The aftertaste from any yachting exhibition invariably turns into a jumble of everything seen and heard. You cannot rely on memory – you can easily get confused and reward a motor yacht with a staysail, and give a sailing cruiser three outboard engines of 300 horsepower each. I, of course, exaggerate, but not so much.
In order to prevent this from happening and not to mislead readers, journalists stock up on notepads, dictaphones, hang on cameras and carefully study information about each interesting exhibit. This allows us to significantly reduce the number of blunders.
Nevertheless, among all this varied uniformity, sometimes there is such a successful novelty that it is not a sin to put off the recorder and just enjoy the exterior and interior, clearly realizing that it definitely cannot be confused with anything.
At the last exhibition in Cannes, such a yacht for me was Beneteau Oceanis 38 – another overwhelming success of the Beneteau concern. The novelty has already won the award as the best sailing yacht of 2014 in size from 31 to 40 feet according to the American magazine Sail, and at the Dusseldorf boat show she received an award in the category “Best family cruiser”, and there are quite objective reasons for this.
For the first time, such a multifunctional model of a sailboat was presented to the surprised public.
In the world of motor and sailing yachts, there has long been a trend to build transformer yachts, but the Oceanis 38 breaks all records.
This cruiser layout certainly comes in handy on a weeklong full crew cruise. And what if there are only two couples on board or the yacht goes to sea for the weekend? Then the owner in a few minutes … removes the bow bulkhead! The salon has become larger and more airy than on a 40-foot, and it is handy to communicate with friends, even blissfully stretched out on the bow sofa. This is the weekender layout.
Finally, before a big company day out or a club race, the owner will remove the table and take out (or move to the bow bed) a couple of chairs, forming a day sailer. The result is a chic meeting room with a guitar or beer – nothing more! And in the race here it is convenient to sort out the spinnaker and prepare it for the next setting.
Moreover, even a part of the galley (having received two more seats) and side hinged boxes can be “eliminated” …
The most amazing thing is that you get all these layouts on board one yacht! The moment you need this or that option, you will change the layout with a “flick of your hand” and hit the road.
An interesting detail: the cabins do not have the usual wardrobes. Instead, there are hooks for regular suitcases designed by Philippe Cassegrain (head of the Longchamp “fashion bag factory”), which the yacht is equipped with. Suitcases are packed at home, and on the yacht they just need to be fixed and opened – and you are ready to relax.
The time savings for folding / unfolding things before / after the cruise are obvious. However, if such a “modular” system seems too extravagant to someone, instead of removable trunks, you can order traditional wardrobes.
The transom – with the same sharp break along the cheekbone, but it is tightened further than usual – almost to the very nose. Roll control will be provided by two rudders. Maestro Finot-Conq also took care of a good balance of sails – the mainsail and genoa are almost equal in area. The power-to-weight ratio (4.39) is quite typical for a cruiser – the boat will not “fly”, but it will not require frequent work with sails when the wind changes.
Fans of drive and club races will be equipped with an extraordinary (114 m²) gennaker, while family crews, on the contrary, will choose to twist the mainsail into the mast and an automatic staysail (shoulder strap with a carriage is provided).
The cockpit stern is reminiscent of the Sense affinity: the lift-up helmsman seats offer great access to the water. The swimming platform is formed by a folding transom, which also gives access to the liferaft. The low-profile throttle-reverse handle sits at deck level – no need to bend in three deaths when docked.
Jib winches are installed so that it is convenient to work for both the helmsman (from the helm) and the sailor (from the cockpit). The halyards and the boom sheet are as usual brought to the wheelhouse. Two lockers in the curbstone of the table are a guarantee of the safety of binoculars, cameras, mobile phones, etc.
As it usually happens at exhibitions, unfortunately, there was no question of a test drive, but this misunderstanding will certainly be corrected at the spring test session. At the moment, it can be argued that Beneteau is practically single-handedly introducing a completely new class of yachts – the transformer yacht. I can’t imagine how competitors will react, but they will definitely not be able to remain silent.
Author: Fedor Gradov
Source: “Captain-Club” magazine