The CNB 76 offers elegance, style and size for a very competitive price. Toby Hodges tests this new flagship from Groupe Beneteau, a boat made possible by her innovative build method
Functional French elegance
“It’s only when you go inside you notice the decksaloon and the reason for the coachroof,” said designer Nicholas Garnier. I agree, the exterior design is sleek enough to forget the purpose below, so the decksaloon comes as something of a surprise.
CNB took the bold move of commissioning interior designer Jean-Marc Piaton. The result is refreshing. The volume he had to work with may be slightly restricted by the tender garage aft, but the innovative layout and styling still work. The stunningly light decksaloon and original master cabin forward have plenty of wow-factor and there’s a harmonious feel to the design throughout the boat.
The trim aboard the test boat was in light oak, which is tinted before being satin varnished, so has a novel green/brown finish. Two other finish colours have been devised as standard options, but there is only one layout. Garnier argues that this saves owners money that they can spend on keel and rig choices.
A keel trunk is designed into the structure to give the option of different draught keels or a lifting version to vary draught from 3.90m to 2.10m. Another key philosophy of the boat is to look after her crew in terms of accommodation. Hence a couple can live aft in comfort with instant access to the galley.
We spent a very pleasant evening on board, dining under the stars in the cockpit. But in addition to noises I found around the boat when sailing, there were enough creaks to disturb sleep in the forward twin cabin. CNB insists this has nothing to do with the modular build, as its method of bonding furniture to the hull remains exactly the same. They were aware of the noises, which they say come from the deck and hull linings where wooden spacers are used. With their reputation for noise insulation, and by committing to such a thorough sea-trial, I’m sure any such imperfections will be resolved.
Saloon The spacious decksaloon is superb. It’s stylish and comfortable with excellent views whether one is standing or sitting, clever indirect lighting and soft colours. It feels luxurious yet welcoming. The opposing sofas to starboard are locked in place by electro magnets, so can swivel to form one big sofa when in port.
The portside tables can seat eight, but can also lower when in relaxation mode. Storage for champagne and wine beneath the sofas is a nice touch and owners receive a case of 36 Bordeaux wines, all from vineyards close to the yard.
The navstation is rather compact with no shelf space for the likes of pilot books. But its aft-facing format is practical. It is within line of sight of the cockpit and is situated beside the companionway.
Galley: this is airy and spacious, yet completely enclosed for safe working at sea. The dividing sink and worksurface also create a bar area next to the galley for guests or crew (with wine fridge/bar to hand). The galley has plenty of fiddled corian worksurface, racks for cookbooks, and a full suite of Miele appliances.
Butterfly doors can close off the galley and crew area from the saloon and an escape hatch provides separate access to the cockpit. Keeping crew happy is a prime objective. Siting this galley next to a very comfortable double with ensuite should achieve that nicely
Forward cabin: with her superb layout, this is a cabin worthy of a superyacht. Even when standing in the entrance the berth remains hidden by a half-bulkhead. Owners can therefore relax on the berth in privacy without feeling the need to close the door.
The bookshelf across the forward bulkhead is a pleasant touch, and with the carpets, leather detailing and velour hull lining, there’s a consistent feel of elegance. There is also good surrounding stowage, with a wardrobe area aft. And the adjoining heads and shower are invitingly large (all heads have heated towel rails)
Guest cabins: the asymmetric format of the cockpit and companionway creates a walkway to starboard of the keel box. This layout naturally favours a smaller Pullman cabin to starboard, and double or twin cabin to port, both with ensuite access. These have reasonable stowage and a contemporary hotel feel to them