Beneteau First 14

SAIL - - Best Boats -

With its re­cent acquisition of the dynamic Slove­nian builder Seascape, Beneteau has, in one fell swoop, greatly ex­panded its First line of smaller en­try-level per­for­mance boats. The small­est and new­est of these, the Seascape 14, now re­branded as the First 14, is an ex­tremely ver­sa­tile boat that can lead novice sailors through a full spec­trum of sailplans as they gain ex­pe­ri­ence and con­fi­dence. The key fea­tures are the twin dag­ger­board slots on the hull’s cen­ter­line, set one be­hind the other. With the board pushed down into the aft slot, the boat sails well un­der main­sail alone and makes a great train­ing plat­form, as per­for­mance is rea­son­ably lively and the sail, with an easy-to-work main­sheet cam cleat on the boom in­stead of the deck, is very man­age­able. When you’re ready to take things up a notch, all you need do is shift the cen­ter­board to the for­ward slot and un­roll the furl­ing jib. Now you have a handy sloop-rigged dinghy with live­lier per­for­mance, but still with easy sail­han­dling, thanks to the well-de­signed track for the self-tack­ing jib. Last but not least, when you’re ready for sail­ing on steroids, you can start play­ing with the boat’s in­sanely long bowsprit and enor­mous asymmetric spin­naker. These are very easy to de­ploy and re­cover—pull one line to launch both sail and pole, pull an­other to bring them both in again— and make the boat truly thrilling to sail. The boat’s ver­sa­til­ity is fur­ther en­hanced by its easy-to-rig car­bon-fiber mast and boom and by the very clever wheel struts that can be quickly fixed to the side of the boat for easy beach or ramp launch­ing. beneteau.com/us

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