Beneteau First 30 Boat News, Review & Advice

17 мая 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »
Beneteau First 435 boat

Beneteau First 30

Functional overall design

Balanced, easy to steer hull

Versatile performance cruiser


Bulkhead impinges double berth

Toerail prevents comfortable hiking


— New design with room to tune

The arrival of the First 30 caused quite a stir at Sanctuary Cove in May and after an afternoon sailing one I can see what the hype is all about. Designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian of America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race winning fame in conjunction with single-hander Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper of the Open 60 Foncia, the new First 30 is a radical change from her predecessors. Beneteau’s departure from Farr Design’s more traditional approach to Argentinean Juan K, as he’s known, has produced a slab-sided, twin-ruddered and beamy boat that proved to be a very stable performer during sail testing.

Described by my host for the day — Eric Ingouf, Beneteau First 30 project manager — as a “high-performance cruiser” the F30 combines a comfortable Nauta designed interior with a performance orientated-hull and rig that leaves plenty room for tuning.

The F30 has an interesting recent history with Beneteau choosing a development route that included a Blog forum ( ) to gain insight and feedback as the project moved forward. The result is a functional performance cruiser, with the emphasis firmly on the ‘p’ part of that equation.


— Cost effective and easy sailing

The overall look somehow retains the First line’s traditional shape, thanks to symmetry across the verticals — such as the transom and bow angles, complemented by a low-slung coachroof which still manages about six-foot headroom thanks to the deep hull. Beneteau’s massive economies of scale and strong Aussie dollar mean that a very cost-effective base price of $162,905 is possible; perhaps allowing club racers money left over for a set of carbons.

The cockpit is designed around the skipper with fold-down footrests either side and sheets to hand. Indented coamings near the tiller make a comfy seat at the helm as well as housing the Raymarine ST70 readout, which is complemented by three Raymarine mast jumbos. The transom-mounted mainsheet track and sheeting, run through Harken blocks, as well as the the primaries, twin speed Harken ST40.2s, can all be reached from the tiller. All running rigging, apart from the topping lift, runs back to the Spinlock jammers controlled by a further pair of H40 winches, and usefully there’s a Spinlock Winchfeeder pin for crossing any of the Dyneema halyards between the winches.

Another plus is the cavernous cockpit locker which could probably house a folded inflatable when in cruise mode. The semi-open transom includes a fold-down ladder, which is needed as the high topsides would preclude an easy man overboard recovery.


— could sleep six at a pinch

Below decks also looks to have stepped up a notch in comfort over earlier boats with Nauta Design producing smooth ergonomics throughout the light Oak-finished interior. Moulded coamings and longitudinal handrails give a practical yet pleasant finish. The mast post set far back towards the main hatch dominates and leaves the fold-out table intact ahead of it. On either side of the table the cloth lounge seating can double as berths, with through-bulkhead hatches to allow taller crew to stretch out.

The two-cabin, double-berth layout now has a door that separates the forward berths. The V-berth is impinged by the anchor locker bulkhead and storage space underneath is also limited due to the water tank but there are two cupboards. At the stern, a substantial double berth fits below the cockpit as well, so at a push six could squeeze in for fully-crewed racing. The portside moulded shower/head has a manual toilet and combined shower-tap which is a functional setup. Adjoining it the navigation station has enough room for laying out full sized paper charts and plenty of bulkhead space for a multifunction display alongside the switch panel. Halogen lights and other electrics are powered by a 70amp house battery (with the optional second one advisable for autopilot use) and an 80Ah alternator on the 20hp Yanmar saildrive engine keeps everything charged.

Feeding the crew from the L-shaped galley shouldn’t be a drama with twin-burner gimballed cooker (but no oven) and the 100-litre top-opening icebox should ensure the coldies remain that way. The rather shallow sink has a foot pump for emptying the icebox and conversion to a salt water pump is a useful option. Underfoot, a shallow bilge, a typical malaise of modern designs, wouldn’t tolerate a lot of water ingress before stability was affected.


— No backstay and square-top main

The two-spreader rig setup is interesting with no backstay, so swept-back shrouds are used. This BR style design requires wide triangulation, so the three shrouds either side are located outboard on the gunwales with chainplates. This layout, with genoa track inboard, leaves the deck clear for working crew, though the wooden toerail won’t be a comfortable hiking perch. Further mast support is via the transom located mainsheet track, which should also maximise twist on the mainsail while keeping the cockpit clear. The square-topped mainsail uses standard slab reefing.

The location of the Sparcraft mast far back in the hull, a la Volvo 70, has the advantage of aligning the centre of effort with the keel, creating a very symmetrical design. It also opens up the fore triangle to large non-overlapping headsails, which are favoured in IRC handicapping. A Facnor genoa furler can replace the standard foil in cruising mode.

The F30 can carry both conventional and asymmetrical spinnakers thanks to an optional GRP bow sprit which protrudes alongside the single bow roller. Behind it, the deep anchor locker has fixings for an optional horizontal windlass, which should be an adequate setup in cruising mode.

While not being built directly with particular race handicapping in mind the F30 does allow for fine tuning, so using non-overlapping carbon headsails on the optional carbon mast and rod rigging setup could substantially improve performance.

With echoes of the Mini Transat designs, the F30 looks very compact with Juan K’s signature chine the length of the beamy hull with a full stern section. Waterline is maximised thanks to the snub bow, which has a very fine entry, and reverse sheer on the wide transom. Construction is by injection moulding GRP with balsa-cored wood which remains the most cost-effective way of building.

Twin transom-hung rudders are designed to maximise control of the beamy stern while minimising drag and tiller steering is intended to give pinpoint accuracy around the buoys. Keeping things upright is a slim cast-iron keel with large T- shaped bulb, intended to lower the boat’s centre of gravity as well as helping fore and aft trim.


— Quick and manoeuvrable

“Goes like a train” was the phrase recorded in my notes during the sail test, mainly because the F30 sailed like it was on tracks; straight and steady. At the helm the feeling was of steering through turns, rather than sliding, a result of the twin rudders and sharp hull chine I think.

Beneteau First 435 boat

So well balanced was the F30, that with minimum adjustment to the transom mounted track, the boat could very nearly self-steer in the prevailing conditions. This useful characteristic also has the advantage of requiring less battery energy when the optional Raymarine ST70 autopilot is fitted.

Beneteau say that the F30 can carry the standard sail plan in winds of up to 20 knots and I can believe this given the stability of the hull and its big T-keel.

For the record the best numbers your correspondent achieved was 6.9 knots speed in the 9.2 knots wind with plain sail up, with 28 degrees apparent shown on the Raymarine mast jumbos. Hard on the wind like this, the helm retained feel while having a powerful say in how the First tracked. In the gusts, a quick pull at the mainsheet track reduced the helm pressure and kept the wide hull from digging in beyond the chine. The flip-down footrest bars did their job once adjusted to my 5’10” frame and for standing there are simple teak blocks. The tiller length is also adjustable by a simple finger pull arrangement that worked well and proved fine for fast tacking. Later in the afternoon for the downwind run home, hoisting the asymmetric spinnaker produced 8.2 knots speed in 10.1 knots wind at 90 degrees apparent wind.

In cruising mode, twin rudders have limited use so sticking the 20hp saildrive into reverse was going to be a good test of the First’s abilities — the water flow can really pressurise the helm, especially a tiller. However the First tracked back without drama and even turned while astern without too much wrestling with the tiller. Going ahead, with revs maximised at 3400 produced 7.8kts in the flat calm conditions.

Overall, this latest First looks to have moved up a large notch yet at a price where club racers could add a set of carbons and really have a go while also having enough creature comforts for enjoyable coastal cruising.


Overall rating: 4.5/5.0

Mechanicals/Equipment/Rig, etc: 4.5/5.0

Packaging and Practicality: 4.5/5.0

On the water performance: 4.5/5.0

Value for money: 4.5/5.0

X-factor: 5.0 /5.0

Comparable boats

Elan 310 — A recent model epitomising the avant garde features of a hard chinned hull, twin rudders and large T-keel, the Elan has won a strong following from keen racers in its native Europe.

Archambault 31 — An IRC optimised boat that has had success on the Australian race circuit and comes with twin rudders and an open plan interior.

Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200 — an older boat yet arguably ahead of its time with similar design to the First 30. Large numbers of these performance cruisers compete in Europe but only a few are over here.


Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat
Beneteau First 435 boat

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