Bénéteau MC 52, take it easy

Easy docking, easy control, easy sailing. Cruising is getting easier and easier: space, comfort and power levels that aren’t excessive. That is the Bénéteau approach

by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Guido Barbagelata, Nicolas Claris, Julien Gazeau

SIMPLIFY. ALWAYS, HOWEVER, AND AT ANY COST. The orders are clear and anyway it’s been like that for some time in this part of the world. Don’t ever make life difficult. People take boats out to enjoy themselves, for a holiday, and to have fun, and so they aren’t looking for complications. And what’s more, if one wants to attract new buyers, perhaps people without experience, it is essential to offer a type of sailing which isn’t too complicated.

For a yard like Bénéteau, which has a production line and turns out large volumes, it is vital to make boats that are easy to use. This approach is the one that has determined the decisions made by the people who created the MC 52: Nuvolari&Lenard, who took charge of the overall design and the deck area, Pierangelo Andreani, who did the interiors, and MICAD who handled the naval architecture.

Pierangelo Andreani has done great work, both in terms of the liveability and the comfort levels that have been achieved. The layout is fairly traditional, with a kitchen, living area, helm station in the dinette and three cabins.

Let’s start with what you get to first: the deck and the flybridge. There is a lot of space, and it has all been well used. The flybridge extends a long way and covers nearly the whole of the cockpit. When I went to the aft side, the only thing I could see was the sofa at the rear of the cockpit. I liked the use of the spiral staircase to get up there because it saves space and is very easy to use.

What I didn’t like so much was the width of the gangways. Of course, that means that the dinette gets to use as much space as possible, but 22 centimetres is too little. That’s the size that a gangway on a small boat should be, not a fifty footer. I also wasn’t so convinced by having a step at floor level on the fly deck, which can get in your way as you move from the helm station to the sofa or sun lounger. And unfortunately, there are also steps in the interior. At the entrance to the dinette, beyond the galley, there are two of them. That means you get more headroom in the master cabin, which is located amidships on the lower deck.

Bénéteau MC 52

But it should be pointed out that there isn’t a lot of room down there, given that the reverse moulding of the dinette floor comes down right above the owner’s double bed. So, when you lie down, you only have 97 centimetres above your head. That’s a shame, not least because there is a full 190 centimetres of headroom in the cabin. But not all of the steps cause problems. The stairs that go down from the dinette to the cabin area, for example, are very easy to use. They are wide, and you feel safe and comfortable with them. It is a single flight, and only at the bottom does it divide: on one side you go to the master cabin amidships, and on the other, you get to the guest rooms – a double one in the bow and another with twin beds.

There is no lack of light, either in the cabins below, and certainly not in the dinette. There are windows everywhere, and it is probably wrong to talk of them in the plural because there is just a single glass surface that goes from the windscreen in the bow, along the sides and to the door that opens onto the cockpit. It’s all done in glass, to such an extent that the light even reaches the lower deck. The only thing that gets me, although this is something that happens with all boats where there is a lot of window area, is that the air conditioning has to work well and be practically always on, or the sun will make the dinette roast.

There is no lack of room on deck, both because the flybridge extends right to the stern, and also because some space-saving measures have been adopted, such as the practically spiral staircase which means you can get from the cockpit up to the flybridge. The gangways, however, are a bit too narrow to let you get through safely.
After taking a look through the boat, both inside and out, all that was left for me to do was to see how it fared underway. Having all that window space the visibility was good, of course, both from inside and on the flybridge. That is not just because of the glass, however, but also because of how it sits in the water. It hardly goes nose up at all. When I accelerated to start planing, the bow hardly raised at all, and so you can always see perfectly.

The water lines are good, the weight distribution between bow and stern is good, and so too is the work done by the Zipwake trim adjusters. The manoeuvrability is a less positive aspect. The transmission systems use IPS, so I would have expected it to be very agile when changing direction, but it needed a fair bit of water to complete a full turn.

Bénéteau MC 52
In the engine room, there are two 435 hp D6s, with IPS 600 transmission. That isn’t an excessive amount of power, and that was a conscious decision. The MC 52 isn’t a boat that is obsessed with performance levels. It hasn’t been designed to make speed freaks happy. It has been made to be comfortable and easy so that you can enjoy being out on the water, as well as being easy to handle. At top speed, we did 25.5 knots, and we started planing at just under 14 knots.

And fuel consumption levels are in line with that since they go from 79 litres per hour at minimum planing to 169 litres at top speed. That is a very limited amount if we bear in mind that we are on a flybridge boat of over sixteen metres length overall and which displaces fifteen tonnes. That said, I think that the engines are not powerful enough.

Bénéteau MC 52

The hull behaves well, and the trim is always just right. Visibility is also excellent both from the flybridge station and from the one inside – in part because of the large amount of window area in the dinette. The turning circle is not very tight, despite the IPS transmission.

I can understand the approach of going slowly without being in too much of a hurry, but 25 knots didn’t feel like very much to me. And not so much because of some obsession with hitting exhilarating top speeds, as much as being able to have a wider range of cruising speeds. Between minimum planing and top speed, there is less than one thousand rpm. Having some extra horsepower in the engine room means you can measure out the power according to sea conditions, and also find your preferred cruising speed. Being comfortable when underway also comes from having that wider choice. By contrast, the sound readings were very positive. Not many decibels were registered, and there wasn’t much vibration both in the master cabin, which is right next to the engines or at the helm station.

Engine room
There are two options, but they both use Volvo Penta IPS systems. The IPS 600 with two 435 hp motors, or the IPS 650 with a pair of 480s.  The extra ninety horsepower might well be better, so you can have a greater range of cruising speeds to choose from.

Saint Hilaire de Riez

PROJECT: Studio MICAD (naval architecture) Nuvolari&Lenard (design and superstructure) Andreani Design (interiors)

HULL: LOA 16.33m Length 14.32m Maximum beam 4.62m Draft 1.20m Displacement 14,988 kg Fuel tank volume 1,300 l Water tank volume 400 l

MAIN PROPULSION: 2xD6 Volvo Penta IPS600 Outlet mechanical power 320 kW (435 hp) 4 stroke 6 cylinders Bore&Stroke

103mm x 110mm Compression ratio 17.5:1 Swept volume 5.5 l Maximal rotational speed 3500/min Dry weight 901 kg

EC CERTIFICATION: CAT B 12 people CAT C 12 people

PRICE: 637,300 €, Excl.VAT (December 2020)

(Bénéteau MC 52, take it easy – Barchemagazine.com – December 2020)