Best Boat: Beneteau Oceanis 38
The Beneteau Oceanis 38 won SAIL’s Best Boat 2014 for the Monohull (31-40ft) category.
The latest in the company’s trend-setting and highly successful Oceanis line, the Oceanis 38 takes performance-cruiser customization to a whole new level by being available in three distinctly different configurations that can then be swapped out again years later if you so desire.
At one end of the customization spectrum is the “Daysailer,” a wide-open version of the boat that includes a single forward cabin and head, but eschews the usual cruising galley in the interest of social space below. Next up is the weekender, which is available with either two or three cabins and includes a trademark Beneteau mainsheet arch overhead. (The arch is an option aboard the Daysailer.) Finally, there is the “Cruiser,” which features the full complement of cruising amenities for a comfortable life afloat.
All three versions come with a removable forward bulkhead between the forecabin and saloon, which when removed creates a unified space belowdecks that has to be seen to be believed. In place of the usual hard storage compartments, Beneteau has partnered with the luggage company, Longchamp, to create a “hanging luggage” set which serves the same function without all those hard corners. Again, various components can be added or subtracted at any point in the life of the boat. (Although the Daysailer is a little more limited in terms of its flexibility.)
Abovedecks, the Oceanis 38 features strong angular lines and aggressively blunt ends, while twin wheels ensure clean sightlines, and twin rudders ensure the boat will remain under control, even when it’s on its ear. Kudos to Beneteau for never resting on its laurels and for always being ready to take a chance.