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NAOS Yachts announces new First 44 SV Lenny will race in 2023 Transpac

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Two legendary races, one Ocean, a new boat from a long successful line of great boats, and a remarkable crew who have sailed on major boat races around the world … Naos Yachts’ First 44 SV Lenny built by BENETEAU is starting a Pacific adventure like no other before.

The first Beneteau First 44 on the West Coast arrived at Naos Yachts in Marina del Rey in April 2023. Naos Yachts CEO, Charles-Etienne Devanneaux is entering his third Transpac and will skipper SV Lenny named after the late Lenny Shabes, ASA Founder and a great friend of Naos Yachts.

Charles has assembled a crew of experienced racers including Pierre Follenfant (finisher of the first Vendée Globe), Romain Ingouf (Artemis Racing) as well as Charles’ frequent crew members, Fred Courouble (Courouble Design) and Thomas Anglade. Rounding up the crew are Olivier D’Enquin (former Lagoon delivery supervisor) and Clément Devanneaux, Charles' son entering his first ocean race.

“This will be my 7th crossing but only the second one with a crew after several double-handed PacCup and Transpac races” says Charles. “I can’t wait to be on the start line with old friends and my son on such a beautiful boat. Each of us has sailed on previous generation Firsts. We are continuing our history with the Firsts by racing on this new First 44, named for my good friend Lenny. I have to thank my partners Beneteau and LaVictoire Finance for helping me on this project. The arrival in Hawaii and crossing the finish line are going to be magical moments with my crew!”


In 1976, François Chalain, who had just joined the Groupe Beneteau suggested to the company’s young president, Annette Roux, that they buy the molds of SV Impensable, winner of the 1973 Half Ton Cup. The Vendée boatyard switched from wood to polyester in the 1970s, but it only produced recreational fishing boats, not racing boats. Annette Roux readily admits: "Nobody was really waiting for us to go there."

François Chalain won her over, and, with the designer André Mauric, he modified the keel of SV Impensable, lengthened the coachroof and gave it a more comfortable fit out. With this, they had just found the right balance between racing and cruising.

Named the FIRST 30, she was displayed in 1977 at the Paris Boat Show, and remained in the yard’s catalog for five years during which 824 units were sold.

Since then, 70 different First models have followed, from 14 to 53 feet.


In the mid-2010s, the Firsts lost some of their appeal. “The boat market experienced the same shift as the car market,” explains Yann Masselot, Groupe Beneteau’s Chief Brands and Communication Officer. “In the 1980s everyone wanted GTIs. Then came station wagons, 4x4s and SUVs.” But Annette Roux was clear. “I want to see a FIRST line again!” she told Gianguido Girotti, the new product manager she appointed in 2015.

The FIRST 44, designed by Italian architects Roberto Biscontini and Lorenzo Argento, the same duo who designed the 53-footer, is a real break from the regatta boats currently on the market. Built in a dedicated factory in Poiré-sur-Vie, in Vendée, France, by a small team of around twenty people, she is a fast-cruising boat and is available in several deck plan versions, with rigging tailored to a range of programs. The FIRST 44 was launched in September 2022 at the Cannes Yachting Festival and earlier this year at the Miami International Boat Show.


SV Lenny, named after the late Leonard “Lenny” Shabes, Chairman of the American Sailing Association and a great friend of the Naos Yachts team, arrived in Marina del Rey, CA early April. The work to commission her started right away in the adjacent boatyard. SV Lenny’s navigation program makes commissioning the boat different from the usual preparation work. The Naos Yachts team and their counterpart at The Boatyard affixed the keel, painted the hull, and started working on wiring the boat; all work typically done for every new boat delivered at Naos Yachts. Whether the boat owner wants to race, fish or cruise, commissioning is the most important step.

On April 26, the boat was launched, the mast was steeped, and she was driven to her temporary slip where the commissioning and rigging will continue for a few weeks.

LaVictoire Finance, a leading lender to the marine industry, is a sponsor of SV Lenny with its partner Naos Yachts. This sponsorship represents LaVictoire Finance's commitment to supporting the values of teamwork, leadership, and dedication, which are essential to sailing and success in all areas of life.

"We are excited to be partnering with Naos Yachts and sponsoring this beautiful Beneteau First 44", said Hervé Bonnet, CEO of LaVictoire Finance. "We are committed to supporting the sport of sailing and recognize the important role it plays in building teamwork, leadership, and camaraderie."

On a recent sunny April afternoon, a private ceremony for the unveiling of SV Lenny, took place in Marina del Rey, CA. ASA President and Lenny’s wife, Cindy Shabes was present with Jonathan Payne, ASA Executive Director, and Don Smith, President of Beneteau America. It wasn’t long before the conversation made its way to reflections on Lenny while the group admired the craftsmanship of the Naos Yachts team and their dedication to detail in every aspect of commissioning the boat. The boat is Charles’ vision and it is quite an experience to see the Naos Yachts team customizing the boat into a vessel fit to win trophies.

“We at American Sailing are honored by the friendship we share with the Naos Yachts team” said Jonathan, “ we wish them fair winds and following seas with this gorgeous new performance cruiser addition to the Beneteau First line. We hope to see many First 44’s on the water very soon.”

SV Lenny will first enter a legendary race, the Transpac, that spans from the Los Angeles coast to Honolulu, HI, with a start date scheduled for June 27, 2023.

In Hawaii, during the summer, SV Lenny will be prepped for a Pacific crossing, a more leisurely paced trek. The sails and rigging will need to be changed over to a cruising configuration. New crew members will join the boat and start on their adventure in early September with an arrival in Nouméa, New Caledonia scheduled for October, just in time to attend a Boat Show in partnership with the local Beneteau dealership.

SV Lenny will then depart for Sydney, Australia where she will undergo yet another reconfiguration into a race boat to enter another legendary race, the Sydney-Hobart, in December 2023…

Updates to SV Lenny’s sailing adventures across the Pacific will be posted on Naos Yachts Facebook page and in the monthly newsletter. Follow us and subscribe here.

About Naos Yachts

Founded in 2009 in Los Angeles by Offshore racer Charles-Etienne Devanneaux, Naos Yachts is the leading sailboat dealership and brokerage on the West Coast of the United States.

Naos Yachts represents the most prestigious International boat brands such as the Beneteau sailboats with the First & Oceanis lines and Beneteau power boats with the Antares & Flyers lines.

Naos Yachts is the exclusive California dealer for Lagoon Catamarans, Neel trimarans, Amel Yachts, Wellcraft and Four Winns.