08 November 2021
The Beneteau First 36 aims to bridge the gap between high-tech development in the world of racing and mainstream racer-cruisers. To be specific, even the standard version of First 36 will fully plane in a moderate breeze.
However, this by itself was not the main challenge for the design and production teams. For 40 years, the Firsts were successfully hitting the elusive sweet spot between comfort, performance, utility, elegance, high-tech construction, and reasonable price. The First 36 is no different.
The design team is coordinated by the experienced hand of Kristian Hajnšek, CTO of Seascape, who works closely with the team at BENETEAU to bring race-grade construction technologies into the segment of production racer-cruisers. On top of this hugely experienced team, we added an elite international group of designers; all of them are passionate sailors in their own right.
The naval architect was Samuel Manuard who is currently the hottest name in offshore racing, where his designs are winning Mini, Class 40, and IMOCA 60 classes. He is also the designer of the new First and First SE from 14 to 27-feet.
The team from Pure Design & Engineering New Zealand was in charge of engineering at some of the most extreme projects in the world of extreme sailing: TP52s, AC75, AC72, IMOCA 60s, and Club Swan, as well as high-end production yachts.
Lorenzo Argento was in charge of design. First 36 follows the same design language of her larger sister – First Yacht 53 – building on the timeless aesthetic of Lorenzo’s work, most notably seen on the Wally and Brenta yachts.
Gigodesign industrial design studio applied its design research and innovation insights with multiple Red Dot awards were essential in locking in and developing innovation opportunities.
The modern sailing experience
Due to the easily achievable performance potential of the new Beneteau First 36, we expect her to be a weapon for club handicap racing. Therefore, during the design process, the team spent numerous iterations seeking a balance between an easily planing hull and upwind performance.
The First 36 is optimised for short-handed sailing, making her perfect for the ever-more-popular shorthanded adventure distance races. Her very high sail area/displacement coefficient and balanced nautical design make her a top performer as a club-racer, a safe and fun family cruiser, or simply a thrilling daysailer.
Positioning six winches, steering wheels, and other deck gear was thoroughly tested on several mock-ups and a full-scale testbed sailboat to enable the sailing experience promised on the previous page.
Details like an offshore hatch on the foredeck or removable cockpit benches show the priority of sailing functionality over style used throughout the design process.
Standard aluminium rig and cast-iron keel were chosen to keep the boat accessible. Yet, Sam Manuard brought his experience and focused on perfecting the shape and design of these two key ingredients for a great sailing experience. The draft of 2,25 m was chosen as a compromise between performance and ease of use.
In the racing layout, the wide and modern cockpit allows for different helm and trim positions, either for short-handed or fully-crewed sailing. In this setup, the table and bench extensions are removed, opening the working area in the cockpit.
A higher than average steering wheel position leaves enough room for the helmsman to move forward towards the mainsail winch when sailing shorthanded.
The cockpit winches’ positioning allows one or two crew members to sail with legs in and work the mainsail or primary winches in full crew mode. It also allows cross-sheeting of all sheets to the windward side. Harken, Ronstan, Spinlock and Antal deck gear were combined for performance.
When you remove your racing gear and take your family cruising or daysailing, the cockpit benches with cushions increase the seating area and add storage space and rope organisation. The cockpit table is big enough to seat a crew of six. Additionally, the design team developed an ultralight bathing platform to give sailors easy access to the water without affecting the boat’s performance.
Largest living space in its class
The wide hull of the Beneteau First 36 offers a spacious interior comparable to much larger predecessors. The new First 36 has about the same living volume as the legendary First 40.7.
Simple, comfortable and multi-purpose, the First 36 interior was developed around three-cabin cruising functionality.
Its most notable feature is the large central fridge (with a removable cutting board), making this sailboat’s galley the largest of her class. A corridor created together with the foldable and removable table helps sailors move around the saloon safely and offers stacking possibilities.
Going against the trend, the 36 features a full-sized navigation table. While vital to navigation, it is also a suitable home office.
Two portlights in every room allow air flow and natural light, while sectional indirect lighting with a red racing option illuminates the boat at night. Three cabins with easily accessible full-sized double berths and innovative heads round up the features of this bright and spacious interior.
The first unit into Australia of the Beneteau First 36 will be displayed at the 2022 Sydney International Boat Show in the first weekend of August 2022.