The First 50 moves the Beneteau shipyard into the top league of cruising yachts. But the priorities remain the same: first of all, comfort, not sports achievements.
Bright rays of the sun, wind blowing at a speed of 20 knots, moderate rough seas – all this created the optimal conditions for exploring the new flagship of the First line on the water. The French shipyard Beneteau has provided YACHT with a new yacht First 50 for testing.
This happened in the harbor of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, located on the Atlantic coast, which, judging by the number of yachts of this manufacturer, can be considered the own harbor of the shipyard. The acquaintance promised to be exciting for both sides, since the prototype vessel No. 1 had been launched only a few days before this event and the shipyard had not yet had time to conduct sea trials.
The designer Philippe Briand was faced with very difficult tasks. He had to create a project of a racing-cruise yacht that meets the current design trends. At the same time, even a small team should cope with the management of the ship, despite its belonging to this category, without much difficulty.
The new model should inspire a desire to go to sea and “keep up with any vessels of this size,” as Chief Design Officer Eric Ingouf put it. Therefore, the decision was made to abandon the racing concept that meets the IMS and IRC standards.
First 50 manages to charm the observer while still at the pier. The straight stem, the stern sloping smoothly into the water, the graceful lines, the flat spacious deck divided by the swift lines of the deck superstructure that resembles the back of a diving whale – all this seems so familiar and familiar. It goes without saying: Wally, Comar or Hanse, but this does not deprive the design of delightful independence.
For example, the combination of a handrail and a canopy above the superstructure windows. The visor is used as a support in the transition to the mast, while hiding the height of the windows. This lengthens the lines and provides an air flow similar to that in a chimney with open windows and crosswinds.
At a cost of 321,000 euros in the basic configuration, the First 50 is in the middle price range, while offering a fairly rich equipment. For example, electric anchor winches as well as a hinged anchoring mechanism in the bow of the boat, hydraulic pumps for the boom hauler and the backstay tensioner are already standard.
In a more comfortable version, according to YACHT estimates, the price will be 389,000 euros, gradually moving to a higher range, but already with a solid package of electronics, handy devices and a color plotter for maps.
If there is a desire to get the ship in the configuration that the shipyard has provided to us, then we will have to pay a little more than for the comfortable version. The reason is simple: many elements and parts of weapons that give an impression of exclusivity are options that significantly increase the price. For example, it is difficult to imagine the spectacular appearance of a vessel without a magnificent teak deck (15,000 euros).
Also, the cockpit table is only available in the more comfortable S version (33,000 euros), although on many yachts of this category it is a necessary accessory for long cruises as an integrated cockpit element. This includes, among other things, a black lacquered aluminum mast with string rigging instead of standard Dyform cables, as well as various design elements used in the below deck design.
Exclusive sailing pleasure
Needless to say, the prototype is equipped with everything necessary to conduct a sea trial and present the flagship from the best side. This package includes an optional version of the keel (40 cm longer), at the end of which, instead of the iron, a lead bulb is installed, which allows to optimize the center of gravity of the ballast.
The longer keel partly prevented us from entering and entering the harbor: the sandy shallow in front of the entrance limited us to a certain time frame of ebb and flow. However, if you order a standard 2.40 m keel made of iron, it is quite possible to cope with such a limitation on sailing areas. This fin, due to its greater weight, provides a restoring moment similar to a longer keel.
However, our tests passed without any restrictions. The purchaser has the option of choosing a sail kit, although Quantum triradial cruising sails are supplied as standard. The shipyard has equipped the prototype with relatively flat 3DL sails from North, perfect for a fast-paced racing-cruising yacht.
With five points on the Beaufort scale when tacking, it accelerated to 7.5 knots, while the roll reached 20 degrees. After dropping to a 60-degree angle, the First 50 increases its design speed to 8.5 knots, and in Gulfwind the ship overcomes the 10 knots mark. A squall of up to 25 knots will result in a roll of 30 ° or more. Strictly speaking, for reasons of comfort, it was time to take the reefs.
However, in spite of the absence of a boom-sheet shoulder strap, under such conditions the load fell on the rudder evenly, and the boat was not excessively driven. Therefore, we abandoned this thought. Even the fact that, due to the heavy running of the bearing, the reaction of the steering wheel seemed slower, did not prevent us from experiencing true pleasure.
The spacious cockpit guarantees space for a large team with sporting ambitions. Technical equipment and a set of practical things are of high quality and completeness.
The central mainsheet winch as well as the genoa winches are within reach of the helmsman behind one of the two helms. As a consequence, team members can only use the Genoa winches while standing to the side or with their backs to the direction of travel, as these winches are very far facing the control panel.
Running from the mast to the cockpit in open recesses, halyards, guy lines and other ropes (twelve in total) are placed in the deck compartment next to the gangway to the cabin. Two additional winches on the roof of the cabin (optional) make it easier to operate a spinnaker or gennaker.
Engine power calculated based on 4 hp. per ton; when fully loaded, we managed to reach 9 knots, and at cruising speed (80%) – 8.3 knots, which is almost equal to the design speed. The maneuverability was satisfactory, the noise level for the aft rooms and cockpit was slightly increased.
Modern interior design First 50
Much attention was paid to the design concept of the underdeck space. Interior designer Veerle Battiau has maintained the same simplicity and functionality in the interior design that captivates already on deck and in the cockpit.
The interior is primarily reminiscent of the modest and functional minimalism of modern furniture design. The familiar details and borrowings from other, time-tested interior design concepts are also striking. It is hard to imagine that this minimalism could be changed after purchase, adding the owner’s personal belongings to the space.
The layout and proportions of the three cabins, each designed for two people (paired with two bathrooms), are traditional and offer nothing new in terms of their use. The spacious owner’s cabin has a large, comfortable bed that can be used to sleep in both directions. Thanks to the large openings in the roof of the cabin and the hatch, the space is evenly illuminated and ventilated.
The magnificent bathroom, located in front of the main bulkhead, can only be accessed from the cabin and has a separate shower cubicle. The concept of both aft cabins is fairly familiar.
A striking design solution is the mobile folding wall cabinets made of artificial leather, their frame consists of rods made of stainless steel. The ceiling height at the stern, as well as on the entire vessel, is just over 1.9 m. For ventilation, two vents are used – in the superstructure and in the cockpit wall.
As traditional as the cabins are, the interior of the saloon and the adjacent kitchen and naval areas are striking. The navigation area is very similar to a spacious writing desk with a swivel chair, almost flush with the comfortable L-shaped sofa.
The dimensions of the table allow you to place six people at the same time at it during lunch; at the same time, it is quite narrow, and there is free space for passage. Both stools can be installed in different places.
A well-equipped kitchen is not designed in the form of the usual letters U or L, it is equipped with a pull-out unit with a sink, which creates a T-shaped surface, behind which two people can work at the same time. All three zones, despite their different purpose, form a visual and functional unity. A clear departure from conventional yachting standards, the First 50 exemplifies a new generation of design solutions.
Yacht First 50 is a vessel whose lines and interiors are designed in a style that will appeal to lovers of modern minimalism. The vessel is well placed to ensure a long, relaxing journey. A sports enthusiast will undoubtedly get great pleasure from it and will not be mistaken in their requirements regarding appearance and driving performance.
The yacht is so simple that even a small crew can handle it, while, in addition to incredible pleasure, it also provides the necessary safety. A special vessel for a very special buyer.
First 50 specifications:
Constructor: Philippe Briand
CE-category of the project: A (open sea)
Hull length: 14.65 m.
Waterline length: 13.25 m.
Width: 4.37 m.
Draft / alternative: 2.40 / 2.80 m.
Weight: 13.8 t.
Ballast / share: 4.8 t / 35%
Mainsail: 72.1 sq.m.
Furling Genoa: 70.0 sq.m.
Sailing ratio: 4.97 / 8.5 knots
Engine (Yanmar JH4CE Saildrive): 41kw / 55hp
First 50 hull and deck design:
The body is made of fiberglass, laminated with a glued-in inner shell. The deck is made of fiberglass with balsa interlayer using injection method. The hull and deck joint is glued and bolted.
Shipyard price (including 19% vat):
Shipyard base price: 321,204 €
Price with sails: 345,056 €
Price for the comfortable model: 388 697 €
Warranty / osmosis guarantee: 3/5 years
Sailing speed without drift and current:
Beidewind (40 degrees): 7.5 knots
Full beidwind (60 degrees): 8.6 knots
Gulfwind (90 degrees): 9.5 knots
Backstay (130 degrees): 8.9 knots
Fordevint (180 degrees): 8.4 knots
Wind speed 20-25 knots. (5-6 Beaufort School)
Wave height: 0.75-1.00 m
YACHT magazine editorial assessment
The First 50 is a high-speed cruise ship that can comfortably accommodate up to 6 people.
Construction and layout:
+ Successful design
+ Excellent integration of galley and navigator seat
Sailing tests and settings:
+ Excellent driving performance
– The boom-sheet shoulder strap is not available even as an option
The quality of living conditions and finishing of premises:
+ A unique concept of space
+ High-quality and neat finish with fiberglass and wood