If it works, don’t mess with it. Unless you want to improve and re-launch it, that is. Beneteau has dusted off an old classic, spiffed it up and sent it back into the current market as the Beneteau First 25 S—and it’s just as much fun as its predecessor, the Beneteau First 25, but with more bells and whistles.
Twenty years after the launch of the First 25, Beneteau took the best of the old design and merged it with state-of-the-art build technology to make the new hull 2,000 pounds lighter. But the changes didn’t stop there. The new boat is a bit beamier in the transom, so it now has twin rudders to keep it tracking. The big transom also afforded a new attachment point for the traveler, which keeps the block-and-tackle mainsheet clear of the cockpit and therefore creates more room. The deep V of the hull forward minimizes pounding on waves when going to weather, and the flatter hull sections aft keep the boat upright when sailing and lessen the rolling motion at anchor.
Beneteau continued this as a tiller boat rather than adding the expense and moving parts of a wheel installation. But even with the tiller, the cockpit is large enough for three adults and a helmsperson to move about whether day-sailing or club racing. Two winches mounted on the cabin-top manage both the halyards and the genoa sheets so the layout is clean and easy to work around. Standard electronics include Raymarine instruments mounted on the cabin bulkhead, and a multifunction display is optional.
The rig has single set of aft-swept spreaders and a 9/10th aluminum deck-stepped mast that rises 41 feet above the waterline. The large flat-top mainsail is possible because there’s no backstay and the sail provides plenty of power. The slightly overlapping genoa is on a furling system so setting sail doesn’t involve anything as archaic as having to go forward and yanking on the jib. It’s easy sailing all around.
Choice of keels
The standard keel is fixed and draws 4’ 9”. The optional swing keel reaches 6’ 1” when deployed or tucks up into the centerboard trunk, making it ideal for sailing in skinny water around the East Coast and Florida. The retractable keel is operated by a hand crank and winch and adds an extra $1,200 to the base price of $72,000, but if you often sail in as little as three feet of water, this is the option for you.
A complete galley is to port and includes a sink with a manual water pump, an optional one-burner gimbaled stove and a sink. A polyester, top-loading ice box is included. The saloon has twin settees separated by a drop-leaf table. The starboard side converts into a double-berth so four people can sleep aboard in a pinch. Cubbyholes outboard and space below the bench seats provide plenty of stowage. A nod to old-time design (and one I applaud) is that a dedicated aft-facing nav station is still provided to starboard.
The V-berth forward serves as the master stateroom. You enter it via a pass-through that has a sink on one side and a marine head on the other. The sleeping area is made private by a sliding door which takes up less room than a swing door. The headroom at the companionway is considered “standing” and it will work for anyone under 5’ 10”. The forward stateroom is snug, with 5’ 1” of vertical space.
Auxiliary power is provided by a 14 HP Yanmar diesel with a straight shaft and underwater exhaust. Fuel tankage is eight gallons and the roto-molded water tank holds 11 gallons, which is passable for a weekend on the water so long as your friends are low-maintenance.
Sailing and Trailering
The boat sails well, especially in light air which is undoubtedly why the design has endured; over 600 hulls were built originally. One of the best aspects of it is that this sailboat is trailerable so you can haul it anywhere, launch it, and sail on a lake, bay, or ocean with a few friends or even singlehanded.
|Sail Area||414 sq. ft.|
|Fuel capacity||8 gal.|
|Water capacity||11 gal.|
Reintroducing a classic is smart in that much of the cost of development has already been accounted for. Still, it is a risky strategy. Will the new design be accepted? Will it find a niche in the market, or will it be considered dated? With the First 25 S, Beneteau has created a relatively low cost boat that’s a winning combination of something old and something new—making it something affordable, and still very fun.
Other Choices: A pair of sailboats that lean more toward performance are the Saphire 27 and the Seascape 27. The same is true of the Catalina 275. On the smaller side of cruising lies the Com-Pac 23.
See Beneteau First 25 S listings.
For more information, visit Beneteau.