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Well, Mr. Tracy

by John Curnow, Editor, 3 Oct 2018 22:00 UTC
Interviewing Damien Jacob aboard the then very new Beneteau Oceanis 51.1 © John Curnow

It is around 12 months ago that I first got to meet Damien Jacob from Beneteau, whilst we bobbed around the Mediterranean, just off Barcelona. I was fortunate enough to catch him again, this year at the Sydney International Boat Show, when he came out to launch his new baby to the world. The Oceanis 46.1 is all him, and what a craft it is.

Now he is not old enough to have grown up with the Thunderbirds, and being French, also probably never saw an episode on early morning weekend TV like so many of us did. Yet spending time with him is both wonderful, and a touch like sitting down with 'Brains'. It is not that he looks terribly much like Brains, or speaks in the same staccato kind of fashion. Damien is actually very quietly spoken.

The reason for the comparison is that the pearls of wisdom that emanate from his mouth do very much remind you of Brains, should you too have all those terrific childhood memories. If not, make the time to immerse yourself in the 50 minutes it will take you to absorb just one of the 32 episodes of the original marionette gems from the 1960s. Leading into the wonderful explanation of all the science behind a situation only I.R. could save the world from, would be the words spoken by Brains, which are contained in our headline today.

Beneteau, along with Jeanneau and Bavaria, are probably the three volume producers who have embraced innovation in the cruiser market. They have each taken to their own theme, and then chased space, and performance, along the way delivering true differentiation. Good on them.

So there's no way we can capture the whole conversation in just one editorial, and I guess that pretty much sets us up for another bite of the proverbial cherry in the next little while. However, when a naval architect donates over 25 minutes of their time, then you not only listen intently, you feel pretty special too!

Jacob is a graduate of the very famous Southampton University. He has had ten years in the business since graduating, and before he joined Beneteau. Incidentally, the head of Beneteau sail and power products, Gianguido Girotti is also a graduate form the very same college. Jacob spent time with a prestigious yard in Slovenia building 60-80 foot carbon yachts, and then was with X-Yachts, before he became 'Mr Oceanis', as it were, around two years ago.

The drive for Jacob was that G3, as he is best known internally, had been clear in his desire to reposition Beneteau with a distinctly performance oriented feel, that was also backed up by the numbers. We have previously talked about how this new Oceanis 46.1 in 'First Line' guise (big stick, big keel) will crack nearly 8.5 knots uphill and 17.5 off the breeze. This is true passage-making capabilities, with 300+nm for the 24 hour run a genuine potential tally. Many a race boat would be happy with that, but you have the benefit of a full galley, three cabins, two heads, a TV and so on...

Both the Oceanis 51.1 and the new 46.1 enjoy a nigh on 12 month order book, which is truly noteworthy and commendable. When he arrived, Jacob completed the 51.1, and the 46.1 was the next project. Both have the new hull geometry, which the tulip hull form is an integral part of. You save wetted surface area, but gain volume in the living spaces, as well as providing for inherent strength in the hull form and the power to avoid going down the mine when you might be chasing the kind of numbers this craft is capable of achieving. All in all it is a difficult balance, and then you also have the aesthetic aspects to tailor in, as well. In this way, Jacob has achieved what hitherto may well have been dichotomous nodes on the spectrum.

The best way to explain this is by highlighting how well the craft does in just five knots with a huge Code Zero, and then by the time it is 30, you have hull form, which is rocker, chines, and beam to harness the available power, combined with a safe and useable foredeck, along with a set of control lines sent aft that means you still remain in control of your vessel, with minimal expenditure of energy and requirement for crew.

So in this way it is absolutely a game of numbers, but not perhaps the way you might be thinking. Globally, the 45 or thereabouts is a very important sector, and Beneteau have shone there for ages. You don't just need to gain centimetres internally, you need to something with them. Equally, a chine on its own is not necessarily advantageous. A Clipper 70 heels at a huge angle to sit on hers, but for a cruiser this would be unacceptable.

By bringing the chine for'ard you gain power in a seaway, but you also gain an island bed in the Owner's Stateroom, because you can 'step' the topsides out as a result of said chine. So yes. It does take brains, and when you consider this was all put into play well over 18 months ago, then you start to see that it might be all so easy to talk about it now, after the fact, but it is another thing entirely to dream it all up in the first place.

Absolutely on the other board now... Well the Xmas decorations are in the shops, so it kinda seemed okay to have a pic of a boat in a wrapper. This owner also gets to have their boat for Xmas, which in the Southern Hemisphere means Summer, so it all seemed pretty apt to me. Under the white plastic is a brand new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319, which is a new model for 2018, and the first of its kind to arrive into Australia.

Her new owner is based on Sydney Harbour. It is also important for it also marks one of the cornerstones in local dealer, Performance Boating Sales, becoming the Jeanneau Dealer of the Year. Things like having a Jeanneau owner's rendezvous that was one of the biggest on the planet also helped Lee Condell and crew get the worldwide award. Jeanneau Asia-Pacific Managing Director Paul Blanc also reinforced how much the client support played a part in the award commenting that Performance Boating Sales 2018 NSW Jeanneau owners rendezvous had "set a benchmark for all our dealers around the globe!"

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you from batteries to straws, Fiji, radar, solo circumnavigations, the Outremer 51, reefs, gear from Musto, celebrating X-Yachts Xc range turning 40, food, Africa, New York, removing tyre 'reefs' that have been leaching chemicals into the ocean, big Perini Navis, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow

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