About Katmai

About the Yacht Katmai, a Bénéteau First 51

S/V Katmai at Anchor near Rottnest Island, Western Australia
Designed by German Frers, the 51' foot sailing sloop "Katmai" was build in France at Beneteau's custom yard in 1987.  The next year her sister ship, La Poste, competed in the around the world Whitbread Race.
Katmai was originally known as "Decisions" and then "Nitemare".  During this time in the early 1990's she had a long competitive run as a racer on the Great Lakes and was stationed in Chicago and Milwaukee.
In 1999 she was purchased by a family from the USA pacific northwest (mom, dad and 3 teenagers) who refitted her for cruising and departed the west coast of the USA for 3 years of sailing in tropical Pacific.  On their way back to Seattle in 2001 they decided to sell the yacht, which they had renamed "Kookaburra".  We met them in Tahiti and agreed to purchase the yacht on their return to Seattle in August 2001.
After acquiring the yacht, we sailed her north to our home port of Seward Alaska  during June 2002.  She resided in Seward and we cruised the beautiful fjords until June 2007.  
Work took us to Perth Australia for fiveyears during the mid 2000's.    We were fortunate that Katmai was able to join us when friends agreed to deliver her /cruise to Australia from Alaska.  After a multi year refit, another oversea assignment, we have now retired and live on and cruise Katmai, based out of the Fremantle Sailing Club in western Australia.
Hull Drawings and Layout

Comments By German Frers, the designer of the yacht

"In the design brief for the First 51, Bénéteau set a deceptively simple but in fact truly demanding task. I was to design for them a yacht of both performance and elegance - but also of doing well under IOR. So I went to the lines plans and proven racing results of some of my latest race boat designs - Fujimo, Nitissima and Morning Star. I had as well the technical know-how, high technology and feel for performance developed in the Bénéteau yard and demonstrated so brilliantly in boats such as "Phoenix" during the last Admirals Cup.

The First 51 will be campaigned next season on some of the world's most demanding race circuits: SORC, Admirals Cup and Sardinia Cup.  For top racing she has been designed to have partly removable accommodations to make her a very competitive racer-cruiser. First 51 will be marketed principally as a racer-cruiser and will offer a level of comfort and luxury rarely seen in a performance boat. Designing the First 51 has given me enormous pleasure. She is undoubtedly the yacht which most closely reflects my own firmly held views on what the sailing yacht of today should be."
German Frers, Washington, September 1985
  • Length 51', Beam 15', draft 10'
  • Mast head rigged sloop plus inner forestay
  • Deep draft lead fin keel
  • Hull is Airex Cored, Deck is end grain Baltek balsa cored
  • Optional tall 4 spreader mast, keel stepped, Navtec rod rigging
  • Carbon rudder and rudder post
  • Sail area: 1376 sqft., spinnaker 2445 sqft.
  • Displacement: 28,600lbs, Ballast:14,300 lbs
  • D/L: 176, SA/D: 21.6
  • 80 hp Perkins 4-236 auxiliary engine
  • Berths for 6 in 3 cabins, including owners cabin aft
  • Capacity: 450 liters diesel, 345 liters water
 Cruising Sail Inventory:
  • Main: 2003 Neil Pryde Tri-radial Carbon Fiber Cruising main using Dimension-Polyant GPL-28 fabric, stepped down to GPL-21 all with polyester taffeta outer skin. Two reefs. Six round battons using Schafer Marine Batslide adjuster and Antal 60 head board and cars.
  • Staysail: 2015 Doyle Cruising laminate, roller furling
  • Genoa: Doyle #2 Kevlar roller furling
  • Storm Trysail
  • Storm Jib
  • Spinnaker: UK 1.5 oz. asymmetric tri-radial spinnaker in ATN sock.
  • North Sails #3 Kevlar roller furling jib.
  • Doyle Dazy staysail - free flying.
  • Doyle 0.6 oz. symmetric tri-radial spinnaker



  1. Hi
    I am considering buying the same model from Bangkok, but I would like to hear your opinion on performance and handling short handed


    1. Hi Andres,

      The First 51 with the 4-spreader mast and 2.9 m deep draft is a wonderful open ocean boat on all points of sail and particularly to windward. Being an older IOR design she is not as quick to surf down-wind as modern designs, but hard to beat to windward. Laurie and I sail Katmai comfortably as a couple. We worked hard to turn Katmai into a safe and comfortable offshore cruiser for two from a yacht that was intended to be fully crewed by experienced sailors. We love our boat and feel comfortable sailing her to any distant shore. If you want more detail please email me at yachtkatmai@gmail.com. I am happy to share what I learned about Katmai during the last 17 years. Also we are considering selling her see: http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1986/Beneteau-First-51-3072072/Fremantle/Australia#.WepEAUyZM8Y