Beneteau First 235 Review via Small Boat Journal

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Beneteau First 435 boat

Beneteau First 235 Review

Small Boat Journal 1988

#63 October/November

By Mike O Brien — photos John Bildahl

Thoughtful Engineering.Everything from the angle of the sidedecks to the mounting of the winches has been well thought out on the First 235. Beefy stoppers, a hefty grabrail, and a substantial toerail add to safety.

The Beneteau First 235 presents a distinctively angular and wedge-shaped appearance an honest look that agrees with this little boat s function and wildly asymmetrical (fine forward and full aft) hull form. Beneteau s styling makes a statement, and you ll like it or you won t there s not much room here for neutrality.

A decade ago, the French revolutionized the design of sailboat interiors. They opened up the accommodations from the forepeak to the transom, and took full advantage of the possibilities inherent in fiberglass boat production. The 235 s layout represents this school s latest thinking, and it works wonderfully well.

Beneteau First 435 boat

Upon descending the companionway ladder, you ll find a very respectable navigation station on the right. Close the huge sliding panel in the bulkhead and flip up the hinged furniture, and voilä, the nav station converts into a fully enclosed head. All this is rather easily accomplished, and the resulting compartment isn’t t bad at all. I did find that my size 12½ right foot was happier out in the main cabin, but I could with some difficulty fold it in after me when the situation dictated. To the left of the companionway is a small, L-shaped galley with 5 feet 4 inches of stooping headroom.

Because of a careful blend of light-colored wood and plastic, the 235 s open main cabin is a most pleasant space. The crew won t hesitate to go below while under sail. The main cabin houses a large U-shaped dining area another trademark of contemporary French designs. Sliding the table down the mast compression post converts the living/dining area into a good-sized, unobstructed double berth. Back under the cockpit there s another double berth residing in what the sales brochure refers to euphemistically as the after cabin. Working in a large berth under the cockpit of a 23½-foot boat must be something of a minor engineering miracle, and though a sealed port in the transom adds light, there s no getting around the fact that this is a close, unventilated space.

Travel around the Beneteau s deck is safe and easy because of the narrow house, inboard shrouds, and superbly designed cockpit area. This cockpit truly is a masterpiece of proper angles and facets one of the very best we’ve experienced on any size boat. The seats are magnificently comfortable; and when the time comes to hike out on deck (with this lively boat that will happen sooner rather than later), you ll find the coaming and deck edges perfectly angled and rounded for the human anatomy. The outboard fits in a starboard notch in the transom, just above one of the biggest cockpit scuppers we ve ever seen on a small boat. Whatever water comes aboard will be sluiced away in a twinkling.

By far the liveliest sailor in our little fleet (Schock 23, Tonic 23, Hunter 23), the 235 asks or rather demands to be sailed as if it were a racing dinghy.* Though apparently not as fast as the Schock in a straight line, the Beneteau accelerates more rapidly. Its handling is both a joy and a challenge. Unlike the Schock, which doesnt t mind much it you put its rail down, the Beneteau displays unhappiness in a hurry. Heel this boat a degree too far, and it ll round up so fast that all the rudders in France (or South Carolina, where the boat is built) won t help. Keep it reasonably flat, set the proper sail combination for a given breeze, keep a quick hand on the mainsheet, and stay alert. The Beneteau will reward its crew with spirited performance plus a nice place to spend the night.

Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat

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