Figuratively speaking, the chain has closed. With the introduction of the First 44.7 at the Beneteau shipyard, presented for the first time at the last Maritime Show in Paris, all four of the First series – First 36.7, First 40.7, First 47.7 and finally the latest First 44.7 – today bear the stamp of yacht designer Bruce Farr.
Looking at these boats and analyzing their high results in races, we can safely speak of the family spirit of this series. Style is present both on and below the deck, which is reflected in the design of the interior, cockpit, rounded cockpit, simplicity and functionality of the deck layout. Obviously, when you discover First 44.7, you will definitely think about its younger brother First 40.7.
Now let’s get more detailed. But from the outset, it is important to note that this yacht, or rather its deck layout, is designed to accommodate the measurement requirements of IRC and IMS without compromising. The hull has relatively vertical sides and a U-shaped underwater part.
In addition, IMS gauges are penalized for removable lockers in the cockpit – which was observed on the First 40.7, so all 5 lockers at 44.7 were fixed. Two very large lockers near the helmsman store the life raft and vests, the other two, located under the cockpit banks, are well suited for storing the boat and other cruising accessories.
As for the fifth locker, it is intended for storing gas cylinders. Also, paying tribute to IMS requirements, the cockpit coamings comply with the allowed height standards. However, leaning back comfortably while cruising will be a little uncomfortable.
Deck fittings First 44.7
When the service department of the Port of Saint-Gilles was arming the First 44.7, hull 1 (which was presented in Paris), we could only praise the organization of the deck and cockpit. Of course, as the braces, sheets, reefs fall into place, a large number of ends accumulate in the cockpit. This is the price to pay for a 44 ‘high performance boat designed for racing.
But for us today, races are not relevant. For us, the main department. We want to check if the Beneteau shipyard’s goal has been achieved. In other words, we want to verify the claim that this yacht is suitable for both racing and cruising. His younger brother, First 40.7, was more racing oriented than sailing. In First 44.7, because of its size, everything is more proportionally distributed.
For example, the layout. For racing, there are not many improvements. The wheelhouse is extended forward towards the bow to increase the height of the ceiling in the bow master cabin toilet.
Practical: the navigator’s place is equipped with a large number of lockers. They successfully complement the kitchen ones.
Practical: at the descent there is a locker for storing the anchor during the regatta.
Impractical: Be careful not to burn yourself when you open the top shelf above the stove, as it might push against the kettle.
Everything is good here
The bow cabin, which looks a bit like the Oceanis 411, is gorgeous. Everything is fine here. The height of the ceiling is 2 m, the size of the double bed is 2.10 x 1.45 m, 4 opening hatches and many spacious lockers. The bed is thoughtfully shifted to starboard. Also in the cabin there is a large wardrobe at the entrance and side shelves.
Everything is complemented by a sofa that also serves as a locker. And the best thing that no manufacturer has ever done before is that the doorways in all cabins have been increased by a good 5 cm.We add that everything that has been said about the bow cabin is true for the saloon and for the two aft cabins, symmetrically located under the cockpit.
An interesting detail. To increase the capacity in the galley, which is small enough, Beneteau shipyard has created a large storage cupboard in front of the card table. And another closet for storing things needed on board is placed behind the helmsman’s seat, as was done in the First 40.7.
In general, although the creators did not skimp on lockers and opening hatches, and thought out a lot for sailing in bad weather, creating a wardrobe for non-cleaners in the second latrine, the interior is a little the same. When you walk down the stairs to the salon, your adrenaline levels do not rise, which happens when you are surprised.
On the contrary, you get the most out of sailing. Once you take the helm, sit on the windward side and put your feet on the steering column, there is no greater pleasure in driving the First 44.7, which flies at amazing speed.
7 knots under a spinnaker in 8 knots wind. 6.8 knots down-hauled with 12 knots wind. Thanks to the deep rudder, the steering wheel is very soft and precise. The yacht is stable on the course. Moreover, the carefully selected and carefully installed equipment allows you to use the full potential of this beautiful vessel, both in racing and cruising.
With a small crew, the helmsman is fully able to steer the main sheet independently. The boom sheet has working ends on both sides, which run along each side and are controlled by two winches in the stern.
The ability to sit comfortably at the level of the can while heeling is important during maneuvers, for steering a spinnaker or staysail, as for working on small winches mounted on the deckhouse surface. First 44.7 only needed to show itself in the regatta, as did First 40.7 and First 36.7.
It is the matter of time. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the latest First has some valuable qualities that are often overlooked: wheel comfort, performance and ease of maneuverability with good equipment.
Source: Voile Magazine, July 2004