French yacht builder Beneteau, with its U.S. subsidiary Beneteau USA in Marion, S.C., is well known for its First and Oceanis series of yachts. Beneteau has now introduced a radically new design to its successful fleet of production yachts in the 30 – 50 foot range. The new 50-foot Sense marks a departure in styling and purpose for the French builder and design team trio Beneteau, Nauta Design and Berret Racoupeau whose boats have been the workhorses of the charter industry for decades.
The new Sense 50, while a fast and able passagemaker, has also been designed with living aboard in mind. The boat’s layout is a departure from traditional accommodation plans and emphasizes open, well-lit, well-ventilated living spaces and more European styling.
Beginning on deck, this is not your father’s Beneteau by any means. An innovative terraced cockpit design features twin wheels in a lower, more secure cockpit which, combined with the boat’s stretched lines, improve access to the saloon and sea via the essentially open step down transom. The aft helm seats can be raised for loading or when complete access to the cockpit is required.
The absence of an aft cabin below enabled the designers to create an ultra-wide and spacious cockpit with a unique and comfortable seating arrangement below which they have located steering and machinery space along with a voluminous and accessible storage. An additional advantage of having the machinery space located under the cockpit is that it dramatically reduces noise level in the main cabin. Access to critical systems for maintenance is also improved.
As expected, the Sense 50’s forward deck is clean with flush hatches on the deck and the forward cabin trunk. The side decks are wide. All of the sail control lines lead to the cockpit. The uncluttered feel of the cockpit is further enhanced by the main sheet leading to a fixed arch above the house leaving the companionway unobstructed. Primary and secondary winches are conventionally located on the cockpit coaming.
The boats have been designed to sail more even keeled than most cruising yachts, with the hull designed to deliver maximum performance at a 15-degree angle of heel as opposed to 20. According to Beneteau, vessel motion is easier, safer and more comfortable.
Below deck the Sense 50 is wide open. The companionway is convenient and provides access to the saloon in just three broad steps at a 45-degree angle, with wide hand rails to ensure safety of movement. Two large aft facing windows flank the companionway to add light and a feeling of oneness with the cockpit space. A clean starboard galley faces the dining/living area and flows into the rest of the living space. A centerline island with a 32-inch concealed flat-screen TV subtly defines each space. In keeping with the yacht’s clean modern look and in an effort to embrace multifunctionalism, many components, such as the stove top, fold away when not being used or when at sea. Elegant and contemporary in every way, the interior is finished in Alpi fruitwood with a contrasting bleached oak cabin sole. Sinks and counter surfaces are built of easy-to-maintain synthetic resins.
Moving forward, owners have the choice of either a two or three cabin arrangement with one guest head and shower. The third sleeping cabin with over and under single bunks to starboard can easily be configured as a shipboard office. Forward most, the master cabin features a centerline king-size bunk, en suite head and shower and spacious lockers and storage. The forward accommodations and heads may be closed off by a door to the saloon assuring the utmost in privacy.
The Sense 50 will make its debut in the U.S. this fall at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md. The new yacht’s European styling, open concept saloon and multifunctional design features are sure to pique the interest of perspective owners who had been reluctant to consider a boat of this size as a functional liveaboard.