Issue: June 2006
THE FLYING FORTIES
This French Mademoiselle offers style, performance and value for money.
WORDS IAN MACRAE
PHOTOS IAN MACRAE, KARL IBRAHIM
Beneteau is a family company that's been building boats in France for more than a century. In 1884, it began building robust trawlers capable of sailing regardless of the weather. The boats were built with a dedication to excellent workmanship and with a great respect for the safety of the people who put to sea in them.
In the early days, the company built only yachts, but in 1977, the first Beneteau powerboats were launched. These boats were built with the same passion, innovation and sense of safety as other vessels from the yard. In late 2005, Beneteau launched the Flyer 12m.
What was it the catalogue said?
"Over and above the Flyer's recognised qualities seaworthiness, safety, practicality the Flyer 12 shows our capacity to innovate and keep improving performance and comfort."
And after this test, the Modern Boating team can only agree.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Even thought the Flyer 12 retains the option of having Volvo's revolutionary IPS drives (which deliver even better performance) fitted, Australian importer of Beneteau Powerboats, JW Marine, is only bringing shaft drive models into the country. This will change in time, as Australia's acceptance of Volvo's IPS increases, but buyers can still order an IPS boat if they wish.
But IPS drives aside, the secret to the Flyer 12's performance and handling lies in her evolutionary hull. The boat has a V-shaped hull with a stiff tulip bow for easy passage through the sea and good spray deflection. Plenty of research by Beneteau's R & D Department on hydrodynamics went into the hull's final design and the result is a sea boat that performs better the harder you push her.
This is another of the new generation of hulls with large, down-turned and aggressive chines starting right at the sharp bow entry and continuing all the way back to the transom.
Readers are probably getting sick of hearing this, because we have said it many times in recent boat tests, but what this setup does is trap air between the outer edges of the chines and the keel. This creates a cushion of air for the boat to ride on, which softens the overall ride.
These wide, down-turned chines improve lateral stability at rest and when underway and the hull's performance can be further enhanced by the use of trim tabs. You don't need much trim, but a little at the right time, especially when the sea is running 'beam on', really improves the ride.
The props are mounted in mini tunnels, which mean they operate in clean water for better 'bite', which improves performance, reduces tail slippage and propeller cavitation. It also reduces the hull's overall draft , which has obvious advantages. But the good news about all of this innovation is that what you end up with is a 40-footer you can throw around like a speedboat with complete confidence.
Twin Volvo D6 370hp diesels power the test boat to a top speed of 33 knots at 3500rpm. Other speed-to-rpm readings are: 7.6 knots at 1000rpm; 8.8 knots at 1500rpm; 12.8 knots at 2000rpm; and 18.5 knots at 2500rpm. At 3200rpm the boat cruises comfortably at 24 knots. At this speed her twin 600lt fuel tanks will give her a range of around 13 hours, or a bit over 300 nautical miles.
The hull uses a laminated, single-skin fibreglass construction for the topsides, while the underwater section is built using a polyester/balsa wood sandwich to reinforce the structure. In other words, she's bloody strong.
The deck is also of balsa sandwich construction (fibreglass/balsa/polyester resin) for a maximum strength-to-weight ratio and improved thermal and sound insulation. An inner-deck moulding reinforces the structure and the total deck is covered with a non-slip gel coat for complete safety when moving around the cockpit and going forward to anchor.
The Flyer 12 is a compact 40-footer lacking none of the luxury of her competitors. Designed by Patrick Sarrazin, her sleek exterior lines are matched by a well-thought out interior layout.
On this boat the forward owner's stateroom has good ventilation, ample storage, a huge island double bed and its own spacious and luxurious en suite. The guest's cabin is amidships. It has a double bed, standing headroom at the end of the bed and its own (slightly smaller) en-suite.
The helm is positioned at the front of the main saloon. It offers good visibility to all quarters, a comfortable driving position, full instrumentation and two helm seats, so the driver doesn't have to go it alone. A sliding sunroof with three skylights (for better natural lighting in the saloon even when the roof is closed) is a great feature.
The full-equipped galley extends along the entire portside saloon wall and is covered by a classy wooden bench top when not in use. There's a wide walkway between the galley and U-shaped lounge and dining table to starboard. The dining table is cleverly designed and features a wine bottle and glasses rack beneath a glass cover in its centre.
A sliding door leads to the open aft cockpit, which is sheltered from the elements by the extended saloon roof. Place a removable table and four or five director's chairs on the uncluttered teak deck and you can enjoy a bit of alfresco dining.
Wide walkways and a high bowrail down each side of the main saloon make a trip to the bow easy, although, thanks to the remote anchor windlass, this trip is rarely needed. Unless you want to soak up a few rays on the forward sunpad, that is.
The Beneteau Flyer 12m is a strong vessel with the ride and handling to take heavy going in her stride. You can throw this 40-footer around like a ski boat with confidence and from our experiences, you'd be unlucky to get a drop of water on the screen. Her standard of fit-out and finish is fantastic.
Fully optioned with all the goodies including bow thruster, air-conditioning, a 4Kva genset, a 240V barbeque in the aft cockpit and plenty more, will set you back $625,000, which is pretty good value for a 'ready to go' 40-footer. If you wish to upgrade to the Volvo IPS drives, you'll have to budget for another $50,000.
WHAT THE HECK IS IPS?
A Volvo's IPS drive features a leg with a forward facing propeller. It was partly inspired by the company's well established yacht Sail Drive, which has a leg coming from the underside of the hull instead of the stern.
IPS delivers unobstructed forward thrust and improved power at the prop. And set-up correctly, all cavitation in turns should be eliminated.
The IPS is essentially a twin-engine arrangement, with the legs coming from either side of a deep-vee hull's keel. Some commentators feel uncomfortable about the props being so exposed, but Volvo has designed the leg to drop off in severe circumstances, such as a high-speed grounding, without damaging the hull or engine.
Twin D6 370hp Volvo diesel shaft-drives power the Flying 12m. Volvo IPS drives are an option.
With four adults onboard and a half load of fuel, the Flying 12 returned the following performance figures.
KNOTS - RPM
7.6 - 1000
8.8 - 1500
12.8 - 2000
18.5 - 2500
33 - 3500
HULL LENGTH: 39' 2"
DRAFT: 3' 8"
+ Excellent handling; Construction strength
- Compact saloon