Re: Amel 54 v Beneteau 55

Danny and Yvonne SIMMS

Hi Brent et al,

We have a lot of new members of this group and new owners and wannabe owners so I am going to share some of my experiences sailing Ocean Pearl. SM 299

First up, they are not slow and with practice can point quite well.

We bought her in Florida 13 years ago and our first sail was 1000 miles to Newport RI. Then we went out to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. My previous boat had been a lightweight 42 footer cruiser racer. I was utterly disgusted with the SM. I called it an overpriced lump of junk. In light airs I just could not make her go. Then on the sail back from Nantucket I applied myself. I was no longer in a 6 tonne racer. Sail trim had to be seriously different. Much more power was needed ie trim the sails full. Bit by bit I learned how to make her go. Later, on an overnight inter island voyage in the Caribbean we set off in the evening behind a group of 15 or 20 going the same way. Wind probably 10 to 15  knots. We caught up quickly and in the night sailed through the group. One wag came on the VHF with a warning "watch out, there is an Amel Super Maramu coming through and there is someone water skiing behind".

Another time we were going down the Jersey coast at night, Yvonne on the helm. We were sailing past another boat of similar size, he called up on the VHF and accused Yvonne of exceeding the speed limit. 

Down wind. If you are disinclined to put up the twin headsails what I call triple wing on wing gives a noticeable increase in speed. Head sail to one side, main to the other and mizzen same side as the headsail. Main and mizzen with preventers on. The wind hits the mizzen, accelerates across it and into the main, accelerates again and into the headsail. This double acceleration put the best effect into the biggest sail. Because of this effect the headsail stands up well even if not poled out. Of course if you have the twin headsails up it is better.

We did the Caribbean 1500 rally in 6 days. Hampton Virginia to Tortola BVI. We had two guys with us as extras. When we got there we said to each other if we lived to 100 we would never get a better dream run that that. By rally rules when corrected for engine time we were 5th out of 60 boats. A Beneteau 50 came in more than 24 hours behind us saying "oh my god, what a nightmare, horrible." 

On the Pacific "puddle jump" crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas islands, 3200 miles we did in 17 days. 4 days very little wind and wind mostly under 20 knots. No one in the crossing group got there faster than us.

Their ability in gale and storm conditions is legendary. As wind increases it is so easy to reduce sail and even running in a gale with big seas the auto helm still controls things. A rider to that statement. Have the right amount of sail up correctly trimmed.

In true wind up to 20 knots with the apparent wind angle about 120 to 135 degrees 4 sail reaching is powerful and fast. The mizzen staysail is very easy to set and drop. I can do it single handed.

When I cant go cruising I do the occasional race in our small club. The competitors are race optimised 30 to 42 footers. I have learned to get pointing angles similar to them and if the wind is above 15 knots we are very competitive. Of course our water line length helps..

I could go on. The ease of sail control, the cockpit capable of being fully enclosed with clears and the downright safety of the boat are outstanding.



SM 299 Ocean Pearl

On 10 October 2021 at 17:11 "Brent Cameron via" <brentcameron61@...> wrote:

Thanks Danny. That confirmed my suspicions.  We didn’t have more than 2-3m seas and 20kts of wind so I didn’t see her bend but like the difference between a Honda Honda Civic and a Mercedes, you can just feel it. (No disrespect to Honda Civic owners… I have both so can make the comparison fairly).   Everything felt undersized for the size of the boat. 

Pat, we only had about 2 hours upwind and I wasn’t hugely impressed by how well it pointed (I thought it would point better as the Genoa tracks are well inboard of the stays unlike the Super Maramu but I guess it’s beamy enough that it negates the difference.  Downwind in 20 knots it did better occasionally surfing down the swells but it’s longer waterline helped a bit too. We saw 10 Kts pretty consistently without surfing and a bit faster when surfing although she’s a big boat so doesn’t accelerate quickly either. 

Nick, we had to motor sail too when the wind was below 10 knots. It’s a horrible place to be on that aft helm when motor sailing downwind as you sit in a fog of diesel exhaust. I’d be changing from side to side to get away from it.  We couldn’t turn upwind on a bit of a reach as we were going by Cuba and didn’t want to get too close so had to put up with dead downwind for much of it until we rounded Cuba (headed for Isla Muerta.).  Good thing you have two rudders :-)  I saw a video somewhere (maybe here) where people were towing a dingy through that area and the orcas left the rudders alone and played with the dingy. Perhaps dragging some fenders or some such might distract them. Good luck!!!

On Oct 9, 2021, 9:18 PM -0400, ngtnewington Newington via <ngtnewington@...>, wrote:
We are  motorsailing downwind 12 kn true wind 90 miles east of Gibraltar.
I have been so disappointed in the sailing performance of this boat…she just does not go..she has a clean bottom…my conclusion is that she is grossly overloaded for the design. The excessive wide stern and twin rudders  seam to hold the boat back. 
In my racing days we used to talk about the “prismatic coefficient” the idea being that in light airs when running downwind boats that scored well outperformed. The excessive wide Beneteau would score poorly and a 54 or Supermaramu would score well. Only when there is sufficient wind to get the Beneteau up onto a plane will she take off…but by then one feels too exposed and reefs!
I think the designers look at the super fast open 60’s and try to copy them, but then they add the thrusters and aircons and genset and it just does not work…

Does anyone know about the Prismatic Coefficient?
After Gib we have to run through Orca alley…which is a bit of a worry.

S/Y Amelia  AML54 -019


On 9 Oct 2021, at 23:52, Patrick McAneny via <sailw32@...> wrote:

I  had one experience with a Beneteau Sense ,heading north past St.Vincent. I was very surprised , I came up from behind ,overtook him and in a matter of a couple of hours lost sight of him along with several production cats we passed.He had a full set of sails flying and they were trimmed well. I always look to be certain that the other boat is trimmed well. I would thought that he would have been the faster boat. 
SM Shenanigans

-----Original Message-----
From: Danny and Yvonne SIMMS <simms@...>
Sent: Sat, Oct 9, 2021 5:40 pm
Subject: Re: [AmelYachtOwners] Amel 54 v Beneteau 55

Hi Brent,
I was in Vuda Point Fiji a couple of years ago and a new Bene Oceanis 55 was alongside me. The professional skipper was delivering her. He had just completed an ocean passage to Fiji. He referred to the boat as a "Bendyto" He was so concerned at the degree of hull flex they had experienced that he was going throughout the boat to check for delamination of stringers before he was prepared to  continue the delivery.
I agree the Beneteau is a superb charter and inshore vessel, that's what they are designed for. This applies to many of the other charter designed production boats. They are not designed for ocean crossings, particularly not short handed. I know there are many doing ocean passages but in extreme weather and massive seas I believe they would be dangerous. Not least because of the wide open spaces in the cockpit and below. Serious injuries from falling are a big risk. Likewise, the hulls are not constructed to withstand extreme conditions. Two years ago a Bavaria that had circumnavigated was overwhelmed in a storm just out from Cape Brett at the entrance to the Bay of Islands NZ. A wave broke over her, the cabin windows blew out and she sank in about 20 minutes. Through incredible skill of the rescue services all the crew were rescued but sadly the skipper succumbed to hypothermia.
Horses for courses
SM 299
Ocean Pearl
On 09 October 2021 at 01:13 "Brent Cameron via" <brentcameron61@...> wrote:

I’ve had the opportunity to do long passages on both Amel Super Maramu’s and a Beneteau Sense 55 back to back and I agree that there isn’t much of a comparison.  While the 55 had a lot more room both below and above deck and would be a much better charter boat (the reason my cousin bought it), at sea they are completely different animals.   That wide open rear deck and seats at the aft corners looks marvellous at the dock but out in big seas or even motoring downwind it’s not a very fun place to be (the exhaust gets you). No way you can really sail it singlehanded as even racking the boat things are way too far away from the helm stations. The winches are used for furling the massive Genoa and that can only be done from one side so again, it’s at least a two person job. It was fast downhill as we saw 10 knots fairly consistently but the motion wasn’t great with a lot of banging of that big flat stern. The cockpit was extremely wide with no proper handholds (same in the galley) so the boat on the lean was actually dangerous as if you fell off the top side to the bottom you’d fly across 10-12’ of space before intercepting something hard to stop (hopefully) you. 

The electrical systems on the Beneteau were bare minimum and sprinkled all throughout the boat making diagnostics much tougher. We had to get into some really tight locations and empty out entire lockers to get at key things which seemed really poor planning. The inverters were really cheap and small (and lasted about as long as you’d expect).  It had three separate battery banks, including one up front for the bow thruster, none in easy spots to get at so I suspect regular inspections would suffer. Engine and generator access was poor and I can’t imagine having to work on the generator at sea. Both were undersized in my humble opinion. Same goes for the winches and brakes. The sail control lines were a mess running all over (and under the deck) and not a lot made sense as you couldn’t trace a line to what it did. With time, you’d of course learn but for new crew (and owners) it wasn’t intuitive like the Amels. You also NEED to be on deck to furl which was disappointing to say the least. 

That said, the boats are designed and intended for completely different missions. If I was doing a charter in the BVI’s or sitting at the dock or anchor for months in end, I’d pick the Beneteau as it’s a heck of a lot of boat (real estate wise) for the money.  That front owners cabin as humongous and the two private cabins are a nice touch with lots of privacy but not a proper sea bunk on the boat.  If I had to sail it out of there to get away from anything stronger than 30!knots, I’d trade two of them for an Amel in a heartbeat. For cruising around the world, for me there is no comparison. I think that a cruising couple should be able to single hand sail and that’s just not possible on the big Beneteau. You’d be sailing around with the sails furled up as a precaution and then wouldn’t be able to get at the extra speed it can carry because of the long waterline. To each their own but I know which I’d pick. 

On Oct 8, 2021, 4:16 AM -0400, ngtnewington Newington via <ngtnewington@...>, wrote:
Fellow Amel owners

I am so happy I bought an Amel 54… I am doing a delivery of a Beneteau 55. You would think that she would out-sail my 54….. No way….She just does not go without lots of wind. It must be that wide stern twin rudder arrangement. It is sticky.
It does not have a pole! So down wind is painful.
Then the twin helms are so exposed I fear falling overboard, no wonder life jackets and harnesses are de-rigeur…do not get me started on the engineering, the finish, the motion at sea….
“Love knows not it’s own depth until the hour of separation” is as true with lovers as with boats….
Temporarily separated from Amelia
AML 54-019


Brent Cameron
Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator
Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada



Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada


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