High-volume boatbuilders strive to provide more boat, more conveniences, and more standard features for less money, and the Beneteau 423 made our list because it does just that. It's a spacious 42-footer that sails well, has comfortable accommodations and sufficient systems, and is equipped with a long list of standard features (many of which are options on other boats) at a price that makes it an excellent value.
Because of the low base price, we were on high alert for evidence of corner-cutting, but many features received favorable ratings. We liked the lighting, the ventilation, and the anti-skid on the companionway stairs. Cabins are spacious, though the forward berth could be a bit bigger. The galley is notable for its large size, copious stowage and counter space, generous fiddles, high-volume refrigerator and freezer, and good bracing points. The nav station is comfortable; while the table is too small for a full-size chart book, there is sufficient space to mount electronics. The electrical system is up to snuff, and engine access is good.
The 423's considerable beam is carried well aft and allows for a wide cockpit; seats are teak trimmed, the coamings are tall enough and angled outboard for comfort, and the walk-through transom makes it easy to board the boat from a dinghy. The deck layout is efficient. Under sail the boat settled into a comfortable groove, was light and responsive to steer, and cut a smooth wake in the light winds of our test. With its smooth helm, surprisingly nimble hull, and attractive features, the 423 successfully offers more for less.
Price (as tested): $164,300 (sailaway, FOB Charleston, SC) includes in-mast furling or full-batten mainsail and 140% genoa, aluminum deck-stepped double-spreader rig (in-mast furling or conventional), Lewmar winches, Force 10 3-burner propane stove with oven, varnished mahogany interior.
Builder: Beneteau USA, Charleston, SC; tel 843-805-5000, www.beneteauusa.com
Construction: Hull is hand-laid solid fiberglass with a vinylester barrier coat. The hull and structural hull liner are bonded using polyester adhesive. The deck is balsa cored.
Draft (standard/ optional) 5'7"/4'9"
Ballast (standard) 5,836 lbs
Displacement 19,797 lbs
Sail area (100% foretriangle) 720 sq ft
Power 55-hp Volvo
Fuel/water/waste 53/154/44 gal
Displ.-length ratio 155
Sail area-displ. ratio 15.7