Home . Articles . Boats . Boat Test . Beneteau First 10R

Beneteau First 10R

2007 March 7
March 2007

Hot, one-design racing action packaged with cruising amenities

This is not your father's Beneteau, or is it? Sailboats are always compromises, but Beneteau has crafted a balanced package with the First 10R. This boat has a raceboat personality where you can live out your rock star fantasies to the fullest, but it works just as well as a weekend cruiser. Good performance combined with a very comfortable interior make a great combination-the time-tested racer-cruiser concept.

Beneteau teamed with Farr Yacht Design on the 10R. Farr does not know how to draw a slow boat, and Beneteau challenged Farr to develop an even sportier boat than the existing boats in the First series. Fresh thinking was used on the boat and especially in the hull and appendage design. This design was then implemented with state-of-the-art construction techniques at Beneteau. The new construction process was piloted in France on the first few First 10Rs before production began at the Marion, South Carolina, plant last summer.

The 10R is catching on and delivering results on the race course. There was a one-design fleet in Key West this year, hull No. 1 on Lake Michigan had a great showing at the Chicago Verve Cup, and there is active racing across the country in one-design, PHRF and IRC classes. Beneteau is a supporter of IRC, and the 10R was optimized to rate well under that system. In fact, Beneteau sponsored free measurement vouchers for all boats sold during the 2006 season.

I recently sailed a Beneteau First 10R with Ken Comerford of Annapolis Yacht Sales and we put the boat through its paces during a beautiful afternoon on the Chesapeake Bay.

The details
he First 10R uses a revolutionary new construction technique combining the best aspects of resin infusion and injection. Beneteau coined the process "infujection." Beneteau is fairly tight lipped about the specifics, but the process uses a closed two-piece mold, and a resin injection-infusion process. The core and laminates are placed in the mold dry, and the resin is infujected. The results are an even resin distribution, a very high strength-to-weight ratio, optimum stiffness and uniform weight from hull to hull-all important physical aspects, the last being especially critical to successful one-design racing.

Using this process, Beneteau is able to produce the hull and supporting grid structure in one shot. With traditional methods, the hull would be laid up and the grid structure (formed in its own mold) attached as a secondary bonding, all while hull is still in the mold. This technique avoids the secondary bond and adds production efficiencies.

An important side benefit of the two-piece closed mold is that the back or inner sides of the parts are finished smooth. This means that the traditional hull and deck liner can be avoided, decreasing weight further, improving mechanical access and avoiding another secondary bond.

The 10R's hull is balsa cored, as is the deck, with solid glass in all the load-bearing areas. The hull-and-deck joint is attached three ways, bonded using a Beneteau proprietary polyurethane adhesive, mechanically attached with toerail fasteners, and made watertight with a finishing joint.

The T-shaped keel structure uses a narrow chord iron fin attached to an antimony lead bulb. The bulb is torpedo shaped with a beavertail, and the fin is attached midline. The material usage on the keel is great, strong iron is used to keep the fin thin and narrow, dense antimony hardened lead is used in the bulb to generate maximum righting moment. The entire structure is treated with an epoxy-based corrosion-resistant coating.

The balanced spade rudder is placed farther forward on the hull to enhance connected flow, and of course is shaped to provide lift. The rudder is attached using a composite rudder stock, Beneteau has successfully used composite rudder stocks for years, seeing benefits in lighter weight and greater impact resistance than stainless steel. The rudder stock (formed using similar injection techniques as the hull structure) is supported by self-aligning roller bearings to ensure silky smooth steering.

The tankage is more than reasonable for the intended use of this boat, with a 20-gallon fuel tank and 26 gallons of fresh water.

On deck
The cockpit is the centerpiece of the deck, with plenty of room for a full crew. The cockpit is divided by the traveler and the space aft is reserved for the helmsman, who drives with a beautiful 63-inch wheel set into a well. The sporty open transom keeps the ends light and quickly drains the cockpit. The winches and deck hardware are top quality and very nicely installed. A lot of thought went into the hardware placement; everything just works. There is ample storage in the cockpit, highlighted by a large locker in the aft end of the cockpit sole for a life raft.

Beneteau went all out on the fractional rig with a masthead spinnaker, which is becoming the standard setup on sport boats. The carbon fiber mast and boom are the work of Hall Spars, and the boat has a retractable carbon fiber bowsprit. The standing rigging is rod, with a tackle adjustable backstay that is led to both sides of the cockpit. No one is more adept in the use of carbon fiber than Hall Spars. The work-of-art mast features dual swept spreaders and a masthead backstay crane to make room for a main with a full roach. The mainsail slot allows the use of either a boltrope or slides, perfect for your laminated racing sails or the weekend cruising cloth.

The retractable carbon fiber sprit allows easy handing of the asymmetrical chute, and provides clear air to allow the chutes to be carried at angles previously reserved for traditionally poled spinnakers. The pole retracts in to the forward compartment so no important interior space is consumed.

Beneteau chose the Harken Carbo Racing Foil headsail foil system for the 10R. This system promises smoother sail changes and better durability than traditional foil systems. The lead cars are also Harken, and the ball-bearing cars with multipart adjustment tackle allow quick lead adjustment under full load. Due to the beam of the boat and track placement the headsail sheeting angles are wider than optimum. Beneteau resolved this problem with custom-rigged barberhaulers to pull the jib clew inboard.

The deck has a classy low-profile teak toerail, double lifelines with tapered stanchions and Euro-style pulpits. The nonskid is very aggressive, so much so that it is tough on the knees but it gives great footing. In keeping with the racer-cruiser personality, the ground tackle setup includes a removable bow roller.

Down below
The 10R has just as much going on down below as it does on deck. The space is deceivingly large for a 33-foot boat, with plenty of headroom and storage. There is a nice mix of white laminate and pear-finished brightwork. The beautiful Hall keel-stepped mast fits right in. Remember that white interior fiberglass is not a liner, but the interior of the hull and deck as a result of the closed molding. The sole is a very durable, high-pressure laminate, giving a traditional wood look but with lighter weight and zero maintenance.
Starting aft, there are two sleeping cabins, a decent-sized galley to port and a sit-down nav station on starboard. Forward of the galley are two opposing settees that flank a folding centerline table surrounding the mast. A simple layout, but one that is proven to work.

The cabin space was optimized by placing the head in the bow of the boat. While this placement could provide a washing machine-like ride underway, it is a great use of space. The head doubles as the ideal spot for spinnaker take downs, the round cornered waterproof interior space topped off with a large D-shaped deck hatch is perfect. A nonskid sole and drain makes those wet takedowns even easier.

The galley is simple but adequate, there is plenty of storage, a large icebox, and to keep weight down, an alcohol stove. Beneteau has nicely covered the essentials, and the compromise in the spirit of performance is acceptable.

I met up with Ken while he was powering out from Back Creek in Annapolis, and since we were already under power, I decided to start our test there. The 10R has a Yanmar 3YM20 mated to a Yanmar saildrive. This is a 21-horsepower, three-cylinder normally aspirated diesel that is part of Yanmar's new series of small, smooth and very low-emission diesels. This engine easily pushes the hull to speed and with little sound or vibration. To keep things slippery under sail, the saildrive uses a two-bladed folding prop.

The first thing you notice while under sail or power is the tight, responsive steering. The large wheel takes barely a half turn to be hard over. This is a result of not only the steering gear but the rudder placement and narrow chord keel fin. The steering takes a little getting used to, but once you do a flick of the wrist is all that is needed. This maneuverability will be welcome on the course and in tight marina situations.

Sailing is what a performance boat is all about, and the 10R does not disappoint. We started under jib and main in about 10 knots of wind. We easily sailed along at 6 knots and saw good acceleration in the small puffs we found. The sea condition was calm, but Ken told me the boat handles well in lumpy conditions-the optimum hull shape and perfect weight placement lets the boat drive right though. The boat tacked beautifully and quickly accelerated out, once this heavy-handed helmsman mastered the surgical precision of the helm.

Asymmetrical spinnakers are big part of the First 10R package, and I couldn't resist playing with one. We doused the jib and quickly had the sprit deployed and the chute up. We had a magic carpet ride downwind under the big chute. We saw great speeds at the hotter angles and we were able to carry the chute very deep. The ample righting moment of the 6-foot, 7-inch draft and lead bulb was evident as we came up to a reach, and we had no problem handling the big kite with just three of us aboard.

The 10R was a pleasure to sail. It provided the exciting performance of a sport boat, but without the hard edge. The 10R sails like a boat costing considerably more than it does. This is a versatile platform to allow you to fill your memories with both exciting action on the race course and relaxing sunsets with the kids. What more can you ask for?