Beneteau First 50

Beneteau enlisted French megayacht designer Philipe Briand and Italian stylists Nauta Design to create a 50-foot sport cruiser that's as fashionable as it is fast

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For its latest, and biggest First series design to date, Beneteau asked French designer Philippe Briand to use some of his larger designs such as Mari-Cha III and IV, and sleek megayachts such as Hamilton and Gliss, as inspiration. But Beneteau didn't stop there; they also partnered with Italy's Nauta Design, which specializes in maxi-yacht interior and exterior styling and design. With two such parties involved, it's no surprise that the First 50 is one of the sharpest looking 50-foot production boats on the planet.At first glance, it's the vast expanse of uncluttered deck that draws the eye. Thanks to flush deck hatches and twin banks of control lines leading aft to the cockpit, the only protrusions on the low-slung deckhouse are the two Harken winches on either side of the companionway. Twin 35-inch wheels allow the helmsman to easily reach the two primary winches just forward of each wheel, as well as the centerline-mounted mainsheet winch. Some of the most interesting features on the First 50 are the things you don't see. A vast cockpit table, which is perfect for entertaining, but miserable for yacht racing, disappears neatly into a locker in the cockpit sole. And while most production designs bow to practicality and bolt ungainly anchor bowsprits onto otherwise graceful bows, the First 50's anchor sprit and roller live below, emerging only when needed. The Harken roller-furler drum also lives belowdecks, which brings the foot of the genoa right down to the deck.Below, the First 50 looks like a bachelor's apartment designed by, well, an Italian design firm. Thanks to the use of light-colored reconstituted wood, stainless steel, five overhead hatches, and 12 opening portlights, all by Lewmar, the space is bright and airy. The settees in the salon are straight, and will make good sea berths. The master cabin is forward, and has a pedestal bed and private head. From the roomy nav station to the T-shaped galley, the interior has been very well thought out, and will be comfortable for as many as three couples to share for a weekend or longer.Labeled by Beneteau as a sport cruiser, the First 50 fits the bill, performance-wise, with a T-bulb keel, and a light, but strong sandwich [fiberglass/balsa/polyester resin] deck. An inner molding contains structural deck beams, which guarantees light weight while maintaining strength. The tall, three-spreader, tapered aluminum rig helps put the boat's IRC rating at a competitive 1.162. Like its smaller brethren, the biggest First series design to date will be a boat to be reckoned with on the racecourse. Beneteau First 50 SpecsLOA: 49'2"LWL: 48'Beam: 14'6"DSPL: 30,379 lbs.S/A (upwind/downwind): 1,493/2,460 sq. ft.Draft (optional deep keel): 9'2"Design: Philippe BriandBuilder: Beneteau FranceMast/Rigging: SparcraftHardware: Harken, Wichard, LewmarRigging hydraulics: NavtecIRC: 1.162