Sunday, 29 July 2012

Beneteau First 21

OK well it’s the end of the month – so check out Susan’s ‘View from the Galley’ page and get last month’s quiz answers (as well as new questions). 

Meanwhile, having watched the Tour Des Ports de la Manche yacht race last week, I wanted to find out more about a slippery little French boat known as the First 21 produced by Beneteau. From her looks, she wouldn’t be on my shopping list, too modern and stripped down for me – but her speed for such a small sailing boat was awesome. Well, so far I haven’t been able to step aboard one, but research in the yacht club bar provided the following information.

Beneteau is a large French yacht ‘manufacturer’. I use the word in place of boat ‘builder’, because their operation has more in common with that of a car manufacturer than a traditional boat workshop. Beneteau craft are mass produced in carefully controlled environments to very exacting standards. So, it seems that you get a high quality product at a reasonable price, but you also get a standard model – nothing here about charm and character - that was designed out at an early stage.
Despite this, there is a sense that the First 21 offers something new and special simply because tradition has been so firmly abandoned in order to obtain speed, convenience and a modern design.

So, if it’s a trailer sailor you want, here she is – with an added bonus – she’s unsinkable.

The LOA is 21 feet and she has a round bilge hull with a very broad transom. Unlike traditional craft, she doesn’t seem to taper towards the stern, if anything her beam is bigger there than further forward. Look carefully at her and you’ll realise you’re looking at a racing dinghy with a lid.  One benefit of this is that the hull volume is remarkably large for such a small boat.

For stability, she has an extremely high-aspect-ratio centerboard housed in an odd shaped moulding below the hull. Centreboat up, give you a draft of 2 feet, 3 inches. (63cms approx). She also has twin rudders canted outboard at 15 degrees because her beam at extreme angles of heal could quite easily lift a normal rudder clear of the water. There is a swim ladder and outboard bracket fitted between the rudders.

The interior is a one piece GRP moulding with small sink and one burner stove. There is a portable head is under the V-berth. The space is divided by a trunk that carries that top of the swing keel. A hinged leaf table is attached to this trunk. She has four adult sized berths.

Well, she’s not for me – although I can happily concede that she could be great fun to sail, for a short while. She might suit my friend Michael however, who hankers after speed and bemoans the fact that marina berths are expensive and he lives a good distance from the sea. This little craft could sit on your drive, then all you have to do is trailer her to your preferred cruising ground. The accommodation would be OK for two adults over a weekend or maybe a little longer and she’d certainly provide an adrenalin burn.
Boat Specifications
5’1″ – 2’4″
2,200 lbs.
770 lbs.
Sail Area
243 sq. ft.
5 hp outboard