Briand has been one of the dominant IOR designers for the past five years and is best known as the designer of the French 12-Meter, French Kiss. When a designer of this quality takes on a cruising yacht design, it pays to take a good look.

The Beneteau Oceanis 350.

The Beneteau Oceanis 350.

I think you will immediately like or dislike the look of this design, the Oceanis 350. The styling element is strong and designers have taken bold steps in creating a new look. You are going to be captured by this unusual styling.

The interior of this design is archetypical of the French-style interior. The layout is heavily oriented toward charter comfort for three couples. There are mirror-image quarter berths with big double berths and their own sinks. There is another double forward again with its own sink.

This is pretty impressive for a 33-foot, 9-inch boat so you immediately look for the compromise. Is the galley small? Are there any hanging lockers? Is that a chart table or a doily shelf? There is even more than enough room for all six adults to sit and enjoy a meal at the same time. The 350 is also available with an owner's stateroom aft model that eliminates one of the quarter cabins, expands the remaining stateroom and adds volume to the head area.

It is impossible to design a boat with an interior like this without an understanding of the volumes required and their demands upon hull shape. This will not be a slow boat. This is a short-ended design with a lot of freeboard.

The D/L ratio is 178. The drawings show a low aspect ratio fin keel and the photos show a winglet keel. Draft is listed as 5 feet 2 inches. There are two keels available: a shoal, 4 and a half foot winglet keel, and a 5-foot, 2-inch standard fin keel. My choice would be for the wings. I think there will be little if any performance difference in the two keels. The rudder is an elliptical tip, balanced-spade type behind a skeglet. Note the bow knuckle just above the waterline.

Looking at the deck of the 350, I would guess that Beneteau uses its own in-house design group for the deck detailing. From a function point of view this deck is nearly perfect. The cockpit is big and the coaming ramps have a flat top, giving you comfortable seating heeled or at rest. The seat backs look to be about a foot high and that is adequate.

There is a nice big transom step with a boarding ladder. The photos show big fenders on the transom quarters to protect it during Med-style mooring and errant dinghy approaches. Jib sheeting and chainplates are well inboard, freeing up the side decks for unrestricted passage forward.

There is no doubt it's a bit strange-looking, but as you study the design, you can see how it works. Sometimes you have to consider a boat's looks from an on-board viewpoint rather than from the dinghy viewpoint.

The rig is a standard sloop with slightly swept back double spreaders. I would guess that the sweep angle is to help eliminate the need for running backs or fore and aft lowers. The angle looks minimal to me if that is the end. In fact, the photos show the boat with a babystay.

The mainsheet traveler is in the cockpit and this eliminates the option of a big dodger but also eliminates a mainsheet winch. It's a balanced compromise. The performance-minded sailor will probably prefer the shown traveler position.

I appreciate this design for its novel approach to deck construction. It is clear that the builder and designer tried to do something different.

Boat Specifications
Draft4.5' or 5'2"
Displacement10582 lbs.
Ballast3968 lbs.
Sail Area488 sq. ft.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.