The Bénéteau Oceanis 55.1 is a sixteen-metre pure cruiser which is easy to handle, even with a small crew. The interior design, by Nauta, is very elegant. The naval architecture is by Berret Racoupeau
by Luca Sordelli, photo by Gilles Martin-Raget
It has to be said that there are not a lot of differences from the previous model of the Oceanis 55. But the arrival of this sixteen-metre is another step forward in Bénéteau’s renewal of its cruising range.
We will have to wait until 2019 and the Oceanis 54 for the launch of a genuinely new fifteen-metre. But for the time being we are taking note of the creation of this 55.1, part of the seventh generation of the Oceanis, a range that was created in the mid-1980s with the 350 – a boat that has become legendary.
The approach is still the same: creating perfect work horses for cruising with decent performance. And now, thanks to Berret Racoupeau’s work, reducing the wetted surface area and widening the hull by raising the chines, the boats are quicker and the interiors more spacious.
But a long list of tricks and intelligent choices have also been used to make sailing both a lot easier and more comfortable. Like the two sun loungers either side of the companionway; the transom which turns over to become a 2.9 metres wide by 90 deep bathing platform; the possibility of installing retractable davits to hoist the tender, and also the design of the entire cockpit: it is unencumbered, making moving around a pleasure, and is equipped with twin wheels.
As far as the interiors, created by Nauta Design, are concerned, Bénéteau has planned three types. They all feature a large owner’s cabin with a bed that projects into the room, and the bathroom, which is divided into two parts, both decidedly large, one with the shower and the other with the WC and washbasin.
But in the Bénéteau Oceanis 55.1 stern area you can choose between having two or three cabins: you can add a third cabin with a bunk bed to the traditional matching double rooms, but in this case you forsake the third bathroom on board. Amidships there is a very spacious dining and living area where Nauta’s work is as usual driven by the watchwords luminosity, simplicity and functionality to create a boat that is both extremely elegant inside and also practical. Also, far forwards the sail locker can be turned into a cabin with two berths for the crew. Another thing worth noting is the large chart table, and headroom which is everywhere over 190 centimetres.
We tried the Oceanis 55.1 on a day with winds of around 30 knots, and quite high – annoying – waves.
The Berret Racoupeau-designed yacht likes to have a lot of sail hoisted, it takes up a position at a good angle and makes the chine and the rudder work when downwind. All of this occurs gradually on board, without any form of nervous reaction. The boat also boasts an intelligently-designed deck, which is enjoyable when moored or going for a swim, but also good when you the boat leans a lot and is manoeuvring: here everything is done in the most simple and secure way possible.
The Bénéteau Oceanis 55.1 does reasonable well sailing upwind, but sailing too close to the wind is not its strong suit, not least because the boat that we tried was fitted with a furling genoa and mainsail. And if you can’t do without the former, the second is decidedly not a good idea, both because of the loss of square metres of “power” to deploy, but also because of the cut, which is definitely not much in keeping with complicated mainsail arrangements.
Everything changes when you start to bear away by a few degrees: the boat acquires rhythm, it pulls away from the waves to the stern and you sail fast and very comfortably. Beyond its good results – 10 knots on average, with peaks of 11 when we were surfing the waves – it was the reigning calm on board that really impressed us, even when the sea was all a mass of waves.
This is made possible by a good hull, the great course-holding stability which is also ensured by the twin-bladed rudder, the fairly thin lines where the hull meets the water, and a stern that is low in the water. So overall, despite the wind gage and weather forecasts, we really wanted to go on, to turn the Bénéteau Oceanis 55.1 bow to the Balearic Islands and continue to enjoy this sixteen metre.
Bénéteau Oceanis 55.1
Project: Berret Racopeau Yacht Design (naval architecture) and Nauta Design (interiors and superstructure)
Hull: LOA 16.78m • Length 15.99m • Waterline length 15.16m • Maximum beam 4.96m • Deep draught 2.30m • Shallow draught 1.91m • Deep ballast weight 4230 kg • Shallow ballast weight 4560 kg • Light mass displacement 16900 kg • Fuel tank volume 400 l • Water tank volume 694 l • Furling mailsail 53 m2 • Mainsail 67 m2 • Selftacking jib 53 m2 • Genoa (105%) 66 m2 • Code 116 m2 • pinnaker 200 m2
Main Propulsion: Yanmar 4JH4 • Outlet mechanical power 55.2 kW • Diesel 4 cylinders in line • Swept volume 1995 cc • Direct injection • Bore & Stroke 84mm x 90mm
EC Certification: Cat. A 12 people • Cat. B 14 people Cat. • C 16 people
Price: Starting from 362,000 €, (Exclusive VAT)
Saint Hilaire de Riez
Tel +33 251605000
(Bénéteau Oceanis 55.1, always safe – Luglio 2018)