Down below

The companionway is easy to negotiate, with just three steps and two well-positioned handholds. There are also handrails that run from the companionway forward on each side of the saloon that provide good purchase in rough conditions.

The interior is light and bright, with a mix of white laminate and light oak veneers. The galley is immediately to port as you go below. It’s well-thought out, with double sinks facing forward, a good sized icebox/fridge and a two-burner stove. Counter space is limited, but with a cover board for the stove, the galley does the job. There is a surprising amount of storage, including a dedicated fold-out rubbish bin.

While the wraparound nav station opposite the galley with a chart table and a desk – perfect for a computer, and plenty of room for radios and repeaters – is well designed, the fixed navigators stool was an odd choice for Beneteau. For a start, you would need to be about five feet tall with very short legs. With some difficulty you can perch on the seat and wedge yourself in – this is while the boat was at the dock, let alone heeled over in a rough sea. The saloon includes settees port and starboard with storage above. Handrails run the full length of the saloon above the storage lockers. A centerline table opens up to allow seating for most of the crew.

Beneteau 7

The forward cabin offers a V-berth, a dressing chair and a small hanging locker. The head is to starboard. It’s compact but has the essentials. Unlike other 40-footers, the First 40 contents itself with a single head, which allows, for example, a larger nav station and additonal hanging locker space.

There are two equal double cabins aft with reasonable headroom so getting in and out of the berths is not such a struggle. One of the best features of both cabins are large hanging lockers within easy reach of the companionway for wet-weather gear and harnesses. Having three separate cabins is a bit of a luxury for a racing 40-footer, but do a great service in cruising mode.

However, one of the problems with the three-cabin set-up is the lack of space for sail storage. When racing, the forward V-berth would serve for sail storage, but you would have to leave some of your sails at home for cruising. On the other hand, there’s good natural light with several hatches and a molded white liner, giving a light airy feel. Ventilation is excellent, with opening portlights complimenting the overhead hatches.

Beneteau 8

A worthy successor

The Beneteau First 40 is a performance boat that appears to be a worthy successor to the First 40.7. In every respect, the First 40 is a good-looking boat which does have as broad an appeal as possible in terms of appearance. The 40-foot range of boats is now a very competitive market. And, like in most parts of the sailing world, Hong Kong and Asian boat owners these days are looking to keep costs under control and 40-footers fit the bill. It will be interesting to see whether the First 40 can meet the challenge of the Asian racing scene.

In Asia:


Technical Specifications – Beneteau First 40

LOA 12.58m (41’3”)

Hull Length 12.24m (40’2”)

LWL 10.67m (35’)
Beam 3.89m (12’9”)

Air draught 19.3m (63’4”)

Draught (standard) 1.9m (6’4”)
Draught (deep) 2.43m (8’)

Light displacement 7900kgs (17,416lbs)

Ballast (shallow) 3,340kgs (7,369lbs)

Naval architects: Farr Yacht Design

Interior design: Nauta Design

EC Certificates – Category A

Standard mainsail 46m
Standard genoa (135%) 52m2
Standard symmetric spinnaker 128m2

Regatta mainsail 50m2

Regatta genoa (105%) 40.5m2

Regatta symmetric spinnaker 132m2