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Beneteau 393

2001 November 3


This month I'm going to do something different. I'm going to allow myself the space to talk about several things that have been on my mind lately. To start with, there has been some recent mail that indicates it's time to once again go over the intent and format for these reviews. I apologize in advance to the builders and designers of the boats this month for usurping the space.

These reviews are design reviews, not boat reviews. It is logistically impossible for me to sail four boats each month and put them through a thorough testing regimen. All I can do is look at drawings that come from either the designer or the builder. My job, as I have defined it, is to evaluate the actual design work. Boat reviews are featured elsewhere in SAILING.

"How can you know that without first sailing the boat?" readers ask of some of my comments. If you decide to become a yacht designer you must first do everything in your power to sail as many different boats as possible in a variety of weather conditions. Then you need to combine this hands-on experience with a knowledge of design and the features that produce different sets of handling characteristics. This requires a substantial amount of imagination combined with a knowledge of naval architecture. As this skill is developed you soon learn to look at a boat or a set of drawings and tell within reasonable tolerances just how that boat will behave.

This new Beneteau is a little sister to the successful Beneteau 473. Apparently Beneteau has found there are still sailors who want boats that actually look like boats. This is a good-looking boat with a very conventional profile taken straight from the handsome 473. The ends are short as you would expect today, and the boat is a bit on the beamy side with an L/B of 3.00. The design work was done by Berret/Racoupeau, designers of the Beneteau 361 and 381 models. The printed material says this is Beneteau's answer to the "long awaited quest for the serious bluewater cruiser."

Standard draft is 5 feet, 1 inch and that's not enough for the area where I sail. Any world cruiser should be able to get by nicely with up to 6 feet, 6 inches of draft. Of course, there will be certain areas where you can't go. "But doctor it hurts when I do that!" "Don't do that." If you really are interested in good performance on the wind you will need to consider a deeper keel on this boat.

The beam will make this boat initially stiff, but shoal draft combined with wide beam can make for a boat with a low limit of positive stability. Using the dreaded book Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts and turning to its formula for a "simple capsize screening formula" I get 2.0269 for the 393. The book says any number under 2.00 is okay. This formula is far too simplistic to be always accurate, but it is one of the currently popular ways to look at a boat's offshore suitability.

The interior layout options are fine, but the lazarette volume looks on the shy side for a serious bluewater cruiser. Obviously the layout with the single stateroom aft offers the biggest lazarette. This version also has a U-shaped galley, which would be very desirable on an offshore boat. I love the cockpit. It has plenty of room for laying around, and the aft seat opens up to give access to the swim step.

This boat will be the first new Beneteau model to be built at the newly expanded Marion, South Carolina, Beneteau plant. I bet they'll sell a bunch of these handsome boats.