Varen Magazine review: Vaan R4

20 Dec 2022

Belgian boat magazine ‘Varen’ took the R4 out for a review, published in their December ’22 issue. Again we are happy the core elements of the Vaan philosophy are clearly recognised and appreciated: Sailing, Style and Sustainability.

Click the image below to see the full article in pdf.
The PDF is in Dutch, scoll down for the English text.



One cat-barrel full of innovation? – Two hulls full of innovation? – Innovation times two? The Hellevoetsluis shipyard delivers its first and totally new product with the Vaan R4 and it immediately proves to be a hit. With assets such as recyclability, a beautifully finished aluminum hull and good sailing characteristics, this 42-footer is a deserved winner of the title Hiswa Sailboat of the Year 2022. 

According to the website, the Vaan R4 -with the R5 and R6 as its two bigger brothers- is there for sailors, and that is confirmed by the place for the helmsman in the large open cockpit. There he feels the wind, is close to the water and has an excellent view of the sails and their position. One would expect the cabin superstructure to prove to be an obstacle and a blind spot, but the very open structure and large vertical windows of the superstructure provide excellent all-round visibility. Moreover, the helmsman can easily access the inventive and particularly beautiful arrangement of the winches, namely vertical in an inverted V-shape at the center aft. That construction also proves to be particularly ergonomic and convenient for operation, For colder or worse weather, or for abundant sunshine, the built-in bimini at the edge of the cabin roof offers a quickly usable shelter.

A second aspect is the function of the Vaan R4 as a kind of luxurious hotel suite. The living space with sitting area and kitchen is light, airy, modern and with views all around. Two windows also give plenty of light and view from the large double bed in the owner’s cabin in the port hull. There are ample closets in the hallway and the bathroom is not out of place either. Such is the case with the toilets on either side in both hulls. Those are actually narrow and dark, but that will be changed in a future version. The hull on the starboard side is for the guests, so they can live completely separated from each other with the common salon cum kitchen as a meeting place. Another nice feature is that the transition between salon and cockpit is ‘barrier-free’, creating a kind of veranda atmosphere. 

The third website element is about the boat’s mission: the intention is to create exciting luxury sailing yachts with as little impact on nature and the planet as possible. The whole project is based on circular principles. Quite a lot of recycled materials are used, and they themselves are in turn practically fully recyclable. Almost 60% of the hull is recycled aluminum that comes from aluminum window profiles, road signs and license plates. There are plant-based substitutes for leather, there is cork for deck and floor, and the wood used is grown in a controlled manner. That whole approach, of course, is carried over into the propulsion system, which is all-electric, and that means no noise, no smell, no vibration. There are two Oceanvolt battery packs 21, 22 or 44 kWh available, for longer trips possibly supplemented by an optional generator. Of course there are solar panels concealed on the roof and also invisible but equally environmentally friendly is the antifouling film on the underwater ship. 

As already mentioned, it consists entirely of aluminum. Notwithstanding the fact that this was the first example, a very tight construction with the use of particularly little putty, which benefits recycling. In the future, the construction will be further adapted and optimized. Just as an aside, there are three more in the pipeline and several orders are already in for the larger versions as well. 

We board relatively easily along the transom. Indeed past the transom, because the hulls are by no means high and a solution for easy boarding is still being sought. By the way, the same goes for getting up from cockpit to gangway and from there to the roof to manipulate the sails. We left Lelystad harbor and hoisted the sails in the still sheltered inner harbor area. This requires some caution, because the boat really has to be perfectly in the wind. Otherwise the mainsail comes into conflict with the VAAN lazyjacks. Steering, however, is easy with the two electric motors with a clear consumption meter next to the “gas” levers. The electricity consumption during the rest of our maneuvers turned out to be negligible and we still had a lot of running hours available. 


“Because of the very open structure and large vertical windows of the superstructure, visibility all around is excellent.”


We dropped off and soon found the speed to be consistently above six knots with a top of 7.3 knots. The maximum angle was just under forty degrees of apparent wind. According to the polar diagram, a speed of over 10 knots is attainable. Even in the infamous lJsselmeer wave beat, the boat is calm and it behaves entirely as befits a catamaran: there is of course virtually no heel and it cuts easily through the water. The sailing characteristics are thus very decent and also tacking is problem-free. 

The Vaan R4 deserves the predicate “Sailboat of the Year” because of the balance between the many innovations found in the boat, the pleasant and comfortable sailing and the creditable sailing properties. Of course, such a conceived and executed boat cannot be cheap and with the version we sailed with, the price is around 600,000 euros. 


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