IT WAS the star of this year’s Beneteau Global Press Test in Majorca when members of the trade media had come from all around the world to sail Beneteau’s new flagship of the Oceanis range, which now numbers nine models from the 31 we tested last year to this year’s top model, the Oceanis 60.

I was not disappointed. The new 60 lived up to her billing and has real, standout star quality, writes YL press test editor Andi Robertson.

The lasting memories of a lovely afternoon out in sea breeze conditions on the Bay of Palma are of a long legged performance, easily achieved short handed to the point that you would really forget you are on a 60 footer until you go below. You set up for a few sundowners followed by dinner in the huge but beautifully executed cockpit, or you look behind you when you are steering and see the vast enclosed patio/terrace which really is fabulous.

But let’s start with a key fact. One of the most important features of the new Oceanis 60 is that it is blue. To me that immediately says ‘flagship, biggest boat in the range and I’ve got one!’

There should be no doubting the statement the Oceanis 60 makes and having a distinctive navy blue hue does the job nicely. Even the other models start to look a little homogenous. I recently spent some time squinting across a marina at an Oceanis 58 trying to work out what it was, because my ageing eyesight could not make out the logo at the back of the boat.

And the 60 is a prettier boat than others in the Oceanis range, the extra hull length stretches out the lines really nicely and brings the significant 5m beam (well, 4.99m) into proportion.

There are two interior layout options, a range of rig options and a deep and shallow keel choice.

At the dock I immediately liked the big, drop down aft platform. There is a garage space big enough to take a tender and some other toys, echoes of a bigger superyacht at a realistic price tag.

Then the innovative layout of the cockpit grabs you. Behind the helm stations there is a big, safe space which is great for guests at sea, or conversely working crew who maybe don’t necessarily want to be stepping in and out of the social circle forward, that is not in any way to suggest that there might be paid crew on board, absolutely not, but it can be slightly aggravating to have those who are actively sailing the boat moving back and forwards.

It is nice for the helm to have people joining him or her at the back of the boat. Equally, it is a safe and secure place in normal sailing conditions.

There are big cushions to make a nice seating and lounging area. And this aft deck area is a great sunbathing space, protected from the breeze. You might even commission a little, simple wrap round dodger for the back and quarters, just for at anchor, to give complete seclusion.

So there are big L shaped helm seats on either side, with cavernous lockers underneath. And then forward the main cockpit area is set around a substantial table. This space is all on the one level making for good, straight walk through access to the companionway. And of course the by now customary cockpit arch keeps the mainsheet out of the cockpit.

All the controls are led aft. Even only recently you would not be talking about sailing a 60 footer as a couple or short-handed. I still kind of think this depends on your ambitions, expectations and fitness. But for sure under most conditions the Oceanis is totally push button. All of the sail controls are led back to within easy reach of the helm and really it is the helm who can or will sail the boat most of the time.

We had a fairly typical 12-15kts of sea breeze and pleasant summer sunshine to take the Oceanis 60 around the bay. Upwind the boat tracked well and was positive on the helm, relatively easy to settle into a groove. The helm’s position is secure and safe with an easy step uphill to the other wheel. We never had any problem moving from one to the other, no need to set and use the autopilot.

Upwind in the breeze the boat feels noticeably stiff, a key feature of the Oceanis range where the combination of form stability and ballast ratio have made sure the heel angles are reduced. That is a fundamental of the Oceanis range, all working towards a more accessible, inclusive sailing performance.

To be honest we sailed mostly with the big code sail. It was more fun and more efficient and gave us speeds of 11-13kts without too much effort at all.

It was a leisurely sail with a couple of overseas counterparts very much enjoying the ride, sitting back and letting the boat do the work. But under the smaller, conventional self tacking jib, it works well and allows the Oceanis 60 to be sufficiently close winded. You can get the sheeting angle to work quite efficiently.

Overall there is the impression of a go anywhere, blue water cruiser which will swallow the miles easily and comfortably, but which will reward those who maybe want to up spec the sails a little and push harder.

The Nauta design interior is breathtaking. The beam translates to a massive main cabin. Our comparisons at this size and style of boat are often much more about overseas apartments or a comfortable go anywhere cruiser and the Oceanis 60 offers real comfort, space and luxury at what some will consider an achievable price tag.

To starboard there is a large U shaped settee which will seat 10 with ease, with two on the island seat. And opposite is a large settee. Behind is the full size, fully functioning kitchen which is beautifully appointed, nicely laid out with everything to hand, plenty of working space and yet it feels fully part of the main living space. There are a good range of drawer and cupboard options, enough for extended cruising in all different climates.

There are two layout options, one with two staterooms forward, symmetrical with en suite heads and the other choice is the fabulous central owner’s suite forward with a big, centreline double. Aft there are two double suites, one of which splits to form twin berths. And up at the front, accessed from a foredeck hatch is a crew forecabin which is also ideal for big family and friends groups where the teens, for example, want a little more autonomy. Ideal.

Access to the saloon down the companionway is great, with shallow steps. To the right is a work station, yes it will be used for navigation, passage planning and research, but this is also big enough to serve as an office too, with plenty of work and storage space and mounting space for electronics. So too in the main owner’s stateroom there is a small desk which also doubles as a vanity unit with book shelves and cupboard space.

What I liked in the aft cabins is that there is space to walk around two sides of the double berths, there is great headroom and an open, clean ambience which feels more like a small, premium hotel room than a yacht.

The Oceanis 60 represents good value for money for an adaptable, go anywhere yacht which has excellent performance but which can be sailed fast and safely with a small, experienced crew. A fitting jewel in the crown for the Beneteau marque.