|LOA||w/swim platform 39 ft., 6 in.|
|Beam||12 ft., 4 in.|
|Draft||3 ft., 5 in.|
|Engines||Twin Volvo D4-300, 300 hp|
|Base Price||$395,000 (as tested)|
|Beneteau Flyer Gran Turismo hulls and decks are constructed of a sandwich composition, which is made of polyester resin, glass fiber and balsa coring, with an outer layer of gelcoat. The patented Air Step configuration is utilized on Flyer GT hulls that have standard/stern propulsion (not available on IPS-powered hulls).|
|Twin Volvo D4 260 diesel engines, 260 hp, Volvo 3-function EVC electronic controls w/joystick and engine displays, 3 batteries, 12v/24v inverter, 12v battery charger, 7-gallon water heater, hydraulic steering, anchor windlass, wood cockpit table, cockpit shower, folding swim ladder, 2-person helm seat, choice of parquet or wenge interior flooring, choice of mahogany or ash interior woodwork, stainless galley sink, 2-burner electric cooktop, microwave oven, refrigerator and more.|
|Cockpit electric grill, cockpit refrigerator, Simrad electronics package (VHF, AIS, radar, autopilot), 22-in. TV, colored hull, hydraulic gangway, 4 kw Onan generator, A/C, trim tabs, wood decking, upgraded upholstery and more.
|Beneteau, Saint Hilaire de Riez, France;
|West Coast Dealer|
|Westerly Yachts, Vancouver, B.C.
(604) 685-2211; westerlyacht.com
Signature Yachts, Seattle; (206) 284-9004 signature-yachts.com
Adventure Yachts, Newport Beach,
Passage Yachts, Point Richmond, CA
Posted: May 1, 2012 | Boat Type: Motoryacht
Fly in grand styleWhen you experience the exhilarating ride and handling of a fine automobile, you want to learn more about its characteristics, such as the engine, suspension, tires and so on. On a boat, you can check the propulsion package, but what about the corresponding “suspension and tires”? What features of the hull and running gear give a vessel that special “feel,” perhaps like a sports car? The Beneteau Flyer Gran Turismo 38 gives you the sensation of a fine-handling watercraft with a little something extra below the waterline that contributes to the ride.
First, let’s talk about the initial attraction of the Flyer GT 38. The styling is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Well-drawn lines don’t make it look like a bucking bronco waiting to charge ahead. They’re more subtle, with an “I know what I can do and I don’t have to flaunt it” attitude.
The swept-back single-pane windshield blends into the superstructure and integrated radar arch that flows aft like a horse’s mane. Generous side windows stylishly conform to the rise in the hardtop and round back. Visibility from the helm is great all around, even in sloppy seas or during bad weather, thanks to a beefy single wiper on the forward glass.
At the centerline helm, the seat is large enough for two people and accessible from both sides. A flip-up bolster gives you options for operating comfort. On the dash, the Volvo Penta throttles and joystick are to the right of the wheel, mounted at a comfortable angle. Our test boat has a Simrad NSS8 8-inch LCD multifunction display centered in the dash, flanked by Volvo engine displays and trim controls on the right. To the left are analog engine meters and large, easy-to-read tachometers above the display in a sub-dash. Everything is in a good line of sight for the operator.
There’s an additional helm seat to starboard, with a unique inverted U-shaped grabrail mounted to the console. With a slight bend inward, the grabrail looks like something you see on a roller-coaster (not as close and it doesn’t move), but it is very effective and comfortable to use while traveling. As the captain affectionately said, “It’s the ‘oh, shoot’ rail.” At least it’s there.
Along with the aforementioned large windshield and side windows (that also open), the outside can be inside thanks to a retractable sunroof. It’s positioned over the helm, and running with it open accentuates the airflow and allows for unobstructed visibility for those tall enough to see over the roofline.
Left of the helm is the companionway to the lower quarters. The stairway has four steps shaped like wedges, which saves space, since not too many people put both feet on each step. Just remember to lead with your right foot to hit the widest part of the wedge.
Below is a smart setup for this family cruiser. To port is an L-shaped settee with a high-low dinette table. Across the salon is the galley, with a two-burner flattop stove, a sink and counter space. It’s always good to see hardware on the stove to keep pots and pans in place, even at the dock. Here, adjustable arms clamp around the cookware, so no matter what size pot or pan you’re using, it can be secured.
Under the counter is a built-in refrigerator/freezer. The over-the-counter cabinets house a microwave and storage space. A flat-screen TV can be mounted to the cabinet face, but I prefer it mounted to a firm structure, with a swing-out arm if desired.
Headroom in the salon is 6 feet, 4 inches, plenty for most folks, which helps alleviate any cave-like feelings of claustrophobia. Another claustrophobia-beating measure is installing skylights or Sky Domes, as Beneteau has done. One of the largest skylights I have seen is located in front of the helm station above, allowing ambient light to flood in and to give a more open feeling to the salon area.
Just aft of the galley is the head, with a pedestal toilet and a wash basin. Another round skylight opens the area a bit, as does the 6 feet, 7 inches of headroom. The shower is integrated, which means you’ll have to pull the curtain around and shower where you stand, but it’s not bad for casual use.
Sleeping accommodations include the VIP stateroom forward and a guest stateroom aft under the console. The VIP has a double berth, a hanging locker, a stereo, and reading and spot lighting. Additional lighting comes au naturel thanks to the panoramic hull-side windows and opening portholes as well as an overhead hatch.
The aft guest room can be configured as a single or double berth, thanks to the design and movable mattresses. Under the console, there is more than 6 feet of headroom in the center floor area. Closets, spot and reading lights, and two large portholes fill out this space.
One of the attributes of the premium handling features is the Volvo Penta sterndrives with Duoprops. Volvo drives, stern or pod, have a reputation for biting the water and giving assured footing and cornering when demanded. And getting diesel power in a 38-foot boat is a bonus on the reliability and mileage meters.
The real magic happens on the wet part of the hull. Beneteau has fitted the Flyer GT 38 with its patented Air Step hull. Now, we have seen several builders configure their hulls to get more lift, which in most cases results in better mileage. Heck, there are some that even blow air under the hull and between hulls, like on a catamaran. But Beneteau may be on to something.
An Air Step hull looks like a regular hull until you get about two-thirds of the way aft. Then the strakes stop, leaving a smooth area aft that is ringed by deeper chines. This allows air, which enters the area via two tubes that run from forward entry points on the hull, to be trapped. The introduced air is encapsulated under the aft section providing lift at speed. It also felt like it gave a gentler entry into the sea when coming off a wave.
Needing more evidence of the gentle ride and premium handling, I went to the Beneteau website. There, an under-hull image shows the air intake and flow of the Air Step system. A video of the Flyer GT 38 shows the ride angle, its ease of taking wakes and waves, sharp entry and good chine knockdown. With the Air Step feature, not only will the boat get up and out of the water faster, but it appears to ride and handle well and is stable. Sloppy waters? Dial down the speed and let the bow cut the waves. Flat seas? Open it up and take advantage of the hull design, which delivers not only in performance but in personal exhilaration.
The fun doesn’t stop there. In addition to the joy of the ride is the joy of the relaxation. The aft deck is a cozy area with a U-shaped settee that runs across the aft bulkhead, flanking a high-low split rectangle table that also rotates for optimal seating and table settings. Up to eight people can sit here. Forward of the settee is an outdoor galley, if you will, with a sink, an electric stove, an under-counter refrigerator and storage space. It’s convenient for those times when the party’s outside and you don’t want to keep running in.
Step aft through the starboard deck door, and you’ll be on the integrated swim platform. Teak decking here, as well as on the aft deck, offers a feeling of richness while keeping your feet securely where they belong.
From the swim platform, there are molded-in steps to port and starboard for access to the side gunnels. Siderails run the full length, and at around 24 inches high and welded at the joints, they offer good security. When you’re transiting the sidedeck, you’ll find a groove that runs along the top of the house that acts like a hand-hold.
The anchor windlass and gear are recessed and under a hatch to not only keep a clean profile but get those toe-busting items off the deck. Access to the chain locker is also under the hatch, keeping all ground tackle in one area. Nothing worse than having an issue with the tackle and running inside for access.
Stepping back to where it all happens, access to the engine room is via a hatch on the aft deck at the settee. There’s room to drop down and check vital fluids, eyeball the powerplants and floor underneath for drips and leaks, and get at ancillary equipment. Our test Flyer GT 38 has twin Volvo D4 300 diesel engines, producing up to 300 hp. Optional blocks are the Volvo D4 260s, producing 260 hp. Open it up, and you’ll see close to 40 mph, or cruise at 33 mph for improved mileage, range and savings on the fuel bill.
Engine-mounted seawater strainers are in good line of sight and easily accessible. Pumps and electric junctions are mounted on boards along the outsides of the engine room, keeping them off the bilge floors and easy to reach. An optional 4 kw Cummins Onan generator is on board, mounted under the deck.
Leave it to a French sailboat builder to construct a boat that feels like an Italian sports car and has the features desired by Americans. Vive la France!