A cruise according to Bénéteau. Aboard the Sense 51 you can find all the comfort already available on the 57 thanks to the designer’s magic touch which seems to multiply the available space
by Niccolò Volpati
The very first time I went on a sailing holiday in the Caribbean Sea I hired a 12 metre monohull boat. The name on the stern did not go unnoticed, Ananas (pineapple). In fact, the shape of the deckhouse resembled that fruit. Ananas was not very beautiful but it certainly was very comfortable and the reason was soon clear.
The cockpit was completely in the shade since it was sheltered by a deck structure with a sliding top which could be used both when the boat was moored or during navigation.
It was ideal for the Caribbean sun. If you did not want to risk third degree burns you could close the top and if you wanted to be in the sun you could slide it open.
The new Sense by Bénéteau somehow reminds me of Ananas. The cockpit has a similar structure in fiberglass, stainless steel and a sliding soft top.
The so called “purist sailors” who spend their time at the bar of their yacht club discussing about the only way to handle a sailboat, will not appreciate it. Yet Bénéteau has thought also about them. If you really do not like that type of structure you can do without it and leave only the roll bar which houses the mainsail sheet.
However, I suggest you try it before making up your mind. Once aboard, aesthetics are irrelevant and only benefits count. Maybe it is because I had already been on Sense 57 but looking at it a second time I do not think it is all that bad. Even when I look up to check the rigging the bimini does not look so cumbersome.
You have only to move your head a little to see the mainsail and check if the genoa is not do its job properly. Today we do not expect strong winds. When we cast off from Port Ginesta west of Barcelona, the anemometer showed a wind of 5 or 6 knots.
It is in fact a very exacting test for a sailing yacht. We raise the genoa and the mainsail but the Gps marks just over 3 knots at a 45° angle. The Sense 51 does not haul a lot and this is not only because of the lack of wind.
This limitation is due to the roll-up mainsail. We know that the boat owners much prefer this to a full batten. But the problem is that 10 m2 of sail are lost: 53 m2 against the 63 m2 with a traditional mainsail. It is quite a lot with a negative impact on the performance. We then raise the Code 0 also because the double bow roller is sufficient for both the anchor and the roll up device. Fast and easy to use as a sailing yacht is expected to be.
Under Code 0 the performance is improving even if the wind is still weak. The sail generates apparent wind and the boat is faster under close haul. Away from the coast the wind improves to over 6 knots and the performance under full sail gets better reaching exactly 6 knots with a 50° angle. I wonder what the boat would do under a full mainsail instead of a roll-up one. The helm is not perfect. The feeling is that it is a bit stiff even in a weak wind.
Probably if we had to sail very close to a strong wind it could be very tiring. As far as the deck is concerned this model follows the already known Sense style. The size of the cockpit is 305×230 cm and 305 cm is the width not the length.
There is an L-shaped bench on the right with two tables. The one on the right has telescopic legs that, when lowered, convert the table into a comfortable sunbed.
When the tables are both open they form a sizeable surface around which a good number of people can be seated. These tables have also another function: when the boat is heeling while sailing under close wind they serve as supports since the cockpit is quite wide.
To give an idea on how the space has been used thanks to the high and low shrouds on the sides, the passages to move along the boat are 62 cm wide and completely unencumbered which is unusual for a 15 metre long hull. The interiors are made by Nauta and the layout is similar to that of its elder sister. This is very surprising since the hull is smaller. The interior is a square – shaped 320×360 cm dining area near the cockpit and the number of windows and portholes make it difficult to consider this space as two separate areas.
The owner’s cabin is situated at the bow whereas the other two are in the centre, one with a double bed and one with bunk beds. The latter can be swapped for a large writing desk thus converting the bedroom into a chartroom or a work station.
The boat can accommodate up to 9 people since one table in the dining area can be lowered and transformed into a double bunk berth.
The port side after peak can be converted into a sailor’s bunk space. This type of arrangement without cabins in the stern area allows to use the space under the benches for two sizeable after peaks.
The interior layout and the deck both offer top class comfort, the performance under full sail and the easy handling even on a reduced crew make Sense 51 an almost perfect sailing yacht and after a few hours of sailing I wouldn’t think for a minute to do away with the soft top: it keeps the whole cockpit in the shade and helps you save money on sun lotion.
Project Berret Racopeau Yacht Design (Hull and superstructure) Nauta Design (interior design)
Hull LOA 15.95 m • Length 14.98 m • Maximum beam 4.86 m • Deep draught 2.20 m • Shallow draught 1.85 m • Light mass displacement 15’515 kg • Fuel tank volume 415 l • Water tank volume 570 l • Main sail 63 m2 Genoa (105%) 60 m2 Asymmetric spi 185 m2 Code 0 105 m2 • Self-taking jib 46 m2 • Foresail 24 m2 • Furling mainsail 53 m2
Main propulsion Yanmar 4JH80 saildrive Common Rail • Outlet mechanical power 58.8 kW • 4 stroke • 4 cylinders in line • Total swept volume 1995 l • water cooler • weight 224 kg • 3 blades propeller by Flexofold
Certification EC Category A for 10 people • Category B for 11 people • Category C for 16 people
Price 297’900 € Exclusive Vat
Saint Hilaire de Riez
Tel +33 251605000
(Sense 51 December 2017)