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Legendary racing yacht makes big comeback with four new firsts!

by Beneteau 9 Oct 2018 07:32 PDT
Legendary racing yacht makes big comeback © Billy Black

After officially announcing the buyout of Seascape, the talented young Slovenian boatyard, in early July, Beneteau went on to renew its legendary First line, launching four 14- to 27-foot high-performance sailing yachts.

Built to plans by architect Sam Manuard, the First 14, 18, 24 and 27 are original Seascape designs and mark the boatyard's return to the competitive sailing segment. The passionate "dream team" – a wonderful combination of the two boatyards' cultures – in charge of developing the new First line will be taking the new sailing yachts on a world tour of the autumn boat shows.

The recent buyout of Seascape has not only enabled Beneteau to renew its offer on a market segment that has shaped history, but it has also inspired a new development culture for the seventh generation of the First line. The Slovenian boatyard's financial and business model is perceived as a real start-up in the traditional boating industry and the world leader has decided to embrace this agility to give the First line a new lease of life. This approach is in perfect coherence with the 'Transform to Perform' strategy that has been in place since Hervé Gastinel took over the management of Group Beneteau.

Beneteau embraces start-up-style competitive sailing

Luc Joëssel, who is also the Figaro Beneteau 3 leader, alongside Gianguido Girotti and Luca Brancaleon (Beneteau's general managers), Kristian Hajnsek and Andraz Mihelin (Seascape's co-founders and managers), not to mention François Coutant (who has facilitated the development of the Slovenian brand and its products since 2009), make up a collaborative team in tune with the demands of a new generation of sailors who aspire to enjoying themselves, without the tiresome drawbacks of learning complicated techniques.

The men behind the success of Seascape are still very much involved in the First's crew and intend to apply their core values – innovation, responsiveness, sincerity and proximity – to create a new approach to competitive sailing at Beneteau. Aside from the performance and ingenuity of the boats, one of the keys to Seascape's success has been to favour proximity. By encouraging sailors to try out the boats and by transparently engineering word of mouth, the boatyard has succeeded in creating a friendly passionate community. Led by François Coutant, it should grow at the same pace as the new First line.

Surfing Galore

With a broad-beam planing hull, the four latest First models promise lots of speed and fun! Affordable and safe to sail, the aim of these small sailing yachts is to bring sensations worthy of a racing yacht within everyone's reach. Everything on board has been designed to really simplify manoeuvres for out-and-out recreational sailing.

Easily affordable, these "sea spiders" have revived the unadulterated competitive spirit of the first First sailing yachts, while recalling the Wizz, also built by Beneteau in the early 80s. This unique lightweight boat left its mark on a whole generation and, at the time, contributed considerably to the growth of competitive sailing in Europe. Although the sensations and pleasure you get from the First 14, 18, 24 and 27 are similar, there have been some very big strides forward in technology.

Behind the simple clean lines of these wonderful sailing yachts, is a high-tech spirit, also present on the new Figaro Beneteau 3. The four new First sailing yachts have a carbon mast, a very stable hull, and a wide cockpit. They also have the best sail area-to-weight ratio on the market. In other words, they are the lightest and fastest sailing yachts in their category!

All the fun of dinghy sailing

Designed like a skiff, the First 14 places the emphasis on the sheer pleasure of surfing, for athletic outings solo, two-handed, or with children or teenagers. With its feather weight (67 kg), this dinghy can be carried on the roof of a car or towed on a small trailer. The boat can be rigged to suit crew numbers and ability, so that everyone aged between 7 and 90 can enjoy the fun and thrills!

Boasting berths, a small galley and chemical toilets, the First 18, 24 and 27 combine the strengths of a sport boat with those of a dayboat. They are highly versatile, with plenty to please seasoned racers. Novices in search of surfing sensations to share with friends or family will also enjoy the pleasure of day trips or adventure raids. As they can be towed, they can be masted and ready to sail within one hour. Their lifting keel makes them easy to launch from a slipway and they can also be beached.

Affordable and accessible, the four new First sailing yachts are to be sold at a really competitive price.

Inaugurating an incredibly lively seventh generation, the First 14, 18, 24 and 27 integrate all the features of the Seascapes on which the new First line is based. In doing so they have given a new meaning to the line, with First standing for: Fun, Intuitive, Robust, Simple, Technological. Watch this space for future developments.

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