Quick Look: Beneteau First 50

Tony Bessinger reviews the Beneteau First 50 for the 2007 Cruising World Sailboat Show

Noirmoutier (FR) - 08/08/2006 - Beneteau - First 50***Noirmoutier (FR) - 08/08/2006 - Beneteau - First 50Beneteau

The First 50 looks spectacular: a sleek, powerful performance cruiser. It's been laid out for shorthanded sailing, with all control lines leading aft from the aluminum three-spreader mast and safely entrenched in two shallow gullies that terminate in twin banks of rope clutches. Primary winches for the headsail sit just forward of the twin, 35-inch-diameter wheels. The mainsail is large, and its big, centerline-mounted winch is within easy reach of the helms. The jib tracks and long row of centerline deck hatches are flush to the optional teak deck, and the roller-furler drum is belowdecks, in a locker that also hides a clever articulating anchor sprit and roller.

Despite its power and size, I believe the boat would be manageable for a couple if they go for the power-winch option on the mainsheet and halyard winches.

Belowdecks, simplicity prevails, and the space is bright and airy thanks to light-colored wood, stainless steel, five overhead hatches, and 12 opening ports. The saloon settees are straight and are good sea berths. The master cabin is forward, with a pedestal berth and private head. From the roomy nav station to the offshore-friendly T-shaped galley, three couples can comfortably cruise aboard.

We sailed the boat in light air and no chop, and it performed well, achieving 4.9 knots in 4.9 knots of breeze.

Beneteau First 50 Specs

LOA: 49' 1"
LWL: 43' 5"
Beam: 14' 4"
Draft (deep): 9' 2"
Sail Area: 1,195 sq. ft.
Displacement** 28,550 lb.
Water 150 gal.
Fuel 63 gal.
Engine 75-hp.Yanmar
Designer Philippe Briand
Price*** $400,000
Beneteau USA, (843) 629-5300

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