Riding on Air
The Monte Carlo 37 claims to offer great value and an easy ride.Tony Jones assesses the latest entrant to an increasingly competitive market
Two things allow the Monte Carlo 37 to stand out from the crowd: the highly attractive starting price and Beneteau’s claim that its unusual Air Step hull produces an ‘air cushion’ that improves ride quality.
Let’s cut straight to the money. Beneteau want €241,879 for the HT version with twin Volvo D4-260/DP model and €252,744 for the D4-300/DP version (both prices include VAT at 21%). The Open models cost €189,500 and €198,480 respectively. But these figures reflect a rather sparse base specification. For example, on the Open, windscreen wipers and hood are extra! Adding some sensible optional extras, a decent electronics pack and delivery and commissioning would add about another €30,000. So a D4-300/DP with a teak deck wouldn’t be much shy of €300,000.
The Air Step hull is more contentious. Stepped hulls are nothing new but are more commonly found on fast sports boats and RIBs than sports cruisers this size with top speeds in the 3-knot bracket. A ‘conventional’ step is ventilated by notches in the chine and is angled slightly backwards from there to the keel, keeping the air flowing aft. Beneteau’s steps not only angle the other way but are positively vented at the keel by ducts from the deck. So airflow is in the opposite direction.
Theoretically this provides a more consistent flow along the rear face of the step. Leaving the chine unbroken also helps contain the air beneath the hull for longer. If experience with the Flyer 750 is anything to go by, this should reduce drag, benefit manoeuvrability and make for very flat running.
However, ride comfort on all planing boats is largely determined by where and how the hull makes contact with the water, namely the forefoot and midsection, particularly on a flat-running hull. Forward, the Beneteau is an entirely conventional medium/deep vee, so it’s difficult to see how air entrapment so far aft could help a great deal.
Agents tell us most 37s sold so far have been fitted with the 260hp engines, giving a top speed in cruising trim of 33kt. That makes sense when an extra e12,000 for the 300hp option increases that by just 2kt. The 65-litre fuel capacity should therefore give a range at 30kt/3,200rpm of just under 200nm and dropping back to 24kt/2,700rpm should give close to 250nm.
Style and Quality
The Monte Carlo’s build quality is up to the usual highly satisfactory Beneteau standard and the interior styling is clean, uncluttered and quite reserved – certainly without any ‘in your face’ luxury elements.
The accommodation layout is fairly conventional, with the double-berth master cabin forward, but the full-beam guest cabin which has its twin berths arranged fore and aft rather than athwartships as is the usual practice, is unusually spacious. However, it would definitely benefit from larger portlights in the hull sides. Beneteau have already added a skylight in the flat area behind the windscreen to lighten the saloon, but again larger, rectangular portlights would be much better than the rather small circular portholes. A rather angular settee along the port side faces a well equipped galley and toilet/shower compartment. Storage throughout is good but not spectacular.
Up top, the aft cockpit is sensibly and practically arranged with a U-shaped settee to port facing the usual wet bar. The excellent forward facing seating consists of a supportive bolster seat for the helmsperson and a ‘two-persons at a pinch’ bench seat inboard of that. The instrument console is well laid out with a large flat area immediately ahead of the wheel reserved for a chart plotter/radar. Instrumentation is stylish and functional. Some will like the throttles positioned raceboat-style down at thigh level, but others would prefer them up on the dash, no doubt.