Following a week of sea trials and inspections on Narragansett Bay, the Figaro Beneteau 3 was named the 2019 boat of the year by Sailing World magazine.
“This is essentially Beneteau’s grand-prix model,” said judge Greg Stewart, a naval architect who “had a blast” testing the monohull. “It delivers as promised to a growing market.”
The 35-foot Beneteau design, which was conceived for shorthanded offshore racing, uses innovative foil technology. Built to strict one-design tolerances, the judges said it performed beyond expectations under sail.
“When you turn downwind, you can immediately feel the foils start to work,” said judge Chuck Allen, an All-American sailor at the University of Rhode Island in 1990. “The bow rises, the boat lightens up and it feels really amazing. Upwind, too, it has a great groove. As soon as the boat leans onto the foil, you can feel it make a big difference.”
Judge Tom Rich, a partner at New England Boatworks, said the structurally solid Beneteau uses infusion technology to minimize the overall weight. Handling the sails, he added, were neat and simple.
“A very cool boat overall,” he said.
During the course of the week in Newport, the judges tested five other newcomers, including the IC37 by Melges, which made its competitive debut on Narragansett Bay in September. Designed by Mark Mills, the New York Yacht Club commissioned a fleet of 20 boats for its Corinthian schedule. Also tested were the TF10 foiling trimaran from DNA Composites; the Seascape 14 dinghy; the RS21 keelboat; and the RS Cat 14 XL catamaran.
Sailing World has awarded this honor since 1985, making it the industry’s longest-running recognition for new performance sailboats.