Beneteau Flyer 12 — By Jeffrey Moser
— January 2006
A new deep-V from Beneteau highlights the French builder’s collaboration with Volvo Penta and its breakthrough IPS system.
The morning I passed over the Spa Creek Bridge and entered Annapolis, Maryland, I was greeted with a sign that read “Annapolis: America’s Sailing Capital.” I snickered and promptly ignored it, but I couldn’t help but think of sailing’s influence on both Annapolis and Beneteau, the French boatbuilder of the Flyer 12 that I was slated to sea trial.
Sandwiched between the busy ports of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., on Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis has been a sailing destination since the 18th century. In the 20th century, as technology provided alternatives to sail, the town became a popular stop along the Chesapeake for powerboaters. In 1908—about the same time these boats began popping up around Annapolis—Beneteau launched a line of powerboats after having built only sailboats for 25 years. So to some degree both city and builder owe a debt to sailing. Yet today both exhibit the full-steam-ahead attitude we powerboaters love. This is evidenced by the myriad naval vessels performing exercises in the waters around the academy and several diesel-powered Beneteau cruisers tightly bunched on a floating dock just outside downtown Annapolis.
Beneteau is best known for its flying-bridge Antares models, as well as its 42-foot Swift Trawler, and when I spotted the Flyer 12 among her siblings, she struck quite a profile. Her ruby-red hull certainly helped, the color a fine complement to the optional teak-clad swim platform. A man stepped from the saloon and introduced himself as Laurent Fabre as I boarded through the sliding transom door. He looked the part of the quintessential European yachtsman: tall, deeply tanned, and sporting sunglasses and a ripstop nylon shell, both of which looked like they’d come from a shop on the Cote d’Azur. I also spied a yachting chronograph on his wrist with more features than my PDA.
Turned out Fabre was the right guy to have aboard. As Beneteau’s director of project management, he oversaw the collaboration between the builder and Volvo Penta, whose IPS system powers the Flyer and therefore was a major consideration in her hull design. While her entry deadrise is a secret, Fabre did disclose other details of the Patrick Sarrazin design, such as the fact that her hull has a variable deadrise, with the aftmost seven feet being nearly flat to accommodate the IPS drives. According to Fabre, the hull was tested and tweaked in Beneteau’s own test tank extensively over nine months.
Volvo Penta spent years developing IPS, and it shines on the Flyer, thanks to her hull form. We reached an average top speed of 38.9 mph on a calm Severn River, and she came fully around at top speed in just over two boat lengths, with little loss in rpm. But what really surprised me was her efficiency: She managed 1 mpg or better throughout her rpm range. At her cruise speed of 28 mph and 2750 rpm, the Flyer burned 19.8 gph—that’s good for a range of more than 400 miles.
This article originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.