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So just supposing...

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 25 Apr 23:00 BST
Beneteau First 36 © Beneteau

When this video of the new Beneteau First 36 surfaced this week, reportedly punching out to 17 knots, it was certainly enough to pique the curiosity. I mean, this side of say a Pogo 36, where only ringframes and pipe cots exist below, it was quite impressive.

Watch it now: Beneteau First 36 video

Like many, I'm still not sure how the tiller version is going to work, but remain well keen to find out. Twin backstay and big main (longer boom) here we come? That on-deck traveller could be the issue for the alternative steering method, but primaries and mainsheet winches in spots where you can work on them, especially whilst seated, well that's game on.

She's wide and flat, always good for speed, and when you consider not that long ago that this sort of speed for this kind of boat was only achieved if the slings broke from the ship that was delivering her to another country (definitely not SOG either), it is even more impressive.

Australia's first First 36 will be here in time for the Sydney Boat Show at the beginning of August, which when you look at it, is quite likely to be the first time I will get some exposure to it, as much as I would have loved to have been there with Tit Plevnik in the video at Port Ginesta in Barcelona.

As good as all of that was, it got me to thinking about where to next for Beneteau. Time has moved on from the First 36.7, 40.7, and 44.7, let alone the super popular First 40 and 45. The world wants to go faster, the design paradigm has shifted a good furlong, especially from the.7's, and boats have to do more things, and do all of them better than ever before. Easy brief hey?

To my mind, Beneteau will land in the forty-something space with the next cab off the rank. It stands to reason. They almost owned the racer/cruiser space for a long, long time, but as we have just said, it is a different world now.

So let's take a look at the wish list for the next, new-gen Beneteau First:

Water ballast from Figaro 2 experience, why not? Long prodder for potential to triple head, and a really big black stick - ah, yes please! Real fridge for drinks? Definitely got to that point in my life. Proper power to weight ratio - what do you reckon? In deck traveller - ah huh. Slave rings to take the kite sheet to windward - really? You had to ask that? 100% of beam carried through to the quarter - like where else were the crew going to congregate? T-bulb to take her uphill - yes please.

Now apart from being resin-infused, which could well save a metric tonne over her younger forebears (even up to 1.5 perhaps), the plumb bow and stern will be just as much about LOA as they are about the all important LWL, with knuckle to transom the big one to look out for on a heel. So yes, it could well be a trainspotter's paradise when comparing them at the quay.

Yet, and it is a big yet, I reckon the telling tale could well be off the breeze. You don't put a deep keel on to not make her stiff, and with the black rig that will no doubt be on the options list, you would want to maximise that if you are the kind that's more of the R, and less of the C.

Equally, bulbs are great uphill, but downhill a scapel will always go through the water better than a cricket bat, especially the new style of one the best players use to whack the ball out of the stadium.

A planing hull form, stiffness to take it, and not too much mass to have to drag along. So what does all that mean? A-Bag. And what an A-Bag it should be. I reckon circa 200m2 for the A2. Giddy Up all right!

And to finish it all off, put the same design team on it as the First Yacht 53, Biscontini et al, draw many a characteristic from that vessel, so she looks a hell of a lot like her big sister, resplendent with the same style and elegance. Bet they won't have too much trouble selling those...

Well. Well. This Editorial was written and processed for posting before Beneteau made their announcement for the new First 44. It is interesting to compare the supposition with the specification…

Talking with Graham Raspass from Flagstaff Marine early this morning, he said, “Having a First 44 is the perfect sweet spot. We can now offer the high performance Racer/Cruiser a choice of two outstanding models. Yes, we are able to take Expresions of Interest for this exciting new boat.”

All things Star Wars

Pondering the younglings may sound like I consider myself a Jedi Master. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. It was just that the sort of juxtaposition between the athletes featured in Grass Roots and a bit of a hero could not be overlooked.

17-year-old James Jackson, and 19-year-olds Lily and Tilda (Matilda) Richardson have put the five-ring stake in the ground, with Laser/ILCA and 49erFX the weapons of choice, respectively. I would not even mind betting their fourth crewmate, 17-year-old Jack Eickmeyer, still has some sort of skin the game, too.

Then there is the other. Tom Burton has ignited the hunt for another Olympic Dream, and this time he's jumped on board the 49er, with Simon Hoffman presently. The dedicated sailor has strapped a pair of JATO rockets on to the wings of the 49er, and it is one hell of journey, with a Covid shortened runway to boot, but if anyone can... Plus, and it is a big plus, he's got previous form - and how!

"Tom is man of few words and more about actions, very professional, really high standards, and this translates into high efficiency with training and usage of times. Exceptional skills just adds to it all." So said Iain Murray AM.

Personally I do hope he makes it all the way to the podium in Marseilles. No pressure...

Now Tom is also part of Team Bling Bling, which is what SSL Team Australia could probably be called.

The Star Sailors League Gold Cup is just like the World Cup for Soccer (yes round-ball football) where each nation has to win in order to advance. The SSL Gold Cup has already begun, and gets serious in the back half of the year with the final set be the clash of all clashes.

The Captain is John Bertrand AO, the Skipper Tom Slingsby OAM, then Mat Belcher OAM, Matt Wearn OAM, Tom Burton OAM, Will Ryan OAM, Kyle Langford, Ryan Godfrey, Sam Newton, and Stuart Pollard. Olympic Gold, World Championships, America's Cup wins (yes, that's plural), current holder of the SailGP title (as well as #1 too), and so many inshore and offshore accolades abound, as to wonder where to begin. Not surprisingly, SSL Team Australia is ranked Number One.

I am sure other countries won't yield too easily, so titanic battles in displacement boats would seem to be the definitive statement here. Only room for one at the top, and all...

Team Captain John Bertrand AO said, "The inaugural SSL Gold Cup is big picture stuff, to be held every four years, but not so as to clash with the Olympics."

"At last count, 53 nations competing using SSL 47s (derived from RC44s) with either eight or nine person teams. Nation vs nation. It's an elimination match racing series starting in August, culminating in the quarter, semis, and finals in November 2022."

"As with all teams, SSL Team Australia is made up from our own top ranked sailors, based on the SSL global ranking tables."

"It's the who's who of sailors. Team Captains include Torben Grael (Brazil), Paul Cayard (USA), Loïck Peyron (France), Roy Heiner (Netherlands), Mateusz Kusznierewicz (Poland), and Rod Davis (New Zealand)."

"This extremely innovative, nation versus nation, world championships is shaping up to set a new high bar for sailors worldwide."

"SSL Team Australia have a seven-day training program in Grandson, Switzerland in mid-August, in collaboration with the Brazilian and the Swiss teams."

The brave new world has begun. And how, it would seem. To anyone doing anything from a midweek OTB jaunt to a transoceanic passage we simply say, YeeHaa. Do your prep, keep a weather eye at all times and push off...

So let's go for a yacht. Indeed!!! Meanwhile, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into Sail-World.com

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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