Beneteau opened a new chapter in production boatbuilding with the launch last summer of the prototype Figaro Beneteau 3, a foil-assisted one-design racer and the first-ever series-built foiling keelboat.
Built for the long-established Figaro series of single- and doublehanded events, the training ground for France’s ocean-racing stars, the FB3 boasts a pair of retractable foils resembling inverted versions of the “Dali” foils seen on the latest generation of IMOCA 60 ocean racers. Small wonder—the boat was designed by VPLP, which drew many of the foil-equipped boats in the recent Vendée Globe race.
Beneteau’s Figaro boats are renowned for their toughness and performance. The class was overdue for a shakeup, as the existing design, introduced in 2003, is long in the tooth. By going to foils, the designers were able to eliminate the water ballast tanks that featured in earlier generations and draw a hull with a narrower waterline beam to reduce drag. The lift provided by the foils also enables the mast to be set farther aft so that larger headsails can be carried; these boats will be real rockets on a reach.
As VPLP’s Vincent Lauriot-Prévost explains: “The versatile foil we’ve created provides more than just the dynamic power and vertical lift that is sought after in IMOCA. We’ve designed it in such a way that it creates as little resistance as possible in the light airs and reduces leeway at full speed.”
The sail wardrobe comprises a square-top main, a genoa, working jib, a masthead asymmetric spinnaker and a small gennaker.
The new-generation Figaro boat will be introduced in 2019. Yes, it’s a racer, but don’t be surprised if this technology spreads to performance-cruising boats before too long.
Meanwhile, there’s some good news coming out of Southern England, where the new owners of upscale bluewater-boat builders Discovery Yachts have purchased and resurrected its near-neighbor, Southerly Yachts, which closed its gates over a year ago. This means that the line of versatile swing-keel offshore cruisers, peaking at 57ft, will once again be available for owners who like to spend time on the beach as well as on the water.
Meanwhile, Discovery’s latest boat is a step down in size from its bigger cruisers. The new Discovery 48 is a handsome center-cockpit cruiser that looks ideal for a cruising couple who don’t need the volume of the company’s 55ft or 67ft models. The boat is set up to be easily handled by one person, with electric in-mast furling, powered winches and a self-tacking jib set inside an overlapping lightweight genoa. The mainsheet is set on an arch to keep the large cockpit clear. Owners can choose between single or twin helms.
Belowdecks, there are panoramic views out of the large portlights from the raised dinette, and the two- or three-cabin layouts feature two heads and a large, comprehensively equipped galley. Displacing 38,500lb (light ship) and with a choice of keels drawing either 7ft 3in or 5ft 9in, the Discovery 48 is an attractive addition to the ranks of sub-50ft cruisers.
Speaking of sub-50ft cruisers, Denmark’s X-Yachts has unveiled yet another alluring sport cruiser that is easy on the eyes and will scratch any owner’s itch for speed and good handling combined with true ocean-crossing potential. The 49ft X49 mingles features from the builder’s Xc (cruising) and Xp (performance) lines, including lightweight epoxy resin-infused construction, a hull form that can carry a cruising payload,a powerful triple-spreader masthead rig with rod rigging, a luxurious interior equipped with all essential cruising mod cons, and a choice of three keel configurations. It joins the 43ft X4 and the 60ft X6 in this crossover range.
Finally, it’s easy to think that builders today are neglecting the 30ft to 35ft boats at the lower end of the size range that have traditionally been the bedrock of coastal sailing communities around the world. But while it’s true that the bigger boats get the headlines, it’s great to see new models like this gem of a 34-footer from Italy’s Cantiere del Pardo.
The smallest boat in a range that goes to 58ft, the Grand Soleil 34 is a racer-cruiser that looks guaranteed to provide a thrilling ride around the cans yet can also accommodate a small crew for a weekend’s cruising or more. A modern, beamy hull form with long chines and twin rudders, combined with a tapered fractional rig carrying a square-top mainsail and setting a big masthead A-sail on a sprit, promises plenty of get-up-and-go. The deck is laid out for easy shorthanded sailing. Make mine red...
Discovery Yachts discoveryyachts.com
Grand Soleil grandsoleil.net