Beneteau First 235

Below is a compilation of various comments from owners and newsgroups, mostly via sailnet and Beneteauowners,net. Permission to reprint in part here is hazy at best. Links to all sources are located in the LINKS page. At right are various pics, all linking to larger versions whether it be line drawings  or full-size, high resolution pictures.. Click on the links to view. See note on HULL-Transom joint

NOTE: All shots at right of the F235 link to high resolution 1200 pixel versions.  Click each to see full. Most of these are suitable for desktop backgrounds.



Simply put, she is a blast to sail
After one season of getting to know my F235, I am continually impressed with how extremely well she is designed, and how well she sails. Simply put, she is a blast to sail.

- Andrew Cummings




Surfing down big waves is a blast!
Great on all points of sail! Needs a big spinnaker. Outpaces Martin 224 and J22 upwind (did I say it needs a big spinnaker?) Surfing down big waves on Lake Michigan is a blast!

- Joe Bainbridge




Unbeatable Package
Quick, not overly tender... does very well in light air and is very seaworthy in heavy air if sail trim is appropriate. Original hardware is high quality, as is workmanship. As a pocket cruiser, it's an unbeatable package with the best cabin layout and appointments in it's size range.

- Geoff Coleman




Well Thought Out Design
The boat is a well thought out design. Almost everything that should be there IS there.....but it is not cluttered up with useless gadgets. It handles superbly in every wind speed, and is a perfect size for overnight and weekend cruises. And it is a fine boat as far as quality of construction......much better built than anything else I have owned.

The 235 handles very well. It has a very slight weather helm. I sail mostly with the Main and Jib, and find that it will reach Hull Speed easily in winds of about 8 knts. I have sailed in 25 knt winds several times with no problems.

- David Brill

Click for larger view (Horz)
      - click above for larger horizontal view -         

Click for larger view (horz)

          Beneteau First 235 Line Drawing            
      - click above for larger horizontal view -

It is a Blast to Sail!
It performs great! It is quick, responsive and a blast to sail. Ours is the Liberty Cup Edition. It has outstanding accommodations to boot.

The outhaul is currently 1:1 and there is no cunningham. We has a very minor leak on the anchor locker which was repaired by recaulking the drain.

The boat sails very well, even to windward, considering we have the wing keel. The boat is responsive and therefore demands attention.

The boat motors well, the outboard well allows steering with the motor tiller which is very helpful. Motor noise is intolerable in the aft berth. The gas tank can remain in the lazerette while motoring. The fuel line can be lead to the motor and the lazerette door closed on it without any problems.

It is surprisingly livable. This is a very big small boat.

- Michael Garman
I get a kick out of chasing down bigger boats
I love the speed, ease of handling, and creative use of interior space. I get a kick out of chasing down bigger boats on the river and smokin' by them...

As the husband of a non-sailing, non-swimming spouse, I can tell you to reef early. On one of our first outings, we got the backlash of a passing thunderstorm in the form of 25 knot gusts and the squeal-o-meter was steadily sounding. I'm working on the sensitivity of that meter, but with the f235's big main, it pays to be attentive to the weather. Other than that one incident, which we were never out of control during, the boat has sailed great. I've taken her out single handed a number of times and have had no trouble pressing her hard or just lazily ghosting. I'm dying to try out the Gennaker. My only complaint is due to her balance. The boat is stern and starboard heavy. I found she handled best with a full water tank (in the bow) and extra gear on the port side of the aft berth.

- David Walters

They are not the easiest boats to race
The 235 are really neat boats in a lot of ways offering great performance and reasonable accommodations in a shoal draft boat. I also think they have well above average build quality for this genre of boat.

They are not the easiest boats to race. While they are really quite fast for a trailerable boat, they require quite a bit of skill to keep them at speed. Also, in most areas they are rated close to even with boats like the J-24 and Kirby 25 which is a tough rating range for the boat to sail competitively.

- JeffH

Watch the weight distribution
I race the First 235, finishing my 2nd season. Here in the Chesapeake Bay the wing-keel 235s rate 198 or so. While I still feel that I haven't done the boat justice with my performance, here are a few thoughts:

Watch the weight distribution fore and aft. She will drag her stern if everybody sits back in the cockpit. I stopped racing with empty water tank after seeing a picture of her with the bow out of the water!

Don't pinch! Winged keel boats won't point with fin keels, so foot off and go fast.

Downwind: when you find out how to go fast, tell me! Again, I think it's a matter of weight distribution and being steady at the helm. Good luck!

- First Offense
You can tell the design is from Finot
NOTE: The original owner raced the boat quite a bit and had Leif Beiley (who designed the B-32 and B-25) design a new bulb keel that had another 1' of draft.

The boat's best features: The quality of the build. The performance is pretty good for a cruiser/racer. She goes faster than many boats larger than her. Not quite as fast as a J 24 or Martin 224. The interior is very well thought out and feels like a bigger boat than it is. Her lines are pretty cool too. Kind of like a mini transat.

You can tell the design is from Finot.

Problem areas in terms of design, materials, maintenance, etc.: The rudder is a little tough too deal with when the nylon bolts strip. I like wonder if a double rudder would have been better like the First 211.

Sailing characteristics: Upwind, she sails pretty well up to and stiff. Above 15kts of wind, I drop to a 100% jib. Over 20kts and its time to reef though I haven't done that yet. Reaching is the fastest point of sail and she can hold a lot of sail I guess because of the extra foot of draft. Top speed so far has been 7.5kts in about 15-20kts of wind. Running under spinnaker is OK but a little rolly.

- Jeff Burne
Has best layout of its class
Excellent layout and fast sailor for its size. A little unstable in a following sea due to blunt stern. Excellent value

I love the looks, cabin layout, ease of maintenance, ease of sail, speed, and stability at rest.

I generally sail in 15 - 20 knots , seas 2' - 5'. Boat has large sail area with 150 Genoa and tends to overpower in winds 18-20 knots. Boat sails well with just Genoa or main in heavier air

For a 24', has best layout of its class. Aft cabin is great for kids. Forward bunks are nice and long for adults. I'm 6'2

- David Smith
Easy for one person to handle
I'll probably keep it till I win the LOTTO and buy my Gozzard 37'. It's a great little boat. It looks fast, just tied up to my mooring! Sails very well and is easy for one person to handle. I have had it over 6 knots many times by myself. Once it starts healing over 20 degrees, you have to really be careful though because it can go over to 40 degrees, or even more, in a good gust.

I love the ease of handling - Speed - Looks - Amenities for a boat this size (enclosed head, amount/comfort of berths, chart table, locker room, light down below, anchor locker)

But it can become overpowered very quickly. It has a large main and you can get in trouble if you don't watch it.

It's a great boat but you don't see many for sale. Those that have them, don't want to give them up!

- Jeff Sand
They do tend to list
> I would like to here thoughts about the Beneteau 235. I
> have made an offer one... Looks like 235's list sligthly to
> the starboard side; I've seen three in the water and
> they all demonstrate this characteristic. I am interested
> in how they perform in heavy weather (4 to 5 foot waves).

You're right, with the outboard, holding tank, and battery all on the starboard side, they do tend to list. It only seems to be a day sailing issue, if you take her cruising the port side aft cabin become a "garage" and she floats level. One of these days I'll move the battery to port side.

Concerning, heavy weather, I was off-shore in the Sea of Cortez when an unforecast Norther hit, and she did fine (40 knots and 8+ foot squarish waves). If you're looking for a boat you can trailer reasonably and still trust when the weather turns sour, the 235 is a great choice. Most other boats in this size are strictly lake and bay boats.

- Harry
Give me LEAD!
Ghosts along well in the light stuff - even with a just a working jib.Overpowers quickly around 15kts. It doesn't take much in the way of gusts to make you take a reef. Tough to keep her on her feet without shortening sail early. Another 100-200 lbs in the keel would make a huge difference. Give me LEAD! (I think Beneteau was uncomfortable using lead in their early wing keels and used iron for 'toughness')

- Erik Pedersen
I don't think there is anything comparable
We love it, and it's proven to be an even better boat than we thought when we purchased it. I don't think there is anything comparable when you look at quality, performance and amenities combined. And, it's trailerable.

Gear that's been added: CD, CB (that's what we use around here instead of VHF), cockpit cushions, asym spinnaker, mylar 155, tiller extension

Structural or complex improvements indude Windward sheeting traveler car and cockpit reefing lines. Also added beefed up backing for rudder gudgeons.

The First 235's best features include its performance and quality of construction and gear.

Problem areas in terms of design, materials, maintenance, etc.: The rudder is deeper than the wing keel and therefore grounds first, potentially putting a lot of stress on the transom and fittings. We haven't had problems, but I know of others who have.

Sailing characteristics: Very solid and fast for her size. Seems overbuilt and easily handles heavy conditions when others stay in port. Points better with some mast rake and if not overtrimmed. Sails well reefed, and should be reefed fairly early due to large main.

Motoring characteristics: A little underpowered in heavy stuff with our 4 horse outboard. Otherwise fine.

Livability: Pretty comfortable for two on 2-5 day cruises. Tight for more than two.

- Dave Gruendel

Hull to Transom Reinforcement Needed

I have read several points concerning the question of this hull to lower transom joint. Indeed, I believe it also has something to do with why the First 235 rudder is attached to the aluminum housing with large plastic screws, which might give before the joint. On the other hand, this apparently didn't happen here. And there is question as to whether the bolt breakaway would really save a bad hard grounding. I dont think it would and seeing that many owners have attempted to fortify their rudders, this might be a moot point anyway.

Well, I have to agree that I believe the rudder with the wing keel should have been designed differently. The rudder system doesnt appear to be the best design for more challenging conditions. On the other hand, Beneteau did design the rudder so that is can be used one notch up so it would draw less water than the wing keel. Unfortunately, you trade-off is even less holding power with more roundup potential, not to mention a tiller that is not floating up in the air.  This would be remedied if the tiller was connected directly to the rudder housing bracket, something they did on later models using this style ie First 27.7, 25.7, etc.

Still, one of the worrisome points also appears to be the joint at the transom. First 235 owner Pat Turner saw this first hand after running into a concrete post while motoring, separating the lower portion of his transom from the hull.  I think any owner should consider reinforcing this joint. Many of have modified the rudder attachment but have failed to put much thought into this potentially troublesome area at the hull to transom area.  At the very least, care must be observed in shallows or areas where underwater objects might be lurking.  The problem is, accidents do happen.


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