Sea Trials

14 Dec

Hemingway at the wheelCovering its P’s & Q’s, Beneteau’s Flyer GT49 Delivers Performance, Pods, and Quality.

By Ken Kreisler

The Beneteau 49 sports an exciting profile that promises the kind of equally adventurous boating  expected from this quality builder.

With its exciting profile, the Flyer GT49 promises the kind of equally adventurous boating expected from this quality builder.

Let’s get something out of the way for all you naysayers and dedicated fossil fuel loyalists: Yes, Beneteau, a company with a 125-year history, is known as a builder of sailboats, garnering a loyal and dedicated following due in large part to its unfailing resolve never to cut corners on its construction or service. However, with the 2004 introduction of their Marion, South-Carolina-built 42-footer in the Swift Trawler line to the U.S. powerboat sector, followed by the Barracuda, Antares, and Monte Carlo lines, and now into the 34-, 38-, 44-, and 49-foot Flyer GT Series—offered in both express and flybridge—they’ve come to the powerboat market with the same mindset that has made the name synonymous with being the world leader in the sailboat business. And there are some definite signs that the company is very serious about what it can offer in this highly competitive segment of the boat building industry.

Comfort abounds below decks as well with a practical and elegant layout.

Comfort abounds below decks as well with a practical and elegant layout.

“You can especially see how important the commitment the company has undertaken is with the significant amount of R&D money Beneteau has put into the launch of the GT Series, and especially with this, the current flagship of the model line with, among other features, a hull specifically designed for the IPS pods,” remarked Alex Wilkes, part of the Denison Yacht Sales group, who along with fellow sales representative and skipper Juan Pasch, accompanied me for my time on the GT49.

After noting the ample cockpit area with table and transom seating—an optional helm station is available here as well as an outdoor grill—the hydraulically operated swim platform, a garage with room for an 11-foot tender and outboard, visiting the engine room via the cockpit hatch and noting the ease of doing fluid checks, and the roomy flying bridge, additional indications of the GT49 Flybridge’s well thought out design was put to the test a few minutes after I left the dock at the Denison Yacht Sales facility just off the Andrews Avenue Bridge.

As we began idling her along the upper reaches of Ft. Lauderdale’s serpentine, and often quite narrow, New River, the normally busy waterway, was already in the throes of a rip-roaring incoming tide. Add to that, both down and up river traffic had to deal with a rather large-beam catamaran, a very large megayacht, her bow and stern tethered to tow boats with engines straining to keep their oversized charge going in the right direction, and of course, the ever-present Jungle Queen, a sightseeing boat that gives no quarter no matter what the situation is.

The pucker factor is taken out of tight quarters maneuvering with a pair  of 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS 600s.

The pucker factor is taken out of tight quarters maneuvering with a pair of 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS 600s.

Steering at the lower station and without having to do any throttle jockeying, this courtesy of the lightning-fast reaction of the twin 435-hp Volvo Penta D6 IPS600’s, made navigating the quickly changing nautical pin ball situation just a bit more relaxed. Complementing the revolutionary, and now quite familiar, pod system were the lower station’s big forward windows and those to either side that afforded me the ability to keep sharp eyes on the waterway and feel in control of the close quarters conditions unfolding around me.

By the time we motored down river to where the waterway opened up, I noticed the due east wind blowing at a constant 30+ miles per hour, as it had been all the previous day and promised to do so for the next two. And once we arrived at the channel markers indicating the Port Everglades Inlet, and poked the GT49’s bow seaward, we got a peek at the nautical horror show that was going on out in the ocean.

After a very brief confab—key word here being very—with Pasch and Wilkes, we were all in agreement that trying to push past those cresting eight to 10-footers, whose several second duration had them piling up against the inlet’s rock jetties, and then out into the roiled-up ocean was just nonsense. After all, I was not testing a self-righting, U.S.C.G. lifeboat here and besides, no boat owner worth their salt would deliberately venture out in such dangerous conditions. And if that weren’t enough to deter our thoughts, the very boat we were on, was due to be shown to a serious buyer flying in from Texas.

With the decision made to keep my testing to the ICW, we headed south down the ICW towards Dania where we could find enough running room outside of the no-wake zones in order to get some solid performance numbers and boat handling time.

As far as why I chose to do my evaluations from the salon station? The answer to that question came during our rpm runs. In the past, when putting a boat with dual helms through her paces from the bridge, there is no way to assess what happens to your view of the seaway during acceleration. On many a vessel coming up out of the hole, and while steering from below, the driver can lose the horizon for enough time to miss that nasty ‘wood shark’ lying dead ahead or some other nefarious flotsam just waiting to strike the hull or do damage to the propulsion units. Not so with the GT49. During four runs, all with the boat coming up on plane, and while there was the anticipated bow rise, not once did I lose the seaway, and that, with my 5’9” height from the seated position and not having to crane my neck up. That I liked. The outcome of the overall performance test resulted in an average fast cruise of 27.7 knots burning 42 gph at 3300 rpm, and a slow cruise average of 18.3 knots, with a 26 gph fuel rate at 2700 rpw. And with her responsive, sports car-like handling, the GT49 is a fun-to-drive boat as well with quick answer to the helm, a tight turn radius, and straight and true tracking during lengthy runs. It’s the reason Beneteau refers to these boats as the GT Series.

Taking all it has learned from its many years of designing boat interior,Beneteau has imbued the 49's master suite with amenities usually found of larger vessels.

Taking all it has learned from its many years of designing boat interiors, Beneteau has imbued the 49’s master suite with amenities usually found of larger vessels.

I also liked the boat’s interior layout, first noticing how open the salon actually is, even with the starboard lower station, the port side sofa and table, and, aft of the helm, an entertainment center, and not how it appears even though the use of light coverings on the sofa and those aforementioned windows do add to the overall effect. More to the point was the great headroom Beneteau afforded its space here, averaging some 6’6” and including an atrium-like effect from the galley-down area. Also accessed down there is a starboard side seating area—available as an optional third stateroom—the forepeak quarters, and the full beam master aft, each of them with an ample sized head with the forepeak WC functioning as a day head.

The noteworthy fit and finish throughout is complemented by her quality construction details including a solid fiberglass bottom with coring from the waterline up, low profile exterior styling, featuring wide walkways on both sides and sturdy high rails for safe passages, and the kind of attention to detail one would expect from a company with this kind of pedigree. From all indications, the Beneteau Flyer GT49 seems to have its P’s & Q’s covered pretty well. Beneteau USA, 410-990-0270.

Performance Box
RPM             KNOTS                  GPH                       dB(A)

650               4.4                          .7                            62
1000             5.8                          1.6                          63
1200             7.0                          2.0                          66
1500             8.0                          5.5                          67
1800             9.7                          8.6                          71
2100             12.0                        16.0                        73
2400             14.2                        21.0                        74
2700             18.3                        26.0                        75
3300             27.4                        42.0                        80
3600             28.6                        44.0                        84

Test Conditions
Speeds were measured by GPS in 14 feet of water in the Intracoastal Waterway between Ft. Lauderdale and Dania Beach, Florida, with calm seas and 15-knot winds, with a 5/8 load of fuel, zero water, and three people on board. Fuel consumption was calculated by the electronic engine monitoring system. Sound levels were measured at the helm.

Vessel Specifications
LOA: 51’2”
27,550 lbs. (Dry)
344 gal.
170 gal.
STANDARD POWER: 2x435hp Volvo Penta IPS600
TEST POWER: 2×435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600

1 Comment

Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Sea Trials



One response to “Sea Trials

  1. Art Shelley

    August 4, 2015 at 12:36 am

    You’ve written an excellent informational article. It’s not just informative, it’s also smart, engaging and thought-provoking.


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