From our point of view, Beneteau's new First 20 is a breath of fresh air to hit the "entry-level" sailboat market. She was designed by Finot Conq & Associates in France and her bottom shape and some of her attributes come right off the huge round-the-world racing boats the firm has designed. She has twin rudders, a square-top mainsail, and bottom shape that give her both speed and form stability. She is easy to sail and affordable. Isn't that what the doctor ordered?
Monolithic hull design with polyester
Structural hull liner made with unidirectional fabrics
2 retracted polyester rudders with sleeve system
Deck-stepped, freestanding aluminum anodized mast, single spreader
Genoa furling gear
Solid wood tiller with jointed extension
Woodwork Alpi Blond oak
Double bed (1.90 m x 1.40 m / 6'3'' x 4'7'') - foam mattress with cover
Beneteau First 20 (2014-) Specifications
21' 6.40 m
20' 6'' 6.25 m
Shallow Ballast Weight
19' 8'' 6.00 m
Deep Ballast Weight
8' 2'' 2.48 m
Draft (Deep Keel)
Shallow Draft (Shallow Keel)
Air Draught (max)
31' 2'' 9.50 m
170.5 sq ft 15.85 m²
Genoa (105 %)
111.40 sq ft 10.35 m²
4' 9'' 1.45 m
334 sq ft 31.04 m²
2,744 lbs. 1,245 kg
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Mom steers while the men handle the foredeck. The 20' 6" (6.25 m) First 20 is intended for those boaters wanting to get back on the water again or for the first time.
The Mission of the First 20
She is intended to be a coastal sailing day boat for the family or friends.
More specifically, she is what we call an "entry-level" vessel simply because she is relatively small and affordable.
Because she is trailerable, she will serve as a great way for anyone wishing to get into boating, or for those who want to return to boating in as easy a way as possible.
The First 20 displaces 2,744 lbs. (1,245 kg) dry, which means she can be towed by most mid-size and large SUVs. Her centerboard makes launching easy.
●LOA: 21'0"/6.40 m
●LWL: 19'8"/6.00 m
●Beam: 8'2"/2.48 m
●Draft: 2'4"--5'11"/.70 m--1.80 m
●Displacement (dry): 2,744 lbs./1,245 kg.
●Sail Area (100% rig): 281.9 sq. ft./26.19 sq. m.
●Max engine power (outboard): 10-hp
●Rated Capacity: 6 people
The First 20 has plenty of room on deck and below thanks to her 8'2" (2.48 m) beam.
●Built By Beneteau. Beneteau is the largest sailboat builder in the world and has earned its reputation for sailboats that handle extremely well while also providing innovation, good value, and industry leadership.
●Superb Customer Service. Because Beneteau has the infrastructure and a clear vision of its future, it is second to none in production sailboat customer aftermarket service. Beneteau has received more NMMA CSI awards than any other sailboat builder
●Latest Design in Class. The new First 20 comes from the drawing boards of Finot Conq & Associates, N.A., a firm that has been designing sailboats for 40 years with over 40,000 boats to its name word-wide. Finot Conq designs have won four Around The World Races.
●Twin Rudders. Pioneered and proven in distance ocean racing, twin rudders insure control in trying conditions.
●Heaviest Boat in Class. At 2,744 lbs. (1,245 kgs.) the First 20 is the heaviest boat in class, including keel boats. This speaks to the robust quality of her build. It is for this reason that it has a CE certification for 6 passengers.
Cockpit seating is large enough for six adults and Beneteau uses teak accents on the deck rail and cockpit seating.
The First 20 has a diamond rig that eliminates the need for a back stay. The headsail is roller furling and the main has a state-of-the-art square top and long battens. The mainsail is 170.5 sq. ft. (15.84 sq. m.), and the 7/8ths rig headsail is 111.40 sq. ft. (10.35 sq. m.) at 100%. An asymmetrical spinnaker is available with an area of 334.86 sq. ft. (31.11 sq. m.). A conventional spinnaker is available and has an area of 374.26 sq. ft. (34.77 sq. m.).
Virtually all sheets, halyards and other controls are led back to the cockpit where jam cleats are located. All lines are handled by two primary winches port and starboard mounted on the top of the coach roof. Track for the headsail fairlead blocks are mounted on the coach roof. The mainsheet block is attached to the cockpit sole, has a jam cleat and is handy to the skipper.
Several advantages accrue from the two rudders: one is always in the water no matter what the angle of heel, therefore one deep rudder is not needed. This design gives the boat better shoal draft capabilities. Finally, the outboard motor can be mounted on the center line. Note the square top mainsail and the closed transom.
Due to the relatively modest size of the sails and the roller furling headsail, hoisting sails and dousing them couldn't be easier. The optional asymmetrical headsail is also easy to douse as all three corners stay shackled to the boat until fully retrieved.
The tiller comes with an extension allowing the skipper to sit far to windward in heavy air or to leeward, on a light-air day. The double rudder ensures that even with the boat overpowered at least one blade is always firmly in the water.
Bottom Shape and Stability
The Finot Conq design relies on a combination of beam and a relatively flat bottom along with a large, deep centerboard to keep the boat sailing on her lines. When the centerboard is fully down the boat draws 5'11" (1.80 m) which is quite a bit for a 20' (6.09 m) boat that weighs 2,700 lbs. (1,225 kg).
For best performance, like any boat, she should always be kept sailing on her lines, which in the case of the First 20 means only with 10 to 12-degrees of heel.
Few 20' sailboats can come right up to the beach like the First 20. She draws only 2'4" (0.71 m) with the board up.
The Centerboard Advantage
Centerboards were invented for a very good reason. Most of the areas where we keep boats and, indeed, many of the places they are sailed are quite shallow. Drawing only 2'4" (.70 m), the First 20 can be sailed from most docks even in shallow locations. If a moon tide leaves the boat on the bottom, no harm no foul.
The shoal draft of the First 20 also makes her ideal for sailing in notoriously shallow bodies of water such as Barnegat Bay, N.J. or the Great South Bay on Long Island. Most locales have their own dreaded shoal area, but with the First 20 skinny water is not much of a concern.
A secondary consideration is trailering. Keel boats are nearly impossible to get on their trailer without being hauled out by a lift. That means that exploring new lakes and coastal areas away from home is simply not practical. Because the First 20 is a centerboarder, she can be cruised down I-95 and launched nearly anywhere.
Looking forward down below. She can sleep four people. Since there is no Bimini, when it rains or someone has had enough sun, the cabin will provide refuge. Essentially she is a day boat with plenty of storage below.
Interior and Cruising
The interior will sleep up to four people comfortably, but also be a cozy, bright, and comfortable space for a boat this size. The interior may also be used to get out of the rain when sailing or as a place to stow gear, food, coolers and foul weather gear. It is also a good place to put a portable toilet, depending on how the boat is going to be used.
The man in this photo is 6' tall showing that there is ample room for an overnight or two.
Looking aft we can see the quarter berths port and starboard -- places usually considered the most comfortable places to sleep on a sailboat.
She is big enough below for crew to re-pack the asymmetrical spinnaker if racing, or to sleep four in sleeping bags if over nighting.
Notice who is steering the boat -- and with a light touch as well! This is the kind of scene we like to see because it captures what boating is all about.
With her modern styling -- standard Grey Blue gelcoat accented with yellow striping -- it is easy to picture the First 20 as a miniature version of a round-the-world racer, but in fact she is simply a comfortable, well-built, easy-to-handle day sailor.
How Much Does she Cost? We're told the base boat starts at $37,720. Compared to some one-design class boats we can think of, that is a deal. While with some options she will probably run over 50k, it shouldn't be far over. Given her utility, the First 20 seems to us like a good investment.
When it comes to small boats, our opinion of them has never changed: Dollar-for-dollar they are the best boating buy on the market in terms of the enjoyment received. We think Beneteau's First 20 will again prove the point.
Beneteau offers the Grey Blue gelcoat accented with yellow striping as standard, and we think it makes the boat look like a million dollars. The skipper has this boat a little overpowered in this photo, but even so the leeward rudder has the boat under control.
Standard and Optional Equipment
Beneteau First 20 (2014-) Standard and Optional Equipment
= Standard = Optional
Beneteau First 20 (2014-) Warranty
Beneteau First 20 (2014-) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!