Progettata per i neofiti e per tutti quelli che, con nostalgia, cercano una barca a vela di semplice gestione e divertente
by Niccolò Volpati
Things don’t always turn out the way they should. We have to take things as they are. Logically speaking, you should start from small and then grow. The first boat ought to be small, and once you’ve picked up a bit of experience, you go on to a larger, and consequently more demanding, one. If it were actually like that, the First 27 from Bénéteau would be a serious candidate for carrying out that role.
It is essentially a Seascape to which a straight-shaft engine has been added. What happened with Seascape was not a true purchase. The Slovenian yard is 50% owned by the Bénéteau group, and the remaining 50% is still with the founder. All of the Bénéteau First series are made in Ljubljana, with an output of around 250 boats a year. The approach is to produce an affordable boat, one that is accessible to many, and sporty, but also easy to handle. It is perfect for learning, and indeed sailing schools have shown they appreciate it. And not just them, but also people who like to sail, tacking a few times when the wind lets you, and enjoying the good side of things without too much worry.
È disponibile la versione con albero e boma in carbonio e chiglia retrattile con movimentazione idraulica. Quella standard è manuale. Anche il piano velico si divide tra standard e performance. Quest’ultimo offre una randa square top di 7 m2 in più e anche il gennaker ha 9 m2 di tela in più rispetto a quello standard.
The First 27 is very docile at the helm and is strikingly consistent in what it delivers. That is probably also because of the pronounced chine of the hull, given that it feels as though the boat rests on it and it starts to sail constantly. During the test, the wind wasn’t especially strong, but it was nevertheless enough to try out the boat’s performance under sail. The boat reacted quickly, it doesn’t need much of a breeze to get it going. With it blowing at between eight and ten knots, and always just using the mainsails, at all points of sail, I did between five and six knots. I also appreciated the fact that it always responds calmly when guests arrive. This isn’t a “deaf” boat, one that doesn’t seem to notice that the wind has strengthened. It is reactive, but not in a nervous kind of way, so even first-time buyers won’t find it stressful. It is built from vinyl ester resin infusion and has two tillers, an open stern and a standard sail plan with a square top mainsail and Genoa. There are also higher-performance setups with mast, boom and bowsprit in carbon fibre, and with a keel that can be retracted hydraulically rather than manually.
The engine is a straight shaft 15 horsepower Yanmar with a twin-bladed propeller. It is very noisy and produces a lot of vibration. At 3000 rpm it feels like being on top of a blender. But it should also be said that we are talking about an auxiliary engine, in the true sense of the phrase. The First 27 is a daysailer, even though it provides sleeping space for as many as six below decks. The berths are fairly spartan and are indeed designed for sailing schools. It isn’t a cruising boat and doesn’t offer comfort levels which we have now got used to. Rather it is made to be sailed, and so the fact that the outboard is noisy is not very important, given that you can expect to turn it off just as soon as you leave port. The 15-horsepower Yanmar has been developed to provide a solution that is both simple and inexpensive: in the base version, the boat only costs 65,000 euros before tax.
The yard, although mass production is the enemy of customisation, has also created a solution with an outboard motor that can be either traditional or electric. The outboard version benefits from a very simple mechanism that raises the engine into a vertical position and a useful compartment which is below the deck floor in the cockpit. That means the outboard doesn’t get in the way of manoeuvring when the sails are in use.
THERE ARE TWO FORMS OF THE ENGINE ON OFFER: INTERNAL COMBUSTION OR ELECTRIC OUTBOARD, OR STRAIGHT-SHAFT,
WITH A 15 HP YANMAR AND A TWIN-BLADED PROPELLER.
The First 27 is essentially a basic daysailer and is thus different from racing sailing yachts or the very stylish ones for chic owners. But it is an ideal hull to do what should be the main focus of a boat: sailing. In Europe, it has been very well accepted and is widely used on the lakes in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. There aren’t yet many of them in Italy, but given that the world is changing, who knows whether the desire to simply sail might not come back into fashion.
Saint Hilaire de Riez
Samuel Manuard Yacht Design (naval architecture) • Gigiodesign (interiors and superstructure)
Length 7.99 m • Maximum beam 2.54m • Light mass displacement 1,700 kg • Draft 1.70m • Ballast 610 kg • Main sail surface 20 m2 • Genoa surface 17.30 m2 • Gennaker surface 71 m2
Yanmar 2YM15 • Outlet mechanical power 10 kW (14 hp) • Bore&Stroke 70mm x 74mm • 2 cylinders in line • Maximal rotational speed 3600/min • Swept volume 0.57 l • Dry weight 103 kg
CAT B (December 2022)
(Bénéteau First 27, the right start – Barchemagazine.com – December 2022)