Beneteau - Oceanis 45
Beneteau’s new trio of Oceanis cruisers, the 41, 45 and 48, epitomises contemporary yacht design where the emphasis is user-friendly, but not at the expense of performance, with the 45 providing a good combination of luxury, price and power.
Having sailed all three of the new Oceanis yachts recently, my editor asked me, “which one would you choose?” That got me thinking. Money matters for most prospective buyers, so the six-figure difference in price between the 41 and 48 is significant, whereas it’s more than halved between the 41 and the 45. For sailors regularly doing offshore passages, the longer the waterline, the faster you can go and the more versatility the interior has, which means it can be chartered out or cope with large family gatherings.
These factors pointed me towards the mid-sized 45 with its four-cabin layout and a more manageable size for my wife and I to sail together; especially if fitted with Beneteau’s Dock&Go system. Boat handling in close quarters gives most of us a bit of stress at the best of times, so it’s not surprising development aimed at this area has continued apace and Beneteau has led the way with their pod sail drive linking the bow thruster with the main engine.
Sitting on board the 45 while talking about the merits of it was particularly interesting. “A key point is the mast now being in line with the keel, which maximises the centre of effort,” explained Pascal Conq, the designer. “This also allowed a more even spread of sail area across the hull,” he added.
Looking around the cockpit, the most striking feature is the mainsail arch, taken from the new Sense range and now featured on the new Oceanis trio. This GRP structure runs the mainsheet on blocks and allows the sheeting to be fairly far down the boom for greater control. The other big plus is that it strongly supports a sprayhood that can extend into a cockpit tent. Inheriting much of the DNA from the older Oceanis range, the large cockpit is deep and clad in Iroko, an African hardwood similar to teak. The foldup table is substantially built and while at sea, its flaps are a good bracing position when heeled.
The twin helm binnacles are integrated into the cockpit bulkheads while allowing plenty space for crew to pass between the electric fold down transom swim platform. Good features at the binnacles include a prominent compass with a centralised plotter on the table and readouts on either helm, with engine controls to port. Deck gear is by Harken, with the primary H50.2ST right to hand at the helms. Halyard control on our review boat was done with an electric winch on the cabin top, with an adjoining manual one. The overall cockpit layout is functional and works both for cruising and the occasional regatta.
The decks give good grip underfoot, while outboard shrouds clear the way to the wide foredeck, an ideal sunbathing area at anchor. The anchor setup uses a vertical windlass with capstan, the latter an excellent addition on a cruising boat, while dual bow rollers allow a second set of rode to be used. Other good features on the deck include midship cleats and something that the 45 has over the 41, a dedicated sail locker.
Accommodation options range from two, to the family orientated four-cabin model and up to three bathrooms can be incorporated, while the owner’s suite is forward. The user-friendly theme of this new Oceanis flows through the saloon as well as on deck, thanks to shallow angled steps. But not to my liking are the saloon style doors on the main hatch, an issue I put to my onboard designer. “This design allows us a much lower entry sill into the cabin,” explained Pascal. Down below, there is a lot natural light, with cockpit-facing windows illuminating the rear cabins and portside galley.
The longitudinal galley has a two burner LPG stove, twin sinks and plenty of locker space while a top opening 85 litre icebox and front opening fridge freezer takes care of perishable food. This area adjoins the lounge, which features a bench with sliding table. Traditional navigators may not like this approach, as the aft navigation area has limited bulkhead space for electronics, plus instrument controls are on the starboard side. Opposite, the conventional dinette has an additional outside bench that can seat a large family. As an option, the table can turn into another bunk. Just behind, our review boat had the amazingly spacisou main bathroom.
Up forward, the owner is well rewarded with spacious ensuite accommodation. The island bed has good headroom, surrounding shelf space and wardrobes. Ducts for the optional air conditioning are another good comfort feature while LED spotlights illuminate the queen-sized bed. Moving aft the twin cabins are symmetrical and greatly benefit from the cockpit facing hatches.
Usefully, both cabins allow access to the Yanmar 54 hp diesel. The POD 90 Dock & Go gearbox takes up less space than a traditional transmission. Front access is slightly hampered by installation high on its GRP engine mounts, but side access should allow all the basics to be reached – impeller, oil, filters, water and gearbox.
Rig and hull
Our review boat came with a Mediterranean style rig of twin large headsails – a small Code Zero on the outer stay and genoa inside – which gave plenty of power in the typically lighter conditions. The Z-Spars 9/10th alloy rig is well supported with twin outboard wire shrouds and double backstays (with screw adjustment). One pre-production niggle on our boat, hull number 1, that Beneteau is adjusting is the tall boom height. It is beyond eye level for average height sailors, so difficult to douse the mainsail; though there are mast steps. According to Beneteau, this will be lowered on future models.
The hull is built using solid polyester layup with similar inner moulding bonded for rigidity while the deck is injection moulded GRP/balsa sandwich. A chine is used to maximise beam while minimising wetted area when heeled. The wide beam is carried aft to ensure enough volume for carrying the sailplan further back. The keel is a cast iron fin with bulbed foot and a large spade rudder is connected to the twin helms.
Sitting outboard on the smooth wooden coamings allowed clear views of the genoa telltales from the helm. Ideally placed for shorthanded sailing, the big Harken 50.2 ST winches easily could be wound for trimming the headsail while steering.
The light breeze blowing gently along the French coast, from the old shipbuilding town of La Ciotat, allowed us to fly the Code Zero headsail. With the tail end of a Mistral storm having passed a day before, the lumpy sea was a good test of how the 9.55-tonne hull could cope with pushing through the chop – it did so with ease. I noted a speedy 8.3knots during our beam reach as the wind hovered around 12.6knots.
Wishing to change my point of sail, I unfurled the genoa and aided by Pascal, wound in the Code Zero as we hardened up on the wind, going to 50 degrees while the slippery hull sped up to 9.1 knots. The large diameter stainless wheels felt a bit heavy, giving a fair degree of weather helm (but preferable to lee helm). With the boat heeled my feet sought some grip, so ideally some wooden foot chocks should be fitted. But in cruising mode, you’d simply switch on the Simrad autopilot and keep watch from beneath the sheltered sprayhood. Seeking some more pressure, I tacked and watched as the sheets ran freely while I moved between the helms to the high side, the hull slipping around quickly on her big spade rudder. Also out on the water was her big sister, the Oceanis 48, which we kept pace with, much to Pascal Conq’s delight, since the bigger boat is a Berret Recoupeau design. This impressed me and confirmed that the Oceanis 45 is a nimble boat.
With the mainsail easily flaked into its lazy jacks it was time to use the Dock&Go mooring system. The quiet operation of this system is uncanny and the reaction to the joystick prods nearly instantaneous. Beneteau’s system, developed in conjunction with Yanmar and ZF, simplifies manoeuvring by using a joystick control. It takes minutes to master the system – you push the joystick in your desired direction of travel and the boat slides that way. For more power simply twist the joystick and away you go.
Our test day confirmed my positive expectations of the Oceanis 45. Sure, this pre-production model had a few glitches – high boom, heavy helm and a limited charting area – but overall this model should satisfy a wide variety of sailors. Now, to persuade the wife...
In Asia: www.simpsonmarine.com
Technical Specifications – Beneteau Oceanis 45
Length overall: 13.85 m
Hull length: 13.50 m
Waterline length: 13.05 m
Beam: 4.49 m
Displacement: 9,550 kg
Draught: 2.15 m
Mainsail: 50 m2
Genoa (104 %): 50.5 m2
Asymmetric spinnaker: 156 m2
Engine: Yanmar 54 HP Pod 90
Fuel: 200 L
Water: 330 L (+ 200 L option )
CE Certification requested: A10 / B11 / C12
Design: Finot-Conq & Associates
Design Interior: Nauta Design