A new and improved Beneteau Sense line-up has been announced including two brand new models. Launched in 2010, the Sense 46, the Sense 50, and the Sense 55 will be joined by the new 51 and 57, starting this winter at the US boat shows. Seasoned sailors looking to make long passages take note – this refreshed line has just about everything you’ve been looking for with very few tradeoffs.
New but fewer sizes
The Sense line started with the launch of the 50 and then quickly added 55, 46 and 43 footers (which featured in our round-up of 10 of the best Beneteau yachts). But the larger boats were getting more takers than the smaller vessels, so Beneteau has discontinued both models in the 40-foot range and has instead chosen to introduce two new boats at 51 and 57 feet. The positioning now is toward blue-water sailors with extensive experience, who know what they need for extended cruising.
Although the wide and open transoms had a jaw-dropping effect at boat shows, once in use away from the dock, boaters felt they were dangerous, especially for kids and pets. Beneteau has responded with a great solution. Gone are the helm seats that lifted up and outboard to reveal a completely open aft end. They have been replaced with two fixed seats and an electrically-activated hydraulic transom. The benefit is added safety as the transom provides a backstop for anything that might want to slide out when under way. Another benefit is that when lowered, the transom forms a teak beach that extends the cockpit and provides nice access to the water or the dock.
Nestled inside the newly added helm seats is a galley module. To starboard is an electric Eno grill and to port is a sink and prep station. You can stand on the small aft deck, which is just ahead of the teak beach when the transom is lowered, and prepare dinner. It’s a great way to entertain as the chef interacts with those in the cockpit but still has his or her dedicated space.
Beneteau is also working on a hardtop to cover the cockpit all the way back to the helm stations. The new composite top extends back from the arch that attaches the mainsail sheet. The rigid sides extend laterally out to just above the winches, while the middle is made of canvas that opens and closes like an accordion sunroof, so you can have the cockpit completely covered or open to the sun and breeze. A dodger can still be added from the arch forward.
Overall, the new hardtop is a very clever and workable design that minimises the amount of canvas, which needs frequent replacement – a nuisance on a vessel that voyages to foreign ports. The inboard supports also make excellent vertical handholds when moving about in the aft part of the cockpit.
The Sense interior was revolutionary when introduced. The concept created open spaces that didn’t feel buried in the hull and the quiet cabins were moved away from onboard machinery. In this, the Sense holds onto its initial innovations. Like the 50, the 51 offers two cabins and heads with a third room that can be either an over/under bunk cabin or an office. The 57 looks much like the 55, with three cabins and three heads.
The saloon and galley layout also remain the same but the finishes have been changed throughout. Beneteau added a rich Alpi walnut colour wood with a deeper tone to the trim paint. The cabinetry is more elegantly finished at the edges, and the locker faces can now be either light lacquered finishes or a continuation of the wood tones. With their new Italian head of product planning and development, Gianguido Girotti, Beneteau is adding a stylish luxury to their yachts.
Under Power and Sail
For anyone who may have heard that the Sense was nothing more than a floating apartment, let it be known that her builders rate the performance quite highly. With two choices of keels and incredibly sleek profiles, both models in the line are expected to perform exceptionally but still be well-mannered when sailed by a cruising couple. For improved downwind performance, a long bowsprit has been added to carry a Code 0. It elongates the boat, giving it an aggressive look as well as providing more room for the anchor roller.
Auxiliary power sources have also been introduced. Under power, the Sense 57 will have a choice of two engines: An 80 HP Yanmar diesel with saildrive or a 110hp Yanmar with a straight shaft (saildrive is not yet available on engines over 100hp). The 51 will offer an 80hp Yanmar with saildrive.
At the risk of making yet another pun regarding the name, the Sense now makes even more sense, particularly as a go-far boat. With nearly 750 litres of fuel and more than 300 litres of water (an extra tank and watermaker may be added), a genset, and slightly larger engines, the boats have the ability to go just about anywhere.
Sailors who have spent time away from the dock both under sail and at anchor will appreciate the practical as well as the aesthetic changes. I know I’ll be looking to sail one as soon as they arrive at US docks, sometime in early 2017.