Tuesday, February 19, 2019


Very different from the Viko, also made in Poland, this one was supposed to be also a low cost sailboat  but, contrary to the Viko, not an entry level one but  a good quality performance yacht. The 145 000 euros initially announced price for a ready to sail boat (no taxes included) seemed too good to be true.

In Dusseldorf the boat on exhibition was an upgraded version and at 307 800 euros (without taxes) it was not an inexpensive boat and even if it was well equipped there were plenty of details to be revised:

The doors, the ones inside and the one outside, had not a fixation point, the cabin door opens to the outside obstructing the galley, the raised chart pilot seat is very uncomfortable, there is no ventilation over the stove, the ventilation on the cabin is insufficient, there are no shades (and they will be absolutely indispensable due to the large glass area) and the standing height is low in many parts of the boat.

The finish is painted plywood and average, not bad but worse than on a RM, that uses the same type of interior construction and finish. The interior space is a very nice and modern one  and the feeling is good even if the forward standing height in the saloon is low and inconvenient. To go to the forward cabin you will have to bend.

I like the shape of the boat but I don't like the design that much. Confused? The shape of the boat has to do with the drawing (nice or ugly), design has to do with the shape regarding functionality and that's where I have some doubts.

The shape of the glass cabin allows for interior standing height (not in all the saloon), for a raised pilot seat with view all around, providing a lot of light to the interior but its wedge shape makes it high on the cockpit, partially blocking the vision forward from the steering wheels.

Not completely, but on a sportive boat you want to have a good vision of the waves ahead. It is important for the pleasure of sailing to have the ability to chose your seaway and that is denied by that structure that has the advantage of providing an interior pilot station and lots of light but at the cost of a  very high interior temperature on hot sunny days.

Also, on those days, while at anchor, it does not also allow a good cockpit ventilation and the ones that sail on the Mediterranean or Caribbean know how that is important. Maybe adapted for sailing on the Baltic or on high latitudes but nor on warm climates, where most sail.

Below, Pogo 12.50 transom
In what regards having a view forward while sailing on more or less sportive boats, JPK, Pogo, RM or Allures have solutions that do not create the disadvantages that will be experienced on the Bente 39.

 Sure, the all around view is better and that would make sense on a boat that would be sailed from the interior most of the time but I don't think that will be the case with most Bente owners.

Regarding the hull I have only good things to say: very nice from the bow to the transom that is not one maximized for solo sailing but for overall good performance. We could argue that a solo sail type of transom would make the boat easier to sail solo fast, especially downwind and that it would make the use of an autopilot easier but this transom will make the boat faster overall, specially upwind and will increase its racing potential.

At Dusseldorf they had prices for three different boat configurations, one that they call Standard (166 000 euros), another called Average Family Cruiser (207 020 euros) and The Ocean Challenger (345 785 euros) all the prices without any taxes and at the factory. There is a basic difference between the most expensive version and the other two and that is boat stability and power.

Most boats offer the same overall stability and about the same righting moment curve with different drafts. The designers just compensate on the ballast, adding more on the versions with swallow drafts. Not a different  stability, just a boat some hundred kg heavier.

That is not the same on the Bente 39 where the Ocean Challenger, with a 2.55m draft, is a more powerful boat than the two other versions, able to carry considerably more sail area. It is not only a considerably faster boat but also one with a better overall stability, higher AVS and better safety stability. It will also be a more structurally reinforced boat.

As you can see on the previous post about this boat I had already noticed that something odd was going on with the boat ballast. I was assuming that all the versions would have a similar overall stability and that was not the case. Well, that's explained:

In fact the ballast on the two versions, the one with a 1.95m draft and the other with 2.55m is quite similar with a difference of only 100kg (or 200, according to different sources).

Those 60cm difference in draft, considering that most of the ballast  is on a lead torpedo (2000kg) at the end of a narrow fin, makes for a huge difference in RM that could only be compensated with about more 400kg ballast on the shorter keel version.

Anyway, regarding the less powerful version, the Family Cruiser, with a 1.95m draft, it has a  39.5% B/D providing already an unusually high overall stability and  lots of power, specially if we consider the high hull form stability. The more powerful version should have a not very different B/D, (lighter boat with just a bit less ballast) but those extra 60cm in draft will give it a lower CG and will make it a hugely powerful sailboat that will love to sail in demanding conditions and lots of wind.

Above Bente, 39 Below Pogo 12.50
Power does not come cheap and the Bente 39 is not an expensive boat for what it offers but that comes always with a price. Let's forget those 145 000 euros for a ready to sail boat. The standard version does not have sails, not even a furler for the frontal sails, does not have an integrated bowsprit and with a basic interior costs already 21 000 euros more.

The real ready to sail boat, that includes sails, basic sail hardware, a foldable propeller, very basic electronics,  a 100Ah battery for the house (60Ah for the engine), only 200L water tankage, without a windlass winch, costs 62 020 euros more  than the first announced price.

No, I am not saying that it is expensive, it is not, only that I don't like incredible price claims that in the end cannot be met. On that respect the Viko S35 is a better example.

The Ocean Challenger costs 200 758 euros more than the announced first price (more than the double) and even more if one chooses a swing keel that unfortunately will not generate the RM of the deep keel but the one of the swallow keel (and unfortunately because it would not be difficult to manage that). So, what explains this huge difference in price between this version and the Family cruiser?

Deeper 2.55 performance keel, 3 hull portlights (per side), two GRP wheels instead of two GRP tillers, composite light weight interior, salon table with a wood finish, one extra refrigerator, electric windlass winch, communication hatch, cockpit table,  cockpit upholstery, 6 mooring cleats (instead of four), bigger winches, one of them electric, better sail hardware, better sails (including a geenaker and a code 0), carbon mast, better electronics, radar, VHF radio and antena, marine radio with outside speakers, bigger engine (28hp to 39hp), better propeller, additional automatic bilge pump and a bow thruster.

Most of these things, with exception of the lighter interior, carbon mast and maybe higher quality sails and bow thuster will be options that most cruisers will want. If we consider an average VAT of 20% the price of the boat with all these extras will cost 414 942 euros.

The Pogo 12.50 costs standard a lot more, 234 538 versus 166 000 euros (without taxes) but it comes already with a carbon mast, carbon bowsprit, probably a standard better sail hardware and most of all with a swing keel. The Bente 39 can have all that but while they are standard on the Pogo they are optional on the Bente. If we mount all of them on the Bente probably both boats will have a very similar price.

Again, I am not saying that the Bente 39 is expensive, the Pogo is an inexpensive boat for the performance it offers, I am just trying to give a global panorama about prices.

Anyway even if both boats have some similitude in what regards offering a fast performance cruiser at low cost, the boats are very different starting by the hull that some would mistakenly take as similar when they are not and finishing in the interior, a nicer one on the Bente 39 a more practical one on the Pogo 12,50 that offers standard the double of the water tankage and almost the triple on the size of the refrigerator.

Just looking at the dimensions we can see that the length of both boats is not very different: the Pogo 12.50 is 12.18m and the Bente is 11.99m but we can see that the beam is very different: The Pogo is 4.5m and the Bente is 4.1m and most of all, due to the diference in beam, they have a different transom shape.

While the Pogo has a transom similar to the ones of the Class 40, that are solo transat racers, the Bente transom is based on the ones of oceanic crewed racers like TP52 or VOR racers.

The bow of the Bente is more modern, giving more buoyancy but really the main difference in what regards hull design lies on the beam and transom design and that is what makes both boats sailing characteristics different.

Alex, the owner of the shipyard, says he wanted to make "a defused Pogo, one that my girlfriend is happy to sail" and if  he got it wrong because the type of hull of the Pogo will make it easier to sail solo or even on autopilot.

 I do not mean that as a criticism just as a fact. In many aspects the Bente 39 hull has a better performance than the one of the Pogo (not on others). For sailing on the med (and that is what I like to do) the Bente 39 hull is a much more adapted one, probably with a better performance in light winds and certainly with a more comfortable motion and performance upwind. On a transat or on a circumnavigation on the trade winds, the Pogo will not only be an easier boat to sail but it will also be a faster one.

I would love to see a comparative on the water test between the Pogo 12.50, the Bente 39, the JPK 38FC the Django 12.70 and a fast more traditional performance cruiser like the XP38, a test that would take several days and allow the boats to be sailed in different conditions.

Normally on these tests, test sailors are very happy to sail fast boats downwind in semi planing or planing conditions but forget to make an all around comparative performance test. The last one I saw regarding this type of boats, several years ago, was a prototype of the Pogo 12.50 versus a Dufour 40e and curiously on a triangular type of regata circuit, with all kinds of wind directions, the overall speed was very similar and the Dufour 40e is not a particularly fast traditional cruiser-racer or performance boat if you want to call it that way.

Out of such a comparative test we can only have an idea about the comparative overall performance of these boats by the race results in real time where the Pogo 12.50 is not a very fast boat, if compared with more traditional performance cruisers, except if it is a downwind race, like a transat, especially one solo or duo.

I hope that some Bente 39 will do some serious racing to get some real information about comparative boat performance. Maybe we see it on the Silverruder, that has already been won by a JPK 38FC or in any of the others solo or duo races that start to be popular on the Baltic.

Curiously the running rigging of the Bente 39 is only adapted to solo sailing if the two tiller configuration is used and on the more expensive and upgraded version two wheels are used. We can see on the test sail below, made by Yacht.de what I mean.  Also the fixed cockpit table does not help standing in the way in what concerns sailing maneuvers.

The Bente 39 has been tested by several boat magazines and all said very well about the way the boat sails even if nobody has made any observation regarding beating angles upwind, an information I would like to know more about.

By the video images I can tell that it is well balanced and that the bow is very efficient keeping the nose up and contributing for a dry boat. Downwind, with not too much wind, the boat is kept  on the central part of the hull, dragging little water and making a clean wake indicating that probably it has a better performance than the Pogo in lighter winds.

Note that the interior on the video above by Yacht.de is from the boat version that costs with 20% VAT about 414 000 euros. You can read the boat test on yacht.de (you have to pay something to download it) or you can read online the one made by Sailing Today:


  1. I was seeing it in dusseldorf and it certainly looks like a fast, fun and comfortable boat to navigate.
    But I can not say the same for inner comfort. Especially from its very low interior height from the middle of the boat to the bow. I am 1.82 m tall and I had to bend a lot but it is really that a person with less height can not stand in that area (from the table to the bow). For me it is a very serious fault in a 39 foot boat. It is not admissible on a ship of that size.
    It's a shame because the rest of the boat is very interesting.

  2. I am 1.88m tall and I can only agree LOL. A boat for the small ones. Maybe it is that way because Alex, the shipyard owner, does not look tall.

  3. From My point of view Bente 39 is unuseful. I'm 1,90 m tall and inside the boat I would need a helmet. As I said once before, it is much easier to design a nice looking and attractive boat if designer ignore so many aspects of design like interior (and exterior) functionality. And boats are not made for exibitions but sailing and living. I like fast boat but seams to me that this one in not so fast as it looks and wants to be. Maybe I'm to old for understanding today's aproach of boat design.

    1. Regarding today's approach to boat design I guess it is not difficult: main mass production boats are designed considering that sailors don't sail in bad weather and that they don't sail upwind unless the sea is flat and the wind light.

      And in fact the yachts are very well designed since 90% of the cruisers do just that and designing the boats that way allows to offer them less expensive boats.

      Regarding the ones that like to sail faster there are two types: the ones that make regatas and some cruising and the ones that just do cruising but like to go fast.

      The first ones need all around good performance fast boats like the XP38, the J122e or the JPK 11.80, the others will also tend to sail much more downwind and want a boat that can excel on that area and that will be easier to sail solo or with a short crew and on that aspect the Bente 39 is a very nice sailboat, even more balanced than the Pogo, that is probably less good upwind.

      The closer competitor will be the JPK38FC a boat that I personally like more than the Bente 39.

      Regarding interior design I can only agree with you. Today boats are very well designed and interior is not an exception. There are architecture cabinets specialized only in designing boat interiors and the accumulated knowledge is big.

      Designing without previous interior boat design experience a new concept like the one of the Bente39 is very difficult and some aspects will remain badly solved. I am sure that if the Bente 39 becomes popular on the new versions of the boat it will be perfected and in the end we will have a very well designed sailboat.

  4. Hi Paulo, always insigthful comments from you ! Quick question: which boats would you look at, new or used, in a reasonable price range, say less then 400k, to circumnavigate shorthanded or solo, spending at least couple seasons looping in the Med, Carib and South Pacific so with a fair amount of upwind or close reaching passages. Of course I am asking you because we seem to have very similar taste in what regards to boats specs, design, safety and speed...as you know right now I have a sunfast3200 and preparing to sail it down from California to Tahiti but to cruise around the world would be may be doable as a solo (especially since while I grow older I also get shorter by the day...), but with a companion would be a no-no short of being a sea gypsy. Asking also because some of the boats you are talking about, like this one, even if beautiful and on the paper capable of anything, they look not really suited to adventure much farther then the Gibraltar Strait... Thanks Alex

    1. Well, I will reply but I would like to say that the boat that I would chose for that it is just a personal choice that takes also in consideration interior comfort: I appreciate a nice interior.

      The boat would be a JPK 38 FC, but for getting one probably you would have to wait for two years, if you order it know. I doubt you will find any on the used market. I know (from the net) an Italian that has one and he is very satisfied with it.

      Maybe as a 2nd choice a Pogo 36, not with a so comfortable interior, probably not as good upwind and with a smaller overall stability. I am a facebook friend of a guy that is circumnavigating with one, maybe you want yo communicate with him? He can tell you how the boat is cooping with it: https://www.facebook.com/david.pogo.9615

      This one, I mean the Bente 39, could also be an option even if there are some things to perfect in what regards running rigging and interior but I guess that in a year or two they will have it perfected. Hard to beat on thaT Pogo or JPK since both builders have a huge experience in what concerns solo sailing.

  5. Yeah...they both are on top my "wish list"...but let me add that probably the best boat you can pick is the one that you already have and know deeply from inside out. In my personal case if you remember I was looking for a boat which'd give me the fun feeling of sailing you can have on a Laser and I found exactly this. I sometime go out with the 3200 only for one hour but enjoy the short tacking and exilarating acceleration just like if I was on my Laser. As for circumnavigation a lot of "needs" can be bought with money. I have an informal budget that would make her world cruising ready while not denting into her major asset, i.e. the low weight, and I have no doubt she is capable of crossing safely oceans steered by middle aged men...she was designed for exactly that purpose! But to give it a spin for a larger audience that may have somewhat larger budgets or higher threshold requirements...wifes and daughters like standing showers...and to keep the discussion tied to your original boat show report where most boats are really designed for "slip sailing" which bigger boats (and somewhat forget price at this point) would you consider for real cruising ? you promised you'd talk about it...

  6. I'm even taller, 1.95, looking for a small boat not bigger than 40ft, with inner height of 2,00m or more, do you know any?

  7. Two meter or more of standing height on a small boat it would be hard to find and then you surely are not interested in all types of boats.

    The "normal" for 40ft boats is a standing height of 1,90m but there are some with 2.0m like the new OVNI 400 (you can find a post about it on the blog) or the Allures 39.9. On the new model, the 40.9 I am not sure if they have maintained the 2.0m height.