Sometimes looking at the increasingly large boats of the market can be a little much for the average Jane and Joe. Sometimes it can feel like one has to be a retired finance-lawyer-surgeon-software engineer-congressman to get out on the water. The 2017 edition of the Beneteau First 20, with its emphasis on affordable, fun, easy sailing, is a breath of fresh air for many, and hits many key points for that “entry level” market as Beneteau’s smallest build.
The design has come a long way since its inception by Finot-Conq Architects in France over 20 years ago. Still in demand, this design has always had an eye to the next year, and now resembles a mini round-the-world racing boat with twin rudders and a square-top mainsail. However, the emphasis is on safe and comfortable sailing vs. nippy performance, and the First 20 is the heaviest boat in its class at 2,745 lbs. The roller furling headsail system and the relatively small rig (it is 21’ LOA, after all) make it very easy to handle for beginners or pros who just want a relaxing experience. The hull features a centerboard design that makes shallow water adventures a piece of cake.
Below, the First 20 shows off large and basic accommodations. Berths for four adults and plenty of stowage space make the First 20 an appealing weekender, and it’s easy to imagine island hopping the San Juans. There is no enclosed head or incorporated galley, but those kinds of features are not what this boat is about. A portable head, cooler, and camper stove should do just fine.
If the Beneteau First 20 has caught your eye, you can find out more information from local dealer Signature Yacht at signature-yachts.com. The brokerage has new boats coming into both Portland and Seattle in time for the Seattle Boat Show. Base price is $39,000.