A family or a couple will safely sail on this 66 foot
Yacht Class n°11 (Dec-jan-feb 2018)
CNB - Groupe Bénéteau
The latest addition to the semi-custom series from CNB, the 66, is built upon the strengths of her predecessors in terms of elegance and maneuverability. Designed by Philippe Briand, she opens her doors to high-end cruising with no crew to family striving for excellence.
Text & photos : Christophe Varène et DR
An idyllic bay in an exceptional context, what better way to sail on the CNB 66, the last-born of the eponymous yard? Furthermore, with the sun and a good breeze… a star is definitely shining above this elegant sloop designed by the talented Philippe Briand, who has already designed many plans for the Bordeaux-based yard. For the past four years, during les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - the not-to-be-missed end-of-season rendezvous for classic and modern sailing - CNB took the opportunity of the traditional "Challenge" day to organize a race between several of its units: the CNB Day Sail. The perfect chance to appreciate the behavior of the CNB 66 Althane, the first of the series, against her predecessors, Bordeaux 60 and CNB 76. Let's use the preparatory stage preceding the starting gun to rediscover the history of this major shipyard of both the French and international nautical landscape.
In the major league
Thirty years ago, Dieter Gust and Olivier Lafourcade, sailboats captains and friends, created on the banks of the Gironde their shipyard: Construction Navale Bordeaux. From the start, they specialized in "one-off" high-end yachts. And right away, their first creation - Mari-Cha II, a 92 foot sloop designed by the famous Argentine architect German Frers - made them enter the big league. She was followed by other exceptional units, penned by famous naval architects such as Bruce Farr or Philippe Briand. Success has never failed and in 1992, CNB became part of Bénéteau Group, which, five years later, entrusted it with the construction of Lagoon catamarans. In 2008, the launch of Bordeaux 60 marks the beginning of CNB Yachts Builders semi-custom range, which has since then welcomed the CNB 76 (2013) and the CNB 66 (2017). The shipyard now has more than 1 000 employees and launched more than 4 500 units.
Easy to helm and to trim
Right after the starting signal, with 12 knots downwind, Althane’s huge (330m2!) and asymmetrical pink spi, attached to the carbon bowsprit, is raised in its sock while the speed rises to just over 8 knots. Against larger or better prepared rivals, her performance meets the crew's expectations. In the cockpit where are led all the lines, the Harken Performa electrical winches facilitate the accurate trimming of sails. The long downwind stretch makes it possible to assess the hull stability, well supported by its two rudders. In the gusts, she immediately speeds at 9.5 knots, then with winds rising over 25 knots, Althane rapidly exceeds 11 knots, keeping up with Belé, a CNB 76. In the hands, the steering wheel is soft, both to the touch - as this beautiful piece of art combines wood and carbon - or in its responsiveness and precision. Hard to imagine that a unit of over 30 tons displacement can be controlled at the fingertips, ready to react to the least lift. Just before the leeward mark, the genoa is unrolled and the huge pink canvas hauled down : the sock makes the operation is smooth, yet it remained physical in sustained winds. Tacking is required on the return to the finish line. The speedometer still indicates good values from 7 to 10 knots between 30 and 50 degrees of apparent wind. The sails, conceived by Incidence in DFI - a filament membrane of their own creation - contribute to these good performances thanks to their robustness, stability and lightness. Each tack requires to unfurl the self-tacking staysail, to maintain the speed, before furling in the genoa to make it easily go on the other side. Only once the latter is deployed and trimmed can the staysail be rolled up again. A ballet that the electric winches once more make easy and quick. No matter the regatta outcome - positive nonetheless, it provided first the opportunity to assess the CNB66's user-friendliness. A simplicity we also find in navigation with a small crew, in line with her clear philosophy: great sailing capacities in a family setting with high-end comfort services. Inspired by the general aesthetics of the 76, the CNB 66 took many functional assets from the Bordeaux 60. The regatta underlined the good ergonomics of the flush deck plan, where the only level difference (12cm) is located aft the helm station. The furling boom is (almost) an essential option for long cruises as a couple: developed with Hall Spars, it only takes a few minutes to learn how to use it, as the main thing is to keep it horizontal, before hoisting the main sail in 47 seconds and hauling it down in 40. To stop the halyard, it passes into a textile hem that encloses and jams it when the tension is released. Effective, light and without risk of gripping. To conclude this external and technical overview - with a watchword: no stress - nothing like watching the tender launch, as it leaves the garage designed for a 3.2 m unit maximum, with a jet or outboard engine, and slides on the hydraulic swim platform in just a few minutes. Perfect to take a ride on land during a stopover in an idyllic anchorage.
Four nice cabins
If regatta suits her well, the CNB66 also offers pleasure and relaxation. Her vast cockpit is convivial, as all manoeuvres are located aft. Each side of the large central passage, from the companionway to the helm stations, features welcoming sofas, plus a large portside table, that can become a large sunbed in lowered position. Note the refrigerator easily accessible underneath the back seat, when the sun is too hot. These warm days also often rhymes with flat calm, allowing the 180 hp Volvo D4 engine to prove its effectiveness. In addition to a top speed of 10 knots, it ensures a cruising one of about 8 knots at nearly 2 000 rpm, which with her two 650l fuel tank gives her a range about 1 000 miles. Enough to get out of anticyclonic bubbles during oceanic crossings. Let's head inside, through a flight of six steps leading down to a world of light and space. This saloon offers a panoramic view, whether seated or standing, thanks to the large deckhouse windows and the portholes. To port is located a U-shaped sofa around beautiful table that goes in no time from a low to a high position. In addition, the huge modular sofa on starboard, facing the TV, features a removable central part that can form two additional seats around the table, thanks to another ingenious and simple system adjusting them to the right height. The rear-facing chart table features a 19'' screen and overlooks a very large and well-endowed galley (stove, oven, refrigerator, freezer, storage...) to combine the table pleasures to the sea one. If the common areas have similar volumes to the CNB 76's, the designers Jean-Marc Piaton and Rafael Bonet had to deal with smaller spaces to ensure the same number of berths and bathrooms in the remaining areas. The result is convincing: four beautiful cabins with at least one en-suite toilet. To give credit where credit is due, the forward master cabin, lighted by the hull and deck portholes, features a large double "island bed", a study area on starboard, number of storage units, wardrobe and drawers, plus a large bathroom. There, a door leads to the sail locker located in the forepeak. The corridor to this master hosts two cabins, one with a double bed, the other with two single beds, also very luminous. The last one, also fitted with a double bed, is forward the kitchen. The cozy and welcoming atmosphere there also features small assets proving her seaworthiness, such as the fiddle on the round furniture. Even in the smallest details, the CNB 66 is an invitation to cruising, be it as a couple, with family or friends, in a relaxed and serene atmosphere.
- Overall length : 20,61 m
- Max beam : 5,51 m
- Draft : 2,95 m
- Fuel : 2 x 650 l
- Water : 2 x 500 l
- Material : fibre de verre infusion
- Engine : Volvo D4 180 ch
- Main sail area : 112 m2
- Genoa : 103 m2
- Price from : 1,7 M € HT
- Naval architect : Philippe Briand
- Interior designer : Philippe Briand
- Design intérieur : Jean-Marc Piaton / Rafael Bonet
- Builder : CNB (Bordeaux)