-by Stanton Murray, President, Murray Yacht Sales
I have fond memories of the 2010 October Beneteau US Dealer Meeting. The US Beneteau Dealer Network and, a day later, the sailing public was about to be introduced to the new Beneteau Sense 50. As usual, our team had been studying the new model and were looking forward to meeting with our excited Gulf Coast clients during the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland. The Sense, however, was anything but usual.
After only three steps down into a salon that uses all 16 feet of beam, visitors pause for a moment to take it all in. Hull ports the size of TV screens are at eye level when seated. A long pocket door opens the office to the hallway. No aft cabins?
My Annapolis Boat Show ‘Mode of Operation’ for the past 30+ years is to park myself below a new model for the first few hours of Thursday’s opening VIP day and take notes from the attendees’ comments.
“This looks like a NEW YORK apartment” was the first comment spoken in a negative tone. Another, “ABOMINATION, this is an ABOMINATION”, was my favorite. I took the liberty to ask the agitated gentleman to spell abomination just to make sure my notes were accurate. When a new model generates emotion, it works both ways. Our Gulf Coast clients ordered two Sense 50’s from that show.
My enthusiasm for learning about the new model and the Dock & Go / Yanmar Steerable Pulpusion Pod lead me to perform demonstrations at the show and get several hours of practice under my belt. My father once told me “never get a license to drive the school bus…” It wasn’t long before then Beneteau America President, Wayne Burdick, called with a request for me to skipper Sense 50 Hull #2 from St. Petersburg to Naples, Florida with Sail Magazine’s Cruising Editor, Charles Doane. Wayne & Charlie caught my enthusiasm for the boat & new systems after a comfortable overnight sail was followed by a low-stress docking in Naples with difficult wind & current conditions.
I fell in love with the Sense 55 during my demonstrations at the 2013 Miami Boat Show with a full Telemundo camera crew aboard. After several 360 spins the excited Telemundo on-camera talent broke from Spanish to English “I would not have believed it if I did not see it with my own two eyes” – cut, another take.
I am often asked to describe the typical Sense client. Typical? The only typical quality of our Sense clients has been that some aspect of the boat speaks to them and they all have a specific vision of why they own a Sense.
Husband to wife “are you sure we don’t need aft cabins?” “Of course it has aft cabins, they are just al fresco” -before spending 6 months in the Bahamas
“Finally a boat designed outside of the box – just for me”
“My husband has watched the video of you docking the boat with two fingers and a Diet Coke in your hand, ‘if he can do it, I can do it'”
“We just love the open layout and cockpit”
One owner finds the Sense the perfect boat for a daysailing charter business in the Cayman Islands
Some see it as a liveaboard while others see the Sense as the ultimate daysailor.
My most memorable Sense trips included a pleasant Gulf Crossing aboard a Sense 50 with Cruising World Magazine Editor, Mark Pilsbury. The trip was theoretically for a story about racing aboard cruising boats. The “race” from St. Petersburg, Florida to Isla Mujeres, Mexico was a cakewalk for the Sense. Another was a windy leg en route to New Orleans, from West Palm Beach to Key West. The trip ended with a sunrise mooring and swim at Sambo Key, just outside of Key West, in a style that only a Sense can offer.
Group Beneteau created the Sense to experiment with outside the box ideas. It is refreshing to see so many “Sense” systems and design features now aboard the new Oceanis & First models. For an avant-guard specialty line, the Sense series was wildly successful. Almost 400 Senses from 43′-57′ were built over 8 model years, from 2011- 2018. As with all Beneteau Series, the Sense ran its model year life span leaving an impressive legacy.