Q: What do you think about the Beneteau 40.7?

Jack K.

A: I think pretty highly of the Beneteau First 40.7 — provided that you're interested in a fast racer/cruiser, or want to break into Grand Prix racing in IMS for what is comparatively a shoestring budget. The 40.7 rates very well under IMS with its racer/cruiser time credits. And it's a fast boat, plain and simple. Bruce Farr and his team at Farr Yacht Design drew the lines, they are the world's pre-eminent race boat designers, bar none.

If you want simply a cruising boat, then this is probably not the ideal boat for you. The sail area to displacement ratio of 20.85 puts this firmly in the "racer" portion of racer-cruisers. The cockpit is relatively small for cruising and the galley is undersized as well.

That said, even for a "weekend warrior", particularly if there is IMS racing in your area, the 40.7 is a very fast boat. The amenities below are vastly more family-friendly than a Farr 40. I witnessed a telling exchange between a husband and wife at Strictly Sail. They were seriously shopping for a boat. The husband was gung-ho about buying a Farr 40 and joining what is at this time the most successful one-design keelboat racing class in the world. The wife took one look below at the spartan interior and said "no way". Off they went to the Beneteau display. Geoff Stagg of Farr International was standing right on the boat when this happened. He hates to lose a sale, that's why Farr International is introducing the new Farr 395 racer/cruiser this winter.

If you're in Europe, there is a charter operation there that specializes in race-optimized 40.7's. Definitely think about what you intend to do with your boat, and if the 40.7 seems to fit the bill, see if you can get a ride aboard one somewhere. The operation in England has a website at www.407yachtcharter.co.uk.

We have a lot of information on the 40.7 on the boats.com website. The first place to go is Bob Fisher's article "No one's calling them 'beachballs' anymore". From there you can find quite a few related articles, including Bob Perry's review of the boat.