Beneteau First 44: innovation never stops
The renewal of the First range dedicated to sport cruising continues with the First 44, still signed Biscontini-Argento, the Italian design duo that is shaping the French giant’s new line. Lorenzo Argento was on the design team that designed the First 36, whose hull, however, was entrusted to Sam Manuard. With the 44, the water lines return to be designed by Roberto Biscontini, who has already signed the First Yacht 53 and Oceanis Yacht 54 for Beneteau.
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The First 44 will be presented in two main layouts, the Standard and the Performance, with a different deck plan and different keel and mast options. The interiors the shipyard presents as a “blend of white lacquered surfaces, patterned woods and tasteful upholstery,” as if to connote an elegant yet understated design. Conceptually the First 44 remains a cruising boat, but still belonging to this range it is a model that cannot neglect performance, so the study of the interior is also done to keep the boat within a certain level of displacement. The standard First 44 version features a comfortable cockpit, where the wide side benches converge to a beautiful cockpit table. Four winches, a fixed center point for the mainsail sheet, and a mast that was placed as far aft as possible to have a gyre boat but with a vertical projection mainsail and generously sized headsails. Beneteau also gives the option on this version to install two water ballasts of 80 lt each, to maximize performance even in small crew, electronically activated from the wheelhouse. On the First 44 Performance, the ergonomics of the cockpit and deck were designed and developed with full-crew racing in mind. The equipment and systems are totally race-oriented, among which should be mentioned the foam anti-skid surfaces that replace teak in the cockpit, the six well-positioned winches, and a mainsail with conventional mainsail traveller. There will be a hydraulic backstay, a powerful in-hauler system for the jib, plus a performance keel/mast combo meant to satisfy the most demanding crews.
Here is the signature Italian style of Lorenzo Argento, who designed a three-cabin layout and a saloon with a six-seater table in front of the sofa and chart table; its positioning relative to the mast facilitates movement between the galley and the owner’s cabin, thus accentuating the feeling of space. “I would like to sincerely congratulate Roberto for creating this hull/ballast/equipment combination, which gives us a yacht that is extremely enjoyable and performs extremely well on the water,” Lorenzo Argento related. “For my part, I tried to reproduce this fluidity and spirit through the design of the deck and interiors by maximizing the use of volume and minimizing the impact of any restrictions. For example, the position of the mast had a great influence on the way the interiors are arranged, and we were able to come up with a practical and harmonious solution for the table-dinette-couch area.” “The goal with the whole team,” explains Roberto Biscontini, “was to perfect the Performance Cruiser concept, which is not an easy feat because the architecture of these boats is based on many requirements that are not easy to reconcile. We tried to find the right balance between comfort, performance and safety, and we are quite satisfied with the end result. The new First 44 shares the style and elegance of the First 53, and is similar in the organization of space and volume, but some elements and features of its design take it one step further in its quest for performance,” said the designer.
Overall length: 14.15 meters (14.65 meters v. Performance)
Hull length: 13.15 meters
Hull and max. beam: 4.25 meters
Light displacement: 10,300 kg (9,800 kg v. Performance)
Fuel capacity: 220 liters
Fresh water capacity: 330 liters
Engine power: 57 hp