Each year in our Boat of the Year deliberations, we reserve the right to cite and reward nominees that may not have been a category winner, but which boasted a feature or innovation above and beyond our usual expectations. This year, we’re handing out Honorable Mentions to a pair of yachts that could hardly be more different. First up, is the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54.
It’s downright startling that this unique and interesting platform morphed from the very same hull of a distinctive but altogether different Beneteau, last year’s First Yacht 53, a powerful performance cruising boat that was very much a departure from the company’s usual cruising offerings, and which is enjoying a healthy production run of its own. The Oceanis Yacht 54 is a return to the sort of solid values we’ve come to expect from the French builder: It’s an honest-to-goodness cruising boat but with some very pleasing attributes. Honestly, it’s hard to believe the former and the latter come from the same builder, never mind the same hull.
The centerpiece of the deck layout is what the marketing folks call “the terrace by the sea,” which is kind of poetic, but it’s also a rather apt description. The aft deck layout—or floor plan, if you will—puts an emphasis on free-flowing spaces throughout the cockpit that lead you to a back porch and swim platform that’s extremely pleasant and extraordinarily inviting. Who wouldn’t want to hang in a terrace…by the sea?
Pillsbury certainly would. He remembers a sporty test sail in fall 2020 aboard the First Yacht 53 that he described as “fun and exhilarating”. But, he found the new iteration not only a bit more civilized, but also more aesthetically pleasing…which is certainly the point. “I like this new version quite a lot,” he said. “I like the raised cabin top. The cockpit treatment is excellent. It’s a comfortable boat. It’s a real cruiser. I found it more of a Cruising World boat, honestly.”
His fellow judges conferred. Here’s a toast to the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54.