By David McCreary
Beneteau 323 and Beneteau 373 Unvieled
Beneteau 323 and 373 Unvieled at Annapolis Boat Show
Thursday October 9th is VIP day at the Annapolis Boat Show. VIP means you get to spend a bit more money for a ticket than on Friday or the weekend, but it also means some smaller crowds and that those in attendance are going to be serious sailors.
The big deal on VIP day is the rollout of new boats and products to the media and the public, and this is one of my favorite days of the year, for I do love seeing brand new boats. The free hors d’oeuvres and wine at the boat unveilings has nothing to do with my attendance, honest.
This year Beneteau, one of the world’s premiere builders, headquartered and founded in France, but with a huge build facility in South Carolina, is introducing two brand new models, with a feature on each that is going to seriously turn heads. It has to do with the steering system for the boat, and while I have seen photos of the system, all specifics about it are embargoed until the first day of the show. Trust me, when you see it in action, you’ll think as I did: “Why on earth hasn’t anyone else thought to do that before now?”
The new Beneteau 323 and Beneteau 373 will replace the existing models 311 and 361. Both are still in production, the 311 through January, the 361 through December.
The 323 is designed by Group Finot, which has extensive credentials in all aspects of sailboat design, including cruising, but most notably in some extraordinarily fast racing boats. This bodes well for those who think that when cruising or passagemaking, fast is more fun. This is a raised salon design with a large forward window and oversized overhead deak lights, giving a great deal of light down below.
The tilting helmseat and the new steering system combine to give a sense of cockpit of a far larger boat than just 32’10″. The spacious head includes a separate stall shower, something else not usually found on 32 footers. Current plans show the 323 being available only in a two cabin configuration.
The new 373 is from the design board of Berret/Racoupeau, whose resume also includes plenty of racing boats (Open 50s, Open 60s and Mini 6.50s) as well as four previous Beneteau models: the 33.7, 361, 36 Center Cockpit and the 381.
Options for the 373 include a choice of keels, and a higher sail area to displacement ratio than on the 361, although exact sail dimensions and hence the true SA/D ratio were not available at this time. The 373 will be available in both a two and three cabin version.
For information on the 2003 Annapolis Sailboat Show, see http://www.usboat.com/shows/sbhomes.htm
Beneteau 323 – Preliminary Specifications
|Engine||18 hp YANMAR|
* Optional retractable keel available.
Beneteau 373 – Preliminary Specifications
|Engine||27 hp YANMAR|
24 North Market Street
Charleston, SC 29401