Beneteau continues to show that performance hull shapes adapt smartly to cruising needs too. Rupert Holmes sails its prototype new flagship the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60
Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60 review
A measure of how much yacht design has moved on over the past few years is that Beneteau’s replacement for the successful Oceanis Yacht 62 (2016), the new Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60, is smaller and visually sleeker, with lower freeboard, and a whopping five tonnes less displacement. Yet it offers the same accommodation volume.
As a result the new Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60 design has a dramatically different character and is a boat that sails very nicely, while also providing an enviable amount of space. The hull shape is an evolution of the one Roberto Biscontini created for the Beneteau First 53 and Oceanis Yacht 54. However, as the 60 was developed solely as a cruising boat, there’s more allowance for additional payload and broader forward sections, with flare above the waterline but no chine or knuckle.
This increases the interior volume ahead of the mast and improves form stability. It also helps to confer better hull balance, as the bow doesn’t dip as much when the boat heels. In addition, the greater volume forward also provides an owner’s suite forward of a size that in the past would have been more commonly found on yachts well over 70ft.
Our Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60 test took place from Les Sables d’Olonne on a stunning July day on the prototype boat. It was finger light on the helm in all conditions and surprised us by consistently being faster on all points of sail, and in all wind strengths we experienced, than the new First 44.
Sitting outboard on the windward coaming you can see the lower jib telltale, although the entire luff is only visible when helming from leeward. There are effective foot chocks for use when the boat is heeled, and a comfortable upholstered seat with a backrest aft of the wheels.
Upwind in around 12 knots of true wind we made an easy 7.5 knots of boat speed at a true wind angle of around 50°, with the boat heeling only moderately. When the wind picked up to 15 knots, we accelerated to a maximum of 8.3 knots, despite heading up 5° to a true wind angle of 45°.
Electric winches are located outboard on the coaming and can be reached from the helm or controlled via buttons on the instrument consoles. They can also be operated from the side deck, which is protected in this area by a deep bulwark topped by a guardrail higher than the standard 60cm.
There’s plenty of space to walk aft of the helm and going forward from here is unobstructed, even though the D1 shrouds are outboard, rather than on the coachroof and there are only two small steps up to the foredeck.
Bearing away from the wind we set the Incidences Voile Code 3. This is intended as a versatile furling sail for either close reaching in light airs or further off the wind in more breeze. In 18 knots of true wind, at 145° true we maintained more than 9 knots boat speed. Hardening up 20° had us surfing at speeds just into double digits. The boat was now well loaded up, but the helm still light, with plenty of bite left in the leeward rudder.
The test model of the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60 was fitted with the optional black lacquered aluminium performance rig that’s 1.5m taller than the standard alloy furling mast. That apparently modest difference, however, masks a significant difference in sail area between the two options.
The taller rig, with a fully battened slab reefing mainsail and 105% genoa, sets a massive 30% more sail than the furling rig with a self-tacking jib. This clearly has a big impact on performance, on how rewarding the boat is to sail and on speeds in lighter conditions.
Later in the test, for instance, the breeze eased considerably, with the sea at times almost a glassy calm. However, with the Code 3 the boat kept going surprisingly well, reaching at speeds close to five knots.
This sail is arguably less of a compromise compared to an asymmetric spinnaker on this yacht than it would be on many smaller craft. The vessel’s size and performance potential means there are far fewer occasions in which a spinnaker cut for running at deep angles is needed. On the downside, the furler on our boat was set up to be operated manually, which requires a tangible amount of effort.
The long bowsprit has Code sails tacked halfway along, an asymmetric spinnaker from the end, and incorporates anchor stowage. There’s also a large foredeck sail locker, with an option for a skipper’s cabin instead.
At the transom, an electrically operated bathing platform drops down to reveal a longitudinal tender garage for a Williams 280 Jet RIB, which is equipped with a roller system and electric winch for launch and recovery. Almost all the 62s have been sold with this configuration, although there is also space for a Highfield 290 RIB if the bow section is deflated. This is a lighter option that may appeal.
There are two large lockers under each side deck outboard of the helm stations, plus smaller storage areas under the cockpit benches and the double width helm seats. Liferaft stowage is under the forward parts of the cockpit: it’s fairly neat but does mean the raft has to be slid a long way aft to reach the transom before deployment.
It’s good to see rope bins under the aft end of the cockpit seats. However, these are too small to deal with all the lines inherent with a slab reefing mainsail, but will be less of a problem for the bulk of boats, which are expected to be sold with in-mast furling systems.
Life above decks
The test Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60 the optional hardtop over the cockpit has a sliding fabric central section allowing it to be easily opened up. The substantial sprayhood is fixed to the standard cockpit arch at its aft end and has opening windows in the central section. These provided a welcome draught of fresh air on the day of our test, which saw temperatures nudging 40°C.
The guest cockpit area has L-shaped seats on both sides, each with tables that have stainless steel drinks holders. Both tables fold out for dining and drop down to create a huge day bed on each side. It’s a neat arrangement, although when dining alfresco you’re a long way from everyone on the other side of the cockpit.
There are plenty of handholds in the cockpit and at a convenient height on the hardtop around the aft section of the side decks. However, these don’t extend as far forward as the companionway.
Once you reach the saloon, twin stainless steel handrails under the deck head are great for most people, but will be too high for smaller crewmembers.
Beneteau wanted to move away from a classic layout for the interior of this boat and it’s also noticeable that there are none of the compromises that can arise out of a need to create different versions for charter and private owners. Every Oceanis Yacht 62 was sold to a private buyer, and only a very small proportion of those subsequently placed their boats with charter companies.
Inside the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60
As such, Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 60 was conceived from the outset for private owners and the only layout available is the standard three cabin, three heads arrangement, with an optional skipper cabin forward.
As per the 53/54, it has been stylishly designed by Lorenzo Argento. The saloon has a deeply upholstered two-person sofa on one side, plus seating around a comfortable coffee table that opens out to provide dining for up to eight people on the other. This can also be lowered for use as a day bed, while large hull windows at eye level give a good view of the outside and boost levels of natural light.
To starboard, there’s a brilliant large curved navigation station with a comfortable bucket seat. This will be great for passage planning and for anyone who needs to work while on board, although of course there’s little privacy in this part of the boat.
The forward galley has the main working areas to starboard where there’s loads of worktop space, plus a three burner cooker with hood and provision for an optional two third size domestic dishwasher. To port there are huge storage areas including a massive amount of refrigeration as standard.
You can strap yourself in at the cooker, but the galley doesn’t otherwise lend itself to use when well heeled on starboard tack. Apart from that, it’s a great setup for use when sailing at lower angles of heel and when in port or at anchor.
The forward owner’s cabin is very spacious and will clearly be a big selling point. It’s more like that of a small superyacht of 10 to 15 years ago and compares favourably with the CNB 76.
The entry area has a large head and shower off to starboard, forward of which there is a big forward-facing bed that you can walk around.
There’s a great feeling of space and privacy with a genuinely large amount of stowage, plus four opening overhead hatches for ventilation.
Mirror image aft cabins are more conventional, but still large and pleasant spaces with good stowage, plus en suites with separate shower stalls. The port cabin is set up as a full en suite, whereas the starboard doubles as a day head with access from near the companionway steps. This cabin can also be configured either with a very wide double berth or as two rather slim singles with an infill for conversion to a giant double.
The lack of the Oceanis Yacht 62’s single level sole throughout the accommodation is barely noticeable. It feels natural to step down into the forward galley, which puts you more at eye level with those sitting in the saloon. Equally there’s nothing awkward about the small steps next to the companionway down to the aft cabins.
As standard, tankage is relatively modest, at 500lt for fuel and 800lt for water. This points to more of a Mediterranean-type use, rather than ocean cruising. However, a 100lt per hour watermaker is offered as an option, which will significantly extend the boat’s autonomy, even if range under power is less than that of some yachts of a similar size.
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This is a thoroughly likeable yacht that, unlike many of its size, proved to be fun and rewarding to sail, while also being easy to handle in most respects. There’s no doubt that the reduced displacement and lower freeboard compared to its predecessor are big factors in this. However, the taller rig and greatly increased sail area of our test boat, compared to the standard configuration with a shorter furling mast, were clearly big factors. Nevertheless, it’s a very appealing design with impressive and well thought out accommodation, including a forward owner’s suite that’s without parallel in this size of yacht. For a boat aimed so directly at private owners this will clearly be a big selling point.