Beneteau’s New Sense 50

by Guest Author Zuzana Prochazka

Editor’s Note — Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning writer and editor and currently serves as the president of the Boating Writers International association. Her website, TalkoftheDock, is “the boater resource for gear, boat reviews and other topics related to cruising and general loafing about on the water. ”  Oh yeah, she’s also a U.S.Coast Guard 100 Ton Master with more than 20 years of boating experience. She recently toured the new Beneteau Sense 50 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show and shared this piece with us.

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Beneteau's new Sense 50 spins in her own length at Annapolis - Photo credit:  Zuzana Prochazka

Beneteau's new Sense 50 spins in her own length at Annapolis - Photo credit: Zuzana Prochazka

There are those who would say that there’s nothing new in sailing – you raise some canvas, pull on some lines, and when there’s no wind, you turn on the engine and go home.  But those people have no imagination.  Imagination that is, like that which created the Beneteau Sense 50. 

It’s really refreshing to see a sailboat manufacturer start thinking about what barriers there are for boaters to get into the cockpit of a 50 foot boat and head out with confidence.  But someone finally started thinking as was proven at this year’s Annapolis boat show where the Sense 50 spun in its own length and generally wow’d audiences all day.

Cockpit real estate aboard the new Beneteau Sense 50 - Photo credit:  Zuzana Prochazka

Cockpit real estate aboard the new Beneteau Sense 50 - Photo credit: Zuzana Prochazka

The boat’s maneuverability comes from Beneteau’s Dock and Go steering system which features a joystick control that synchronizes a 360 degree pivoting propeller with a bowthruster to move the boat forward, aft, or completely sideways.  As the boat spins, the Yanmar 75HP sail drive coordinates with the bowthruster while the Raymarine autopilot manages the rudder. This is very much like what Volvo did with their IPS system for powerboats and the result is total control with a lot less anxiety, especially when docking. 

But boat handling is just the beginning with the Sense 50.  The Sense 50 is fast but still manageable as it is designed to deliver maximum performance at 15 degrees of heel rather than the normal 20 degrees.  From the sleek light displacement hull (31,195 lbs.) and low coachroof with angular windows, to the slippery underbody with a spade rudder and choice of keel drafts (6’ 11” or a bulb with 5’ 10”), this boat is almost more like an ocean racing Open 50 than a traditional cruiser.

The design group of Berret-Racoupeau tossed out any preconceived notions of what a cruising monohull should be and started fresh.  It’s a massive platform with a 49’ LOA and 15’ 11” on the beam that is carried well aft.  This width is what allowed the construction of an almost catamaran-like cockpit with an easy entry off a broad swim platform and one step up to the twin wheels. 

Cockpit table aboard the Beneteau Sense 50 - Photo credit:  Zuzana Prochazka

Cockpit table aboard the Beneteau Sense 50 - Photo credit: Zuzana Prochazka

The seats behind each helm station lift up and out to open the entire transom, creating an inviting terrace with a U-shaped settee on starboard and table that can be folded and lowered to a cocktail table or made into a sun pad or bed for two. The cockpit sole lifts up to reveal access to all the machinery for easy maintenance.  This was done by design to keep all the noise-making equipment well away from the living areas and the space is accessed via a ladder and can even house a washing machine. 

Life aboard the Sense 50 is divided into three areas – the easy outdoor living of the cockpit, the centralized social space of the saloon/galley and the quiet cabins forward.  Sleek, angular and very Euro-chic, the “greatroom” living space is finished in alpi fruitwood with an oak laminated cabin sole and feels very rich and comfortable.

The straight-line galley runs up the starboard side and has great storage.  On port is a U-shaped settee that also forms the seat to the sizeable aft-facing nav station, and wraps around a table that will seat 6-8 for dinner or drinks.  The entire space is interrupted only by an island in the middle that serves as extra counter space for the galley but also hides a folding seat and a pop-up flat screen TV both of which face the saloon. The Sense 50 is available in two or three cabin layouts.  The master stateroom is forward with an island queen berth, a small vanity desk and a large, ensuite head with a stall shower. 

Beneteau Sense 50's well-designed anchor windlass dam and locker - Photo credit:  Zuzana Prochazka

Beneteau Sense 50's well-designed anchor windlass dam and locker - Photo credit: Zuzana Prochazka

The base price of the Sense 50 is $398,000 but with all the upgrades available, sailaway can be more like $560,000.  The Sense 50 will undoubtedly revolutionize yacht design inside and out and possibly even re-energize a sluggish sailboat market.  For those who would like all the excitement in a smaller package, Beneteau is planning on introducing a 42 foot version next year.

Beneteau Sense 50
Specifications:

Yacht Design: Berret – Racoupeau
Interior Design: Nauta Design
Hull length: 49’
Max beam: 15’ 11”
Light displacement: 31,195 lbs
Deep draft: 6’ 11”
Shallow draft: 5’ 10”
Engine: 75HP
Fuel capacity: 110 gal
Fresh water capacity: 140 gal

Original article and photos courtesy of and Copyright © 2010 by Zuzana Prochazka at TalkoftheDock

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom

Tom Tripp is the owner of OceanLines LLC, the publisher of OceanLines and founder of Marine Science Today. He is an award-winning marine journalist, science writer and long-time public communications specialist. His PR career and much of his writing stems from the fact that he loves to explain stuff. It all began when he and his brother Mark threw all of Mom's tomatoes at the back wall of the house. . .