Boats

Beneteau 31 Page 2

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I wish all my test-sailing days were like the one we had on Buzzards Bay. Under full main (cross-cut Dacron, with conventional battens) and 105 percent roller-furling jib, we soon had the boat power-reaching at over 6 knots in 12 knots of breeze. Speeds stayed in the 5s when we hardened up on the breeze. The boat tacked effortlessly through 85 to 90 degrees and tracked like the proverbial freight train. The boat was beautifully balanced and returned just the right amount of weather helm. It responded sweetly to puffs and the mainsail-dominated sailplan was well suited to the conditions.

Maneuvering under power in the marina was a no-surprises affair. We goosed the throttle to get the boat backing straight, had the water flowing over the rudder in no time, and had no trouble bucking a bit of crosswind to get into the slip. The engine at (2,700 RPM) pushed the boat through the water at over 5 knots and could easily hit 6 knots at full throttle. Excellent sound insulation lining the engine box helped create a quiet ride both on deck and below.

Conclusion: The new Beneteau 31 offers a collection of good ideas and incremental improvements that have a real impact. It’s well worth a look for anyone in the market for a new coastal cruiser.

The new Beneteau 31 offers a collection of good ideas and incremental improvements that have a real impact. It’s well worth a look for anyone in the market for a new coastal cruiser.

Pros:

•Clever companionway door designs

•Large cockpit locker

•Easy swim-platform access

•Sailing performance

Cons:

•Limited saloon ventilation

•Cabin space taken up by saloon

Specifications:

Price: $109,000 (sailaway, FOB Marion, SC) includes sails, basic instruments, ground tackle

Builder: Beneteau USA, 843-629-5300, www.beneteauusa.com

Designer: Finot/Conq Assn. (boat), Nauta Design (interior)

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