GARMIN 1 including Autopilot, VHF, AIS, GPS 8410, and 2 multi GMI20  16.552 euros*
  • Bowsprit & gear for gennaker  7.294 euros*
  • Cockpit fridge 2.238 euros*
  • Solar panels   4 x 90/100W   4.967 euros*

Step 4 - Elba 45 Ex-factory possibilities 

Price for a elba 45 catamaran loaded with options (as of august 1st, 2023 - prices subject to change).

In order to give you some indication, Caribbean Multihulls can sell you a fully-loaded Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 at around 930.000 euros*.

What is included in this luxury catamaran? Upgraded motorisation, a Comfort pack, an Owner's Suite, air conditioning in the whole boat, a watermaker, full biminis, ice-maker and other many other options.

Article and video test reviews of Fountaine Pajot ELBA 45

Click on the images or videos below to access the corresponding test review:

  • Testsail review of the ELBA 45 by Multihulls World (USA, 2019)

Fountaine Pajot ELBA 45 review by Multihulls World 2019

  • Elba 45 review by Sail Magazine (USA, 2019)

ELBA 45 review by SAIL Magazine USA 2019

elba 45 catamaran

  • Elba 45 - Exterior
  • Elba 45 - Interior
  • Elba 45 - Options
  • Elba 45 - Sailing & Mooring
  • Elba 45 - Speed performance

elba 45 catamaran

Inventory & Brochure

Fountaine pajot elba 45 - specs.

Architect Berret-Racoupeau Yacht Design

Interior Design Racoupeau Design

Length over all 13.45 m / 44.2 ft

Beam over all 7.55 m / 24.77 ft

Displacement unloaded 13.6 T

Draft 1.2 m / 4.3 ft

Sail area 74 m² / 796 sqft

Genoa 45 m² / 484 sqft

Elba 45 - Motorisation specs

Standard: Volvo engines 2 x 40HP

Option: Volvo engines 2 x 50HP

Elba 45 - Tank capacity specs

Fresh Water 700 l (approx.) / 185 US gallons (approx.)

Fuel 470 l (approx.) / 124 US gallons (approx.)

Elba 45 - Layout versions

Maestro owner version 1 owner’s suite + 1 bathroom / 2 double cabins + 2 bathrooms

Quatuor version 4 double cabins + 4 bathrooms

Enquire now

For more information on this particular model, please contact our salesteam


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