The new Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 shares a lot of DNA with the company’s First Yacht 53, introduced last year and reviewed by SAIL in its May 2020 issue. The Oceanis Yacht 54, however, is both more luxurious and carries a slightly different rig for sailors who lean more toward cruising and entertaining than racing.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The hull and deck of the Oceanis Yacht 54 are both infused with a balsa core and an inner liner vacuum-infused to the hull in conventional Beneteau fashion. Less typically for Beneteau, a pair of aluminum beams runs the length of the boat beneath the cabin sole, adding support and rigidity.
The keel and its bulb are cast iron. The boat carries twin rudders on a pair of stainless steel stocks, and the cockpit is equipped with dual helm stations. Standard power is an 80hp saildrive, but our test boat came with the optional 110hp shaft drive and dripless coupling instead. Another option is Beneteau’s “Dock and Go” 360 saildrive and bow thruster system, to facilitate moving in and out of the tightest slips and marinas.
As always with Beneteau, the plumbing and distributed electrical system are neatly installed, and the boat meets all necessary CE and ISO 12215 standards. A Beneteau “Ship Control System” allows owners to monitor a wide range of onboard functions via a cell phone app, including lights, air conditioning, generator, and battery and water levels. Two different keels, standard and shoal, the latter drawing 6ft 7in, are available.
The deck is a long, wide, open space with plenty of lounging room for sunbathers. A low bulwark enclosing the side decks helps compensate for a shortage of grab points on the cabintop. Beneteau has brought back the cockpit arch (not part of the package aboard the First Yacht 53 with its greater emphasis on success on the racecourse) as a convenient mounting spot for the mainsheet, bimini and windshield. The mainsheet attaches at a single point without a traveler, but a double-ended German rig is available for more performance-minded skippers. There’s also the option of a boom-furling mainsail for those who want a more efficient sailplan than is possible with in-mast furling.
The transom opens electrically to expose a boarding platform and dinghy garage large enough for an 8ft inflatable, an elegant, straightforward solution for storing and launching the tender.
The interior is finished like a modern urban apartment, with flush-mounted cabinet doors, neutral colors and an expansive feel. It’s attractive in the European style and will be a fine place for entertaining guests. The joinery is of Alpi laminate wood with a choice of either a mahogany finish, like on our test boat, or a lighter oak color.
We sailed the three-cabin, two-head version. However, a three-head version is also available, as is a charter model with a small cabin in the forepeak for a hired captain. Tall fiddles on all countertops and strong grab rails alongside the companionway and overhead serve as good handholds. The headroom in the saloon is well over 6ft.
The C-shaped galley amidships has an apartment-size fridge plus a freezer. A dishwasher is available as an option. The forward-facing nav table just aft of the owner’s cabin in the bow employs the end of the port-side settee as a seat. It’s an unusual layout that seems better suited to relaxation than work, but makes sense in this era of electronic navigation. As is typically the case with Beneteau, the Oceanis Yacht 54 is available with a long list of options that includes everything from a genset and air conditioning to stereo systems and upholstery choices.
With a perfect 12-18 knot breeze in Annapolis, close-reaching under standard sails produced a satisfying 9 knots of boatspeed in fairly smooth water. Unrolling a Code 0 affixed to the boat’s fixed bowsprit added a knot. While it may not technically be a racer, the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 does move right along. A comparably sized cruising catamaran couldn’t have done any better.
Tacking through slightly less than 90 degrees was uneventful and effortless with the help of our test boat’s big electric winches. There was a slight amount of weather helm, just enough to provide the necessary feedback when sailing hard on the wind, and the big boat responded instantly to the wheel. Beneteau has incorporated a nice set of foot braces in the cockpit and at both helm stations, a welcome touch when the boat is on its ear. There’s nothing like twin rudders for maintaining a firm grip on the water in heavier conditions.
The nearly flush deck made for excellent sight lines in all directions, and the overall motion was an easy, comforting one in a seaway. This is the kind of boat that will be well suited for everything from long-distance cruising to daysailing with children. Sail controls were also exemplary throughout. The in-mast furling main and roller-furling jibs worked perfectly, making shorthanded sailing a simple matter.
Motoring on the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 is a non-event, as it should be on any modern sailing vessel. Full throttle drives the boat at nearly 10 knots, while a comfortable cruise setting of 2,400 rpm produced a quiet 9 knots. Stopping and backing are normal. The turning circle is tight, about one boatlength, and helm control is positive and simple. That said, a bow thruster is inevitably a good idea aboard any boat this size given the crowded nature of today’s harbor facilities.
The Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 is a superbly capable cruiser that will check a lot of boxes for a lot of sailors. Think summers in New England, spring and fall on the Chesapeake and an offshore passage to the Caribbean for a winter in the islands—that or trips from Southern California to Mexico and back. Whatever the locale, the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 will serve as an outstanding modern sailing home where owners can entertain friends, family or clients in style.
LOA 56ft 2in (with sprit) LWL 50ft 6in
BEAM 16ft 5in
DRAFT 6ft 7in (shoal); 8ft 2in (std)
SAIL AREA 1461ft2 (100% FT)
FUEL/WATER (GAL) 106/190
Ballast Ratio 31
D/L Ratio 127 SA/D Ratio 21
What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios
DESIGNER Roberto Biscontini/Lorzenzo Argento
BUILDER Group Beneteau, St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, France
U.S. DISTRIBUTOR Beneteau America, Annapolis, MD, beneteauamerica.com
PRICE $698,200 base at time of publication