Featuring the same predatory lines and daring design as the First 50 that arrived last year, the new First 45 inherits the beauty of its predecessor, the First 44.7. A luxury cruiser or a sports yacht – you choose its destination. Both options are excellent.
The philosophy of the entire new First line is clearly outlined in this yacht, which reproduces in 45 feet the style that Philippe Briand realized at 50 feet. We can say that these two yachts are like two drops alike, and anyone who sees them will certainly pay attention to the exceptional beauty of these boats.
A low and restrained deckhouse in its architecture, with the already famous “century” that outlines the portholes, an almost vertical stem, the lower end of which is at the same level with the water, a sloping transom (which is important for the yacht’s racing classification), an elongated waterline, a keel with a bulb and a very long rudder blade, allowing the boat to react to the slightest rudder movement.
The draft of the yacht is 2.40 m, which has increased the sail area of the yacht and, accordingly, the displacement / sail ratio.
The body design is classic. Beneteau follows its tradition: a monolithic fiberglass body is made using infusion technology. A special reinforcement is molded into the bottom of the yacht, which increases the hull’s resistance to loads. The deck has a sandwich construction with balsa wood (which seems to be preferable to a cellular structure filled with foam).
The deck-hull connection is masked by a teak bulwark and is visible only on the transom. Meticulous elegance, double pearl gray decorative belt along the waterline and a stripe of the same color that surrounds the cockpit windows. The teak cockpit completes the painting. The teak deck is an option.
When you climb aboard, the size and comfort of the cockpit immediately strikes. The banks are long and comfortable, the coamings are at a proper slope, the wide passage between the two helms allows easy access to the bathing platform.
Let’s pay attention to the high-quality deck equipment (this especially concerns the sports version of the yacht on which we carried out our tests) – 6 powerful winches, 12 stoppers in 2 grooves (add organizers to this) and a rigid boom guy. The boom-sheet shoulder strap is installed on the deck directly in front of the steering wheels. All this allows for excellent sail handling, but there are still a few criticisms.
The boom-sheet shoulder strap makes it somewhat difficult to access the engine dashboard, to adjust the backstay guy it is necessary to lean strongly, and the large compasses on the deck are not readable enough when you are at the helm. In addition, the boom-sheet winches could be moved closer to the helmsman.
What we liked – thanks to the presence of two steering wheels, the helmsman always has good visibility, including when maneuvering in the marina, it does not matter if he is standing or sitting. The steering wheels are sturdy and have virtually no backlash.
As is often the case in the coastal area near Monaco, the Mediterranean Sea pleases us with light winds that do not exceed 8 knots. The First 45 can do its best in these conditions. We leave quite quickly, the sails are immediately filled with wind, and our speed approaches the speed of the wind.
This certainly goes to the North 3DL laminated sails. The boat makes turns easily, and the loss of speed is very small, and it compensates for it quickly. There is no need to roll back into the wind to gain speed. The rudder blade is thin and long (almost flush with the keel bulb), giving excellent steering response.
The speed and acceleration ability of the First 45 is obvious even with the smallest winds, the yacht always reaches a speed close to the wind speed (about 4.5 knots with a 4 knot breeze), any gust of wind instantly adds speed to the boat. In light winds, the 140 m2 spinnaker can reach a speed of 6.5 knots. In short, this yacht is very high-speed, especially in the “Regatta” version, and it was on such a boat that we carried out tests. With 10 knots of wind, we walked 8.7 knots without any problems.
Interior First 45
Our yacht was a three-cabin yacht and the style of the interior is very close to the ultra-modern design we see on the First 50, with light Alpi panels. These panels imitate natural wood and even have longitudinal veins. The light wood tones contrast with the dark non-slip flooring.
Such an interior solution gives a feeling of more space (the overall height in the saloon is 1.95 m, the passageways in the cabins are also quite wide), good illumination and ventilation due to windows in the hull, and traditional sunroofs. The weak points are the lockers in the aft cabins, and the fact that design takes precedence over functionality at times. In particular, we doubt that lacquered wood will survive the harsh sea conditions.
There is no feeling that the yacht is smaller than the First 50. The bow cabin is very spacious, it is practically the same size as the 50ft boat. There are plenty of lockers and a comfortable separate toilet, and the bed is 200×150 cm. The aft cabins are unfortunately smaller.
The galley is T-shaped with a stove closer to the stern and a work surface / refrigerator in front, allowing two people to work at the same time. On the left side of the cabin there is an L-shaped sofa, on which the six of us sat behind a large (130 x 77 cm) dining table, additional seating is provided by stools that can be removed under the table. We also liked the navigator’s seat, where the map table is of the optimal size and there is space for navigation devices.
During the test drive we appreciated the excellent handling of the new First 45. The boat performed well in light winds and there is every reason to be confident that the result will be equally good in any weather. We found the interior solutions also successful, the boat is spacious and ergonomic. Of particular note is the galley and the forward cabin (owner’s cabin).
First 45 specifications:
Architect: Philippe Briand
Overall length / waterline: 13.68 m. / 11.76 m.
Draft: 2.40 m. Or 2.74 m.
Displacement: 10 600 kg.
Motor: Yanmar sail drive 54 hp
Water / fuel: 200 l. / 110 l.
Categories: A – 8 people / B – 9 people / C – 14 people
First 45 test drive conditions:
Southwest wind speed from 3 to 9 knots
Duration 1 day