Bénéteau Sense 57, a cockpit of “Science” Bénéteau Sense 57, a cockpit of “Science”
It’s the most used area while cruising. The solution designed by Bénéteau makes it comfortable for both sailing and mooring THREE BY TWO –... Bénéteau Sense 57, a cockpit of “Science”

It’s the most used area while cruising. The solution designed by Bénéteau makes it comfortable for both sailing and mooring

THREE BY TWO – SUCH ARE THE MEASUREMENTS IN METRES OF THE SALOON IN THE COCKPIT OF BÉNÉTEAU’S NEW SENSE 57. To be precise, it measures 308 by 217 centimetres. More than six square metres really is a lot, even if we’re talking about a boat that is nearly 17 metres long, the same as its predecessor, the 55’.

The style remains unchanged, although several features have been modified. It was designed by the same team: Berret Racopeau and Nauta Design. Another feature that hasn’t changed, one that characterises the Sense range, is the cockpit, which is at the same height as the interior. Indeed, the cabins have been moved forward, so the saloon lies closer to the water. There are basically two advantages to this: the first is that the lines look more slender, and the second is the continuity between decks and interiors. The saloon and the dinette are on the same level, with direct access to the living and chartwork area, the galley and the dining table. Plenty of natural light filters below deck and even when you are inside, the view out is practically complete.

The cockpit is the most liveable area. While sailing, or at anchor or moored, it is also by far the most popular area to be in. Bénéteau even offers the option of setting up an outside galley with the grill underneath the helmsman’s seats. The self-stabilising stern platform completes a very large area. But what has changed is the structure above the cockpit. There is a rollbar at the end of the deckhouse, which also houses the block and tackle for the mainsail sheet so that it doesn’t take any space from the cockpit. Aft of the rollbar the fibreglass that continues to the stern houses a soft top to protect the entire cockpit area.

So basically, the Sense 57 doesn’t need the traditional awnings that have to be put up, or even the stainless steel structures which have to be opened up or unrolled. If you want shade in the cockpit, you just have to move the fabric down to the stern. The enormous advantage of this can be felt when sailing, because – when you need to – the soft top can be closed without fear that the wind will damage it (as can happen to stainless steel-mounted awnings).

This arrangement reminded me of the first time I sailed in the Caribbean. I was on board a strange single-hulled boat that only had cabins below decks, and everything else – from galley to seats – were in a huge cockpit. That boat also had something like a car sunroof that you could close to give some shade. Even the helmsman enjoyed it, as he could get his balding head out of the sun. It didn’t look great, but it was extremely comfortable. The same is true of the Sense 57 and if you don’t like the structure used for the soft top, you can simply decide not to fit it, and just leave the rollbar on deck.

The other special feature is the sprayhood, which is forward of the rollbar. It is a traditional fold-away sprayhood, which is easy to use. The good thing is that it links to the rollbar, that also has side walls in fabric. You can protect yourself easily in nearly all the cockpit with protective awnings that actually create another outside room. Very useful during the night to avoid humidity, and even more so when you sail at colder times of the year.

The interiors, by Nauta Design, features three double cabins. The master one is totally in the bows and has the bathroom split between toilet to starboard and shower cabinet to port. The other two double cabins are further aft, each of them with private bathrooms. They are identical, and have a lot of usable space because they are reached by a single, centrally located corridor. Sliding doors are used to save space. The result is surprising because the space in the three double cabins, the three bathrooms and the dinette is much larger than you would expect from a boat of this size. It is also quick, and sails well.

We tried it out in Barcelona with waves nearly a metre high, and a wind that wasn’t particularly strong, between 12 and 13 knots. The wheel wasn’t especially stiff and it was easy to manoeuvre. Using Code 0 sails and with the waves coming at the stern which made it change direction, it was easy to stay on course. By slightly anticipating the arrival of the wave, the hull kept its direction without any difficulty. It was easy and comfortable to manage. All the rigging is easy to reach and handle, and the electric winches make things even easier. If you want to sail with a very small crew, you can get the self-tacking jib. Visibility is good, even with all the soft top structure. Looking aft, there is nothing to block it.

The only limit is in trimming the sails, because the awning covers the helmsman’s head, and to check that the genoa is properly trimmed, you have to move out slightly to see the top part of the sail, rather than just looking upwards. But that is not much of an effort to make. It is worth it, so you can protect yourself from the sun, especially if you sail for a long time, it is a real advantage. The boat is not just comfortable to sail, but it also performs well. It sails quite close to the wind, getting to 35 degrees. If you don’t make too much of the angle and don’t force it too much, the boat finds its rhythm and turns in some very respectable performances. With 13 knots real wind speed, we easily sailed at more than seven.

With the Code 0 we even managed to do over ten knots. And the same can be said for the engine. We were using the most powerful version, with 110 hp. At full speed we went over nine and a half knots, and at over eight when cruising. As well as by the GPS, we were very impressed by the sound level reading. In the dinette, which is next to to the engine room, there are always 60 decibels and they only exceed 70 at top speed. As the cabins are all further forward, one would assume that using the engine at night is a very comfortable experience.

Underdeck access 65 cm • Dinette headroom 198 cm • U-shaped sofa in dinette 132x224x107 cm • Chart table 145×50 cm • L-shaped galley 93×304 cm • Forward owner cabin headroom 197 cm • Berth 205×170 cm • Berth to ceiling 113 cm • Owner bathroom headroom 197 cm • Guest cabin headroom (port side) 200 cm • Berth 200×150 cm • Berth to ceiling 140 cm • Port side bathroom headroom 193 cm • Guest cabin headroom (starboard) 193 cm • Berth 200×150 cm • Berth to ceiling 140 cm • Starboard bathroom headroom 193 cm • Cockpit area 217×308 cm • Benches 217 cm • Distance between the wheels 107 cm • Helmsman seats 90 cm (each) • Walkway at side 66 cm wide • Stern platform 305×140 cm

Saint Hilaire de Riez
T. +33 251605000

Bénéteau Sense 57
Project: Berret Racoupeau Yacht Design (hull and superstructure), Nauta Design (interiors)

Hull: LOA 17.78m • Length 16.80m • Waterline length 15.93m • Max beam 4.97m • Deep draught 2.40m • Shallow draught 1.85m • Deep ballast weight 4,900 kg • Shallow ballast weight 5,500 kg • Unload displacement 18,780 kg • Fuel tank capacity 415 l • Water tank capacity 640 l • Main sail 74 sqm • Genoa 105% 78.5 sqm • Asymmetric spi 208.3 sqm • Code 0 115sqm • Self-tacking jib 59 sqm • Foresail 34 sqm

Engine: Yanmar 4JH110 Common Rail • 117 hp (80.9 kW) • 4 stroke • 4 in-line cylinders • Displacement 1,995 l • sail drive • 3 blades propeller • weight 224 kg

EC Certification: CAT A 10 people, CAT B 11 people, CAT C 16 people

Price: 394,000 € (Excl.VAT) powered with a Yanmar 110 hp; 393,100 € (Excl.VAT) powered with a Yanmar 80 hp

(Bénéteau Sense 57, a cockpit of “Science” – Barchemagazine.com – March 2017)