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sail-BeneteauFirst50Aerial-large The Beneteau First 50 also stopped us in our tracks last fall in Annapolis and it apparently got the vote of confidence from a fellow Canadian who purchased it the very first day. And when you had the chance we did to pour all over the boat how can you blame him. This boat looks beautiful at the dock with her long waterline and narrow entry and low clean look but one can easily see her bashing anything the sea can through at her. The 72 foot mast looks awesome from the dock and one can only imagine this boat as happy on the race course as it would be cruising. Philippe Briand has done a masterful job with this yacht. Its modern look is one that challenges and makes a statement in any harbor.

There is something about a boats cockpit that sends the first message as to who designed the boat and what niche they are trying to fill. The First 50 cockpit is huge amplified by the hidden cockpit table that easily hides in a special compartment below the floor. Long six foot benches grace either side. But the sailing or working part aft is also huge, it's wide with great visibility forward and has twin steering wheels and a neat mainsheet pod that replaces the traditional traveler, one would expect to see on a 50 footer, but the main is easily controlled with a dedicated Harken 53 winch. Primaries (Harken 60s) are located just in front of the steering stations and are easily accessed by the helmsman. Harken 48 winches are mounted on the cabin top for halyard control. Manual pumps located in the cockpit control the mainsail shape through the hydraulic vang as well as the backstay.

Immediately we were impressed with the huge clean deck layout and wide side decks and low cabin sole, it was as you could be doing wind sprints effortlessly. The designers left no stone when forward they crafted a flush mounted butterfly type hatch that covers the anchor, chain and sail locker. The furling gear is also housed here. But what is a neat touch and a crowd stopper was the unique flip up roller that effortlessly deployed the anchor out with a touch of a button. We really liked mounting the furling drum lower in this hatch, the lowering the jib tack and adding to the real uncluttered clean look this boat radiates.

The hand holds are grooves molded into the deck over the windows and halyards and control lines are lead aft in troughs through to the cockpit. The boat we saw did not have a dodger but clearly attention will need to be paid to how to block any water that runs down these troughs when underway in seas.

Aft the fold down transom adds to the space while at anchor.

Below decks don't disappoint either; it's simple and elegant all at the same time. Natural light radiates below from the row of hatches that run fore and aft of the mast along the centerline in the deck and the numerous port lights. The living space is huge and is very modern in look and presence and the light finished wood accents are dynamite against the brown detailed seemed leather. One neat touch we noticed was the on board lighting design and treatment. Neat on/off switches, low profile LED and track lighting and beautiful reading lights seem to sprout out throughout just where you need them.

The cabinetry detail is also stunning, with hand holds integrated throughout and latches hidden.

The saloon is a perfect size for on board entertaining, easily handling 6- 8 adults. The settee alone could seat six but the table layout off to port balanced by the port L shaped settee and its neat benches are a nice touch. Make no mistake either; the settees could easily double as extra sea berths if needed.

Aft of the saloon is the large L shaped navigation station complete with a larger monitor on the bulkhead to the left that separates the head from the main cabin. It's a larger working area than I am used to seeing, but maybe it's because the electronics panels and equipment are artfully hidden behind a cabinet door. There is even a laptop computer locker under the chart table.... Nice touch.

The galley is perfect for those coupes that like to cook together it's a great space and well lit. A natural divider from the saloon houses the sink and cabinets for storage are well placed and balanced around the standard fridge and freezer.

The Beneteau First 50 is configured with three sleeping cabins, in the traditional two aft and master forward. They are well done and functional. Aft cabins are mirror images of one another complete with hanging lockers they can easily sleep two per cabin. Forward the master cabin features its own head with stand up shower and a larger bed that has two large drawers under it and a hanging locker to starboard.

Access to the 75 HP Yanmar diesel (sail drive) is accessed through the neat companionway steps and hatches in the aft cabins and all components are easy to get at.

This boat presents so well and we understand those that have sailed her were impressed with her handling and sailing characteristics. This is another great looking performance racer cruiser that has taken a powerful rig and matched so well with an elegant design.

By John Kerr

To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com to check listings!