Boat Review: Beneteau Sense 57

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Cruisers who spend prolonged periods away from the dock, either under sail and at anchor, will appreciate the practical as well as the aesthetic changes that have been made to the newly revamped Beneteau Sense 57. The original Sense line was introduced in 2010 to great acclaim. Thanks to a number of upgrades, it looks to have an equally strong future.

Design & Construction

Berret-Racoupeau’s original design is still very much in evidence with respect to the Sense 57’s exterior. In fact, the hull, underbody and rig remain mostly the same. The wide cockpit, which launched the term “monomaran” seven years ago, due to its width and resemblance to the cockpit on a catamaran, is also similar, although some updates make it more usable.

The old helm seats that lifted up and out at the stern, for example, have been replaced with two fixed seats and an electrically activated hydraulic transom. Safety surfaced as an owner concern, and this new transom provides a backstop for things like pets and small kids.

When lowered, the transom forms a teak beach that extends the cockpit and provides nice access to the water or a dock. It’s also the place to stand while cooking at the outdoor galley module nestled inside the seats. To starboard is an electric Eno grill; to port is a sink and prep-station area. One of the nice things about this arrangement is that the chef can mingle with the party during meal preparation. The heat and smells of cooking also stay out of the interior.

On Deck

In another nice touch, an optional composite hardtop extends from the trademark Beneteau arch aft to the twin helm stations. The sides of this top are rigid, but the middle section is canvas, and opens and closes like an accordion sunroof. The aft corners have also been angled inward, leaving the port and starboard ends relatively open with room for the crew to toss lines ashore, while the stainless steel inboard supports make excellent handholds. This top will run you $13,000 extra, but it’s well worth it given the protection from the elements and all the steadying grab rails it provides. It looks pretty good too.

The rig is by Seldén with double spreaders, a split backstay and a rigid boom vang. The standard upwind sail area with mainsail and genoa is roughly 1,600ft. The headsail is on a Facnor furler, attached alongside a shapely integrated sprit. This appendage blends nicely with the hull, holds twin anchors and also serves as an attachment point for a Code 0.

Three easy steps lead from the cockpit down to the saloon

Three easy steps lead from the cockpit down to the saloon

Accommodations

Revolutionary in its design when introduced, the Sense interior is based on the idea that the living quarters should be separated from the noise and vibration of machinery, most of which resides aft under the cockpit sole. The three cabins in the standard layout are therefore clustered forward and are less separate (and therefore less private) than aboard a yacht with a more traditional layout. The master cabin is in the bow with an ensuite head and plentiful stowage options.

Beneteau’s new Italian head of product planning and development, Gianguido Girotti, has recently added some extra stylish luxury to all the company’s yachts, especially to those above 50ft, and the 57 is no exception. On the Sense 57, the open concept saloon and galley layout remain the same as before. But the finishes have been changed up throughout, and now include the option of a richer walnut color of Alpi wood paired with a deeper tone of trim paint.

The cabinetry is also more elegantly finished at the edges, and the locker faces are either lacquered or wood grain. Plentiful ports, hatches and fixed windows admit a tremendous amount of light. In many ways it’s more like that of a power cruiser than a traditional sailboat, with no feeling of being buried inside. The saloon blends into the galley and is separated by a panel that holds a pop-up flatscreen TV, evoking feelings of how we live and entertain at home.

Under Sail

Despite its size, the Sense 57 is incredibly well-mannered and easily sailed by a cruising couple. The wide helm consoles are styled like those aboard a superyacht and are nicely laid out with 12in B&G displays and wind instruments at both wheels. (Electronics are priced in packs or combinations, so it’s easy to spec exactly what you need.)

The Harken primary winches are a bit of a reach if you’re standing behind the wheel. But with a boat of this size, it makes sense to upgrade to the electric option, which in turn, places the control buttons aft of the winch and closer to the driver. A choice of two drafts (6ft 10in or 7ft 10in) is available. Although neither is particularly skinny-water friendly, both keep the boat on her feet in a blow. Twin rudders ensure a firm grip in a seaway or at more dramatic heel angles.

Our test was out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay, where the water was flat and the breeze was 12-14 knots true—an ideal day for the Sense 57’s slippery hull—and we easily made a good 8.8 knots on a beam reach. Easing off to a 125-degree apparent wind angle, our speed dropped to 6.7 knots, which is still respectable considering the boat’s nearly 42,000lb light ship displacement.

Overall the Sense 57 has a calm and easy feel, which builds confidence even when sailing shorthanded. Nothing happens too quickly or erratically, making for a civilized experience afloat: whether from the safety of the helm area aft or when moving forward along the side decks alongside the refreshingly tall lifelines.

Under Power

The Sense 57 offers a choice of two engines: an 80hp Yanmar diesel with saildrive, or a 110hp Yanmar with a straight shaft. At wide-open throttle on flat water, our boatspeed with the 80hp powerplant reached 9.5 knots at 3,200 rpm. With an eye toward fuel preservation, a 2,200 rpm cruise speed would be more reasonable and still generated 8.1 knots.

Fuel capacity is 110 gal, but it can be doubled by adding an extra tank, which will be well worth it if you plan to cruise long distances to remote destinations. Water tankage is quite good at 169 gal, with the option of a watermaker to make the boat even more self-sufficient.

Conclusion

The Sense line started with the launch of the 50 and eventually grew to four models, including a 55-, 46- and 43-footer. Beneteau has since discontinued the smaller vessels in the line and morphed the 50 into the 51 and the 55 into the 57.

In the revamp, Beneteau focused on enhanced functionality with owner feedback driving much of the makeover. A safer transom, a sprit for easier downwind sailing, a larger but more fuel-efficient engine, an entertainer’s outdoor galley and a functional hardtop all work together to improve usability and comfort at anchor and underway. As a result, at the risk of making yet another pun at the expense of the boat’s name, the Sense now makes more sense than ever. 

Specifications

LOA 56ft 9in LWL 52ft 3in Beam 16ft 4in

Draft 7ft 10in (deep); 6ft 10in (shallow)

Displacement 41,391lb (light ship)

Ballast 10,803lb (deep); 12,125lb (shallow)

Sail area 1,641ft

Air draft 78ft 5in

Fuel/Water (GAL) 110/169

Engine 80hp/110hp

Ballast Ratio 26 SA/D Ratio 22 D/L Ratio 130

What do these ratios mean? Visit sailmagazine.com/ratios

designer Berret Racoupeau

Builder Beneteau, S.Gilles-Croix-de-Vie, France

Us distributor Beneteau America, Annapolis, MD, 410-990-0270 beneteau.com/us

Price at time of publication $850,000 (sailaway)

November 2017

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