Rupert Holmes has selected the finest Beneteau sailing yachts from the French manufacturer’s wide range of sailboats. From racing Figaro, fast cruisers First and comfortable Oceanis to the new line of Sense cruising yachts.
For nearly four decades, the French shipyard Beneteau has been one of the trendsetters in yachting and closely followed by other yacht manufacturers. The almost incredible ability to discern the demands of the current market in yacht manufacturing has allowed it to grow from small fishing boats to one of the world’s largest sailing yacht manufacturers in just one decade.
Almost 1000 sailing yachts Beneteau First 30 were launched in just four years (1977-81), thus Beneteau appeared on the sailing yacht manufacturers chart.
BENETEAU FIRST 30
After starting production of the first sailing yacht in the First line in 1977, the First 30 sailing yacht allowed Beneteau to enter the mainstream sailing yacht market, enter the scene, and the company began to grow very rapidly. And also the design of the First 30 was chosen during the sailing regatta Tour de France a la Voile from 1979 to 1981, which undoubtedly puts it among the best sailing yachts of those years.
This 30 ‘yacht is considered small by today’s standards, but at the time the design by André Mauric offered a lot of space on board compared to other sailing yachts of the same length, and the First 30 was faster, better equipped and beautiful managed.
The interior layout was typical of this era, with a V-berth in the bow cabin, a full-width latrine, two full-size sofas in the saloon along the sides, a navigator’s seat with a seat and table.
The galley was aft at the entrance to the salon. The aft cabin had a double berth. Production of the First 30 was discontinued in 1981 in order to make way for the first First 30E from Jean Berret. By that time, 969 hulls of First 30 sailing yachts had been produced.
The well-designed First 345 cruiser that took over the Mediterranean charter market in the 1980s spawned the entire First range from 305 to 435.
BENETEAU FIRST 345
Created just six years after the First 30, this sailing yacht had a more modern design and was the forerunner of a new generation of yachts with reduced displacement and increased hull width, which was much wider than other yachts.
First 345 was conceived as a pleasure sailing yacht and had impeccable handling, as well as the larger hull volume allowed for the design of comfortable and spacious cabins with a choice of interior layouts of 2 or 3 separate cabins.
The First 345’s interior was much better lit and ventilated than most yachts of this size. This was facilitated by a large transparent hatch for entering the saloon, many portholes in the deckhouse roof and opening deck hatches.
These two factors help explain the popularity of boats with Mediterranean charter companies, as well as with yacht owners who value seaworthiness first and foremost, and only then the comfort of the interior. The First 345 was followed by a long line of similar models, including the 305, 325, 375, 405 and 435.
The original Oceanis 350 was equipped with a large panoramic porthole on the cockpit roof. Others have followed this successful model.
BENETEAU OCEANIS 350
Beginning with the Oceanis 350 launched in 1986, the very first models of this cruise line have redefined the concept of the best cruising yachts – dark and dimly lit cabins and narrow, deep cockpits are a thing of the past. She was a sailing yacht with a spacious deck and an interior bathed in even more sunlight than the First 345, thanks in part to a large panoramic window on the deckhouse roof.
The early Oceanis models had a more proportional hull width than the First series, which increased interior space and reduced draft to appeal to a wide range of yacht owners and cruising destinations.
Despite the fact that these two factors somewhat overshadowed the fans of speed sailing yachts compared to the First series, the boat was extremely popular with its new owners and charter clients. The sailing yacht Oceanis 350 was sold in huge numbers both in Europe and the Caribbean and North America, leading to the establishment of the Beneteau factory in the USA.
The successful Oceanis 350 was quickly followed by others in the line – 320, 390 and 370, which were produced over the following years.
Refurbished in 1992, the Oceanis line of cruising yachts with the new Oceanis 400/411 models set new standards in equipment, sail handling, latrine and giant galley layout.
BENETEAU OCEANIS 400/411
The second generation of the Oceanis series of sailing yachts is firmly established as a favorite among private owners and charter operators. These were the first boats of this size designed to carry all sails with the ability to twist, although an Oceanis 411 with a grotto grotto system was also proposed later.
New standards have been set for yachts of this size, including a large galley with a huge refrigerator, two aft cabins for four, and a bow owner’s cabin with rectangular berth (not triangular as before) and spacious latrine. In total, more than 1000 yachts of this series have been sold in 12 years from 1992 to 2004.
The launch of the new racing sailing yacht Figaro proved that Beneteau is able to keep up with the trends in the design of racing sailing yachts, despite the company’s focus on the comfortable cruising yacht market.
BENETEAU FIGARO II
Despite the undoubted success of the Oceanis series of cruising sailing yachts, Beneteau certainly did not abandon the production of racing yachts and continued to improve the First line, which were positioned as fast and roomy racing cruisers.
The Figaro II sailing yacht was conceived in 2003 as a true racing yacht for the serious 1,500 mile solo sailing Solitaire du Figaro race. Currently, Figaro II is recognized as a cult one, especially in France, where the public pays very much attention to such competitions, and successful skippers have French names.
The boat combines light weight with great racing potential. Two rudders for better tailwind control contribute to fast speeds. Skippers can continue to sail while carrying a spinnaker even in near-stormy weather, often reaching speeds in excess of 20 knots.
Another successful cruising sailing yacht. So many of these yachts have been sold that many sailing competitions consist exclusively of the First 40.7 fleet.
BENETEAU FIRST 40.7
Beneteau First 40.7 was produced from 1997 to 2005. Bruce Farr has designed a very fast and incredibly popular racing-cruising sailing yacht with a surprisingly comfortable interior for a crew of eight and the ability to cross the oceans unhindered at impressive average speeds.
In addition, while most boats of this size were required to race exclusively on a handicap system, the number of First 40.7 hulls produced by Beneteau allowed them to race in their own class in many competitions.
Many First 40.7s are privately owned, but it should also be noted that this boat has become very popular with nautical schools and for corporate / racing sailing events. As a result, it is also a boat on which a large number of people enjoyed their very first sailing experience.
First 27.7 – Perhaps This Is Beneteau’s Biggest Secret? Excellent habitability and incredible stability at high speeds.
BENETEAU FIRST 27.7
Perhaps the First 27.7 is one of the most underrated sailing yachts in the First line. Launched in 2002, the design focus was on speed and ease of sail control. The result is a fast sailing yacht for both sharp and full courses, faster than many 35 ‘yachts, with enough stability to appease even the most timid and inexperienced beginners.
On the other hand, experienced sailors can enjoy flying full courses with confident control at very high speeds.
However, the First 27.7 is by no means a fully racing yacht. Sure, its interior is simpler than that of larger boats, but the First 27.7 is large enough to accommodate a head-height latrine and a separate twin aft cabin.
The lift keel option allows you to explore shallow coastal areas and coves that are beyond the reach of other yachts of the same size.
The third generation of the Oceanis series moves away from shallow water draft options and has a significant increase in the headroom in the cabin.
BENETEAU OCEANIS 473
By 2000, shallow draft was no longer considered a necessity by most cruising yacht owners, and the third generation Oceanis was designed with deeper and heavier keels, which, along with longer rudders, improved boat handling and significantly increased speed on sharp courses. All the main features inherent in the Oceanis series have remained the same, but the cabin has become much more spacious due to the increased headroom.
BENETEAU OCEANIS 58
Beneteau’s flagship Oceanis range, the Oceanis 58 offers a spacious and comfortable interior, comparable in comfort to significantly more expensive sailing yachts.
The interior of the Oceanis 58 is incredibly spacious, even for a boat of this size. The choice of interior layout is impressive. There were three-, four- and even five-cabin versions to choose from, with the latter including a separate crew cabin. This model became very successful and after a while Beneteau released an updated version of this yacht.
The new, improved Oceanis 58 featured an enlarged cockpit for even more safety and comfort, and the yacht received updated extra-large side windows for even better illumination below deck and sea views from the cabin.
A very spacious deck and a large cockpit allowed guests not to take part and not interfere with the work with the sails, all work with which was concentrated near the two steering wheels.
BENETEAU SENSE 43
The new Beneteau Sense line of sailing yachts promises to do for private yacht owners what the Oceanis series did for the charter market. While this may have been to everyone’s taste, the new series of cruising yachts offers a completely new option for those looking for a comfortable and spacious yacht that is optimized for a relatively small crew.
The Sense 43’s saloon and galley blend seamlessly into the large cockpit, creating a vibrant and light open-plan feel, blurring the lines between the interior and exterior of the yacht.