The Beneteau First 35s5 Sailboat
Specs & Key Performance Indicators

The Beneteau First 35s5 was designed by Jean Berret & Phillipe Stark. It was brought to life by the renowned French builder, Beneteau. Commencing production in 1988, the First 35s5 sailboat ended its production in 1994. During this six-year-long run, a total of 420 boats were manufactured.

Beneteau First 35s5A Beneteau First 35s5 Sailboat

Published Specification for the Beneteau First 35s5

Underwater Profile: Bulb fin keel & spade rudder

Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall: 5'5" (10.8m)

Waterline Length: 29'4" (9.0m)

Beam: 11'10" (3.6m)

Draft: 6'0" (1.8m)

Rig Type: Fractional sloop

Displacement: 11,460lb (5,198kg)

Ballast: 4,190lb (1,901kg)

Published Design Ratios for the Beneteau First 35s5

Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 17.6

Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 36.6

Displacement/Length Ratio: 202

Comfort Ratio: 21.2

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 2.1

read more about these Key Performance Indicators...

Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Beneteau First 35s5

With a Sail Area/Displacement (SA/D) ratio of 17.6, the Beneteau First 35s5 is expected to perform well under most wind conditions, indicating a competitive balance between the power from the sails and the boat's weight.

A Ballast/Displacement ratio of 36.6 suggests the boat has a moderate ability to right itself after being heeled over by the wind. However, as she has much of her ballast concentrated in a bulb at the foot of her keel, she's likely to be considerably stiffer than her published Ballast/Displacement Ratio might suggest.

The Displacement/Length Ratio (D/L) of 202 is towards the lighter end of the spectrum for cruising monohulls, indicating that the boat is likely fast and nimble, especially in light to moderate winds. However, it may potentially pitch more in rough seas compared to heavier cruisers.

The Comfort Ratio of 21.2 signifies that the boat has a moderate comfort level for offshore sailing. It is likely to provide an acceptable ride for extended cruising while maintaining good speed.

Lastly, a Capsize Screening Formula result of 2.1 suggests this boat has a good degree of stability and is unlikely to capsize in rough weather. The closer the result is to 2, the better for offshore sailing. Thus, while the Beneteau First 35s5 may not be the most comfortable blue-water cruiser, it would still be a solid performance-oriented coastal cruiser with offshore capabilities.

The Designers

The prolific partnership of Jean Berret & Phillipe Stark has resulted in a number of noteworthy yacht designs over the years. Jean Berret's expertise as a naval architect, matched with Phillipe Stark's visionary design principles, has brought forth unique and successful creations.

Besides the Beneteau First 35s5, they have designed the iconic Beneteau First series, including the popular Beneteau First 51s5 and First 42s7. They have also worked on the M50, known as the "Super Maramu," for the brand Amel.

In addition to these, the partnership was responsible for the April Fool, the yacht which made its mark in the history for single-handedly circumnavigating the globe.

Their portfolio demonstrates an ability to combine functionality with novel design perspectives, marking them as a noteworthy team in yacht design.

The Builders

Beneteau is one of the oldest and most respected boatbuilders in the world, tracing its roots back to 1884, when Benjamin Beneteau started building fishing boats in Croisic, France. The business quickly flourished, and the company began to diversify into the production of pleasure craft. Over the years, the Beneteau brand has built numerous iconic sailboats such as the Oceanis and Sense series, alongside the aforementioned First series.

The company's long-standing legacy of top-quality craftsmanship and innovative design have solidified its status as a prevalent producer of sailing yachts. Beneteau's well-known models, aside from the First 35s5, include the First 20, Oceanis 55, and Sense 57. These boats demonstrate the spectrum of sailing experiences Beneteau caters to, from casual day-sailing to offshore cruising.

In the present day, Beneteau continues to operate as one of the leading boat manufacturers worldwide, having expanded its range to include motorboats and luxury yachts. Despite the many changes in the boating industry over the years, Beneteau has demonstrated resilience and continuous adaptation, cementing their place in the annals of boatbuilding history.


The Beneteau First 35s5 has made significant waves in the sailing community, being hailed for its balance of speed, performance, and comfort.

Design ratios reveal its solid performance characteristics, with a commendable balance between sail area and displacement for versatile wind handling, and decent stability credentials as indicated by its capsize screening formula. These attributes, combined with its reasonable comfort ratio, have earned it a respectable position as a performance coastal cruiser.

Moreover, its reputation has been further solidified by the positive feedback from both the sailing press and owners. Journalists laud its nimble movement and responsiveness, while owners often express satisfaction with the boat's robust construction, combined with the convenience and comfort offered for extended cruising. It stands testimonial that even years after its production ceased, the Beneteau First 35s5 continues to be a popular choice among sailing enthusiasts.

Was a "tall rig" version produced for the Beneteau First 35s5 as an alternative to the standard height rig?

Yes, a "tall rig" version was indeed produced for the Beneteau First 35s5 as an alternative to the standard height rig. This version was designed to enhance performance, particularly in light air conditions. The tall rig puts up 622ft2 of sail compared to the short rig's 574ft2.

Both sail areas are easily managed by a couple or singlehander, and since 30% of all sailing is in very light air, the tall rig allows for more sail area to be utilized. So, if you're considering this model and are serious about performance, the tall rig version could be a good option.

Were any deep or shallow draft versions available?

Yes, the Beneteau First 35s5 was available in both deep and shallow draft versions. The deep draft version has a lead fin keel with a draft of 6 feet, offering high righting moment and low drag. This version is designed to keep the boat pointing to windward in heavy going better than the shoal version.

On the other hand, the shallow draft version has a cast iron keel and offers more wetted surface, resulting in more drag. The choice between the two would depend on your sailing needs and the conditions you expect to encounter.

The Beneteau First 35s5 was designed by Jean Berret and Phillipe Stark. Were all other boats in the Beneteau First range designed by this designer?

No, not all boats in the Beneteau First range were designed by Jean Berret and Phillipe Stark. The Beneteau First range has seen contributions from various designers over the years. For instance, the First 30 model was designed by André Mauric, while the First 36 was designed by Samuel Manuard. The engineering for the First 44 was entrusted to the Mer Forte design office. Therefore, while Jean Berret and Phillipe Stark played a significant role in designing the Beneteau First 35s5, they were not the sole designers for the entire Beneteau First range.

I wrote this article using GPT-4, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model, as a research assistant to develop source material. I wrote the final draft in its entirety and believe it to be accurate to the best of my knowledge.

Dick McClary, creator and owner of

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