Savoir faire Sydney

Beneteau’s Oceanis 46.1 is proving a big hit with sailors all over the globe. Hull #86 was recently delivered by Flagstaff Marine to its new owner in Sydney.

Photography by Beneteau

26 March 2020


Several years ago Beneteau reinvented and re-engineered its Oceanis range – with impressive results.

The Oceanis 46.1 was designed by Pascal Conq whose mini-transat and Vendee Globe hulls have earned numerous successes in the toughest racing arenas.

According to Conq the aim of the 46.1 was to retain the primary features of the highly popular Oceanis 45; sailing performance, spacious cockpit and interior volume. Then place them within a new and more powerful hull shape, with a stepped or full-chined hull, with greater righting moment and the addition of twin rudders for added control.

The finished design’s particularly sharp styling attracted many admirers at the 2018 Sydney International Boat Show, including an experienced yachtsman who appreciated the aesthetics of what the design team had achieved.


“It really stood out from a design perspective,” he told Sails. “It had a different visual profile, the first thing you notice is that wide stern which translates into enormous cockpit space.”

Another standout feature he liked was having all the control lines coming back the helm station, freeing-up the cockpit for moving around, ease of sailing.

“When you have non-sailors onboard you don’t want have to say ‘please can you move I want to trim this. It basically allows you to cruise in a lot more comfort.  If you have guests onboard you still want to be able to trim the sails properly.”

He agrees Beneteau’s approach of building fast cruisers with a wide range of  options appeals to those who either individually or with crew want to enjoy good performance without having to compromise on comfort.

First sail

He remembers the moment during the test sail of the 46.1 on Sydney Harbour in around 15 knots when a stronger puff came through.

“The boat just took-off”, he recalls. It really accelerated, there’s a definite feeling of power with the boat’s size and stiffness”.

A subsequent shake-out sail on his own new 46.1 verified the original decision.

‘It was a bit stronger, about 15 to 20 (knots) but there was no sense it would overpower or round-up. That also comes down to having the twin control surfaces.”

He confirmed the Finot-Conq designed hull sits nicely on the chine. He opted for the Cruising version of the 46.1 which includes in-mast furling main, self-tacking jib, electric winches, extremely spacious cockpit, and extras such as an electric swim platform and transom grill.

He also reports that the sun pad cushions on either side of the companionway remain well anchored and no stage looked like they’d blow out – “amazing” was the verdict.

This latest 46.1 delivered by Flagstaff has a gleaming white paint job, and a three-cabin layout, though four and five versions are also available.

The boat’s so-called scow bow creates class-leading volume to accommodate a spacious owner’s suite in the bow with island double bed and separate head and shower. The appreciative owner also rates the ceiling height and the “huge” amount of storage as other pleasing features of the cabin. The long rectangular hull windows are just above water level and should be a lovely feature at a calm anchorage.

There was high praise too for the Nauta Design styled blending of texture and tones in the saloon and the placement of hatches that maximises natural light and ventilation.

The good cockpit ergonomics enable the four winches to be grouped within reach either side of the twin wheels and opens-up the space around the table and reclining room on the long bench lounges. The comprehensive B&G instrument package in each binnacle includes an auto pitot remote for easy short-handed sailing.

The iron sail is an 80hp Yanmar, which is a popular choice over  the standard 57hp.

An extra was the fibreglass arch which means the mainsheet to be trimmed further aft, and as he rightly points out, in Australia allows for an all-important expansive bimini to be attached.

NSW dealer Flagstaff Marine has sold two of the Cruising configurations and two of the FIRST line performance version that offers a choice of  aluminium or carbon rig, flat deck genoa furler, German mainsheet system, your choice of sails, adjustable backstay and genoa cars, bowsprit, additionally upgraded performance winches, upgraded halyards and sheets, carbon wheels, lead bulb with extra deep keel.

The 46.1 is eminently suited for twilight racing, where it will surprise a few competitors with its turn of speed. Equally it can undertake a smooth, fast  passage from Sydney to Pittwater, where its new owners will be able to enjoy the full extent of its highly versatile and comfortable entertaining spaces.


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