You're kidding right? Beneteau's may be a lot of things, but *NO ONE* calls the First line "slow". First series Beneteaus bring home hardware.
This...looks like a porky island packet that put on a mask (a plumb bow) and some new shoes (a bulb deep keel) and now is going to go to the ball as a speed demon...doesn't make sense to me.
Self tacking jib...and is that a boom furler? (*EDIT* - I stand corrected - its a batt-car/lazyjack system) Not many true performance cruisers would go with that equipment. Even with fancy sails and the new underwater profile, this is going to be slow unless those epoxy vacuuming methods of manufacture really really reduce weight. It may be faster than an Island Packet, but an Island Packet 420, by comparison has a base rating in the mid-140s (thats slow for >40 feet of waterline).
I do have to commend them for not cramming a second head into the boat. Although instead of a 3rd cabin, I'd like to have seen more storage/lazarette space. Racing means sail changes/wet sails...who wants to store that in a sleeping cabin and get the upholstery all wet/moldy!
Slow is a relative concept. I agree with you that this is not a cruiser/racer in a sense nobody will buy this boat if it is going to be used mainly for racing like someone could buy a J 122 or a First 40. Regarding those two, there is a big difference between a J122 and a First 40 and not only in price. The first one would be competitive from the start while the First standard boat, the CR is not even a cored boat. You would have to talk with Benetau to have a really competitive racer like the ones that are winning races or can race at the same levell with a J122. The Blue jacket would not be even be bought by someone that uses the boat in a balanced way, for cruising and for club racing.
However I agree that even the First CR standard would be a much more adapted boat for club racing (regarding the Bluejacket) and it will be a faster boat. The boat is more powerful than a Bluejacket with a bigger RM (bigger B/D ratio) and most of all much better equipped to trim better the sails and that is indispensable for racing.
The Bluejacket has a better interior for cruising, a bigger tankage and I guess that it will have a decent anchor locker that is one of the weak points of the First. It will be a relatively fast boat and not much slower then a First, if we consider cruising and not racing and in what regards to call it a performance cruiser....well, if compared with a IP certainly is
By European standards I guess that could be called a fast cruiser but not a performance cruiser, but this are only words. What the boat is not definitively is a cruiser-racer and that not in account of the hull design but in what refers that heavy system for self taking the front sail, the number of winches, and the position/size of the traveler.
Tim Jackett says about the design brief: The design challenge presented was to create a yacht with a performance pedigree, one that could compete effectively in around-the-buoy and offshore races yet provide a level of comfort, build quality and ease of use that would gratify the entire family.
I don't think that the boat as it is adequate or effective to "compete effectively in around-the-buoy and offshore races"
but I don't see as very difficult a more sportive version of this boat, one that could be qualified as a performance boat or even a cruiser racer. It will not race at the same levelly of a J122 but it will be more adapted to cruising, particularly long range cruising, than the J122.