We at Northwest Yachting will be the first to admit that we don’t give smaller, entry level boats their due. When inundated by the fanciest yachts, both sail and power, it can be easy to overlook the kind of boats that got us all into this lifestyle in the first place. French sailboat making giant Beneteau has been making moves in the small sailboat sphere, notably last year with their most diminutive Beneteau First build, the First 14.
The First 14 is a planning hull with the stated goals of balancing speed and stability with a host of very clever features. Notably the First 14 has a double centerboard casing, meaning you can deploy the centerboard either a bit forward or aft. The idea is that a solo sailor will opt for a simple cat rig (a single sail rig option) and keep the centerboard further aft, while a double-handing duo may want to move the centerboard forward and play with the three sails rig (another offered package). Yes, the First 14 features a mainsail, furling jib, and an asymmetrical spinnaker with retractable bowsprit (respective sail areas: 91 ft2, 38 ft2, and 140 ft2).
This versatility should go a long way for customizing the experience for novice teenagers learning the ropes to a sea salty solo gramps getting back to the basics. The motto “simplify, simplify, simplify” comes to mind when looking at the First 14 with its single pair of shrouds, uncluttered cockpit, and fairly standard stern mounted tiller with extension setup. Simple is not to be mistaken with fragile, for the mast, boom, and tiller are all carbon fiber.
The bottom line is that the First 14 looks like a ton of fun, offering the value of several small boats in one well-designed package. Both newbies and hot shots should be all smiles after a blustery day on the water. The listed base price is right too, from $10,800. If interested, contact local dealer Signature Yachts.