Beneteau First 35 Page 2
I spent an enjoyable afternoon on board the First 35 in the company of a half-dozen other sailing writers, all jostling to get their hands on the big wheel. The wind speed seldom exceeded 10 knots or so but this was more than enough to get this easily driven hull scooting along at 7-plus knots. With optional inhaulers on the jib sheets, towable genoa cars, and the outhaul, cunningham, vang and backstay adjuster all falling easily to hand, this is a real tweaker’s boat. But non-racers shouldn’t be put off by all the string; you don’t need to be Russell Coutts to get this boat going fast.
I found the helm neutral and fingertip-light once the boat slipped into its windward groove. Its predecessor, the 34.7, tended to demand constant attention from driver and trimmers, but from the moment you take the wheel you can tell the 35 is a forgiving boat. I had its measure within minutes; it tracked beautifully and displayed all the steadiness of a bigger boat without the heft. Tacking, it kept speed up all the way through the wind and powered up as soon as the jib was sheeted in, pointing readily to within 30 degrees of the apparent wind. Sightlines from behind the big wheel were excellent and the mainsheet was within easy reach, though if you were alone on deck you’d have to leave the wheel to tend the jib sheets.
A couple of miles under spinnaker revealed no bad manners; the boat carried the kite from dead downwind up to around 75 degrees off the wind under perfect control.
The ratios indicate a fast but not extreme boat, with a high power-to-weight ratio and an efficient hull form. The high-aspect ratio rudder and deep T-keel, with its skinny foil, are not at their best at low speeds, but this seems such a slippery boat that going slow should not be much of a problem.
Like Jeanneau, Beneteau has finally succumbed to the allure of the saildrive concept. The 29hp Yanmar diesel swings a two-bladed Flexofold folding propeller; it would be sacrilege to put a fixed-blade prop on a boat such as this. The installation is quiet and, with the exception of the oil filter, all maintenance points are easy to access. The boat spun in its own length under power and backed up under perfect control.
It is never easy for a builder to come up with a successor to a boat that has established a large and loyal following. The First 36.7 was such a boat, and the First 35 improves on it in many respects. It deserves to build a similar reputation.
LOA: 35ft 7in LWL: 35ft BEAM: 12ft DRAFT: 7ft 3in (std) 5ft 11in (shoal) SAIL AREA: 670 sq ft DISPLACEMENT: 12,125lb BALLAST 3,682lb (std) FUEL/WATER/WASTE (GAL): 20/53/20 ENGINE: 29 hp Yanmar DESIGNER: Farr Yacht Design BUILDER: Beneteau USA PRICE: $225,000