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Beneteau First 30 Racer-cruiser

2010 December 1

This new Beneteau model was designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian. Most of us call him "Juan K." or "Juan Alphabet." Juan K. has made quite a name for himself in Europe over the last five years, designing quite radical and fast racing boats including work with the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race. His work is always unique and well worth studying. This new Beneteau is no exception.

The idea behind this new design is high performance combined with comfort. The hull shape is very wedge-like with maximum beam placed well aft and continued to the ultrawide transom. There are twin rudders. With a transom this wide you need two rudders so that one is always immersed when the boat is heeled. The sections show a shape favored by the IRC with very slabby topsides and a fairly broad BWL. The bottom is absolutely flat in section. Weighing 8,267 pounds, the 30 has a D/L of 121 with minimal overhangs. The L/B is 3.06, indicating a beamy boat. The standard deep keel draws 6 feet, 3 inches, and features a vertical leading edge and a very long and small diameter bulb for a very low VCG. I have no race results for this boat yet as the very first one in the United States has yet to be raced.

There are no surprises in the layout. The V-berth is pushed well forward into the fine bow and there appears to be very little room at the toe of the berth. The saloon features opposing settee/berths and a drop-leaf table. Look where the mast comes down through the aft end of the table. This either indicates the layout is pushed forward or the mast has been pushed aft. I think the latter. Note that with the mast in this location the forward bulkhead for the galley and nav area is perfectly placed for the chainplates. The nav station is generous and the galley adequate. Thanks to all that beam aft there is a huge double quarterberth to port and a head to starboard aft.

I find the rig a bit unusual in that the mast is so far aft. Spreaders are swept 26 degrees and there is no standing backstay and no runners. I'd sure like to know how this design feels on the helm. With that wide fanny and aft mast location I could imagine some helm pressure but then there are the twin rudders to consider. I don't know what effect the twin rudders will have on helm feel. The SA/D is modest for a high-performance boat at 22.69. But that's more than enough for a spirited family club racer. The long boom puts the entire mainsheet system at the very aft end of the transom on a beam that bridges the cockpit well. It's hard to imagine a more effective traveler on a 30-foot boat.

The deck design features a well in the foredeck for ground tackle. The multiple mainsheet tackle precludes the need for a mainsheet winch. The cockpit coamings are high forward but cut down aft to make comfortable seating for the helmsman. Sailing instruments are located in the truncated aft face of the coaming. That's good for the helmsman but not so good for the crew.

I like this design. It is unusual in several ways and that's always fun. The styling is clean and the overall look appealing to my eye. It will be interesting to see what this boat can do on the race course.

LOA 32'2"; LWL 31'2"; Beam 10'6"; Draft 6'3"; Displacement 8,267 lbs.; Ballast 2,403 lbs.; Sail area 580 sq. ft.; SA/D 22.69; D/L 121; L/B 3.06; Auxiliary Yanmar 20-hp; Fuel 8 gals., Water 42 gals.

Beneteau USA, 1313 West Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571, (843) 629-5300, www.beneteauusa.com.

OBE: $159,900
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