Beneteau First 36

Nov 15, 2023

By Tim Finkle

I had the chance to spend quite a bit of time with our new Beneteau First 36, Hull #16, from the minute it arrived in Buffalo this summer. I like being part of the commissioning of new boats because that is where you learn the most about a boat. There is a lot of running rigging on the boat but it was clearly designed by racing sailors who understand deck layout and how a crew moves around a boat. The helm stations with carbon wheels on pedestals are further aft than we are used to, but it allows for freedom of movement from the team in front.

Overall Impression: The feedback on the boat has been very positive from those who’ve been aboard and I watched others closely while sailing to see how they handled the boat. It’s spacious above and below deck, with surprising acceleration and speed in several different wind conditions. The Jib was noticeably powerful and when unfurled, the boat seemed to jump out of the water. I was very impressed with how the bow punched through the chop we have in Lake Erie.

Favorite Features:

#1. Ports—There are 10 deck portlights/hatches for plenty of ventilation throughout the boat. The interior is bright and airy and it just feels fresh down below.

#2. Tech—The nav station feels modern like it should for a 2023 boat. Batteries are simple tap buttons, screens are all digital and easy to navigate for the main functions that you need. The instruments are all Garmin and the screens are large, bright and can do anything you want for racing or cruising. There are three large displays at the mast, two mounted by the cockpit winches, an autopilot display by the helm and a chartplotter on the helm console.

#3. Interior Teak and Cushions—Very natural, real-feeling wood unlike some of the laminates we have seen in most modern boats. The cushions are thick and seats are deep. You can spend time below and be comfortable for distance races or weekend cruises unlike most racing boats that are minimal below. The aft cabins have split berths so you can make a full double berth for sleeping or you can flip up one side and convert it into storage for fenders, sails, bags, boat hook, etc.

#4. Helm and Rudders—The helm on this boat is so light and smooth. For the owner (and likely helmsperson) it is important that they like driving the boat, right? It is so easy to drive from the twin helm stations. The carbon wheels feel so light and that is a benefit of having nice deep, well-designed twin rudders that have full grip underwater.  When you see the boat out of the water, you can see how well made the rudders are with a very fine trailing edge. Not only do you have full control while sailing but when maneuvering at the dock you can back in easily and the boat responds. I prefer to back the boat into the slip so you can enter and exit via the swim platform.

Ideal For… “It’s truly meant for a racing/cruising family. The interior is bright and spacious; as large as a 40’ boat inside, with three full-width berths, long deep settees, and a real galley. The boat also doesn’t lack power and feels light through the water.”

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