A perfect combination of convenience and performance: First 44.7 successfully combines the merits of a cruiser and a racing yacht.
In the booming sailing yacht market, Bruce Farr’s range of boats lacked a 45ft model. According to Beneteau, Farr’s new creation is a very versatile racing yacht, suitable for both sea cruises and racing.
This yacht was tested on the Atlantic coast near the Beneteau base in Saint Gilles Croix-de-Vie. Weather – northeast wind 5 knots with gusts up to 15, the sea is calm.
It is difficult to imagine that Beneteau will not release a 45 ‘boat, while all the shipyards in the world offer yachts of this popular size: Poncin 44, Dufour 44, Bavaria 44, not counting the models of faster yachts – Grand Soleil 45, X-46, Centurion 45 , FY 45, Swan 45, J 133.
Over the past 4 years, at least 28 new yacht models from 13 to 14 meters in length have been released! The interest in yachts of this size on the market is due to the fact that they can freely accommodate 2 or 3 cabins. Also, significant public interest is due to the fact that racing yachts are of interest to many amateurs who constantly or from time to time take part in competitions and who are most important for an informative steering wheel, good technical characteristics, stability on the course.
With more than 700 sailing ships taking part in the Trinidad regatta and at least 5,000 crews competing in the Marseille Race, it is obvious that the level of amateur sports has taken a significant leap forward in recent years. And when these amateurs rent a yacht or want to buy a new boat for themselves, they have such requirements for technical characteristics and comfort that could not have been imagined even 10 years ago.
The extraordinary success of the First 40.7 (more than 300 units sold) and the success of the First 36.7 (2 championship titles) made Beneteau turn to the beacon of yacht design for the past two decades: the New Zealander living in Annapolis.
Considering many factors, Bruce Farr and research bureau Beneteau have successfully combined what is needed for both competition (great vessel lines, deck layout, anchor locker, water tanks, space for storing sails) and a pleasure cruiser (comfortable cabins, spacious toilets, abundance of wardrobes and portholes, 3-cabin version). The result was very convincing, and this should be confirmed by the table of racing results this summer.
Interior of sailing yacht First 44.7
Version 3 cabins
First 44.7 does not hide its desire to be a fast and comfortable cruiser: design preference is given to space, light and ventilation. The interior does not present surprises, everything is logical and in place, and many details confirm the manufacturer’s desire to most accurately comply with the dual-use condition First 44.7. The furnishings contribute to ease of movement, the main free space in the cabin is shifted to the port side, leaving a wide passage to the bow of the vessel (and allowing sails to be stored during the regatta).
The central sofa, which hides the lockers and access to the bilge pump water intakes, can be easily removed under the oval table. Also, all the doorways of the yacht are 46 cm wide (finally! Most yachts are content with 40 cm) and a ceiling height of at least 1.90 and even more than 2 m in the center of the boat.
In this model, you will not leave the feeling of space, which is enhanced by the wall cladding made of light pear wood, and a large number of hatches, deck and side. In total, the yacht has 17 hatches and portholes! The entire yacht is bathed in light, and the cabin feels like a warm, large space.
The cabinet is also very cleverly placed, which is a continuation of the large table for cards, and which serves as a cupboard: this largely frees up space for shelves in a very functional kitchen with a deep double sink, a large refrigerator. In the galley it is possible to install a microwave oven in addition to the gas stove.
The aft cabins of the yacht are classic, but with large beds (2.03m x 1.30m), a sufficient number of wardrobes, a longitudinal partition that makes the hull more durable and separates the engine compartment, double ventilation in the cockpit and on the deck. The bow cabin is more cleverly arranged: the double bed is raised slightly to accommodate drawers, and shifted to the port side to provide a passage to the bathroom in the bow.
Opposite the bed (2.05m x 1.30m) is a sofa, wardrobe, dressing table and built-in shelves. Pay attention to the holding tank at the gangway and the water tanks under the floorboards in the cabin, positioned for better weight centering during the regatta. First 44.7 is not revolutionary, but all areas of the yacht are well equipped, which expands the space and facilitates movement.
Conclusion on the interior
– Convenient passage to the bow cabin is ensured by the fact that the central sofa slides under the table in the saloon.
– The bow master cabin is walk-through, which provides ease of movement.
– Aft cabins are equipped with comfortable sofas with large lockers under them.
– The large card table continues with a series of functional fitted wardrobes.
– Convenience of movement around the yacht is perfectly ensured by the doorways 46cm wide. Hatches open on expansion joints.
– The L-shaped kitchen is equipped with a comfortable table, double sink and many cupboards.
– Five deck hatches and twelve portholes open for ventilation and illumination.
– The bow toilet is spacious and pleasant and can be reduced in the racing version of the yacht.
– high ceiling height
– good lighting and ventilation
– an abundance of lockers
– the saloon is designed for six people
– reduced the volume of the catchment under the floorboards
First 44.7 ride characteristics
Almost a beast
The racing and cruising versions of the yacht differ only in displacement and equipment. Check the cruise specifications: apart from the shortened keel (2.15m instead of 2.65m, but with a bulb to get the same ballast ratio with the same sail area) and standing rigging (Dyform rigging instead of string), sails, deck equipment, detachable spinning drum of genoa, long feather remains the same as in the regatta version of the boat. It is enough to stand at the helm in a wind of 15 knots to fully appreciate the capabilities of this boat.
The helmsman benefits from a huge steering wheel and a comfortable steering column that provides excellent footrest in any mode. The control of the boat is very pleasant and easy thanks to the free, sensitive rudder, low yaw tendency, and excellent course stability. When the boat rises or leaves the wave, the helmsman maintains good visibility along the ship’s course and can control the mainsail himself with a small crew.
The deck layout is classic with 4 small winches in the cockpit and 2 more in the wheelhouse. Thanks to this, the crew can quickly maneuver the sails. Moving from cockpit to tank does not present any inconvenience due to the shape of the cockpit and the convenient position of the handrails. Deck equipment meets the ambitions of many riders: rigid cascade boom guy, standing rigging, comfortable bulwarks:
The yacht in the racing version keeps excellent course due to the thin and deep keel. Quite good performance on sharp courses with weak and medium winds – the speed of 7.5 knots at an angle of attack of 40 degrees. and a wind of 14 knots.
Due to IMS measuring standards, the deck of the ship is relatively cramped with almost vertical sides: 44.7 is better suited for tailwind use at full backstay than in gulfind. Even with weak gusts of wind, spray falls on the hatch covers. This racing yacht is easy to handle despite having a decent sail area, good heading, and the large rudder surface is very efficient in rough weather. Backstay performance: speed 8.5 knots at 140 degrees. angle of attack and wind of 14 knots, speed of 10 knots at 170 degrees. angle of attack and wind of 25 knots.
One drawback: under the spinnaker, the crew has a little cramped in the cockpit.
Conclusion on driving performance:
– the yacht is well heading to beydewind
– the yacht is stable on courses between fordewind and gulfwind
– informative and balanced steering wheel
– small lumpy beach
– not very practical anchor routing
– not a big cockpit for a cruiser
– the bow rail is not convenient for working with an anchor.
The First 44.7’s handling is very balanced, with the helmsman having a 1.7m diameter helm. The steering column has a triangular shape that allows you to sit comfortably when heeling.
Price and options
The standard yacht is almost fully equipped, with the exception of a more sophisticated regatta version and some equipment. The lead false keel with a draft of 2.65 m does not increase the price too much (by only 765 euros), and the racing rigging will improve the technical characteristics (8240 euros). The electronics kit will cost 15,787 euros.
For more comfort, there is the possibility of finishing the deck and cockpit with teak wood (10178 euros and 1320 euros), a holding tank (1114 euros) and a 12 V freezer compressor for the refrigerator (4138 euros). We tested the most complete version of the yacht.
The yacht does not hide her ambitions and shows a good IRC rating (1.107) and IMS for the Mediterranean. The vessel is multifunctional, performs well in close hauled and on passing courses, the weight is well distributed. In addition to racing capabilities, the 45-foot vessel does not miss a single element for a comfortable life on board, although so far only with a single 3-cabin layout option.
This combination of performance and convenience is very much in the spirit of the 40.7, which has had an indescribable success. First 44.7 should confirm the dynamics of the development of the Farr – First line due to the integrity and consistency of the program.
Source: Bateaux Magazine, August 2004