Sunday, January 27, 2019


First 53
The First 53 does not look ugly, the technical characteristics are not bad, it just isn't innovative or particularly nice and there is nothing special about the design. It seems that I had already seen that design somewhere, some years ago. I was hoping for more.

Maybe my expectations, after Beneteau acquisition of Sam Manuard designed line of Seascape yachts (to rename them First)  have become too high. I thought that First was back to the glory days when their boats were cruiser-racers, cutting edge designs, very fast boats, able to win major races, designed by some of the best racing yacht naval architects.

Ice 52
And that is the case with Sam Manuard (Seascape designer) that after having designed winning boats on the minis and class 40 is now designing an IMOCA or Pascal Conq, Guillaume Verdier, Nivelt-Muratet or Marc Lombard, all with a big experience designing very fast and winning sailing boats.

But instead they have chosen Roberto Biscontini and Lorenzo Argento, that certainly have done some interesting work but are not specialists with a proven record in cruiser-racing or racing yachts (no matter the very specific team work of Biscontini on America's cup yachts) and are minor designers if compared with the ones that I have mentioned above. Strange choice, maybe because Gianguido Girotti, managing director of the brand, in charge of product strategy is Italian.

Ice 52
I suspect that they were chosen mostly due to the previous experience of Lorenzo Argento with Wally luxury yachts and that gives a hint about what this boat is aimed at: not the cruiser-racer market but the luxury performance cruiser market that is dominated by boats like Grand-Soleil or Solaris.

The dimensions are average for this type of boat with the exception of the B/D, that is smaller and the beam, that is bigger.
Xp 55
Contrary to what is usual the ballast will be the same on the standard version, with a 2.5m draft and on the optional long keel version, with 3.0. If the 29% B/D is slightly below average with the optional long keel (3.0m) it is on the low side on the standard version, in comparison to the one on other yachts on this segment.

Contrary to what happens on the Oceanis 46.1 on this boat you will have two versions, not only with more sail or a bigger mast, but with that and different RM and sail power. For giving you a better idea of this yacht's characteristics let's compare the dimensions of the First 53 with three different yachts on the same market segment, the Ice 52, the Xp 55 and the Solaris 55.

Xp 55
The First 53 has a 15.97m hull length, the Ice 52 15,80, the Xp 55 16.76 and the Solaris 55 16.70. The First 53 has 4.99m beam, the Ice 42 4.65, the Xp 55 4.77, and the Solaris 55 4.85m .

The First 53 light displacement is 15 500kg, the Ice 52 12 500, the Xp 55 16 800 and the Solaris 55 17.600kg.

The First keel will be almost for sure a high performance T keel like the ones of the Ice and Xp and its B/D is 29% for a 2.5 draft (3.0 optional) while the Ice 52 has a 37% B/D for a 2.45m draft (2.85 optional) the Xp 55 has a 2.85m draft (2.50 and 3.20m optional) for a 39% B/D and the Solaris 55 has 37%

Solaris 55
As we can see nothing very exciting about the First that is the beamier yacht and the one with less B/D. It is also the one with more hull form stability but due to the difference in B/D certainly not the more powerful one, quite probably the opposite even if on the optional version with 3.0m it should be a fine sailing yacht.

Bottom point, unlike on the past when the First compared to the Oceanis were lighter boats with a narrower and very different type of hull, with a considerably bigger B/D, the First 53 seems to have the same type of beamy hull, similar to the ones of the best Oceanis series (like the 46.1), probably with slighter finer entries, with a very slight diminution in displacement and with a slightly bigger B/D.

Solaris 55
The First 53, compared to the Oceanis, will probably have a higher quality cruising interior and will be an overall high specs and more expensive yacht, a better sailing boat and that includes being slightly faster too but also having a better stability, including a better safety stability.

Beneteau, on the information note about the First 53 gives some hints that corroborate what I say: "Beneteau intends to restore the sailing prestige on which the brand's reputation was built... Beneteau is reinventing the legendary First range with a beautiful yacht, matching the desires of new customers who enjoy luxury high-performance yachting".


  1. Hi Paulo,

    I totalt agree with you as I would also have expected something more sporty and ”fresh”, in line with the seascape boats. I don’t think this will be a success :(


  2. Well, success means for Beneteau sales. I am quite sure it will not be a success on the racing field but as a performance cruising boat it depends much on the price and on the interior.

    I did not like the drawing but you never know. As a sailing boat it will be considerably better than an Oceanis.

    Thomas, I would like to invite you to make a post on my blog about your boat. Just right it, send me photos, all by email and I will mount the post. If you are interested send me an email.

  3. Will be happy to do that as soon as I´ve picked it up :) I will take delivery at Ellös in mid April and then sail the boat around the coast up to Stockholm. Hopefully the ice is gone by then! Currently cold weather ranging between 0 and minus 15, and lots of snow. Hard to believe I will be sailing in 2,5 months :)

    I will be spending some time on my brother´s boat the upcoming season, as we will be preparing for the Offshore Sailing European Championships that will be held in August. But I hope to do some sailing on my new boat too, mostly cruising but some racing also.


  4. I have a First 40 (currently for sale) which I want to replace and I have been patiently waiting for the next First line, from Beneteau. Unfortunately they haven't come up with a good design, worthy of the fast First line.

    I totally agree with the above article and find the new First 53, kind of disappointment.