Issue: October/November 2005
Not so long ago, when the world was a far simpler place, Beneteau had two distinct styles of production yacht.
The ‘Oceanis’ range were cruisers, favoured by cruising sailors and charter alike. The ‘First’ range were the cruiser/ racers, well-fitted yachts designed to rate and race. The First.7 range helped define the modern cruiser/racer.
But the world is no longer a simple place, says Beneteau Vicsail Marketing Manager John Cowpe.
“Oceanis had developed into a sort of ultimate owner’s vessel. They now carry as standard all the equipment that used to be optional extras and as a result the price has been rising,” he explains.
The advent of cheaper brands like Bavaria have also had an effect on boat sales. Beneteau decided to react and they did not mess about, introducing an entirely new line, a third range.
And so, kind ladies and gentlemen, raise your glasses to Beneteau’s latest Cyclades range (the French say ‘see-clard’, the Greeks say ‘kee-klar-dees’ and everyone else says ‘sye-clad-ease’).
However you pronounce it, the name for Beneteau’s new range is derived from a group of Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea.
If you have any interest in yacht design it’s fascinating to see what develops when a designer has a new brief and clean sheet of paper. Or these days, should I say a clean computer screen?
The design for the Cyclades 43 is credited to Berret /Racoupeau. Their response to the Beneteau brief was to draw a hull with a lot of volume, the effect of a lot of freeboard and plenty of fl are in the hull sides. On top of this big hull is perched a rig which, although not big, adopts the more desirable characteristics of current racing rigs.
The mast is deck-stepped, with its loads taken by a compression post below. The sail area/displacement ratio is on the money for a cruising boat.
The hull is fibreglass with a balsa-core, the deck is fibreglass and balsa. An internal moulding is dropped into the hull to provide the interior structure.
The keel is of cast iron and quite shallow at 1.90m. The engine drives the fixed three-blade propeller by a shaft , which is supported by a sturdy skeg.
The rig is distinctive and quite racy. It’s also simple and easy to use. Th e chainplates are set on the hull sides, which means the two sets of spreaders have to be long and well raked.
It also means the mast is well supported as the wide shroud angle (measured between the shrouds and the top of the mast) reduces compression (vertical) loads in the mast.
This wide shroud base means the headsails have to sheet inside the shrouds, which limits headsail size (109 per cent of the ‘J’ measurement, the distance from mast foot to stem). This is a good thing as a small headsail is easy to sheet, reduces the amount of work required of the crew and makes the boat faster to tack and increases the pleasure of sailing.
For most use it is better to have a smaller headsail and a larger main, as the main is easier to control.
With the shrouds at the hull sides, passage along the sidedecks is easy. The cockpit is not particularly long but the hull fl are ensures it is wide and roomy. There are two helm stations with the walkway between. Headsail winches are immediately ahead of the wheels so the cockpit is clear of both ropes and toilers and the skipper can sheet the headsails without much eff ort (the primaries are Harken No.44s). The centreline table has drop leafs and you can walk either side.
The centre panel in the transom folds down to create the walkthrough, and a panel in the fl oor lift s to reveal the life-raft stowage space. Beneteau has come up with a neat trick. Th e emergency tiller hooks into a fitting on the pushpit to help lift the dinghy motor onboard.
This boat may be simple but it’s far from basic. There are three cabins, each with its own en suite.
The portside bathroom aft has a second door, which opens to the cabin and acts as the day head. The master cabin is forward, and there are two double cabins aft.
The fully functional galley is longitudinal on the portside. This can mean there is a shortage of support for the cook when things get a bit rough. But on the Cyclades, if you want to boil the kettle when on port tack you can brace yourself against the dinette seat mounted on the centreline.
For a boat that sets out to be simple, the interior has a surprising amount of timber trim. Indeed, the saloon is trimmed entirely in wood up to the roofline.
Simple the Cyclades may be, but nothing is skimped. Each cabin has plenty of shelving, storage and coat hanging space.
Plus, there is a full navigation area that is beautifully finished in timber and is a showpiece of the Cyclades.
The galley has a front-opening fridge and an icebox. The doors to the galley storage lockers are bottom-hinged to catch anything that may move around while the boat is underway.
There is also a lot of below-deck space. This is an extremely big 43-footer and her exterior conceals the space within.
The cockpit is a good place to work as the headsail winches are immediately in front of the wheel and, if he has to, the helmsman can reach them easily by leaning outboard and forward. The cockpit is also a good place to sit and do nothing. The cushions are thick and the leading edge is bolstered and comfy. The cockpit is wide but when you are sitting on the windward seat you can brace against the table structure. The mainsheet system has no traveller (it is handled forward of the companionway) and only three winches are provided, so you will have to do a bit of job allocation when reefing, furling, etc.
For our sail test day we had a drier, when the wind got lighter and lighter as the cloud built and the sun disappeared. For a 10-tonne yacht with a modest sail area, the Cyclades 43 proved to be a good drier, but beyond that I cannot tell. Yachting World’s respected yacht tester Matthew Sheahan also mentions the shortage of winches, but he enjoyed his sail in a decent breeze.
“Once the Cyclades 43 is set up she sails well, is stiff , barrels along upwind at just under 7 knots and hits eight with ease on a reach,” he says.”With a twin wheel system the 43 is rather heavy on the helm, but she remains an easy boat to steer in a straight line and responsive when you want to twist and turn over waves.”
Everything is simple, simple, simple. there is no unnecessary ornamentation, and everything should be easy to clean, Cater to the needs of the charterer and the newcomer to boating – one unencumbered by allegiance to yachting’s traditions – overlap.
These needs also coincide with the modern sailor who has little time for sailing and has no intention of messing around with varnish, or oil, brass, or polish.
But Beneteau are not pushing austerity; this is no VW Beetle, or T-Model Ford (any colour as long as it’s black). There is a comprehensive options list; you can have, for example, leather-covered steering wheels, teak on the cockpit seats or an adjustable backstay.
For a craft ostensibly pitched at a lower price range, this Cyclades represents a lot of boat. There are three separate sleeping cabins, two of them with en suite bathrooms. The hardware and equipment are name brands.
It’s obvious this Cyclades has not been built down to a price; the quality of her finish is better than a number of more expensive brands.
As we put the Cyclades 43 away, one passer by said, “Can you have a teak deck as an option”?
Another replied: “A lot of people these days don’t know what a teak deck is”.
The third observer said: “And although they may know what a teak deck is, they don’t want one anyway”.
Which is true. That is a truly modern approach; the Cyclades is not high-tech, but in concept it is a truly modern yacht.
Beneteau’s been building boats for more than a century. Originally, these were robust trawlers sailing out regardless of the weather, because they had to. Its boats were built with dedication to excellent workmanship, with respect, and, above all, with high regards for the safety and the pleasure of the people who would eventually take them to sea.
The company’s history is a long series of anecdotes, successes, accomplishments, constant innovation and strong sensations.
This family business is entering the third millennium with the goal of making pleasure boating accessible to an even greater number.
HULL LENGTH: 12.94m
MAINSAIL: 44.5sq m
GENOA: 37.75sq m
AUXILIARY: 54hp Yanmar
PRICE: FROM $362,000
CONTACT: (02) 9327 2088
+ Standard of finish. Value for money
– No mainsheet traveller