For the seaside man of the North Atlantic and the seas washing Northern Europe, the desired yacht is a fortress. There is no place for large windows in its sides, the cockpit, which is narrow and always closed from the stern, is ringed with a high coaming, the entrance to the cabin is often protected by a windshield (or even a half-pipe) …
But in the Mediterranean, where all these attributes only interfere with enjoying the sun, sea air and free surfing with a gentle wave, the antipode to the “northerner” turned out to be more appropriate, with a large deck area and a wide open cockpit. Such as the sailing yacht Beneteau Sense 55.
A long, squat hull with almost no drop in the side line, an almost vertical stem and a wide stern – these are all yachts of the new Beneteau line. For maximum completeness, even the cheekbone is almost molded from the midsection to the transom – the designers (Berret-Racoupeau Yacht Design) clearly sought to create a boat with “dinghy” stability of shape. And so that on the roll it does not lose control (the bottom is rather flat-bottomed), there are two rudder feathers.
On the bow with two anchor rollers, the tack “Code 0” is normally attached, a little further along the deck – an inner headstock forged. A voluminous sailing locker is hidden under the hatch. In front of the mast, a “bed” is formed for the automatic head sail (optional).
I walk freely along the wide deck aisles of the sailing yacht Beneteau Sense 55, the flat roof of the wheelhouse with flush hatches is also “living” – you can throw mattresses on it and arrange a solarium or a playground for children.
The stern is open, there is a large beach in the parking lot. And before leaving for the flight, the steering seats are lowered, a low transom is raised (by hands, it is spring-loaded), the rail hooks snap into place – navigation safety is ensured. There are two steering wheels, all instruments and screens of the chartplotter are duplicated on both steering posts, the width between which – the cart will pass.
Our yacht (like all Sense sailing yachts) does not have living quarters under the cockpit. Hence the first – hefty lockers (with hatches on pneumatic struts), in the left of which the captain’s cabin is optionally equipped (small, but in a good place on the ship).
Second: the cockpit, the coamings of which are as wide as possible, is close in area to that on a catamaran. For safety, I even had to make a stainless handrail along the aisle – to keep on the bank.
On the left – a linear sofa and a passage to the wheelhouse, on the right – a table, which is more common on motor boats, surrounded by a U-sofa. The table, firstly, is folding (doubles the area), and secondly, it is equipped with an electric lift. Those. it can be a full-fledged dining room (raised and unfolded), coffee (folded and lowered a little) or even part of a two-seater bed (unfolded and lowered to the level of the seats).
The latter, it seems to me, is fantastically useful – in the summer, in the Mediterranean heat, many yachtsmen prefer to sleep in the fresh air, looking for more or less horizontal places on the deck. And you can sunbathe during the day.
All running gear is placed on the cockpit coamings, where two pairs of winches are installed. The front pair is supplied with halyards-guy-ropes-topping and a boom-sheet, a locker is provided for the running ends – everything is on business. But the sheets of the staysail (for them – the aft pair of winches) are doomed to roll underfoot – there is nowhere to put them.
A very useful arch rises above the wheelhouse entrance. On it is the attachment of the main end of the boom-sheet, the visor-mudguard is “parked” to it, the plafonds embedded in it illuminate the cockpit in the evening, and the handrails screwed to it are very appropriate in bad weather. By the way, in the standard options there is one more arch – aft, on which antennas, solar panels and boat hoists are mounted.
One of the key features of the Beneteau Sense 55 is its shallow (relative to the cockpit) interior. A symbolic sill and only three steps – you are in the wheelhouse. This, as well as the large side windows, was requested by the customers themselves, who were surveyed by Beneteau several years ago. Actually, the very concept of a new model line was born precisely as a result of that survey.
So, the salon is wide and very bright thanks to the panoramic glazing of the wheelhouse. On the left is a dining group with approximately the same table and sofas as in the cockpit. Moreover, and in terms of functionality: the table is expanded and raised / lowered by an electric drive, “working” either as a dining room, or as a coffee table, or as part of a double bed.
A curbstone in the center of the cabin is a base for a folding bench, a “storage” for a TV panel (also raised by pressing a button) and just a useful area. And if the bench is folded, we have a free passage to the bow.
The aft sofa of the dining group is also the navigator’s seat. The navigator has a full-size table (many people save on it now), one more chartplotter, shelves and cabinets in sufficient (according to experience) quantity. Not everyone likes to sit facing aft, but it’s easier to talk to the helmsman this way.
The seat can be adjusted to the roll, however, only 15 degrees and only on one side. And I also liked that the surfaces of the chart table, like many others, are glued with leather – and it looks noble, and everything that lies does not roll even at 20 degrees of roll.
On the starboard side there is a huge and well-stuffed galley: a stove with an oven, two large refrigerators, a double sink, a dishwasher, bottle holders, cargo and drawers … And a long Corian tabletop with a standard lid above the stove (opens into a special sprung niche) …
A corridor with doors leading to 3 cabins leads from the salon to the bow. Onboard – guest, double, with wardrobes, individually controlled air conditioning and private bathrooms. And in the nose – the owner’s suite: a large bed on the podium, a table (for a laptop or makeup) with a stool, bookshelves. The bathroom is divided into two rooms: a shower room on the left, a toilet on the right. Common to all cabins is a sea of light from the windows, there is no “hold” feeling, usual on most yachts.
The boat has fantastic autonomy: the water supply is one and a half times more than that of the “classmates”, and the fuel supply is two to three times. With a very modest (as for a 55-foot) 75-horsepower engine. Which, however, is enough to provide the ship with 5.5-6 knots of cruising speed and 7 – maximum.
But in the sailing sense, the yacht is strong: in terms of power-to-weight ratio (4.71), it is located approximately in the middle between “riders” (about 5 for First or X-yachts), and cruisers (about 4.5 for most Oceanis). And in terms of the relative elongation (the ratio of the length by design waterline to the cubic root of the displacement, characterizes the wave “deceleration” of the hull) and generally at the level of regatta yachts (6.08). Potential, however! In a good wind under the gennaker the boat is very sporty, from the stern it even visually resembles a “racing car” of the VO 70 class. Soft ride on the waves, long “sitting” in surfing – in a word, the thrill and drive are not childish.
But – only for full courses. On tack, the boat also runs well (although it does not shine with steepness), but at the same time it rolls decently. And then it turns out that the helmsman on the windward side has nothing to sit on (the seat is flat, without stops), and to stand – so-so (the deck stops are small, I rested my foot on the rail, unnaturally expanding).
From leeward – a little better, but half of the horizon is closed by a high side. And those sitting in the cockpit also begin to look for cozy places – where to rest and “wedge” for psychological comfort. And they practically do not find it … And the low coaming of the cockpit from the side is also embarrassing – a ridge that has flown onto the windward depressions will surely spill onto the seats.
In a light wind (during the tests, I was lucky with different wind conditions), it is comfortable in the cockpit, it is convenient to work on the winches, the helmsman is comfortable both standing and sitting. But the height of the superstructure is a little annoying: sitting (on a regular bench), the helmsman looks only slightly above the wheelhouse, and when the feed descends on the wave, there is a dead zone in front. Moved on board, “racing” – the problem is settled.
At low speed, the yacht vyalenko responds to the steering wheel shift. But it is worth a little acceleration – the responsiveness is excellent: to my surprise, such a solid ship ruled even easier than its younger counterparts (I tested the Oceanis 41-45-48 that day). Moreover, without loads on the steering wheel – the centering is excellent.
Beneteau Sense 55 is an amazingly spacious yacht with an almost catamaran-sized cockpit. When parked and under the engine, the comfort is unparalleled for a sailboat. The volumes and illumination of the saloon and cabins are more typical for luxury motor yachts. While sailing with non-extreme tourists on board, you should avoid noticeable rolls and take reefs earlier than “classmates” – this is both more comfortable and safer.
And vice versa, for a team of young, active and thrill-seeking, this yacht in strong winds will delight with “sailing dinghy” dynamics, adrenaline rolls and outstanding speed.
Author: Bogdan Parfenyuk