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Oceanis 51.1 – why stepped hull?

French manufacturer is pumping up maximum space from 50ft+ class.

When it comes to Beneteau, there are a few things that they deserve recognition for. The first is many options for buyers. We are not talking about 3 versions of a ship (in this case Daysailer, Comfort and Fast), but long lists of options for customers. They want you to feel to have “custom-boat” experience while buying their yachts. The next thing we like about Oceanis models premiered the past few years is that Beneteau is putting as much windows to their designs as possible. Sometimes their salons look like those on catamarans or luxury powerboats. Maybe internal fight with Lagoon division is behind it 🙂 but it is good. 

Now they’ve come up with self-tailing jib and stepped hull. The first one is practical especially for day-sailors and shorthanded skippers. Surely this comes with sailplan limitations when sailing upwind. Some years ago, Hanse started with this trend. 
Beneteau seems to be proud of their stepped hull design innovation. You can find statements about it everywhere, but maybe it is not clear to everyone, what this hull architecture means for their sailboats. It is great compromise between two demands. While sailors (live-aboards especially) prefer wider decks for stability and comfort of space, hydrodynamics say otherwise. Most used shape is the “V”-like shape because there is less resistance against the water. A V-shaped hull goes through the water like an arrow. Stepped design like Oceanis 51.1 combines both. Close to the water level you have fast hull shape like “V”, above the waterline it goes wider with a step. That means (for example) 40cm more space in front/owner’s cabin. This design gains more and more space for interior and deck near bow of the ship. 
Maybe you’ve heard some concerns about the stability of stepped hull from power-boat owners, but believe us, this is not the problem with sailboat that has keel and speed ranges in another level. Actually this step of designers should contribute to stability of the whole yacht, hand in hand with space for the crew. 

So how much for this fast yet spacious beauty? 

Producer claims it starts on 280 000 EUR, VAT excluded. If you don’t want daysailer, you will easily find offerings between 400 – 500 000 EUR. It is possible to go above 600-700 000 EUR, and with Beneteau options list, it cannot be difficult. When it comes to slightly used chartered boats you should be able to find boats for even less than 250 000 EUR. These are not accurate prices. 
If you want to spend holiday on chartered bareboat, price varies from 2 – 5000 EUR depending on location, seasonal time and boat version. A comprehensive review for this boat is written by the Magazine. Here is a Guided tour video from Choose Your Boat.

Any alternatives?

The main competitors for this boat will probably come from it’s own country – France. Jeanneau 51 comes with a little heftier price and less space for day-sailors and charters. Its designed more as a cruiser and for living aboard. Nevertheless, Oceanis 51.1 provides space like a good apartment. Dufour 520 can compete with it with price-range. AMEL 50 is from a whole new price range above. When buyer’s budget expects lower price, german Bavaria can challenge this with their 51 which possesses a very similar space for the crew. We’ll see if Beneteau’s 700 options long list will be enough to beat the competitors. Yeah, they are really claiming seven hundred options for buyers. 
Oceanis 51.1 is a very nice modern ship with lots of light and space, many nice details like composite steering wheels or practical sun beds. It brought a whole new innovation range and we are also looking forward to Oceanis 55.1.
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