Beneteau Oceanis 400 / 411: used boat review
Rupert Holmes reviews the Beneteau Oceanis 400 / 411 - one of the biggest-selling designs ever for Beneteau.
One of the longest running model ranges in Beneteau’s history, this boat offers an impressive amount of space at a competitive price.
The model was introduced as the Oceanis 400 in 1993, before being revamped as the Oceanis 411 in 1997. The 411 shares most of the 400 design’s key features but benefits from a slightly drawn out transom and larger bathing platform. There were subsequently Celebration and Clipper versions of the 411, which saw some styling changes and a higher level of equipment. The same hull was also used for a centre cockpit model, the 40CC, sold from the mid-1990s onwards. In total well over 1,000 examples were sold by the time production finally stopped after more than 10 years.
The Oceanis 400 was designed by Groupe Finot – which has an impressive racing heritage – as a high-volume cruiser that would nevertheless have good handling characteristics. It’s one of the second generation of the Oceanis range, which had already become firmly established as a favourite among private boat owners and charter operators who wanted a supremely spacious boat that didn’t cost a fortune.
At the time the accommodation set new standards for boats of this size, including a giant galley with huge fridge and massive amounts of worktop area that occupied the entire port side of the saloon. Opposite this was a large dining table surrounded by settees with seating for up to eight crew. There are two very generously sized quarter cabins aft, with good stowage, ample clearance above the double berths and plenty of natural light. There’s also a heads/shower compartment near the companionway, plus a proper chart table on the opposite side of the boat.
However it's the en suite master cabin forward that really sets this boat apart from its contemporaries. This takes up the entire forward section of the boat, with an almost rectangular (rather than triangular) bed, lots of room to move around, class leading stowage, a generously proportioned en suite right forward and even a small sofa. In some ways this is a more attractive arrangement than the typical owner's aft cabin of centre cockpit yachts, as effective ventilation in hot weather tends to be much easier to arrange in the forward part of the boat. Arguably the biggest downside is the lack of an island bed that can be accessed from both sides.
There were also a relatively small number of models produced with a four-cabin layout in which there was an additional twin berth cabin with bunk beds forward of the main saloon, together with a smaller double, however the boat was a little small for this arrangement and therefore feels cramped. There was also a two-cabin layout offered, with a larger saloon, although again relatively few of these were produced, most of them for the North American market. The centre cockpit models retained the spacious forward ensuite, and added a larger double cabin aft, with en suite, island berth and good stowage.
On deck and performance
When launched, the Oceanis 400 was one of the first boats of this size designed for an all-furling sail plan, which means they have a slightly larger rig to take account of the loss in sail area associated with furling mainsails. However, later models, including the Oceanis 411 were also offered with conventional slab reefing mainsails. They were therefore for a period commonly seen in the bareboat classes at Caribbean regattas and at least one has been a regular competitor at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week for the past few years.
An impressive feature is the large cockpit, with a decent sized central table that makes it easy to brace yourself in position when the boat is well heeled and is great for alfresco dining. One aspect that visually dates the boat is the large single wheel, although there is still a walk-through transom that is ideal both for swimming from the boat when the weather allows and for safe boarding from a dinghy.
There are two wide shallow cockpit lockers, plus dedicated stowage for gas and an anchor locker right forward. However, on earlier models at least, the chain locker is not particularly deep and the chain can jam below the windlass when recovering the anchor.
The beamy hull has fairly full forward sections and is relatively heavy, so despite the larger sail area relative to some competitors, the boat is not particularly quick in light airs. The shallow draught is also a handicap when sailing to windward – even the deeper draught keel option has only 1.7m draught, which would be considered very shallow for a boat of this size by today’s standards. However above 10 knots of true wind on a reach, a long effective waterline length means that good average speeds are achievable.
What it does best
This is a spacious boat for family sailing that provides privacy and room to spread out, both on deck and below, at an attractive price.
Sailing performance and handling is not as good as a more performance oriented design.
Hull length: 11.85m
Draught (standard keel): 1.7m
Draught (shoal draught option): 1.45m
Where to buy a Beneteau Oceanis 400 / Oceanis 411
Beneteau Oceanis 400 yacht for sale on www.boats.com
Beneteau Oceanis 411 yacht for sale on www.boats.com
Beneteau Oceanis 40CC
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