The new Oceanis 46.1 performs very well, even in light winds. The new addition to the Oceanis range continues to appeal to people who enjoy comfortable cruising, but is also aimed at people who truly like to sail
by Niccolò Volpati, photo by Guido Cantini / Bénéteau
The Oceanis boats are not what they used to be. We had already noticed so with the 51, and it has been confirmed with the new 46.1. There wasn’t much wind in Port Ginesta, really very little. As we slipped moorings at the quay I thought that we wouldn’t even be able to do the test. We raised the mainsail and unfurled the Code 0, but without much conviction.
I had expected to just bob around but the 46.1actually sailed just a touch slower than the wind speed. As we got further away from the coast, the wind picked up slightly and the performance got even better. The Code 0 on its own produced the apparent wind speed and, especially when sailing on a close reach we always did over four knots with a real wind speed that didn’t exceed five knots.
That was a surprising outcome, especially because Oceanis boats have always been synonymous with cruising. Comfortable, practical, spacious, heavy, but also not very brilliant, in particular with light winds. The one that we tested, it has to be said, was the most geared-up version of those offered by the yard. The difference from the pure cruiser version is clear.
The mast is a metre taller, the mainsail is a semi-full batten with lazy jack, rather than being of the furling type, the draught is increased to reduce drift, and the genoa is set up on a furler in the bows. So there is no self-tacking jib and this version, named First Line, has a total sail area which is 28% larger.
And 28% is not a trivial amount. It is nearly a third more sail than in the more cruising-orientated set-up. But the reasons for such good performance, even with only four or five knots wind speed, can’t only be explained that way. The merit also lies in the limited displacement, and waterlines drawn up by Pascal Conq, who has designed a lot of regatta boats over his career: from Filafor Giovanni Soldini, to Hugo Bossfor Alex Thomson, to the Imoca 60s, just to name a few.
And the nice thing about the hulls of the new Oceanis boats is that they produce good performance under sail, yet also offer decent space, especially in the interiors. In the bow area the volume has increased from that of the old versiors. The benefit for the owner cabin, or the double one if you choose the charter version, is that you have more room available.
The same abundance of room can be seen in the cockpit, both because the beam increases as you go aft, and also because of the rational set-up which means you can handle the boat easily, even with a limited crew, but without sacrificing the room to make it comfortable for cruising. From Conq to Nauta.
The super structure and the interiors are indeed their work. The hallmark of the equipment and fittings is practicality. Everything is close at hand, with the lines channelled underneath the deckhouse and emerging in the cockpit, a few centimetres from the two wheels for the helmsman. The winches are close by and you can manoeuvre without any problem. The solution of “extending” the benches in the cockpit so as to obtain a kind of opening and closing hatch, which means you can stow the extra lines.
Everything is tidier, and you get the benefit of a longer seat in the cockpit. Even the tilting platform in the stern is better than the previous models, such as the 51.1. It can be hand-controlled with a pulley or electrified, but the best thing is that there is just one step, a very wide one, so going down from the cockpit onto the open platform is always simple and safe.
The central table in the cockpit which has a small fridge in it is an optional, but one that is highly recommended. It is useful when cruising, because it means you don’t have to keep going below decks while under way. The cockpit fridge is big enough to keep water and drinks cool. And the raft housing has also been carved out of the internal table structure.
The self-inflating raft is thus placed in a position that makes it easy to throw it overboard should it be needed. The only thing that I didn’t like so much in the cockpit was the height of the bench backs. They weren’t particularly tall – in fact they were definitely too small. That means it is easier to move around on board and climb over the benches, but less comfortable when they are being used.
The interiors are available in different versions. You can choose the more owner-orientated one, with three cabins and two bathrooms, or go right the way up to the most charter-orientated one with as many as five cabins – although in that case you do have to sacrifice the stern bathroom.
The natural light is excellent, as is the ventilation, thanks to the five hatches that are on top of the deckhouse and which mean that plenty of air circulates in the dinette. For an excellent feeling of comfort, it seems to me that the finish of the furniture should be improved, as it didn’t feel very robust.
Bénéteau Oceanis 46.1
PROJECT: Pascal Conq
(Naval Architecture) and Nauta Design (interiors and super structure)
HULL: LOA 14.60m • Length 13.65m • Waterline length 13.24m • Maximum beam 4.5m • Deep draught 2.35m • Shallow draught 1.75m •“Performance” version draught 2.65m •Deep ballast weight 2737 kg • Shallow ballast weight 3061 kg • “Performance” version ballast weight 2576 kg • Light mass displacement 10.597 kg • Fuel tank volume 200 l • Water tank volume 370 l • Furling mainsail 44,5 m2 • Mainsail 54 m2 • Selftacking jib 44.1 m2 • Genoa (105%) 58 m2 • Code 0 102 m2 • Spinnaker 152 m2
MAIN PRIPULSION: Yanmar 4JH80 CR SD • Outlet mechanical power 59 kW • (80 hp) • Swept volume 1995 l • Dry weight 274 k • Sail drive and three foldable blades propeller
EC CERTIFICATION: CAT. A 10 people • CAT. B 11 people • CAT C 12 people
PRICE: 229,200 €, Excl.VAT with optional engine of 80 hp, 225,300 €, Excl.VAT with standard engine of 57 hp
Saint Hilaire de Riez
(Bénéteau Oceanis 46.1, always at the top – Febbraio 2019)