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What's the point of another 40-footer?

by John Curnow, Global Editor, 9 Sep 2021 03:47 PDT
Marc Lombard penned design brings forth from IMOCA and Class 40, as well as some design cues from 12m and 5.5 of yesteryear - Beneteau Oceanis 40.1 © John Curnow

Quite so. I mean there are plenty of them, after all. So then, actually in that specific notion is very much part of the overall point. This is one of the most popular categories of yacht (sailboat), and for very good reason. There are more 12m berths (slips) than when you go further up range; 40-footers are very easy to handle shorthanded (especially now with deck gear, wardrobe, thrusters as so forth); offer more than enough space for most; and enough pace to put the ‘make’ well and truly into passage making.

OK. That is certainly part of it, but in the case of the Beneteau Oceanis 40.1 specifically, the point is exactly where you need to start. And that would be the pointy end… The knuckle is out of the water, and there is a finer entry than many craft of this style, even though it has the de rigueur fuller volume.

Right off the bat, let’s be totally clear. You are not talking about being able to accelerate from 12 to 20 knots downhill with the kite up in a puff, screaming Yeehaa all the way, for there’s entirely too much rocker, and wetted surface area for that. To say nothing of the shaft and three-bladed prop down below.

However, what you are talking about is a kinder motion through the sea as the entry carves through, and yet still have the volume for’ard so that the big bum does not steer it around. Now on the inside, said volume is code for space, and seeing as we’re now talking of that most precious of on board commodities, it is the same bed up there as fitted to the magnificent First Yacht 53. Take that on.

So yes, what’s the point? Well hopefully you are starting to get a sense that this is precisely the point!

Seeing as we’re talking of points, and quite specifically the making of them, when I got off to take the photographs, Flagstaff Marine’s Micah Lane was actually sailing on his own. It was under five knots, and more often than not, it was just over two. Now the Beneteau Oceanis 40.1 was still sailing, and so this too is very much the point of it all.

Not that long ago, those kind of numbers would mean it was time to ease the sheets on the iron topsail. Now you’re actually still sailing if it is crumping, or enjoying the very thing you’re out there for whilst it builds, and the whole reason you bought a boat with rags, and not a gaggle of iron ladies. So yes, the whole point of a new 40-footer is exactly that. It’s new, and it has the latest advancements.

Grunt. Power. Speed (and other wonderful things).

The confession I have to make then, is that our boat was fitted with the First Line performance pack. That means the rig is 0.45m taller, and also the 2.27m cast iron L-bulb keel of some two metric tonnes that is part of her eight tonnes overall. For a forty foot production boat, that’s pretty handy, and means she’ll be reasonably stiff, especially in conjunction with her 4.18m beam that gets carried pretty much all the way through to her transom.

Yet it is the added horsepower over her two smaller specced sisters that is the real tale. Yes, you will get going earlier, but you’ll also be going for a slab earlier too. However, that’s a good thing if you’re sailing shorthanded. If you’re a sailor, you’ll take the ability to sail early anytime over the need to put a reef in. Seems that is always easier to shake one out, than put one in. Just saying…

How much grunt? Well the standard in-mast furling mainsail is just 34.7m2, and you have a reasonably roached main delivering 43.2m2, or some 24.5% more. The decksweeper furling Genoa is 36.5m2 over the 26.9m2 of the standard self-tacking jib, and that is some 35.7%. So that’s the high-octane juice, now it’s all up to you.

Your Code Zero is about 61.1m2, and within reason your sailmaker will cut the A2 to just about whatever you want. Other really cool things in the let’s get going department include the German mainsail sheeting system, which runs all the way aft normally, but on our boat it was on the cabin top ahead of the electric winch. Opting for the supped up model also delivers Dyform rigging, nice adjustable cars on the coachhouse roof (so inboard already and that means pointing ability), and extra deck gear, Dyneema halyards, an adjustable backstay, and an elongated GRP prodder.

Back at the top we talked about ‘new’ and ‘latest developments’. You’ll note that when static, both the prow and transom are clear of the water. Having the voluminous bow, and beamy tail provide for power, which is speed, but also manoeuvrability. Namely, overhang does give the helm a highly improved touch, as the boat the nose does not dig into waves, such as with older generation crafts.

Now if you make the vessel relatively light overall (for its type), and in turn you have more power when sailing, you actually have less drag/wetted surface area than earlier craft of similar volume, which by definition would have been longer to deliver that. Win. Win. If racing under IRC, the fore overhang also assists with rating (reduced LWL), yet as the boat heels and powers up, you go to full length stem to stern (specifically where the chine meets the transom, which is the longest point on the craft without putting the fence in the drink). Win. Win. Again…

Moving Inside

So having that massive bed up in the Master is one thing, but it is in the Main Saloon that you really notice it. You really do feel like you’re in something more akin to say 45-48 feet. I like the for’ard C-shaped galley, as you don’t get thrown around as much, and yet there is plenty of working space for meal preparation. Storage and refrigeration abound, which is just what you expect in a ‘new’ design, and there’s that word again.

Nauta Design have done an immense job here, as there is 1.89 to 2m of headroom throughout, just over 2m long beds, and the natural light everywhere just adds to it all. There is your choice of two, three, and four cabin layouts with one or two heads, but I can easily see the 3/2 combo being the most popular.

All in all, the Oceanis 40.1 is relaxed, spacious, comfortable, and I have to say, quite inviting. The cockpit will seat everyone for the al fresco dining under the stars, and I like the ‘luxe’ table but it is the dining table below that is the space winner, and there are loads of openings to ensure airflow.

This is where it’s all at.

Flagstaff Marine and its customers have well and truly gone for the Oceanis 40.1. The one we tested was Hull#4, and the one that is being readied right now is Hull#80 odd. There are two being delivered in Europe in 2022, and another shipped here to Australia in time for Christmas. The point to take from all of that is exactly the same as at the start. i.e. This is a busy segment, so if you want a boat, order it now.

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