Beneteau Foiler Makes its De­but

SAIL - - Under Sail - By Peter Nielsen

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 se­ries­built foil­ing keel­boat.

Built for the long-es­tab­lished Fi­garo se­ries of sin­gle­and 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 per­for­mance­cruis­ing 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 ocean­cross­ing po­ten­tial. The 49ft X49 min­gles fea­tures from the builder’s

X-Yachts X49

Fi­garo Beneteau 3

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