I was finally able to look this new boat over in more detail, and the more I looked, the more impressed I became. We would like to point out some of the features that are new and different from most others we have seen. The boat is built in a Slovenian factory by different craftsmen so there are visual changes from the models built in other Beneteau factories. These variations are evident in the finish, some of the build processes, and the fittings.
A key component of any performance design is minimizing weight. The whole concept behind the First 36 was based on limiting weight wherever possible while maintaining strength. This is more challenging when the boat is intended to be dual-purpose.
This means the build must be more sophisticated. The builders have done a really nice job of adopting materials for the interior that are lightweight but pleasing to the eye, smooth, and easy to clean as well. All interior spaces are finished—inside lockers, under berths, etc. Areas where they have reduced weight but maintained strength are the fold-down swim platform, removable cockpit seat lockers, headliner, and so on, all done with more advanced processes. Mesh bags in the cockpit hold lines and winch handles.
The cockpit is expansive, with or without the removable seats. The beam is carried all the way aft in keeping with the latest designs. There are port and starboard Jefa wheel pedestals so the helmsperson has the best view forward and can sit or stand in various positions. The pedestals have SS grab rails, and the starboard side has a steering compass and chartplotter/MFD. Electronics are the latest Garmin models. There is a small repeater on either side that can be viewed from the helm, and a set on the mast.
We really like the stanchions and rails—the stanchions are very stiff to grab onto, and they have integrated braces. In the bow is an anchor locker with windlass and handheld control. The bowsprit is extra beefy, with a SS solid bobstay and a metal bar underneath to add strength and stiffness to support both the anchor as well as the asymmetrical sails that are tacked there.
Side decks are wide, as is the foredeck. The coachroof has a bank of clutches on both sides of the companionway and there are six winches in total. The mainsheet traveler is on the cockpit sole in front of the helms. All lines are led aft of course. Visibility forward is excellent, as is the ability to move around on deck.
The interior is truly impressive. The salon is very roomy with full headroom, the dual aft cabins have legitimate double berths, and the forward cabin berth is also much larger than typically found. The aft cabin berths can be converted between single and double so sails can be stowed there. The head, like everything else, is molded and finished with a fold-down sink. The interior is white with nicely finished teak trim, just enough to add a bit of warmth with minimum weight.
There is a centerline cabinet that houses the icebox, including the optional refrigeration we chose. Batteries are centered and below the cabin sole where the weight is best placed. We love the electrical panel at the sit-down nav station—it is the best we have yet seen. Each breaker is behind a soft push button that is backlit to let you know what is turned on. There is a schematic for which nav lights are on, as well as visual tank monitors. The panel is powered by its own lithium battery, and there is a stereo and VHF at the panel above the nav table.
The ships’ batteries are AGMs. There is hidden courtesy lighting in the salon overhead. The hardware throughout is unique. The latches for lockers are secure and beautifully styled. The companionway hatch lock is a small combination lock fitted into the seahood. Thus, there are no companionway hasps or latches to snag.
What is striking to us is the original thinking that has gone into so many areas of the boat. We have mentioned a lot of the interior features, but the First 36 is about speed. The twin rudders are finely finished with a minimum gap between the top of the rudder and the hull, and a fine trailing edge. The difference between them and the cruising boat rudders nearby is obvious. The diesel with saildrive is quite far forward of the stern, minimizing the motion on the engine when the boat is in a seaway, and course weight placement is better there. Once the boat is rigged and launched we will have much more to say.