Beneteau First 235 - The Beneteau F235 Online Resource

BENETEAU FIRST 235 Excellence in design, performance, and accommodation, all in an extremely well-made, mini-yacht package.

Neil Sorensen and crew on Hot Tuna power reaching with Code Zero during the 2006 Castaway Cup in Florida ~ see High Resolution


First 235 Directory & Photos
We now have the whereabouts of most of the Beneteau First 235 in the US and abroad, listed by hull number, current owner, and sailing location. We look forward to more owner submissions. Beneteau First 235 DirectoryNow with See the Beneteau First 235 Directory, now with photos boat photos!
* Visit First 235 Directory and History pages! NEWS
See latest NEWS at Latest entries include LOCCR Info, more First 235 bowsprit Mods, and some great First 235 Desktop background images for download. See Beneteau First 235 Forum!

Over 1200 Members - 62,000 posts!
Beneteau First 235 Forum

The Beneteau First 235 Forum is perhaps the most active single model forum online with almost 1200 members and an amazing 61,000+ entries. We currently have a General Forum, First 235 Parts, First 235 For Sale, F235 Racing & Tuning Tips, and the developing First 235 Class Section, along with a host of others. Now with a First 285 Forum section! Having trouble getting activated?  Please contact me at F235 Forum Activation Help. Please include forum name and boat or home location.
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Beneteau First 235 Forum

Over 30 First 235 images revolving above

First 235 Directory and History pages

Simply put, this is one of the finest boats in this size range and exciting to sail. I actually don’t know many other boats that pack so much into such a small package, mixing performance and usability in a very compelling fashion.

How many 23 foot boats do you see with a galley, ice box, sink, and 2 burner stove, directly across from a fully enclosable marine head which doubles as a working nav station with slide out table? How about a 23 ft boat with an aft sleeping area? How about an interior that doesn’t demand you bend double at the waist? Or somewhere a 6'3 person can stretch out without jamming feet into a corner? How about the very same toe rail, chocks, cleats, and other fittings as found on the Beneteau/Jeanneau 50? And how many boats can combine all this with performance that embarrasses many with longer water lines? The boat impressed me so much, I made this dedicated website and forum.

Right up front, I'll say the Beneteau First 235 is a blast to sail and fast to boot, rewarding attention to detail with proper sail trim & rig tuning via the Z Spars, light, fractional rig (9/10ths). Some of the reviews in various mags (see Reviews) compare the First 235 to a big racing dinghy. It has pretty impressive acceleration and with a clean bottom and proper trim, does well in light air (the less weight aboard, the better). The boat surely looks fast with plumb bow and wide stern, mirroring the Mini-Transats which define its heritage. The First 235 was designed by Finot who took the hull form from his '84 Mini. This boat looks quite modern and distinctive and in many ways was ahead of its time. You are not talking traditional lines; she really stands out on the water and under sail due to the plumb bow, narrow entry, and wide stern.

From some flattering angles, the First 235 looks like the Mini-Transat that defines its heritage. The plumb bow and wide stern are very distinctive...

In the US, it came with two iron keels, the wing at 2’9 and the fin at 3’8 (EU has the fin and swing on worm gear - There was no wing option). The fin F235 does point higher than the wing but either sails very well and I wouldn't pass on a good deal with the fin or wing. The fin might be the first choice if racing the traditional cigar course but the "Hydrokeel" inspired wing comes into its own from a close reach down. Several First 235 have had different custom lead fin keels done, one by Leif Beiley of Bravura Yachts, this on Pegasus, sailing off California. Beiley also designed a second 4'7 905lb lead fin with more weight down low in the bulb and higher aspect ratio and cord length (Construction pending from Mars). The earliest lead fin keel done for a US F235 was made by Mars and can be seen on this website.

The boat is not loaded with ballast per say, nor particularly stiff, but with proper attention to sail trim, reefing, sail selection, tuning (back stay pressure), and weight placement, she can handle much of anything. Her nice beam and hull shape does a great deal here. Get your weight on the rail (driver, too) when things pick up (and dig one of the best views). She will round up a bit if overpowered but play of the traveler combined with more backstay can help to control - Up into the 20s, and a reef is prudent. On the other hand, she feels very stable and drives forward nicely in air... but if you've been on something like the Ranger 23, she does not track on rails with the rail down, tending more to round up in a gust if too much main and past 30 degrees. Does well upwind in swell and one can stay quite dry compared to others of this ilk. Her plumb, narrow entry bow does wonders and was ahead of its time in '86 for a production boat this size. The F235 has a good stock reefing system that can be customized for greater ease.

I sail off Wrightsville Beach, NC which means 98% ocean sailing and think the boat does well in these conditions, which are usually in the teens to the 20s (Again, once in the high teens to 20s, you have to be on your toes). Depending on your tastes, higher winds mean moving to a smaller headsail and reef thrown in (some will want to move to reducing area sooner than others - I do believe that a reef with mid-size head sail might be a good compromise). All the lines are very accessible with the halyards lead aft. You can run the outhaul, vang, and reefing lines back as well with minor mods. Ditto with the Spinnaker controls (a few owners have added a bowsprit to run Asymmetricals).

Sailing from the rail is a delight and recommended as the coaming is VERY comfortable. With lifeline cushions and a proper tiller extension (the stock unit is worthless as it’s too short), it’s an excellent vantage point and a great place to helm. I single-hand the boat most of the time so a tiller tamer/auto pilot of some sort is recommended when doing duties away from the helm. Still, it’s one of the easiest boats I have ever single-handed. One of my main criticisms is the rudder system which can become problematic in following seas with swell and wind. A few mods can help.

The boat is very fun to race and can do some damage, keeping up with larger craft. She has a long waterline for her size due to the plumb bow and stern design. Some good sails with proper tune & trim and she really moves. The only problem here is you're not going to get any favors from the rather low PHRF, actually putting you with some stiff competition. It's a challenging boat to get the best from but will reward skill and time spent on the water getting to know the boat and how she does in your conditions.

The First 235 motors with ease with great access to the outboard although at low speed, its freeboard can occasionally cause problems in cross-wind conditions. There is no need for any mounting gear as the F235 has a nifty starboard cutout with wood mount rail in the transom. On a more protected lake, a 4hp will do ok while saving weight. Put yourself in some current and more wind, and you're looking at a minimum of 5hp up to a 9.9 or so if you want to go some distance. Going somewhere, a Four-Stroke would be needed for sanity, but you don’t want to go too heavy as the motor is mounted on the starboard side, the same side as the battery, head, holding tank, and nav station area. While the galley does balance the weight somewhat, all F235 tend to exhibit an ever so slight list to the starboard. This is very minor, however. I reach hull speed with my 5HP Tohatsu 2 stroke but with current and chop, it can be a bit challenging at times, best with a motor with a bit more thrust in these conditions. The 9.8 Tohatsu/Nissan 4 Stroke would be a good alternative due to its low weight compared to other 4s. Best to get as long a shaft as possible. Below 20 need not apply and 25 is even better if in bigger chop/waves.

The First 235, while technically a trailer-sailer, pushes the limits of what you want to handle; in other words, I think trailering every outing is pushing it with the F235. On the other hand, it's nice to be able to take this boat somewhere interesting. The wing is easier to launch from the trailer since it's almost a foot shorter. Having a trailer with your F235 is only a positive and trailer boats tend to sell easier.

To sum up, the little First 235 is a great boat and fun to race or weekend cruise. I have stayed as long as 10 days with my wife but after three and you would like to have some access to facilities. While it has a nifty ice box and water storage and holding tank, a longer stay will begin to test the storage. Creative packing is helpful.

Tour this ever-expanding site at, now with an active First 235 Forum membership of close to 1200 with over 61,000 posts. You'll find a large number of F235 pictures from every angle, on the water and off. See specs, info, mods, and reviews, some even translated from German and French. The forum gets daily activity and owners are responsive to questions and welcome interested parties.

Kelly Holsten
Wrightsville Beach, NC
'89 Beneteau First 235
abstrait | Hull #327 | WK

To contact me regarding
anything First 235 related:
First 235 Site/Forum/Owner Directory Inquiries

David Walters' excellent F235
David Walters' excellent First 235                    

NOTE: Most Photos in site click to FULL , including BELOW       

Beneteau First 235 Quick Links
Beneteau Parts Info | Detailed Specs
Factory Parts ID - Online Ordering
Factory Rig Tuning Guide
US Spars Info - Rig Info - US Spars Parts
First 235 Owner Mods

Beneteau First 235 Specs  (Specs Page)
Builder: Beneteau
Designer Groupe Finot
Number Built (86-92) 451
LOA 23' 4
LWL 20' 3
Beam 8' 2
Draft (Fin/wing) 3' 8 / 2' 9
Displacement See Specs
Ballast See Specs
Sail Area (100% Jib) 263 sq. ft
Bridge Clearance @33.5 ft
Hull Speed 6.03kns
Displace/Length Ratio 124:1
Sail Area/Displace Ratio 24
Capsize Screen 2.47

click for full

       Pat Turner leaving a Catalina 25 behind... Click for full
       Pat Turner in his '87 wk, reaching in full glory...more

      abstrait, off the coast of Wrightsville Beach, NC in March - Click to see full
      Kelly Holsten via '89 abstrait off Wrightsville Bch, NC
       ~ click above for full - 13 Hi-Res Photos ~

      See the Thomas Hugh sequence outside the Golden Gate in the Pacific, this as seen in Latitude 38
       Full disappearing act in Pacific outside the Golden Gate
     ~ click above for sequence ~

Flint in Scotland - see more....
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