NauticNews.com has taken a preview cruise on board the “S” version of the First 45. On February 18th 2008 in Monaco and despite the light winds, this new yacht revealed its potential for speed and its easy manoeuvring for the crew. We were particularly impressed by the reactive steering. Whether sailing close to the wind or on the spinnaker, this well-balanced 45 footer accelerates gently at the slightest breeze. We were regularly sailing at over 6 knots with less than 10 knots of wind.
The First 45 is pleasant to steer and manoeuvre, and the simple deck plan makes it easy to move around on deck, especially in the cockpit, which is wide, functional and uncluttered, with teak rubrails. With no table to take up space, there is easy access to the genoa and mainsail winches, the latter of which is fitted with the German system (where the mainsheet runs to each of the coaming winches in the cockpit). In addition, the mainsail rail is situated aft of the 2 helm stations, leaving clear access to the large aft area. This whole array of tools for trimming the sails means that the First 45 can perform in all weather, even in very light winds. This light 45 footer shows her best performance at around 15 knots but still reacts to the slightest breath of wind. The powerful hull was designed by Philippe Briand. The bilges on the hull give a higher waterline when sailing without entailing any penalties regarding IRC certification. Good news for regatta enthusiasts, who can choose from the “Régate” and “Régate Carbone” versions.
Sleek and fast
The hull is designed to respect tonnage requirements, with an ideal deck plan for sports cruises. Bénéteau’s brief to Philippe Briand was to produce a fast yacht with a sleek design. The aft position of the chainplate means there is a clear view of the hull’s sleek lines. The teak side decks running back to the transom and the 2 helm stations also contribute to the overall elegance of the First 45. From either side, when sitting at the helm next to the compass, the helmsman has a clear view in all directions. The interior is also sleek, uncluttered and wholly designed for sailing. With an average headroom of 1.90 metres and leather-covered stainless steel handrails, it is easy to move around below deck even when the yacht is listing. Although she is not designed first and foremost for comfort, the First 45 is also very comfortable. The fore cabin is quite spacious and the saloon is bright and well laid-out, with a dining area to port side and a lounge to starboard.
Delivered this spring
Like her big sister the 50, voted sailing yacht of the year in Norway, the USA, Slovenia and Italy, the First 45 is a stunning success. With this model, Bénéteau seeks to attract racing/cruising enthusiasts and believes firmly in the success of the First 45, which will be delivered in mid-April. With over 70 orders already placed, the manufacturer can be more than confident.
More details: www.beneteau.fr
Photo: Mike Jones
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