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Beneteau Flyer 12

8th May 2008

Tony Jones is impressed by Beneteau's use of Volvo's engine innovation on board the Flyer 12.

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First announced in late 2005, the Flyer 12 showed that Bénéteau were keen to embrace Volvo’s new Inboard Performance System (IPS) – in this case, the IPS 500s powered by 370hp D6s. These give a top speed of around 35kt, depending on load. With the same D6s on shafts, top speed falls to ‘only’ 30kt, while cruising fuel consumption increases to 25gph at 25kt, adversely affecting range. IPS also offers greatly simplified berthing and low speed manoeuvres thanks to the optional joystick, a very desirable but very expensive option. The latest IPS accessories such as ‘GPS Anchor’ and ‘Sportfish mode’ should be available on boats ordered for next season.

However, the extra weight of the IPS units well aft plus their lower thrust line produces more bow-up trim than you might wish for. Fortunately, this can be countered in the cruise with a bit of tab.

Boat builders are clearly still learning how to get the best out of IPS so if you’d rather stick with shafts until everything settles down, the Flyer is also available with twin D4-300 or D6-370 inboards.

The overall layout works well. The radar arch is nicely integrated with the hardtop design and the proportions of inside to outside space are spot on. There are a number of options in the cockpit, from no fixed seating at all to a sunlounger along the transom. Many people prefer the flexibility of freestanding furniture and, should you wish to indulge in a bit of fishing, being able to stand right up against the aft coaming is definitely advantageous.

The helm station is ergonomically sound with the controls and instruments arranged in a sensible rather than flashy manner. Everything falls neatly to hand and sight lines are good. The windscreen pillars are commendably thin and Bénéteau are to be congratulated for not tinting the screen itself. The adjustable seat is comfortable, but to realise the full potential of a sports cruiser with this sort of performance in choppy conditions you really need a flip-up bolster seat and tilt-adjustable wheel.

An exceptionally light saloon is laid out in tried and true fashion with a long settee to starboard behind the helm station, while what appears to be a sideboard to port conceals the galley with another two-person settee next to it. Having the galley ‘up’ in the American fashion makes perfect sense on a boat this size, allowing all the space down below to be dedicated to accommodation. The downside is that the galley becomes more a snack preparation bar than a culinary facility; the fridge in particular is rather small. But Bénéteau know that boats like this are used primarily as weekenders with crew and guests most likely eating ashore in the evenings.

Below deck, Bénéteau have done a good job of dividing up the space between the two good-sized cabins, both with an en suite shower toilet, which is a real bonus for privacy. The forward master cabin has a large central double bed and as a result rather minimal floor space at the foot. The guest cabin is amidships, which puts it immediately adjacent to the engine room on shaft-drive models and next to the lazarette with IPS. Headroom throughout is good and stowage space about par.

Build quality is more than adequate and the finish throughout utterly appropriate for a boat designed to deliver practical enjoyment as well as pride of ownership rather than primarily be a status symbol.

Attractive, well-built, nicely finished and – with IPS drives – definitely sporty, the Flyer 12 should be on the shortlist of anyone looking at a new sports cruiser around this size. Bénéteau's website, www.Bénéteau.com is more than averagely informative and well worth a visit.

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