Scuttlebutt — Sailing Forum: MARINE INDUSTRY NEWS: Boats: Beneteau First 30

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

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By Don Finkle, RCR Yachts:

The First 30 is very different, not surprising since it is the brainchild of innovative designer Juan K, who seems to be very hot right now, his boats are winning all over the place. We were told by others who had seen it that we should be prepared to be both wowed and surprised. Wowed by how good it was, and surprised by how it differed from the norm. They were correct. Upon walking up to the boat you realize that this is one very large boat for its length, but that really it is like two boats in one. Standing at the mast and looking forward, it looks like a 30 footer at most, since the forward part of the boat is narrow. But turn around and look aft and you would think you are on a boat ten feet longer because it is so wide.

If you saw the First 30 article in the September Sailing World magazine you noted that the hull has some wild and colorful graphics on it. Our subject boat did too, although these are not standard features, they are on these show boats to attract attention and to send the message that this is not just another same-old design. It sure is not same-old! In the interest of not turning this report into a full-length book I’ll hit some of the high points and maybe write more next week. Yes, I know this is still lengthy, but there is much to say, and it could easily be longer.

First, the boat is big and behaves like a bigger boat under sail or power. The cockpit is enormous. The deck hardware is excellent. The engine is really smooth and quiet, amazingly so. There are plenty of sail controls and two come to mind as being especially nice. The jib in-haulers are easily adjustable from the weather side, and the Harken adjustable jib cars could be readily moved with the standard tackles even in the 20 knots of air we had. Winches were plenty big. I was worried about the short tiller, but the boat is so easily balanced that we had plenty of mechanical advantage and you can steer from several different positions. The only thing that we did not like in the cockpit was the mainsheet. The traveler is full-length mounted on the aft beam across the transom, but the mainsheet coarse and fine tunes are mounted in an awkward place. They can and will be changed.

Before we talk about sailing the boat we’ll mention the interior, which was another pleasant surprise. Very nicely finished, roomier than expected, and with more headroom than expected. This boat has a very usable cabin, galley, head and sleeping areas, with good ventilation as well. When we first heard that Beneteau planned a new 30 foot First-series model we were expecting something smaller, simpler and certainly not with this level of interior. What we have is a boat that can be enjoyed for multiple uses, and that also makes for better resale value down the road.

As nice as the boat is on deck and below, and as nicely fitted-out as it is, the real purpose of the First 30 is to go sailing. We were hoping that over the course of the day we might have some varying conditions so we could test the boat over a range of wind. What we got was 15-20 knots of fairly steady strong breeze all day in advance of a front. The bad news is we had only a few minutes of lighter air in the harbor, and in what little we had the boat felt good. On the way to the dock we short-tacked in the channel in lighter air and it responded well, and with the short-overlap jib it was a cinch to tack. But for 99% of the time we sailed the boat is lots of wind. And that is the good news, the First 30 was a blast to sail in that stuff.

If you were to look down on the First 30 from above it would appear to be shaped like a slice of pie (only the design is far more sophisticated than that), with a narrow bow and wide stern. There are twin angled rudders, and when the boat heels going upwind the leeward rudder is almost vertical and gives excellent control. A large area of the wide aft section of hull is also now clear of the water, reducing drag and providing a more symmetrical shape to the water. As a result the helm was light even when heeled at 20 degrees or more. I am accustomed to the helm really loading up on boats with a wide transom, but on the First 30 the helm was still very nice when heeled. When you crack off and head downwind the wide aft section is now in the water, and so are both rudders. Loads of stability and steering control on this point of sail. I should also add that the boat has a hard chine that also improves stability.

The First 30 is designed to be sailed heeled when going upwind, and it will be fastest when doing so. However, you can reef the boat and sail with less heel and it balances really well. In the morning we went out with full main and jib in 20 knots of air. While the boat handles it, it was more comfortable later in the day when we rolled up part of the jib and reefed the main. The speed seemed to be at least as good, and the boat just loved it. Another surprise was how well the boat handled the chop, which grew larger and steeper as the day wore on. We never once felt the boat slap or pound, which seems crazy considering the hull shape, but the design of the plumb bow is different from what you have seen before. Juan K obviously knows a thing or two about making a boat go through waves. We had a blast sailing the boat and we hated to come in and rush back to the airport.

The overall impression of sailing the boat in breeze is that it feels bigger than it is, very solid, very easily controlled, and fun to sail. We only got the spinnaker up for maybe 10 minutes because we had to meet someone at the dock, but it was a really fun ride (before we lost one of the sheets and had to take it down). —

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