Some boats kind of slip beneath the radar. There are around 10 Nimbus 305 Coupés already in the hands of satisfied Kiwi owners and importer Sports Marine has another five on order from the Sweden factory, but this one is the first we’ve had the opportunity to review.
- Performance rig
- A range of cabin choices
- Good acceleration
- Pleasing interior
- Easy handling with self-tacker
- Arch over cockpit reduces clutter
- Offshore cruisers might add additional charging capacity
The Oceanis 41.1 is Beneteau’s performance version of the 41 – the company’s more modest 12.4m model. The .1 extension doesn’t sound like much, but the distinction provides plenty of extra zip.
Sold to its new owner in Tauranga, the 41.1’s delivery trip from Auckland encountered 25-knot nor-easterlies and, with well-reefed sails, recorded a comfortable cruise speed of 10 knots. I was keen to see how the Finot-Conq design measured up in more moderate sailing conditions on Tauranga Harbour.
Boarding the yacht is an easy step onto the electrically-activated rear platform. This can be lowered with a handy remote-control fob (great when your arms are full of provisions) or from on board.
The bow thruster helped with making the tight turn out of the marina. Not strictly necessary in the light wind we had, but I could see its advantages when manoeuvring in stronger crosswinds, and certainly helpful when lining the yacht up to reverse into the marina at the end of the day.
My immediate impression is of space. It starts with the large, roomy cockpit, accessed between the twin composite steering wheels. The folding leaf table – on a fixed central island – expands into a generous platform for cockpit meals. The leaves could have done with retaining clips as they swung out when heeled – a small tweak to fix on a brand-new boat.
But the yacht’s most noticeable design feature is the central arch over the cockpit. It has numerous roles: it’s an attachment point for the dodger and bimini, and also offers good locations for grab rails.
Importantly though, it provides a solid anchor point for the mainsheet, and allows the boom to be sheeted well aft, thereby doing away with the need for a deck or cockpit traveller. This enhances the yacht’s clean lines and vision from the cockpit.
One of the cockpit’s best features is its bimini. It extends across the boat’s full width, offering maximum protection from the sun. Zip-in panels can completely enclose the cockpit, transforming it into a large, user-friendly area in inclement weather.
At the rear of the cockpit you’ll find sizeable lockers accessed through floor hatches, as well as good storage under the cockpit seats.
The Oceanis 41.1 differs from her standard sister (reviewed in Boating New Zealand’s October 2016 issue) in three areas – rig, sails and equipment. The mast’s a metre longer and the larger sails are made of a high-performance fabric. Add to that the two-way mainsheet system, Dyform standing rigging and a cascading backstay, and it’s easy to see the difference. This boat also had a new self-tacking headsail, a little smaller than the standard overlapping headsail.
This self-tacker carries an interesting sheeting arrangement. The sheet runs vertically to a sheave up the mast, and then down inside the mast, out the base and back to the cockpit. This allows the headsail to find its own angle when sheeted in hard on the wind and promotes decent pointing.
Cranking power’s supplied by four Harken winches, including an electric one for the main halyard. It’s a two-speed model and makes fast work of raising the main. Two primary winches – stationed just forward of the helm – are easily accessible, and with the two-way mainsheet system trimming the main is easy. The self-tacker’s sheet comes back to a winch on the coach roof. A second set of cockpit winches would be handy for serious racers tweaking a code zero.
With sails set and clear of the shallows, I took the helm for the beat upwind, past the moored ships. A nice, positive helm – the Oceanis tracks nicely. She heeled a little in the gusts and accelerated quickly with the slightly-loaded helm. From the windward wheel the view of the headsail woollies is great.
This yacht’s fitted with a B&G display at each helm, presenting all the sailing and navigation data. Easily visible in the direct sunlight, they told me we were doing 6.9 knots in 11.3 knots of true wind (about 18 knots apparent). With no sheet adjustments needed, tacking was the essence of simplicity.
Reaching back to base we eased the sheets, slipping along nicely. But downwind, against the current we were short of apparent wind and our SOG dropped considerably. A good time to try out the engine – a 45hp Yanmar with a three-bladed prop on a sail drive. Engine noise was quiet, and pushing the throttle forward took us to eight knots of boat speed.
The Oceanis has a slight chine down the hull’s sides, and it offers two benefits: more internal space, and extra stability by providing a wider hull for the length.
There are four layout options: two and/or three cabins with one or two heads. This one’s the three-cabin/one head version. Inside, the yacht feels larger than a 40-footer, and the forward double cabin, in particular, is a delight.
A great feature is the ease of access from the cockpit into the saloon with curved steps descending at 45 degrees: safe to use on a healthy angle of heel with good grab rails on the side.
Bright and airy, the saloon benefits from plenty of light pouring in through deck hatches and large hull windows. The hull windows are particularly good when seated – they offer a great view of the outside surroundings. The galley is to port in a L-shaped configuration – and it has excellent headroom. I’m 1.96m and I didn’t have to stoop. A rare treat on a boat this size.
A two-burner stainless steel hob and gas oven caters for cooking, and the fridge/freezer has good access via a top lid and a side door. The freezer compartment is 10 litres, the fridge 190 litres.
A central island, single-leaf table with a two-seater settee opposite takes centre stage in the saloon, with a small nav station located forward to port – big enough for storing paper charts and plotting equipment.
Descending the stairs, the head’s to starboard. Generously-sized, it has a separate shower area. Two double quarter berths enjoy natural light through hull windows and the tinted windows from the cockpit. They’re fitted with conveniently located USB outlets (below the light switches) for charging electronic devices.
The forward cabin is separated by a double opening door. It provides for a large double berth with enough width for sleeping with your head to the bow.
Interior décor and finish is very pleasing with great attention to detail. This would of course be expected from a Beneteau generation 6 design, with the outside and interior design completed by Nauta Design.
The boat’s supplied with two 115Ah (amp-hour) house batteries and a 110Ah starting battery as standard. This yacht has an additional battery for the bow thruster.
The engine’s alternator should be fine for keeping these batteries topped up, but those keen on offshore cruising might add wind or solar power to reduce charging times. The large bimini area is an obvious spot for fitting flexible solar panels.
She’s certainly a performer. Her larger sail area translates into snappy acceleration and it all delivers decent cruising speeds for covering the ground effortlessly.
With the large arch, spacious cockpit and excellent visibility, she’s a well-finished, thoughtfully-designed yacht. She handles nicely and is set up to sail either shorthanded with a self-tacker, or with an extended crew for setting extra sails.
The 41.1 in this review includes a number of add-ons, such as bow thruster and electronics package.