Graham Snook flies to Slovenia to review the Sunbeam 40.1 - the new 40ft aft cockpit yacht from Austrian builder Sunbeam


Sunbeam 40.1 review

See the September 2015 issue of Yachting Monthly for the full test

What’s she like to sail?

Sailing her in extreme conditions showed she was more than capable of taking on the 1m swell and gusts in excess of 35 knots, moreover, with the right sail configuration she handled it with aplomb. The twin-wheeled Jefa steering was smooth and light, with just the right weight and precision and she was quick to respond: forgetting the course and chasing speed, I was frequently rewarded by double figures on the log.

The aft deck behind the helm adds protection and a feel of safety, as do the 0.38m (1ft 4in) high coaming and cockpit table, which have good grab handles. In conditions when we really should have been wearing lifejackets, with no one leaving the cockpit there felt no need – for me at least. The wheels are outboard so there’s no need to stretch to see telltales. Putting the wheels further forward than usual makes the helm less of a lonely position relative to the cockpit, and the crew can get by either sitting or lounging across the aft deck.

What’s she like in port and at anchor?

She’s available in three layouts: Standard (tested), Luxury and Comfort. Even with twin aft cabins she has plenty of oh-so-important deck stowage, the lion’s share comes from the vast lazarette under the aft deck. There are also two cockpit lockers and a fender locker aft of the chain locker in the bow. Soggy fenders and warps need never blight your cockpit again.

The single bow roller protrudes forward, keeping the anchor and chain clear of the bow (and provides a strong point to attach a tack line for the asymmetric kite). The fold-down transom has a neat little step, aiding access. The stowed bathing ladder creates a handle for dinghy embarkation, and when deployed it makes raised handles for swimmers to grab, which help stowing it too.

Below decks, the African teak-veneered interior is well made, with a smart brushed aluminium strip running across every bottom-hinged locker. The LED strip lighting embedded in the hull-deck joint is a nice idea and there are many other sources of light – overhead, bulkhead and under-deck – which can be turned on or off to suit what you’re doing. The saloon is social and comfortable and an illuminated drinks cabinet is just a stretch away in the forward end of the J-shaped galley.

Walking through the heads to get to the aft cabin (on this version) is a compromise, but thankfully access isn’t restricted while the shower or toilet are engaged.

Would she suit you and your crew?

She offers a good compromise between performance and comfort. The hull design is relatively conservative without chines, unduly deep appendages or overly fat aft quarters. She proved capable in a blow, with predictable handling during our test. She’s not the fastest in class, but she’s not meant to be. She’s a comfortable, fast offshore/ocean-capable cruiser that’s rewarding to daysail, too, which is precisely what Sunbeam was trying to create. I think they have succeeded; she’d definitely be on my shortlist, were I in the market for a 12m yacht. If you cruise as a couple or with friends, appreciate high quality and are prepared to pay for it, then she should be on your shortlist, too.

Facts and figures
Price £279,688 (€399,514) as tested, with £30,000 of extras
LOA 12.38m (40ft 7in)
LWL 11.17m (36ft 8in)
Beam 3.99m (13ft 1in)
Draught 2.0m (6ft 7in)
Displacement 8,500kg (18,740 lb)
Ballast 2,980kg (6,570 lb)
Ballast ratio 35.1(%)
Sail area 84.5m2 (910sq ft)
SA/D ratio 20.6
Diesel 200 lit (44 gal)
Water 400 lit (88 gal)
Engine 55hp
Transmission Saildrive
RCD category A
Designer J&J/Sunbeam
Builder Sunbeam Yachts
UK Agent DFD Marine
Tel 01590 676782