“First is not a pure racing yacht, but you will appreciate its performance in any regatta.” This is how the philosophy of sailing yacht First 35 is defined by Eric Ingouff, head of the performance cruiser project at Beneteau shipyard. The hull was designed by Bruce Farr, the interior was created in the Design Nauta studio – the new First 35 is intended to replace the two predecessors in this range, First 36.7 and First 34.7.
At one time, I had to test First 34.7. This yacht seemed to me difficult to handle, capricious, too light, moreover, the presence of an asymmetric spinnaker, for the first time on the Beneteau models, required very high qualifications from the crew. “Plus,” adds Eric, “the interior was ‘overly sporty,’ for example, the toilet was pushed into the bow.” As a result, in France this boat was in rather moderate demand.
Today we start our test in excellent conditions – the sun is shining, the wind is 18-20 knots. First 35 carries the mainsail and genoa 98%. I was located behind a large (1.60 m in diameter) helm, which clearly divides the cockpit into 2 zones. Sitting on the gunwale, one foot rested against the teak deck railing and the other against the base of the steering console.
Due to the fact that the shoulder of the boom-sheet carriage is shifted to the stern, and the control of the sheet itself is carried out through a separate winch, the yacht is better controlled. This innovation justifies itself without any doubt: under 105 sq. With the First 35 spinnaker ready to go to planing, the south-west wind creates a wave, and the boat makes a real leap forward. The hull of the yacht, made in the spirit of performance cruisers, like its predecessors, is in line with IRC measurements.
The race ball is estimated to be 1.025 with an aluminum mast, and between 1.025 and 1.030 with a carbon mast. The T-shaped keel (narrow wing and bulb) allows reaching a compromise between a low center of gravity and an “acceptable” draft of 2.2 m for a 35-foot yacht. There are no vantputens inside the hull! The shrouds are overlapped on the board. This saves a lot of space inside the yacht.
As for the hull, its shape is characterized by noble slopes and voluminous stern. Note that the IRC system does not account for statistical changes. In addition, the obvious advantage when maneuvering is that the maximum size of the genoa envisaged is a very modest 106%.
While maneuvering in the bay Saint – Gilles – Crois – de – Vie, we were convinced that the ergonomics of the cockpit allows us to comfortably sit both during the race and during cruising. Athletes will appreciate Harken’s latest generation of rotary winches. The hoists of the boom carriage are manually adjustable, as are the boom guy hoists, the cockpit is spacious and well organized.
The only thing I could criticize is the location of the winches on the sides of the gangway leading to the salon. In my opinion, not very convenient. Those who want to cruise on the First 35 will no doubt pay attention to the huge locker on the starboard side, in the cockpit aft, there is also a spacious box.
Besides, we really liked the gangway leading from the cockpit to the salon. It is long and very ergonomically designed, you will feel it even in rough seas.
As for the interior, the spirit of the large First range is maintained, characterized by the use of light wood. For us, it was a surprise that there were no vantputens inside the case. This is because Beneteau has adopted a revolutionary new deck-level anchorage system. As a result, the entire space below deck becomes habitable, which increases the amount of usable space along the sides.
The saloon table folds down on either side of the center table top, thus providing space for easy access to the bow of the yacht or for storing kitties and sails while racing. For the same reasons, the door to the bow cabin is made in two sections, with a fixed bulkhead in the middle.
In general, the First 35 has a very modern interior with stylish rectangular lines. Designers cannot be blamed for their lack of taste. In short, the famous A 35, X-34 or even Dufour 34 has a worthy competitor.
First 35 in numbers
1. The overall height in the forward cabin is 1.84 m. The double bed is 2 m long and 1.85 m wide at the head.
2. The overall height of the cabin is 1.87 m, and the water tanks are located under the sofas.
3. Overall height in the washroom 1.94 m.
4. There is a wardrobe at the entrance to the aft cabin. The size of the bed in the aft cabin is 2 x 1.7 m.
The cockpit space is well organized: the boom-sheet winches are located close to the helm.
As with the First 40, the table in the cabin can be lowered to accommodate the kitties and sails.
The liferaft is stowed in the aft locker located behind the helmsman’s seat.
The sliding chair at the chart table does not seem very reliable, on the other hand, this solution makes it easier to access all the shelves and drawers.
The boom is a bit low, it is better to work with winches while sitting.
Author: Bernard Rubinstein
Source: Voile Magazine, September 2009