by Francesco Gambini
Last week, we had the opportunity to sail on a brand new Beneteau Oceanis 51.1 with five double cabins (1 bunk), three bathrooms, plus the skipper's cabin, thanks to the collaboration with our partner Aladar Sail.
We wanted to try out one of our clients' most popular boats, chartered in many destinations with and without skippers.
Eventually, we'd like to present you with first-hand sharings of all the most successful boat models so that you can get to know, together with us, and share what makes them special through our eyes before you choose which boat to rent.
The cruising boat in question was equipped with a furling mainsail and self-tacking jib. Our crew, a group of seven, was a mix of sail experience and expertise, different backgrounds all united by a passion for sailing.
First and foremost, I should say that the Beneteau Oceanis 51.1 is an extremely spacious boat: the specific shape of the hull offers a very generous maximum beam and large interior space. The hull widens just out of the water, making it possible to have both a streamlined hull and a boat with the interior spaciousness of a longer hull.
Cockpit of the Beneteau Oceanis 51.1
The cockpit is functional, spacious and comfortable, not only because of the boat's generous dimensions but also thanks to a very well-thought-of boat design. The ergonomics of the paths and the presence of plenty of handrails make it possible to move around safely outside in all sea and weather conditions.
In addition to all the features, we're used to finding in modern boats nowadays, we particularly appreciated some parts of this boat that have made our stay on board even more pleasant, both when standing and sailing.
For example, the sofas on the cockpit benches are particularly wide, thus having enough space for folding in an L shape near the front part of the cockpit and creating a very comfortable and versatile seat (perfect at any time of the day!)
This area of the deckhouse under the canopy does not have any winches because the stern defers all manoeuvres. However, you'll find a sundeck as wide as a sofa: a perfect area to lie down or sit and chat while standing or sailing, entirely sheltered by the canopy within an extremely spacious area.
The bow of the Beneteau Oceanis 51.1
The bow, with a generous width, has a dolphin bay where the anchor sits.
Inside this very large bow triangle, there is an almost double anchor locker, a larger-than-usual skipper's cabin with a bathroom and a spacious clear space for living.
Guests can relax and sunbathe in addition to the bow triangle, which is so large that the tender disappears, and there are two spaces just forward and aft of the mast. As we were saying, this is a boat with a large, unobstructed deck plan characterised by a clear separation between guest and manoeuvring areas.
It's a very clean layout thanks to a simplified rig, which makes it easier for the guests onboard to enjoy cruising.
Steering and boat controls
Two wheels controlling two paddles steer the boat. One of the unique features of the Beneteau Oceanis 51.1 is a clear distinction between the space dedicated to steering and that for pure chilling. This means that when sailing you can manage all the manoeuvres with two generously sized winches. You'll find the instruments and the electrical controls for all the equipment in the stern, around the rudders, while the compass, smaller than the average size, is on the central table. Here you'll also find an icebox and a life raft, in addition to numerous holders.
The stern deck of the Beneteau Oceanis 51.1
At the stern of the wheelhouses, the electrically-controlled folding stern platform (with the engine running...) is very low on the water and has a convenient step for getting on and off from it to the cockpit. The dimensions are record-breaking (2.65 m x 0.80 m).
The interior of the Beneteau Oceanis 51.1
Plenty of room to spend time with your crew in the internal part of the boat, I'd say a bit like a real living room. Things like the longitudinal grab rail that runs across the entire living room highlighting that this boat is for sailing.
On this boat, by details that are not seen on all cruising boats, but introduced with a pragmatic spirit, for example, a chart table suited to contemporary needs and served by a practical chaise longue.
Below deck, you'll find plenty of the space and great light in the common areas for a more than domestic experience (what flat has a small window looking straight out to sea?!).
The galley with a double cupboard fridge has a very functional layout that is easy to keep clean. The waste bin with the opening at the worktop level is very much appreciated. Between the galley and the chart table facing towards the bow, you'll find a large box that enlivens and enhances the interior.
Several full-height mirrors, with an extensive surface area making the living room, overlooked by all the cabins, seem even more airy and homely.
Cabins and bathrooms of the Beneteau Oceanis 51.1
The boat we had the opportunity to sail on was designed specifically for charters with many cabins and bathrooms, so not a lot of spare space resulted. However, the bathrooms and cabins were well designed and perfectly functional for a week-long summer cruise. You'll spend most of your time in the common areas: dinette, cockpit, beach, and deckhouse when not in the water or exploring the mainland.
This post is written by Francesco Gambini. Francesco met sailing in Liguria 20 years ago. A fleet specialist in Sailogy, his favourite boat is the Dufour 310 Grand Large.