on 8 Feb 2021
Yachtsmen won’t be disappointed at the helm of Beneteau’s First Yacht 53, which combines all the luxury of a superyacht with all the flair of a performance sailing yacht
Getting a terrestrial environment onto the marine environment of a motor yacht has always been a designer’s holy grail, but getting it onto a sailing yacht is a design puzzle of a different order of magnitude.
If sailing yachts are all variations on a theme – fore and aft cabins, chart tables, pokey seating areas, and equally pokey galleys – then there’s a good reason. The simple physics of a narrow living space that heels at a 45-degree angle allows for little else.
Beneteau’s First Yacht 53, however, has departed from many of these well-worn design traditions to get the interior luxury yacht into a performance sailing yacht.
At the heart of this understated but revolutionary interior design has been simple advances in marine technology. Thanks to the Ship Control system – Beneteau’s intuitive user-friendly interface that centralises all the boat’s electronic controls – all that the crew or the skipper needs to do is flip open a laptop or set up a tablet on the dining table.
While purists might mourn the sea burial of the chart table, for designers it opens up the interior of a performance yacht to give it a just-like-home feel.
For fast and comfortable sailing, this new high-end First Yacht 53 is likely to meet the expectations of even the most demanding sailors
With modern lines and coffee-table sofa setting on the starboard side, the performance yacht’s interiors feel more like a studio apartment than a performance yacht. The First Yacht 53 made her first preliminary tacks last autumn but has just reached Asia thanks to Simpson Marine, which reported its second sale of the sleek performance yacht into Taiwan in September.
Aimed at a new luxury boating demographic – performance yachtsmen or younger couples with a couple of friends –the First Yacht 53 is a high-end sailing yacht marrying luxury and performance.
Two design stars aligned for her creation: Roberto Biscontini of America’s Cup fame for the hull design and famed Wally Yachts veteran Lorenzo Argento for the interiors and exteriors.
This is a yacht for real sailors with high expectations at the helm. Featuring a full plumb bow and a maximum beam further aft, the twin rudders give the perfect feed-back to control this highly responsive hull. The 2.5m or 3m draught (with lead bulb), as well as an optional carbon mast, gives the First Yacht 53 a competitive advantage and it clocks up miles quickly.
Bisconti focused on balancing weight and balance under sail when he designed the boat and put a huge amount of work into precisely positioning the boat’s centre of gravity, centre of effort and centre of buoyancy.
To do this, he brought in one of the world’s leading experts in computational fluid dynamics (CFD), Rodrigo Azcueta of Cape Horn Engineering, who tested 25 different hull shapes in a wide range of wind and sea conditions.
This guarantees a lively yacht under sail that responds quickly to the helm. As you’d expect with Beneteau at this level, the best outfitters have provided their top-performing products: North Sails for the sails, Harken for the deck gear, Lorima for the mast, and Lemer for the keel.
The build offers maximum rigidity with a hull build that uses an infusion process for optimal control of the boat’s weight. The hull’s inner liner is infused, then bonded and laminated, in areas that are subject to high stress such as the chainplates and the keel. Once at anchor, two people can easily take out the 2.4m tender stored longitudinally in the below-deck tender garage.
Deck circulation, from the helm station to the foredeck, has been improved considerably on the First Yacht 53 thanks to designs by Argento, one of the founders of the ‘modern yachting’ movement which emphasises new materials and approaches to traditional designs.
For Argento, graceful efficiency and ergonomics are everything.
“There is no need to step over anything or to obstruct a crew member. Everything flows, with the cockpit divided into two distinct sections: the helm and a relaxation area. There is just one watchword for this First Yacht 53 –‘intuitive’,” says Argento, who has been sailing since he was 12.
“On a beautiful yacht such as this, few owners dine inside. Many of them prefer to lunch outside in the cockpit instead of sitting around a large saloon table indoors,” he says. “We have changed the layout to meet their expectations, giving it a smaller table and relaxation area with a large sofa and a coffee table. I really love this sofa as I’ve spent a lot of time working on it!“
With modern lines and coffee-table sofa setting on the starboard side, the yacht’s interiors feel more like a studio apartment than a performance yacht
For fast and comfortable sailing, this new high-end First Yacht 53 is likely to meet the expectations of even the most demanding sailors.
Technical Specifications: Beneteau’s First Yacht 53
Hull length: 15.98m
Standard draft (T-keel): 2.5m
Standard ballast weight (cast iron): 4,500kg
Light displacement: 15,500kg
Fuel capacity (standard): 400l
Fresh water capacity (standard) 720l
Lower deck: 3 cabins / 3 heads
Naval architect: Bisconti Yacht Design
Deck & interior design: Lorenzo Argento