Below is the 10 page article that is found on the Finot site
in French. IT has some good comments and an excellent technical
section. Unfortunately, one had to be well-versed in French to
garner anything, that is, until fellow F235 sailor Boudewijn Neijens
did the painful duty. Many thanks for translation, Boudewijn.
Beneteau First 235
Nr 346, March 1987
By trying to offer pocket cruisers that
are too comfy, builders have often neglected the sailing qualities
of these boats. Not so with Beneteau, whose First 235 designed
by Groupe Finot is far from having its wings clipped, yet remains
comfortable as well.
Pocket cruisers have not resisted well to
the economic downturn, despite a much lower purchase price than
cruisers in the 8 to 9 meter range. One of the main reasons seems
to be an abundant second-hand market for smaller cruisers, which
for years dominated the market. The moorage and maintenance costs
are also proportionally higher for these smaller sailboats. Customers
are also asking for more and more comfort, whereas smaller cruisers
require an ascetic life.
competition between the various builders is fierce and margins
on smaller boats are low, which discourages builders of investing
in new models. Despite all this Beneteau has recently released
the First 24, the Class7 and the First 235, all three trailerable,
innovative and truly fun to sail.
The First 235 is therefore not your average
cruiser. The architect managed to combine performance and liveability.
Rather than opting for a bulky hull, the architect focussed on
speed with an extremely long water line, which leads to a near-vertical
bow that actually looks quite good, contrary to all expectations.
This configuration is now quite common on catamarans, and is also
present on the Mini-Transat boats - which are actually as long
as the F235. The thin bow and the 7/8th rigging give the boat
an aggressive and dynamic look. The designer has also managed
to diminish the visual impact of the deck fittings and the cabin
Easy does it
As with any boat of this size, the F235
is extremely easy to manoeuvre: a simple kick will push it off
the dock, and a few swings with the tiller will set the boat in
motion. The outboard engine is normally attached to the transom,
but we decided to test the boat without using the engine at all.
We sailed up and down the narrow St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie channel
without any trouble, despite barges blocking part of the channel.
The F235 tacks instantly, starts with the smallest breeze and
can be controlled with perfect accuracy thanks the quick reactions
of the rudder.
jib gives the boat plenty of power to sail close-hauled, but could
benefit of a window since the visibility is quite restricted.
The baby-stay makes quick successions of tacking manoeuvres a
bit challenging. Thanks to its higher clew, the working (#1) jib
ensures better visibility and handling. But for our outing the
genoa and its 17m2 acted as a perfect turbo.
We tested the fixed keel version, with a
semi-elliptic keel that seemed very efficient even at lower speeds.
We never noted the typical sideways slip that you encounter when
restarting close-hauled with narrower and deeper keels - as you
would find on the retractable keel models. The rudder also contributes
to the steering pleasure: as with the Class 7, it's a polyester
blade sliding in an elegant and practical aluminium cage. The
two nylon bolts blocking the rudder prevent any annoying slack,
a rare quality on retractable rudders. The rudder axis angle is
a good compromise between balance and sensitivity. All different
keel versions are equipped with the same rudder. next
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