socalrider

Beneteau First 40?

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What's the story on these?  I hear a lot about the 80's First 38, 405, 42, etc. and then again a lot about the 40.7's.  The First 40 seems to have been released to rave reviews, won a bunch of races, and then disappeared.  They seem like a hell of a lot of boat for the money compared to, say, a J122 for those looking for a fast family cruiser/racer.  I'm not a racer, but like to sail fast & love the open transom, huge cockpit, and 3 cabin/1head layout for daysailing & coastal cruising with the family.  

Saw this one on YW and it piqued my window shopping interest as an update to my 405: https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/2012/beneteau-first-40-3590215/

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There is a circa 2011/12ish one on western Lake Michigan that is pretty actively raced from double handed to fully crewed in variety of mostly point to point races.  Bought second hand a few years ago from UK due to favorable exchange rates.  Plus I don't think a lot of this model made it to the USA, so well equipped options were more limited.

Big main, big assy kite, smaller jib (105-110ish).  Advertised one looks like it runs symmetrical kites, boat here does not.  Rates 39 LMPHRF, so pretty quick for a 40 footer, but has pretty long water line and one here has fin with bulb at 8+ feet draft.  Not sure they have gone up against any of the few newer 40 foot all out racers around these parts (e.g Soto 40, etc.), but they do pretty well; won Lake Michigan boat of year couple years ago I believe.

From short time on board, looks fairly well put together for what it is, certainly not as stout and stiff as the 80's Frers vintage, but obviously materials and designs have changed from 30 some odd years ago. 

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It probably didn’t help that it launched when economies we’re struggling compared to when the 40.7 came out. 

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^^^^^° This. Sunny places where normally good market and hit hard by GFC sales didn't occur. So a lot sold in Aust that got off GFC easy, in Florida and California poor.

Once GFC over a design then  3 years old and lots of competition in 40' range compared to time 40.7 was produced didn't help. Sales also followed IRC and lesser so ORC, racing fleet fleet numbers. Introduction of carbon rig boosted sales.

Not my cup of tea build wise for beyond coastal. Today good 40's don't hang around for sale very long so something is right about them 12 years down the track.

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Can't comment about the construction but, speaking as a 40.7 owner, I think they did a nice job considering what they could do better and then executing. Cockpit layout and sail handling are way better IMHO although I kind of prefer my interior. All in all I'd say it's worth a look.

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I did  the 2011 Cabo race on one several years back.  Not that bad for a production cruiser/racer. Good performance upwind and reaching, a bit heavy downwind.  Very comfortable to live on.  That years Cabo had a pretty significant upwind portion in the middle of the race which really helped us out, we were first in division and second overall behind the SC 50 Horizon by an hour thirteen and change.

Sailing In Socal, it really needs a kelp cutter. We ran into a kelp monster that likely cost us the hour and change.  Don't think a cutter would have helped.  But, for sure it will with your normal every day kelp in Dago!

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Most have a bulb keel which shows its best short handed. The stand out winners all had the flat IRC keel. Not many common faults. I have sold a number and raced a few. All round decent boat.

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Thanks guys!  It’s listed as a cast iron keel, which from the Beneteau brochures appears to be a bulbous fin keel, not the lead T-keel which would indeed be a kelp nightmare out here. 
 

Might try to take a look sometime this week. 

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I was surprised that there wasn't more talk on this topic. A mate of mine in Oz has one which I've done a bit of sailing on.

Rates 1.08 ish on IRC so reasonable for a cruiser racer. It isn't a boat to get up and boogie but is easy to keep moving.

Good Bene features - ergonomics, easy to replace parts, dual use. Rig isn't too big so sail costs are contained.

Requires rig maintenance. If you want to get super competitive the carbon rig and rebedded stanchions, plus a fixed bowsprit are usual add ons.

 

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The "L" shape keel is by far he worst option. Developed for the Sunsail charter fleet. Quite a few of their ex boats have been sold on and, although cheap, should be avoided.

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I have one built in 2015, flat keel (deeper and flatter than standard), carbon stick, factory built bowsprit using assym kites. Uses it mostly for shorthanded racing in coastals. Love it.

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7 hours ago, cms said:

The "L" shape keel is by far he worst option. Developed for the Sunsail charter fleet. Quite a few of their ex boats have been sold on and, although cheap, should be avoided.

I assume you mean the shoal draft "L" keel, right?  It's listed as 6.3' versus 8' for the standard.  Is there a reason to avoid besides heavy charter use?  

One think I don't like about my 405 is the cast iron keel (no real problems with it, just an extra thing to think about), but even so I'd rather have a cast iron L keel than a lead T keel here because of all the kelp.  

image.thumb.png.39b9b1cc0060183fc2782293f180d797.png

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"T" keels are awful in New England too.  Catching one of the many lobster traps and your race is over.

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16 minutes ago, MauiPunter said:

"T" keels are awful in New England too.  Catching one of the many lobster traps and your race is over.

Well at least you could get a lobster out of the deal!

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2 hours ago, socalrider said:

I assume you mean the shoal draft "L" keel, right?  It's listed as 6.3' versus 8' for the standard.  Is there a reason to avoid besides heavy charter use?  

One think I don't like about my 405 is the cast iron keel (no real problems with it, just an extra thing to think about), but even so I'd rather have a cast iron L keel than a lead T keel here because of all the kelp.  

image.thumb.png.39b9b1cc0060183fc2782293f180d797.png

SoCal, 

I have a ‘93 First 310 with a deep cast iron keel and bulb.  As you know from you 405, not really the smoothest surface in the world, but the biggest surprise for me is the trailing edge which is about a half inch thick and looks like it was trimmed/cut with a blunt axe!  I don’t remember that as an issue with my ‘84 First 30e, and hopefully they’ve addressed it on the later boats.  I know you don’t plan to race it, but...

Crash

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10 hours ago, Crash said:

SoCal, 

I have a ‘93 First 310 with a deep cast iron keel and bulb.  As you know from you 405, not really the smoothest surface in the world, but the biggest surprise for me is the trailing edge which is about a half inch thick and looks like it was trimmed/cut with a blunt axe!  I don’t remember that as an issue with my ‘84 First 30e, and hopefully they’ve addressed it on the later boats.  I know you don’t plan to race it, but...

Crash

I'm gonna take a look at her tomorrow - won't be able to see the keel though.  I remember being pretty unimpressed with the fairing on mine when we last hauled her.  

I've been looking at her numbers versus my 405, which has the tall mast and deep keel - they are strikingly similar.  The First 40 (25 years newer) is maybe 1-2klbs lighter (5-10%), 100sqft more sail area (11%), same ballast (8" deeper), same LWL.  PHRF is 50 seconds/mile faster (87 vs 36).  That strikes me as a pretty big difference relative to the specs.  

Looking at the hull shapes I suspect the effective LWL of the First 40 quickly extends to 40' when heeled with her plumb bow.  What else could be at play?  Is it the product of lots of small things (like keel fairing, hull shape changes) that compound with the modest weight, draft & sail area differences?  

 

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I think its likely a combination of things.  As you say, when underway, the LWL of the 40 quickly approaches 40 ft, while the bow overhang of the 405 probably limits it to 37.5 ft or so.  Secondly, the Sail Area to Displacement ratio (SA/Disp) is pretty low for the 405 at 15.6 and much higher for the 40, at 20.92.  The 40's Displacement to Length (D/L) Ratio is also lower: 173 vs 185 or so.  Plus the greater beam carried aft gives the 40 the ability to carry more power off the wind.  Finally, I'd guess the 40 had less wetted surface area as compared to the 405...

All that said, I like the looks of the 405 a whole lot better than the 40, but I'm old fashioned that way, and grew up in the IOR era...B)

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1 hour ago, Crash said:

All that said, I like the looks of the 405 a whole lot better than the 40, but I'm old fashioned that way, and grew up in the IOR era...B)

I took a look at the 40 this morning and agree.  I love the open transom and big cockpit but she sort of left me cold for no rational reason.  I think if I were to upgrade I'd probably rather spend the $$ refitting something a bit older with more length. More likely I'll just keep tinkering with the 405.  

For the record, I've got the tall rig, so SA/D is a bit higher - around 16.3 I think.  About right for SD winds - reef in at 15kts, maybe 10+ if I've got a lot of kids and no sailors on board.  

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I recently bought a First 40 CR, triple spreader rig, with the Standard keel the L keel with 2.45m draft. It is a huge drag on light to moderate downwinds. Exploring replacement of the keel to a flat lead keel or the T-keel (bulb). Beneteau intends to charge an arm and leg for it. Any ideas on where/how to go about replacement?

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14 hours ago, h60driver said:

I recently bought a First 40 CR, triple spreader rig, with the Standard keel the L keel with 2.45m draft. It is a huge drag on light to moderate downwinds. Exploring replacement of the keel to a flat lead keel or the T-keel (bulb). Beneteau intends to charge an arm and leg for it. Any ideas on where/how to go about replacement?

MARS?

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So the Flat Keel vs the T-Keel. The cord width of the t-keel tells me you need to maintain good speed through a tack. And if I remember, these boat have inboard shrouds with tracks to carry a Genoa? 
 

Since I think in terms of IRC.  maybe a Genoa with the t-keel?  And if one insist on sacrificing boat speed upwind for rating, small jib with flat keel? 
 

the t-keel would be lighter than the flat keel? And tidal and or wavy conditions vs flat water. If flat waters, I would go with a two meter bowsprit and asy kites.  In tidal or lumpy conditions, pole and sym kites. 

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The First 40 is about 1 ton heavier than the 40.7 it replaced. Under light conditions, I believe that it cannot catchup.

I see many 40.7s doing well under IRC, not many F40s except in heavy condition places such as the Solent.

plus the 40.7 are a lot cheaper ...

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On 1/23/2020 at 9:16 AM, h60driver said:

I recently bought a First 40 CR, triple spreader rig, with the Standard keel the L keel with 2.45m draft. It is a huge drag on light to moderate downwinds. Exploring replacement of the keel to a flat lead keel or the T-keel (bulb). Beneteau intends to charge an arm and leg for it. Any ideas on where/how to go about replacement?

Be very careful with replacing a keel not supplied by the designer! The recent accident with the Ker 40 in Australia should serve as a warning. As for the keels themselves it sounds like you’ll be right about the high drag of your keel. I’d definitely recommend the flat keel normally but with your alloy triple spreader rig being the heaviest option you might need the T keel for its greater righting moment unless you sail mostly in the lighter conditions 

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3 hours ago, JL92S said:

Be very careful with replacing a keel not supplied by the designer! The recent accident with the Ker 40 in Australia should serve as a warning. 

A pretty bold statement considering we don't know why the keel failed. JK rightly highlighted that it was not his keel, but beyond that it's all speculation.

Plenty of original keels have fallen off yachts.

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On 1/23/2020 at 4:16 AM, h60driver said:

I recently bought a First 40 CR, triple spreader rig, with the Standard keel the L keel with 2.45m draft. It is a huge drag on light to moderate downwinds. Exploring replacement of the keel to a flat lead keel or the T-keel (bulb). Beneteau intends to charge an arm and leg for it. Any ideas on where/how to go about replacement?

I always found Beneteau’s factory prices for spare parts to be quite reasonable, I sometimes order small specific euro parts from them even though I don’t have a Beneteau.  How much are they asking? doubt you will be able to have one designed and built for <20-30k anywhere else.

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