Are Beneteau Boats Blue Water Boats? (Explained)

Beneteau is a French company with a long history of building boats.

Beneteau works with some of the world’s top marine architects to design their boats. These world-class architects include designers such as Biscontini, German Frers, and Farr Yacht Design, to name but a few.

Together these naval architects have designed boats that have competed in world-class ocean yacht racing events such as America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race, and the Vendee Globe.

Beneteau has worked with these designers to design and produce blue water cruising yachts.

Here’s Why Beneteau Boats are Blue Water Boats:

Beneteau is the biggest builder of production boats built to such high standards that some of their models can easily be considered blue water boats. Some models have large fresh water and fuel storage capacity, comfortable and practical accommodation, and an easy-to-handle sail plan.

A Brief History Of Beneteau Boats:

Beneteau is a French manufacturer of both sail and motor boats that has been around since 1884. The company was founded by a French boat builder, Benjamin Beneteau, who started designing and building wooden fishing boats or trawlers that used sails.

The company barely survived the 2nd World War, but afterward, business was booming. Until the early 1960s, when orders and customers started drying up as the fishing industry declined.

In a dramatic turn of events, Benjamin’s sucessor, Andre Beneteau, became ill with the Spanish flu and was facing financial difficulties due to the crisis in the French fishing industry. As a result, Andre turned over the company’s leadership to the team of Andre junior and his sister Annette in 1964.

The brother-sister team then decided to launch the company in a new direction.

While continuing to build traditional wooden fishing boats, Andre Beneteau junior began designing a new type of boat. With the discovery of new fiberglass materials, Andre designed the company’s first recreational fiberglass boats – three sailboats named the Fletan, the Ombrine, and the Guppy.

At the same time, Andre’s sister Annette took over the commercial side of the family business.

In 1965 the company attended the Paris Boat Show with their new designs. It was the turning point for Bénéteau.

The company attracted so much attention with their new recreational boats that they landed a nationwide distribution contract. No other brand, except Jeanneau, was doing this at this time.

The success of the Paris Boat Show led to the company developing a full range of sailing dinghies ranging from 12 to 19 feet (3.6 to 5.8 meters) before the end of this decade.

Since then, Beneteau has continued to be a leader in innovation and design. With Annette at the helm, the company went from strength to strength. Under her leadership, the company grew from just 17 to more than 6,000 employees.

Today the company is synonymous with French boat building. It has become one of the biggest boat manufacturers worldwide, with distributors in more than 50 countries.

Can Beneteau Models Be Used In Open Waters?

The Beneteau range of sailing boats considered blue water boats includes their Oceanis and Sense lines.

Beneteau strives to produce the best blue water cruisers for couples, friends, and families alike with these models:

The Oceanis

Beneteau’s website claims that the Oceanis range is “the world reference in cruising.”

The Oceanis design first appeared in 1986 as the Oceanis 350 and was designed by Phillippe Briand. The Oceanis range of yachts was designed around ‘the pleasure of the open sea’ and was an instant success.

Today there are 8 Oceanis models available, ranging from 31 to 60 feet.

The Oceanis is a safe and efficient blue water sailing yacht and has been used by many sailors to cross oceans worldwide.

The Sense Line

The Sense was designed by Berret Racoupeau Yacht Design as a luxury blue water boat and was considered revolutionary when it was introduced in 2010.

These boats could go almost anywhere with nearly 750 liters (200 gallons) of fuel and 375 liters (100 gallons) of water, a generator, and slightly larger engines.

The Sense line has been discontinued, but you can still find second-hand models in the used boat market.

What Beneteau Boats Should NOT Be Used In Open Waters?

All Beneteau boats are built to European CE (Conformitè Europëenne) standards introduced as a safety measure in 1998 for recreational boats from 8 to 79 feet.

There were 4 design categories established as a reference for safety at sea.

The further offshore the boat is expected to travel, the more strict the rules are concerning the strength of the hull, stability, deck height above the waterline, reserve buoyancy, resistance to flooding, deck drainage, and other seaworthy standards.

The following are the 4 design categories.

The information given is based on the average wave height and wind speed that the boat is designed to encounter and handle safely:

  • Category A – Ocean: this covers blue water boats designed for extended voyages with expectant winds of over 40 knots and significant wave heights over 4m (13 feet) but excludes extreme conditions such as hurricanes.
  • Category B – Offshore: includes boats operating offshore capable of handling winds up to 40 knots and significant seas up to 4m (13 feet).
  • Category C – Inshore: this is for boats used in coastal waters and large bays and lakes. They are built to withstand winds up to 27 knots and waves up to 2m (7 feet).
  • Category D – Inland or sheltered coastal waters: is for boats in small lakes and rivers with moderate winds up to 13 knots and waves up to 1/2 meter or 18 inches.

These categories or standards do not guarantee whether a boat can safely handle the top end of the conditions they have been designed for.

However, they act as a guide to determine the purely inshore boats from those capable of operating safely in blue water conditions.

So, if you are looking for a blue water boat, make sure they have a CE certification of at least category B or the equivalent.

Beneteau boats that should NOT be used in open waters are typically any boat that is categorized as C or D, such as the Beneteau First SE range of sailing yachts or their Flyer line of motor boats.

Are Beneteau Boats Typically Used In

Open Water?

According to the World Cruising Club statistics, Beneteau boats now make up a significant percentage of the annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, better known as the ARC.

The ARC is on the bucket list of many sailors and is often used by first-time cruisers to sail the 2700nm across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Saint Lucia.

The World Cruising Club is the leading sailing rally specialist, which organizes 9 different rallies in different locations every year. They are an excellent reference for open water boat statistics as hundreds of boats participate in their events.

Traditionally, open water boats or blue water cruisers used for crossing oceans were heavy, long-keeled boats known to be slow. Production boats were considered too ‘light-weight’ for open waters.

However, over the last 20 years, the production boat builders started to produce bigger models more suited to open waters.

Together with innovative design, advanced technology, and engineering, the durability of these boats has improved. So much so that owners began using their production boats for ever-longer passages, and Beneteau is no exception.

What Exactly Characterizes A Blue Water Boat?

With so many boat choices around, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what characterizes a blue water boat today. Everybody is different and will have different requirements for their blue water boat.

A lot will come down to budget and, more importantly, where you are planning to sail. For example, if you plan to do the ‘milk-run’ across the Atlantic and then cruise the islands in the Caribbean, you will need a different boat than if you plan to sail to remote islands in the Northern hemisphere.

However, some characteristics are important to look for if you are planning open water crossings:

  • Large fresh water and fuel storage capacity – you need to be self-sufficient.
  • Comfortable and practical accommodation – you will live aboard and spend a lot of time on your boat.
  • An easy to handle sail plan, especially if you are planning to sail shorthanded (i.e., with only 2 or 3 persons on board)

It’s also extremely important to stick to your budget and reserve cash in the bank for those unplanned repairs.

Final Thoughts:

If you plan to sail the classic Atlantic Circuit from Europe or the Mediterranean to the Caribbean and back, a modern production cruiser like a Beneteau is worth considering.

These new boats are designed to sail well, have spacious and comfortable accommodation, and are affordable compared to other brands.

There are many good reasons why Beneteau is the largest builder of recreational sail and motor boats globally.


Twelve Top Bluewater Cruising Boats

What is a Typical ARC Boat?

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