Beneteau Antares 8

Meet a small boat with big possibilities.

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The one constant in the world of boatbuilding is, of course, change. Boat companies are constantly revamping and tweaking models to improve performance and usability. The Beneteau Antares 8 falls right in line, and the builder just announced a refresh that includes two versions of the 26-footer.

Rather than trying to create one boat that can do a little bit of everything, Beneteau decided to offer the Antares 8 in a fishing or cruising layout. Both options offer the same running surface and interior layout, but different cockpit configurations. The cruising version will have more seating in the aft deck while the fishing version does away with the rear bench seat to create more room to wet a line and adds rod holders along the hardtop, a livewell and fish boxes. Anglers can also opt for a rear-facing Garmin unit in the cockpit so they can watch the fish-finder as they drop baits.

“I’m very excited about what we’re doing from a layout perspective,” says Spencer Ward, Beneteau Outboard Sales Manager. “We’re refining the fit and finish, the look and optimizing the space.

Beneteau packs a lot of features into the Antares 8. The boat can accommodate up to nine passengers, with plenty of cockpit seating around a removable table and a dinette in the salon that converts to a berth. A double berth forward, small galley with fridge and cooktop as well as a proper head make the Antares 8 a true weekender for families that like to overnight on the boat and visit new anchorages.

A starboard boarding door provides easy access to the cockpit, which in the cruising version features an aft bench seat that slides forward to make room for the engine to lift up. A cooler fits under the seat, and there’s more storage under the deck. A filler cushion converts the aft seating into a sunpad. And as this boat is intended for those who like a little adventure, the roof rack on the hardtop is perfect for tying down paddleboards or kayaks.

The running surface is same as the previous Antares 8, which reportedly hit a top end speed of 37 knots with a 225-hp Mercury Verado and a very economical 17-knot cruise that netted 3.2 mpg. The new version will be available with a 250-hp Merc, so that top end may bump up a bit.

The wheelhouse offers 6 feet, 7 inches of headroom at the helm, a swiveling captain’s chair and a co-pilot seat that has an adjustable backrest so the person sitting there can face forward or aft. The helm has room for a 12-inch Garmin display. Beneteau offers air-conditioning powered by lithium-ion batteries for the cabin space, which will make overnights way more comfortable in southern climes. If you don’t go for the AC, sliding side windows will help get the air moving.

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All told, the Antares 8 offers a lot of functionality for a boat in this size range. And it’s very approachable for new boaters looking to take the kids out on the water. The new edition is expected to launch at the 2022 Miami International Boat Show.

Beneteau Antares 8 Specifications:

LOA: 26’5”
Beam: 9’1”
Displ.: 5,609 lbs.
Draft: 2’7”
Fuel: 90 gal.
Water: 26 gal.
Power: 250-hp Mercury Verado

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