There are racer-cruisers, bluewater sailboats,
sailing catamarans, and a host of other labels for boats that
fall somewhere between pure racing machine and cruising slug, but unlike most of these boats, the new Beneteau First 47.7 is what you make it. It can be a world cruiser, a family weekender, or even a racing yacht that can embarrass purebred custom boats. It's your choice.
It has a fine entry, a comfortably wide transom and a choice of keels depending on your sailing needs. Beneteau startled the racing world with a pair of optimized entries in the Kenwood Cup, and these so-called "beach balls" (nicknamed for their rounded lines) showed their heels to some of the world's best. At the other end of the spectrum, Beneteau is well known for filling charter fleets worldwide with comfortable and durable yachts. The 47.7 draws on the successful (but now discontinued) 45f5 for a number of features, but adds many new ones.
The deck layout on the 47.7 remains constant, regardless of which
interior layout the boat has. The cockpit is wide (too wide to brace your
feet on the opposite seat) and well arranged for either cruising or racing
with a pair of Lewmars sunk into each coaming (a 58 primary and 48 aft),
which should easily handle even the largest headsail. The helmsman's
office is notable for an immense wheel that allows the skipper to plant his
rear on the teak-side deck either side of him and use the scalloped bench seat across the transom. Three cockpit lockers (one of which is dedicated to stove fuel) provide ample stowage, and the boom is so high that even the tallest sailor can stand on the cockpit seats with impunity. All the sail controls lead to Lewmar 44s with Spinlock stoppers at the forward end of the cockpit.
The rest of the deck is highlighted by excellent non-slip surfaces
wherever you might step (including on the side of the cabin, for use when
heeled) and built-in Dorade vents in blister mounts with protective
guards. The deck is encircled by double lifelines with gates on each side
and aft and a varnished mahogany toe rail. The anchor locker forward holds
an electric windlass and, just aft, a separate sail locker easily holds
spare sails or a deflated tender. At the transom, a fold-down platform is
teak-planked and perfect for swimming or boarding the tender.
The saloon has immense headroom, and Beneteau gets good marks for providing plenty of grab rails to help you move around this spacious area. A dinette is to starboard
with a curved banquette outboard and a smaller bench seat inboard. The
table gimbals to handle various heel angles, and there's ample seating for
the whole crew. To port is another settee and the nav station, which also
has the electrical panel and a dedicated tool storage.
The galley is aft to starboard so it's out of the way, and the cook
has acres of countertop that wraps around from the double sink past the
stove lid (with covering board on rollers) and aft over the
refrigerator/freezer. The area aft of the galley that would be a cabin on
a different version is left open for storage, although you could throw a
mattress in their as a mother-in-law cabin.
The owner's cabin is forward, spanning the full beam just ahead of
the mast. To starboard is a large double berth, a settee is to port along
with a hanging locker and there is good storage in drawers and shelves.
The head and shower are forward and are surprisingly spacious.
The guest cabin is aft to port, with full headroom and large double
berth and two large opening ports. The day head is just forward of the
guest cabin, also with shower.
All in all the cabin is cavernous and, though the cherry stain
seems dark, the salon remains bright as a result of the big skylight in
mid-cabin (which is a light at night) in addition to no fewer than nine opening
ports and two hatches.
Three keels are available — 9-, 7.5- and 6-inch — as are either a racing or a cruising rig. We had the deep keel and Sparcraft standard rig with
triple sweptback spreaders supporting a 15/16 rig. Actually, it's more
like 31/32, since the headstay is just shy of the masthead. The racing
version is five feet taller and has a twin-groove headstay, full spinnaker
rig with carbon pole, Max prop and Nitronic rigging.
Undersail, this is a fun boat, although it's neither an easy singlehander nor
a ma-and-pa boat, because there's a lot of sail to trim. But it's
light and responsive on the helm, with good visibility over the house and
from the lee side. As the breeze builds, the 47.7 seems to heel easily
until the lee rail nears the water, at which point it stiffens up and feels
like it would take a gale to put it down another inch. Once settled
comfortably into this groove, the 47.7 goes upwind like the proverbial scalded
cat, knocking off eight knots in a 15 knot breeze. Beneteau is so pleased
with the performance of this big Farr design that it provides the full
polar diagrams as part of the brochure. The 47.7 is broad-reaching, which is another strength, and the wide beam carries a big chute easily.
This is such a great multipurpose yacht that I won't be the least bit surprised to see
fleets of the 47.7s as one-design fleet racers as soon as Beneteau is able
to meet the demand.
See Beneteau First 47.7 listings.
|Std. Draft||7' 7"|
|Deep Draft||9' 2"|
|Sail Area (100% Foretriangle)||1,046 sq. ft.|
|Standard Sail Area||1,324 sq ft.|
|Power||78-hp Yanmar diesel|
Editor's note: This article was updated in July of 2017.