Over the years, we have sailed and tested many of the Beneteaus to come to market in North America. And last fall after the Annapolis sailboat show, we had our first opportunity to sail aboard the relatively new Oceanis 58, the flagship of the Beneteau sailing fleet.
The boat carries a strong family resemblance to the new Oceanis style—nearly plumb bow, high topsides and very low-slung cabintop with large rectangular windows on both sides. Yet there are a couple of design touches that immediately set the boat apart. The first is the large sugar-scoop platform built into the transom. This is more than a swim platform or a convenient way to board the boat from a dinghy. This is a place where you can suit up to go scuba diving, or a back porch where you can unfold a couple of chairs to relax and enjoy the view. The life raft locker, propane locker and two large lazarettes also make the platform aft a useful storage area. And a 10-foot RIB can be hauled onto the platform for safe stowage when heading offshore.The second detail that catches your eye when you climb aboard is the arch over the forward end of the cockpit; this attractive feature has the mainsheet fixed on top and can be used to anchor the dodger and cockpit awnings. Making an arch fit aesthetically is a tough task, but the guys at Berret Racoupeau—which designed the 58—have done an excellent job.
SEA TRIALS We unmoored the boat and motored out of Back Creek into the Chesapeake Bay. The afternoon was sunny and the breeze moderate out of the east at about 10 knots. Once you get underway, the 58 gives the sensation of a much larger boat. At the helm, you are quite high above the water and have good visibility forward, so picking our way through the anchored cruising boats in the creek was easy enough. From the cockpit you can barely hear the engine, even as you increase revs. The boat steers positively and surely, but you need to be aware of how far the bow is from you and how much the stern sticks out behind. At the helm, the 58 feels like a proper large yacht.The rig on the boat we sailed had the optional in-mast furling mainsail and the self-tacking staysail up forward as well as the large, high-cut genoa. With the main and genoa rolled out and trimmed, the 58 put her shoulder down nicely and accelerated to over 7 knots in 10 knots of breeze, sailing quite close to the wind. We hardened up and then threw her through a couple of tacks. The boat carried her way through the tacks and we trimmed her to sail at about 90 degrees from the true wind.Off the wind, we rolled out the staysail, which added close to a knot of boat speed. The staysail sheet runs from the car on the foredeck traveler up the mast, through a sheave and then back to the cockpit. Once trimmed for close-hauled sailing, you can tack back and forth with the staysail (and with the genoa rolled up) by just turning the wheel.The 58’s non-dimensional numbers give a good idea of her performance capabilities. The sail-area-to-displacement ratio of 21.85 indicates that the design has plenty of sail area to drive her in the light stuff and power for high average cruising speeds. The displacement-to-length ratio of 140 puts the boat right in the “performance cruiser” category. The 58 is a big, powerful boat that should be able to knock off 200-mile days in the right conditions with an easy motion.
LIVING ABOARD The 58’s on-deck living spaces are spacious and comfortable. The cockpit’s bench seats have backs that angle just right so your lumbar is supported. With the dodger up and attached to the arch, there is a large enclosed area forward where you can tuck in out of the rain when standing watch in bad weather. Aft, the twin wheels and seats offer secure helms when the sea is rough and added seating when you are entertaining. The aft platform, as mentioned above, is huge.Down below, the 58 comes in either a three or four sleeping cabin version. Both versions have crew’s quarters in the forepeak with upper and lower bunk berths and a head.The three-cabin version has two large quarter cabins aft, each with its own head and shower. The berths aft can either be large doubles or you can opt to split the berths into singles with a small space between them. The second option works well when you are sailing with crew who are not a couple. The forward cabin in this version has a large island double that you climb into from both sides. There is a desk or vanity to port and a large head and shower to starboard.In the four-cabin version, this forward area is divided along the centerline and turned into two double cabins with private heads. The four-cabin version works well for those who always sail with a large crew or for use in the charter fleets.The saloon is vast. The U-shaped galley to port has a side-loading and a top-loading fridge, a four-burner stove-oven, and two large stainless steel sinks. The counter area will be excellent for cooking for a large crew. Fiddles have been installed to make cooking and washing up at sea less messy. The drawer-style freezer has been built into the cabinets just aft of the chart table.The chart table is also vast. The desktop is large enough for a full ChartKit or a DMA chart folded in half. You can store your laptop computer in the table and your radios and instruments can be mounted outboard and above the futuristic stainless steel electrical panel.The dinette to starboard will seat six. Under and behind the settee you will find plenty of storage room or spaces for mounting air conditioning. The settee to port will make an excellent amidships sea berth and is a great place to sit and read or play cards.The decor is Euro-modern with handsome dark vanished joinery, solid wood doors and a lot of open white space. The interior is full of natural light via the deck hatches and the windows in the cabintop and topside. Similarly, the interior will ventilate well because of the numerous deck hatches and opening ports.To emphasize the modern feel of the boat, the floors are not traditional teak and holly, but rather satin varnish dark hardwood squares. The floors can be lifted to access the systems down below, but they are not fitted with hinges or handles. Instead, you lift the floor hatches with a handheld suction cup.Modern, attractive and a spacious floating home, the Oceanis is truly an elegant yacht that will be comfortable for a family of four or five to live aboard for extended periods. The 58 certainly stands out in the Beneteau fleet as the attention to detail and the quality of the finish are both excellent, which is as it should be in a true flagship.Beneteau Oceanis 57LOA 59’0”LOD 58’4”LWL 53’4”Beam 16’3”Draft 8’6”Draft (shoal) 6’9”Ballast 14,168 lbs.Ballast (shoal) 15,763 lbs.Displacement 47,747 lbs.Sail area 1,797 sq. ft.Mast height 90’0”Fuel 285 galsWater 250 gals.Engine 140 hp. DieselSA/D 21.85D/L 140Beneteau USA1313 West Hwy 76,Marion SC 29571Ph: (843) 629-5300F: (843) 629-5309Website: www.beneteauusa.com