Quick Look: Beneteau First 45

Why call this boat a racer or a cruiser when you can call it fun? A review from our January 2009 issue

Beneteau

"Stylin'" was the first word to come to mind when I climbed aboard the new Beneteau First 45 last spring at the Strictly Sail show in Oakland, California. The open transom, twin wheels, mainsheet traveler mounted on the cockpit floor, beefy winches, and clean foredeck all said "go-fast." But then again, the teak deck and cockpit sole, the signature eyebrows over the long windows set in the cabin house, and the sumptuous interior were the sort of details you'd expect to find on a very yachty cruising boat.

Truth is, the First 45 is a whole lot of both. With lines drawn by Philippe Briand, the 45 is designed as much for the racer intent on comfort on the way to and from the regatta as it is for the cruiser who'd just as soon get from here to there a little quicker than the next guy.

Sailing on San Francisco Bay in less than 10 knots of breeze, we chugged right along at 6 knots. When I sat at the leeward wheel, it was easy to trim the main, thanks to the split sheet, led German style from the mast end of the boom to turning blocks on the deck, then aft to winches at either helm station. The non overlapping jib made tacking easy.

Below, a luxury-sized owner's cabin and head forward and twin doubles aft lie at either end of a saloon with a well-appointed L-shaped galley, an outboard-facing nav station, and a large dining table with bolt-down seats amidships.

Racer? Cruiser? Why split hairs? The First 45 was 100-percent fun to sail.

Mark Pillsbury

Specs

LOA 46' 2"
LWL 38 7"
Beam 13' 9"
Draft (standard) 7' 10"
Sail Area 1,002 sq. ft.
Displacement 22,369 lb.
Water 140 gal.
Fuel 53 gal.
Engine 54-hp. Yanmar
Designer Briand Yacht Design
Price $430,000
Beneteau
(843) 629-5300

To read more Cruising World reviews of Beneteau sailboats, click here. To visit Beneteau America's website, click here.