Home . Articles . Boats . Perry on Design . Oceanis 461

Oceanis 461

1996 October 12

Bluewater cruiserr

Bruce Farr has again combined forces with Beneteau to bring us this new Oceanis 461. It is Euro-styled all the way, and if you like that type of boat, this is a good one. Personally, I'm not too Euro in my yacht tastes. Still, I like to study the beautiful way the Beneteau design team sculpts and tools its decks. The brochure gives the styling credit to Armel Briand.

With the weight of the Farr design office behind the shaping of the hull, we can be sure that this will be a good sailing boat. The D/L is 157. It's a beamy boat, with plenty of beam carried to the transom. The ends are short but the counter is elevated enough to avoid dragging the transom around. I checked the sheerline with my straightedge and it's not dead straight, but it's very close. There might be a total of 3 inches of spring in the entire sheer. Flattish sheerlines go well with this general styling approach.

Rudder and keel are stubby enough to give a 5-foot, 9-inch draft. The keel has both bulb and wings. I think there is enough plan form in this low-aspect-ratio fin to give this shoal-draft boat reasonable upwind performance.

The rig is stoutly stayed with babystay forward, swept spreaders and fore and aft lower shrouds. On one of the drawings I looked at there appears to be a Doyle Stackpac shown on the foot of the main. This is a favorite of mine, having cruised with it. It amounts to a mainsail cover attached to the foot of the main and supported by the lazy jacks. The SA/D is 17.41 using 1, J, E and P.

The 461 comes with three interior layout variations: two-, three- and four-cabin layouts. Obviously, the four-cabin layout is intended for charter parties. The three-cabin layout has three heads, while the four-cabin layout has two heads. I prefer the two-cabin layout with its galley tucked aft rather than stretched along the port side. All layouts are very well- designed.

I hope Farr and the Beneteau people do not mind if I take a moment to discuss something else. Kim Taylor's report documenting the famous Queen's Birthday storm of 1994 is out. This storm occur-red between New Zealand and Fiji and saw winds in excess of 80 knots and confused seas in excess of 40 feet. One boat was lost with all aboard. Several boats were capsized and most suffered damage.

Taylor's report is well-documented and thorough and a good read for cruising sailors. I do not agree with all of Taylor's conclusions. The numbers and ratios that he presents do not consistently back up his arguments. He recognizes this. Some of the boats with the worst numbers came through better than those with the best numbers. He emphasizes the sailing skills of both skipper and crew. His report also pays great attention to survival gear and techniques. I think this is the best treatment of this type of event that I have seen. The report is titled "The 1994 Pacific Storm Survey, the Boats Which Survived It, and the Lessons Learned." You can order the report from Taylor, in New Zealand, via fax at (O II) 64-94-078608.

Perhaps Taylor's most valuable observation is, "Once the good skipper is down and out only a good boat can save him." I think you will find this report very informative.