The First 14 scooped up the first award for Beneteau's new range as one Sail Magazine's 'Best Boats 2019' winners.
The simple yet robust and versatile boat won the best boat title in the 'Daysailer' category, and was one of three other boats in the First range to make it's debut at the Newport Boat Show in the United States last October. The First 18, 24, and 27 also proved popular with the public, with this prize in particular confirming the range's success.
The First will be shown at the Nautic boat show in Paris this month, and at Boot Dusseldorf in January.
The Figaro Beneteau 3 was also awarded the best boat prize in the 'Performance Boat over 31ft' category.
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.