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Beneteau First 40

2010 April 12

This new addition to Beneteau's performance-oriented First series was designed by the Farr office. The idea is a boat that can be very competitive without sacrificing the comfort elements that would make the boat a good family all-rounder. I really like the look of this boat with its flat sheer, short ends and nicely sculpted house. I find this design handsome and purposeful looking. First 40s took the two top spots in the IRC fleet and a first in the ORCI division at this past year's Sydney-Hobart Race. The 40 is obviously very fast and these results say more about the design than anything I could in this review.

The sheer is not really dead flat but I would guess that there is about two and a half inches of spring to the entire sheerline. The freeboard is a bit high but that will help with the accommodation volume. The D/L is a moderate 173 and the L/B is textbook typical of today's production boats at 3.23. The 40 is very beamy aft with no deadrise at the broad transom. The forefoot knuckle is right at the DWL and the hull rocker seems to flatten out a bit in the way of the keel. You can pick from two keels, one drawing 6 feet, 4 inches with a bulbish tip and the other drawing 8 feet with an elongated T-bulb with beaver tail. I suspect the overall proportions of this design are well tuned to what the IRC likes to see.

There are no surprises in the layout of the 40. The forward V-berth looks tight and the starboard side is shaved off to make more room for the head. You can access the head from the forward stateroom or the main cabin. There are mirror-image double quarterberths aft. The galley is on the small side but the nav station is really generous in size, occupying the exact same volume as the galley. I don't know how I could improve on that. There is no way you can borrow some of the nav area and use it to expand the galley. I like the look of the joinery details in this design. The interior is very clean and contemporary looking without appearing stark.

The rig shows a 20-degree sweep to the spreaders, and while the rendering shows the cap shrouds going to the masthead the more accurate rig plan shows them going to the hounds. The SA/D is 20.83. The big genoa has a 140-percent LP and the spinnaker pole is 113 percent of J. The sheeting angle for the genoa is 11 degrees. The mainsail shows a slight overlap on the backstay.

The deck design and layout is geared to racing. The cockpit is open to the transom with a removable bar at deck level if you need the sense of security in the cockpit. The big wheel is recessed into the cockpit sole and the coamings are cut away aft to make for a comfortable seat for the helmsman. The mainsheet traveler is directly forward of the helm with car controls within easy reach of the helmsman. Toerails are teak, broken at the stanchions and minimal in height. The decks are very clean and the drawings I have show no cleats on the deck at all. There is a well in the bow for ground tackle.

This design reminds me a bit of the great old C&C racer-cruisers. It has speed, comfort and good looks.

LOA 41'3"; LOD 40'2"; LWL 35'; Beam 12'9"; Draft 6'4" (standard), 8' (deep); Displacement 16,614 lbs.; Ballast 7,369 lbs.; Sail area 848 sq. ft.; SA/D 20.83; D/L 173; L/B 3.23; Auxiliary Yanmar 3JH4E 40-hp; Fuel 36 gals.; Water 52 gals.

Beneteau USA, 1313 West Hwy. 76, Marion, SC 29571, (843) 629-5300,

OBE: $299,000
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