Drawing on the brand’s ‘First’ legacy of 40 years at sea, Beneteau’s new 17-metre First Yacht 53 will make her preliminary series of tacks later this year. The model is conceived as a high-end sailing yacht marrying luxury and performance, with priority given to comfort and easy of movement.
Her creation is thanks in part to two stars of the nautical world: Roberto Biscontini of America’s Cup fame for the hull design and Lorenzo Argento for the interior and exterior design. Designed for sailing purists, with high expectations of excitement at the helm and life at sea, the First Yacht 53 boasts strong features making her above all very much a First.
The model features a full plumb bow and a maximum beam further aft, and twin rudders give the perfect feedback to control a highly responsive hull. The 2.5 or three-metre draft (with lead bulb), as well as an optional carbon mast, gives the First Yacht 53 the competitive advantage to clock up miles quickly.
“I have always looked for performance on the boats that I sail and build. The First Yacht 53 is a lot like me,” observed Robert Biscontini in good humour, in light of his incredible experience in the America’s Cup.
“To achieve maximum thrills at the helm, we focused on balancing weight and balance under sail when we designed the boat. We worked hard to optimize the position of the centre of buoyancy in relation to the centre of effort, guaranteeing a lively yacht under sail, responding quickly to the helm. We asked the best outfitters to provide their top performing products: North Sails for the sails, Harken for the deck gear, Lorima for the mast, and Lemer for the keel. They were all involved on the recent design of the Figaro Beneteau 3 with foils.”
Deck circulation, from the helm station to the foredeck, has been improved considerably on the First Yacht 53, by Lorenzo Argento, one of the founders of ‘Modern Yachting’. The Italian designer has succeeded in taking ease of movement one step further.
“There is no need to step over anything or to obstruct a crew member. Everything flows, with the cockpit divided into two distinct sections: the helm area and a relaxation area. There is just one watchword for this First Yacht 53: ‘intuitive’,” commented Argento, who is a sailor himself.
“Winches near the steering stations can be easily be operated by crew members wishing to get involved in trimming. Safety is enhanced on this flush deck fitted with handrails and coamings. All these details make the First Yacht 53 a seaworthy boat, at ease on the high seas and comfortable on a mooring. What’s more, once the anchor is cast, two people can easily take out the 2.4-metre tender stored longitudinally in a tender garage.”
The hull is built using the infusion process for optimal control of the boat’s weight and mechanical properties. The hull’s structural inner hull liner is infused, then bonded and laminated in areas subject to high stress, such as the chainplates and the keel. In addition to this technique, it makes use of a concept that has mainly been used on superyachts up until now, and this is an aluminium sole to which interior fittings are fixed. The overall structure, and the lowering and centring of weight have been considerably optimised to improve stiffness and performance.
“On a beautiful yacht such as this, few owners dine inside. Many of them prefer to lunch outside in the cockpit instead of sitting around a large saloon table indoors. We have changed the layout to meet their expectations, giving it a smaller table and relaxation area with a large sofa and a coffee table. I really love this sofa as I spent a lot of time working on it!” commented Argento. “We have completely revisited the layout of the saloon to provide a homey atmosphere with two spaces: a galley and dining table to port, with a relaxation area and sofa to starboard. The modern interior décor is timeless and chic with white lacquered bulkheads together with moulded woodwork and teak floors, yet remains practicalat sea with numerous fiddles and handrails.”
The interior of the First Yacht 53 comes with three cabins and two heads, including a forward owner cabin. The other option is a layout with three cabins and three heads and a skipper’s cabin are also on offer. The interior is bright and well ventilated, with a sloping companionway for good communication between the interior and exterior spaces and her service area is easy to access.
After two years of development, the First Yacht 53 will be shown for the first time at the major boat shows in Europe (Cannes, Genoa, Barcelona) and the USA (Annapolis).