Beneteau 5

On deck and in the hull

The large cockpit is generous and safe and features a scooped-out single wheel and removable seat/lockers. With the seats removed, the crew is able to sail the boat aggressively without having to climb over anything during maneuvers. You can muster a lot more power on a winch when standing up. With the seats in place, the cockpit becomes more accommodating and they also double as good-sized storage lockers. The liferaft locker is cleverly located beneath the sole. Just forward of the liferaft locker is the conveniently placed emergency steering mechanism. The open transom allows easy access to the water by way of a fold-down ladder. The cockpit is designed for almost instant draining through the transom.

The First 40 cockpit is all about sail handling and helming efficiency. The 63-inch wheel is best steered from either coaming where the visibility is unobstructed. The mainsheet traveler is on the sole just forward of the wheel. The mainsheet is a standard German A-style (bringing the sheets back along the sidedecks to winches on each side of the cockpit) and there is good secure space for the mainsheet trimmer alongside the helm. The optional adjustable, kick-bar footrests provide good leverage when using the traveller in any kind of breeze.  The First 40 sheet winches feature Harken 48ST primaries and spinnaker winches located on the coamings, and two 44STs mounted on the aft end of the coachroof where most sail control lines are led. The single backstay comes standard with a hydraulic adjuster.

The non-skid side decks are wide and easy to navigate and work. A small teak toerail lends a bit of elegance. The tall rig includes a tapered three-spreader spar set up as a 9/10 fractional rig. The standard spar features double spreaders. The standing rigging is comprised of flattened, superstrong dyform wire. The single pod chainplates virtually eliminate the worry of crevice corrosion down the road. A hydraulic vang is standard, as is a double foil on headstay. The deck is pre-fitted for spinnaker gear.

Beneteau 6The First 40 is built somewhat conservatively with a solid hull and cored deck. The vinylester resin-infused layup is sophisticated and features zone-specific stitchmat laminates for extra strength in high-load areas of the hull. A structural grid, as part of a hull liner, is laminated to the hull. Using a mold for the grid and liner streamlines production and results in a strong, stiff and light composite. The deck is balsa cored to keep it light and also for thermal and acoustic insulation. Reinforced solid glass laminates support the deck beneath high-load areas such as sheet winches, tracks and the anchor windlass.

The main bulkheads are bonded to the hull through 360 degrees and the molded deck beams supply additional support. The balanced rudder blade is raked slightly and positioned well aft for optimal downwind steering. Two keel options are available. The standard model has a draft of six feet, four inches, while the eight-foot deep-draught model is proving more popular with serious racers. Both keels include flared iron sections with a lead bulb.