First sea trials aboard hull number one of a rockin’ new flagship (published September 2016)
It’s not often that I get the scoop on a new design, much less one that is built across the Atlantic where European builders play their cards close to their vests. So, this summer, I felt privileged to be the first journalist to do a thorough walkthrough and test sail off the coast of France of the new Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 62.
If you’ve noticed the extra long name, you’re paying attention. The 62 signals the beginning of a new line for the French builder, adding the word “Yacht” to the Oceanis name for models 60 feet and longer. Beneteau will also be offering more unique options with additional choices in layouts, amenities and finishes beyond what production builds generally provide.
The model is the work of Beneteau’s longtime design firm, Berret Racoupeau and the hull was drawn from scratch. She has a sleek low profile, a signature dark hull stripe that minimizes her freeboard and hides a dozen large hull ports and a rig so tall we could pick it out before we actually arrived in the harbor.
A massive stainless steel bowsprit dominates the foredeck. It holds the anchor well away from the plumb bow to minimize the inevitable hull dings when the anchor comes out of the water. It also serves as the attachment-point for the optional Code 0 (nearly 2,600 square feet) that will make the 62 fly downwind.
The tapered nine-tenths fractional rig supports 1,959 square feet of sail area between the 105-percent genoa and the in-mast furling main. The deck-stepped Sparcraft rig has triple aft-swept spreaders and all the lines are led aft to four electric Harken winches on the cockpit coaming near the helms. As on other Beneteau models, there is no traveler and the mainsheet connects to the composite cockpit arch. Walking back from the bow, I noticed eight retractable cleats that won’t snag sheets.
A forward crew cabin, accessible via the foredeck, is optional and includes a stainless steel ladder, over-under bunks, a sink and a head. Of course, most people will store fenders and lines here.
I was particularly impressed with the excellent lifelines. They are 30 inches high, which befits an offshore vessel, and their presence goes counter to the trend of keeping lifelines low to minimize the profile. I’m glad to see Beneteau departing from this aesthetic and choosing safety instead.
The working cockpit has twin helm stations on composite consoles port and starboard. The stations are comprehensively equipped with Carbonautica wheels, B&G Zeus 12-inch multifunction displays (upgradable to 16 inch NSO B&G displays), Quick bow and stern thruster toggles, remote windlass control, and switches to furl and unfurl the headsail. Our test boat had engine throttles at both stations, low and outboard. I’d prefer to have them on the consoles to avoid bending down when docking. Sightlines are good forward, especially when steering while seated on the side deck.
The entire aft deck serves as a sunpad and hides a galley module below. An electrically activated grill, sink and prep station levitate out of the transom, leaving the chef to stand between the wheels to prepare dinner. A 42-quart mini-fridge is at cockpit sole height next to the port wheel.
Serving meals will be easy as well. The social cockpit has a U-shaped settee on either side with two electric high-low tables and a path to the companionway in between. When lowered, the area turns into a lounge with double sunpads.
With the sunpad on the bow, the two pads alongside the companionway (under the dodger if there is one), the cockpit pads and the full beam sun lounge aft, 10 people can work on their tans simultaneously.
One thing that may need to be rethought is the liferaft compartment below the cockpit sole at the companionway. This is a non-draining locker that creates suction and lifting the lid is only for the very strong.
The electric swim platform aft is impressive and Beneteau really dialed it in for three reasons. First, there are staircases port and starboard that lead down to it from the cockpit. These are not mere ladders but real, easily maneuvered stairs. Second, the platform is enormous and this teak beach is a perfect playground with easy access to the tender or for staging dive gear. Finally, unlike others that lower to the waterline, this platform angles down at the aft end and below the water. This aids in launching and retrieving the tender and stowing it in the garage that is specifically designed to hold a Williams 2.85 jet tender. Other dinghies will also fit, especially if partially deflated.
Changes are being made to hull number one and she will arrive in the U.S. a bit modified. Each helm will gain larger sheet bags, a compass, a cup holder and a foot brace. A rail along the aft sunpad will also be added because when heeled, there was very little for you to hang onto when changing from one wheel to the other and with a 17-foor, six-inch beam, that’s a long way to go.
Alternately, if the optional composite hardtop is added over the cockpit, you could slide your hand along the aft end of this rigid Bimini when making the transition from wheel to wheel. I only saw the Bimini in drawings but it adds a bit of style as well as functionality. The black hardtop starts with a well-angled windshield forward and transitions to a Bimini top that attaches at the composite arch and has a soft retractable sunroof in the middle. It’s an all-weather roof that looks good and actually adds to the lines of the boat.
The interior shows the design acumen of Pierreangelo Adreani, who has collaborated with Beneteau on their powerboats since 2005. Adreani elevates the styling, always keeping ergonomics and industrialization top-of-mind. The 62 is his first sailboat for Beneteau and despite its luxe appeal, it still must fall within stipulated production times and budgets. Adreani adheres strictly to the new minimalist trends so the 62 is all about clean lines, smooth surfaces and hidden functionality, especially in the galley where the tools of the trade are almost completely camouflaged.
Six steps lead down from the cockpit at a 45-degree angle with handrails on both sides. To port is a very large dinette with settees so wide, they beckon to loungers. The electric high-low folding table in the middle is built of solid wood. To starboard is the straight-line galley, divided from the saloon by a console that holds a pop-up flatscreen TV and a bar.
Our test boat had a fully equipped galley with a microwave, three-burner stove-oven combination, top and side-loading refrigeration, icemaker, wine cooler, dishwasher and twin sinks. All are hidden by cabinetry so there was nothing but a large charcoal-colored (Beneteau calls this Deep Mink) Corian counter and white lacquered cabinets overhead. A sneak peek at hull number two in the factory showed an integrated rack below the galley sole to store provisions in the cool space of the bilge. Presumably, hull number one will have this feature retrofitted. Beneteau will be adding a continuous handrail along the entire galley counter as a handhold.
In the aft port corner of the saloon, is the forward-facing navigation desk with a third B&G plotter, a Schreiber digital bus panel and four USB plugs to charge personal electronics. The L-shaped desk is generously proportioned and I like that it is near the companionway for easy communication with the cockpit. One thing that Beneteau will still need to work out is the chair. There was no way to stay in the swiveling seat when on a port tack and there is no foot brace so I found myself pushing against the companionway steps to stay put. A fixed chair may not be an option either because access to the fuse panel is via a low cabinet behind the seat.
The master stateroom is forward, which is to be expected on an aft cockpit boat. The twist here is added privacy because you cannot see into it from the saloon, even with when the door is open. The small corridor that leads to it is offset to starboard where there is an optional washer/dryer combo and a large pantry. On the way in, I noticed the clever bookcase between the padded tower that hides the compression post of the mast and the forward bulkhead between the master and the saloon.
From this mini-foyer, you turn one more corner and you’re in a palatial master suite with a centerline bed, several hanging lockers and an en suite head with separate shower stall. Immediately inside the entrance to the right is an area that can be configured as a desk, a short sofa or a chest of drawers—owner’s choice.
Light and air are plentiful from two overhead opening hatches, and large rectangular hull windows, with blackout blinds for privacy. You can see out when lying in bed and that will eliminate midnight trips up to the deck to check your position at anchor.
With the raised cabintop, there is six feet and eleven inches of headroom at the foot of the bed and the whole room feels like a hotel suite. Owners will not feel shortchanged on stowage space, which includes room under the bunk. (Stronger gas shocks will be needed for one person to lift the mattress and keep it raised while reaching inside.)
Two identical guest cabins with slightly varying en suite heads are aft. They could use a bit more ventilation as there are three small opening hatches and two of them, the overhead and the one in the transom, are hard to reach. A note on the transom hatches: Beneteau worked extra hard to be allowed to add these on an offshore vessel. With the cabin doors open, you can sit on the inner settee of the saloon and see all the way aft and out of the back of the boat via, what Beneteau calls, “ the light tunnels”. This gives the perception of length and space, which is impressive. I have to wonder however, once guests pile their luggage, clothes or possessions on that back counter, will the hatches disappear altogether or will anyone want to crawl back on all fours to open (or close) them?
You can shoehorn in a fourth cabin to starboard and lose one of the heads, but I can’t see North American boaters opting for this because this yacht’s interior is, first and foremost, about luxurious space, privacy and haute design.
Hull number one has a mahogany Alpi wood finish offset by numerous white fabrics, leather accents and grey painted hard surfaces. Hull number two has a different color scheme with light brushed oak wood surrounded by acres of white. Beneteau has brought over the luxurious touches from their Monte Carlo powerboat line so there are leather cabinetry pulls, lights tucked behind valences and padded surfaces for sound attenuation.
The amount of light in the saloon can’t be beat with overhead hatches, skylights and three large hull windows on either side in the saloon. Add a high-end sound system (Bose speakers below and Fusion on deck) and four-zone air conditioning by Dometic for all the comforts of home. What’s not to like.
We had a blustery day once we came out of the river at Les Sables-d’Olonne. Out on the Atlantic, there was a small swell and a three to four foot chop that was mixing it up with 15-20 knots of wind.
At 55 degrees apparent wind angle (AWA) in 16 knots of true wind, we cruised along at eight knots and that jumped up to 10.2 knots when we eased off to a beam reach. Falling off brought us to 10.4 knots at 140 degrees AWA. Our test boat had laminate Incidence sails and there are various upgrades available.
At one point, a larger wave slapped the hull just forward of the beam, then rose up sharply and doused the cockpit, sending water pouring down the side decks. Yes, it may have been driver miscalculation and yes, that driver may have been me. Other than wet decks and crew, the boat barely noticed and just plowed ahead without stalling or shuddering.
The 62 moves well under power, cruising at eight and a half knots at 2000 rpm where she burns about three gallons per hour. A more economical cruise may be found at six and a half knots and 1400 rpm, burning just over a gallon per hour. Tankage includes 264 gallons of fuel in three tanks so this is a go-far boat even with the sails down.
With side thrusters she’s quite maneuverable and doesn’t feel intimidating despite the vast expanse of deck ahead. Access to the front of the Yanmar 160 HP diesel is via the companionway steps. There are also access panels on the side and a narrow door in the starboard aft cabin that provides good access to the 11.5 kW Onan genset and the back of the main engine.
The base price of the 62 is $890,000 and as tested it will be $1.2 million. Hull number one had a variety of standard and optional equipment and Beneteau is still working out details. Having a chance to explore and sail a new model alongside the team that created it is real treat. We got to try out and rethink features, angles and ergonomics that had previously only been seen on a prototype. The good news is that you too can check out hull number one of the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 62 because she will be making the rounds of fall and winter boat shows up and down the East Coast. And that’s the scoop.
BENETEAU OCEANIS YACHT 62
LOA: 62’ 7”
Beam: 17’ 6”
Draft: 7’ 7” shoal / 9’ 6” deep
Displacement: 53,271 lbs.
Sail Area: 1,959 sq. ft.
Fuel/Water: 264/280 gallons
Engine: Yanmar 160 HP
Designer: Berret Racoupeau/
Builder: Groupe Beneteau
Price as tested $1,200,000