NEW YACHTS - Beneteau First 30

New Yachts - Beneteau First 30

This anticipated new First 30 won’t be in Australia for some months yet, but Beneteau has provided a sneak preview of its brand-new design. Precise data isn’t yet available either, but what’s immediately obvious is that the latest First is unlike anything Beneteau has done before: new designer, new rig concept and a new method of pre-release fine tuning. 

The First 30 designer is Juan Kouyoumdjain — Juan K for short — who’s best known for designing BMW Oracle Racing’s America’s Cup monohulls and the two most recent winners of the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race. This heritage is immediately evident in the drawings of the Beneteau First 30.

The hull is a ‘dart’ in plan view, with wide, flat stern sections, twin rudders and a 1.9-metre-draft keel with torpedo-shaped bulb.

The deck-stepped mast is straight, steeply aft-raked and set well back on the hull, leaving space for large, non-overlapping headsails. The square-topped main is set on a long boom that overhangs the stern, leaving no room for a backstay. “Not runners!” I hear you cry. No, the First 30 doesn’t use running backstays, but relies on a variation of the B&R rig that was developed by Lars Bergstrom and Sven Ridder in the 1960s for use on shorthanded, around-the-world yachts. The B&R rig is distinguished by the absence of a fixed backstay or running backstays, allowing unlimited mainsail roach and easy gybing.

The shrouds and the forestay are disposed at 120-degree intervals, triangulating the mast support. Hunter universally adopted the B&R rig in 1993. Beneteau’s First 30 rig is similar, but the spreaders are swept back 25?, not 30?. Assisting the shroud disposition is mainsheet tension, via a multi-block tackle, mounted on the transom beam.

A backstay-less rig relies on a wide shroud base for its swept-back-spreader layout, so the First 30’s caps and lowers anchor to beam-width chainplates, not the narrow-set ones we’re used to seeing. Normally, this wide shroud layout would interfere with headsail dimensions, but that’s where the aft-positioned mast comes into play: the genoa tracks are set well inboard, but there’s ample ‘J’ length to allow large headsails whose leeches won’t foul the shrouds.

The First 30 promises to be a two-sail screamer, which should please many club racers.

Below decks the First 30 is well laid out for cruising, but promises easy sail stowage for racing. The aft-set mast means the compression post is at the aft end of the dining table, rather than forward of it.

Pre-production boats are currently undergoing tune-up work in The Med’, under the skilled hands and eyes of Michel Desjoyeaux, three times winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, twice winner of the Vendée Globe and winner of the English singlehanded transatlantic race and the Route du Rhum.


TYPE: Keelboat
LENGTH: 9.81m (overall); 8.49m (hull)
BEAM: 3.2m
WEIGHT: 3750kg (dry)
BALLAST: 1090kg
MAINSAIL: 32.9m²
GENOA: 28.8m²
SPINNAKER: 85m² (symmetrical)