On the horizon

Groupe Beneteau, the world’s largest boatbuilder, has re-started production and a much anticipated batch of new models is on its way to Australia.

Written by Scott Alle

05 May 2020


New South Wales Beneteau dealer Flagstaff Marine is gearing up for the arrival of three of the brand’s sought-after designs – the Oceanis 40.1, the First Yacht 53 and a Groupe Beneteau Excess 12 catamaran.

Sailors will be able to inspect the new arrivals dockside in September, but dealers have found ways to work around the physical limitations of COVID-19 to show off their boats.

Flagstaff Founder and Director Graham Raspass says there are plenty of online and virtual options to check out what Beneteau’s design teams have come up with.

“If you are adaptable in terms of viewing the boat, there is no reason not to pursue the dream,” he advises.

“It gives a people a lot more time to research their choice, and manufacturers are continuing to roll out new models, albeit with a slight delay.

“Commitment to new models hasn’t changed,” he continues.


Here’s a rundown of the exciting new models on way to our shores.
Oceanis 40.1

With its flared Marc Lombard hull featuring a single chine, this brand-new design shares the big-volume interior feel of its larger siblings, the 46.1 and 51.1. 

Flagstaff has already sold one to a Sydney yachtsman, and it is expected to arrive in September.

The spacious owner’s cabin in the bow easily accommodates a generous double bed, with head and separate shower. The space is almost equivalent in room to the extremely popular Oceanis 45. A configuration of the 40.1 with two bunks on the port side is aimed at the charter market and boasts sleeping options for eight guests in four cabins, with two heads.

Raspass had the opportunity to look over a prototype in January and was impressed by the hull aesthetics. He also liked the low-aspect coach house that imbues the 40.1 with a very clean profile. The 40.1 due to arrive in Sydney is a three-cabin/two-head version with a classic rig, but a Performance version with a half-metre taller mast and a deeper 2.27-metre keel is also available.

First Yacht 53

Just as eagerly awaited is a Beneteau First 53 yacht, also destined for Sydney around late August. Its combination of style, performance and luxury befits the First line’s flagship, and is the company’s first racer/cruiser in over a dozen years.

By all accounts, it doesn’t disappoint. The sleek styling cues are reminiscent of a Wally, which is no surprise as Lorenzo Argento drew the interior and deck of the First 53. Argento spent most of his career at Italian design office Luca Brenta, which was responsible for some of the Wally designs, and some of the Wally traits such as innovative sailing solutions and elegant styling are present on the 53.

The new Australian owner is an experienced sailor with substantial racing experience. According to Raspass, “he has been looking around for a couple of years for a boat that would enable him to enjoy competitive racing while still being luxurious enough to comfortably host his family, including kids.”

The IRC rating for the First 53 will be 1.213 or 1.192 depending on the keel package. There really is no direct comparison, but a Marten 49 would provide some yardstick.

Groupe Beneteau Excess Catamarans – 11 metres , 12 metres and 15 metres

Flagstaff has a 12-metre model of these funky new performance-orientated cats waiting to be shipped. It will be available for showing at the end of August or early September.

According to Beneteau, the target market for this sporty design includes monohull sailors in search of something new as well as multihull aficionados looking for a more satisfying sailing experience than offered by some cruising cats.

A Pulse version of the Groupe Beneteau Excess 12 with bigger rig and carbon sails is headed here. A three-cabin version, complete with expansive owner’s cabin and bathroom that includes separate shower and head, occupies the entire the port hull. Two large guest cabins in the starboard hull share a bathroom.

“We’ve really enjoyed looking at them in Europe and can’t wait to have one here,” Raspass confides.

As soon as it is appropriate and safe to do so, Flagstaff is planning a series of boutique boat shows and open days that will allow those who’ve been keenly following the new releases online to finally get a hands-on feel.

Rushcutters Bay on Sydney Harbour is slated as one of the locations. The Oceanis 40.1, the First Yacht 53, the Excess 12 and the Oceanis 30.1 will headline the event, allowing sailors to gain an appreciation of the evolution in sailing technology represented by this new wave of models.

“We’ve already had discussions with D’Albora Brokerage, MultiHull Solutions and Vicsail about doing a combined open day, and everyone is keen to be involved,” Raspass told Sails.

He says a similar event could also be organised at Pittwater as the cancellation of the Sydney International Boat Show and other local smaller shows due to COVID-19 has left the sailing community starved of its traditional mid-year introduction to the latest offerings from the big global brands.

Usually, the Cannes Yachting Festival in September is the scene for the unveiling of a brace of exciting new yachts. Just what the format will be for Europe’s largest on-water boat show – still scheduled for 8–13 September – remains to be seen.

Raspass says that if it’s possible, Flagstaff will be dockside at Cannes and plans to offer FaceTime tours of the Beneteau line, including the spectacular new Oceanis 54, for customers back in Australia.

“Before the show starts, we will be able to get on the boats and do live FaceTime walk-throughs. Clients can ask specific questions and we can take them through the answers on board,” he explains.

Another example of how innovative adaptations resulting from COVID-19 restrictions are likely to have a positive impact into the future.




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