|Beam||9 ft., 7 in.|
|Draft||2 ft., 7 in.|
|Displacement||(dry) 7,584 lbs.|
|Engines||Twin Yamaha F225 V-6 outboards|
|Hardtop, trim tabs, electronic controls, cushions, second control station, cold-water shower, marine toilet w/holding tank, twin batteries, foldaway stern bench seat, portable gas stove, 2 windshield wipers and more.|
|Elegance trim level (under $10,000, gives you an electric windlass w/remote), 42-liter refrigerator, custom cockpit cushions, interior curtains, deck-washing sea pump, bow thruster w/additional battery, twin controls, water heater, bow and stern extended shades, 4 kw generator and air conditioner, bow lounging hammock, rod holder-mounted gas grill and more.|
|West Coast Dealer|
|Westerly Yacht Sales, Vancouver, B.C.;
(877) 822-0355; westerlyyacht.com
Signature Yachts, Seattle;
Passage Yachts, Richmond, Calif.;
Posted: September 1, 2013 | Boat Type: Express Cruiser
Advanced hull technology delivers one fine flying fishIt isn’t often you see a sub-30-foot boat draw more attention than the multi-million-dollar yachts surrounding it at a big boat show, but the new outboard-powered Beneteau Barracuda 9 Fly has done just that at a couple of recent shows. When the name Beneteau comes up, the first thing that pops into most people’s head is sailboats, such as the Oceanis Series 48, which won a National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award at last year’s Miami International Boat Show. I was a judge on that panel and can attest we were blown away by its numerous clever features, including an electric drop-down transom that vastly increases cockpit space and water accessibility when at anchor.
What I didn’t know at the time is that 60 percent of the boats Beneteau builds are actually powerboats, sold mainly in Europe, that channel the same spirit of innovation and forward thinking that go into the sailboats. Delving into the company history, I discovered Beneteau’s experience with powerboats goes back to 1910, when the company founder released the vainqueur des jaloux or “conqueror of the jealous.” The takeaway? The company’s had a little practice at this motorboat thing.
Way outside the usual Beneteau comfort zone is the Barracuda 9 Fly, a 29-foot, 3-inch fishing boat that proves the designers at the storied French boat-building company can pretty much do anything they set their minds to. Case in point is the 25-knot line of Swift Trawlers unveiled in 2011. As I approached the Barracuda 9 for the first time from the front, my performance expectations for it were fairly modest. With the pilothouse and flybridge standing tall, it seemed like too much fiberglass above the waterline to be a sporty wave-slashing machine. Wrong again (as usual, according to my wife). And when I saw a pair of Yamaha F225 outboards on the transom, my mental speedometer started climbing.
The pilothouse immediately gets the stereotyping going, with me speculating this is probably a boat built for the Pacific Northwest — a huge underestimation of its capabilities, as I found out later at the sea trial. What I found is a boat that would be just as at home in Acapulco as in Anchorage. Pilothouse boats in the tropics seem like a square peg, but Beneteau brings the outside in via three methods: a sunroof that uses a wide grab bar to manually deploy, twin sliding-glass entryways into the cabin and a rear sliding window that affords tremendous airflow when you want it. Our boat is rigged with an optional 4 kw genset and air conditioning, which turns the cabin into a cool oasis no matter how close to the equator you get. To prove that point, the boat we tested was already sold to a buyer in the Bahamas. Non-island people who buy it can expect to increase their days on the water annually thanks to its all-weather capability.
Since the Denison sales office (whose West Coast offices don’t sell Beneteau) sits well up-canal of the Atlantic in Ft. Lauderdale — called the Venice of Florida — I had nearly an hour of idling time to explore the Barracuda’s many unique features. I felt anything but claustrophobic as I stepped into the wheelhouse and its 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom. In the mini-salon, there’s comfortable seating for five on a rear bench and twin captain’s chairs. Twin flip-down Alpi mahogany tables reside between the bench and the swiveling captain’s chairs, which can spin rearward for dining or socializing. The tables have wooden fiddles, so you can secure a small portable stove on top. Underneath the bench on our test boat is an optional 42-liter refrigerator for convenient hydration and handy food storage. The ambiance is further enhanced by a mahogany-covered parquet sole.
There’s a Berth?
Despite the open bow, there’s still enough room for a 7-foot, 3-inch-long (max) sleeping surface in the V-berth. Maximum headroom is 5 feet, 10 inches, but it shortens in tiers as you go forward, down to a height of less than 2 feet. There’s even room for a fold-down chart table down here. An enclosed standup head compartment to starboard has 5 feet, 7 inches of headroom and comes complete with a mechanical-flush toilet, a shower, a sink, a mirror and a porthole for ventilation, and there’s good access to the helm’s wiring bundle behind a canvas panel.
The lower helm station is encircled by windows, giving the captain a panoramic view, and the adjustable pedestal seat makes it easy to sit or stand thanks to a flip-up bolster that doubles as a leaning post. The gray dash eliminates windshield reflections and provides plenty of room to mount the Lowrance SDS10 color display our boat is equipped with. All the gauges and displays are perfectly angled upward for easy reading, and the captain grips a ergonomically pleasing sports car-style wheel. The engines are set very close together, so you don’t get the maximum docking benefit of having twin engines, but our boat has an optional bow thruster, so maneuvering in tight quarters is easy. The thruster is a must if you order this boat with a single engine.
The Fishing Office
Heading aft, the fishing cockpit is 8 feet, 2 inches wide and 4 feet long, but it is made smaller by the generator, which resides on deck in an enclosure just behind the wheelhouse. But the genset enclosure is tall enough to create an ersatz bait-rigging station for anglers or a platform for snack presentation. If you don’t have a generator, you can get a bench seat that flips down when it’s not in use to conserve space, or you can opt for a real rigging station that has drawers for tackle storage and a sink for cleanup. The stern bench is fixed in position with the exception of the backrest, which flips forward to allow the twin Yamahas to be trimmed all the way up. Seeing this arrangement made me realize how far rearward the cockpit was pushed as Beneteau went to great lengths to maximize usable space on this boat.
The caprails and cockpit sole are teak, which gives the Barracuda 9 a more nautical look — not surprising considering the company’s sailboat heritage. Four rod holders are set into the gunwale, and there is plenty of lockable under-deck storage in three compartments that could hold a large fish cooler, since there’s no dedicated fish box. Twin platformettes provide easy water access, with a four-step boarding ladder to starboard. Our test boat has the optional hot shower to complement the standard cold-water model. A half step up from the platforms are twin insulated draining hatches that can be used as coolers or wet storage. For comfort, there’s a large overhang that partially shades the cockpit. For a total eclipse, add the optional extended shade. I’ve trolled for hours on a blazing summer day, so I speak from experience when I write this: Shade is good.
Although the cockpit itself isn’t huge, anglers still have plenty of room to do battle with a trophy and can chase a fish all the way around the boat thanks to the wide walk-around that circles the pilothouse. Beneteau is to be commended for the incredible number of well-positioned handholds throughout the boat, making it safe to move about even when seas are rocking.
The bow section’s sole is raised 11 inches above the rest of the deck and features a bench that resembles a church pew in front of the wheelhouse. Much appreciated are the twin wood-surfaced steps up to the raised ground-tackle station. The forward bow level has a nonskid surface and two large hoop grabrails for safety, making this a good location for passenger boarding. Our boat is equipped with the optional Lewmar electric windlass with a remote control in the starboard-side hatch that matches the one to port. A really clever feature is the optional hammock that stretches from the bench seat to the bow, creating a doublewide sunning/lounging space. You can also get a full-coverage Bimini top for the bow.
Saving the Best For Last
Cruise ships to starboard signal we’ve finally reached Port Everglades and open water, so I head up the port-side ladder to the flybridge and take a seat at the doublewide bench helm seat and enjoy its comfortable backrest. The fully featured helm station channels the lower station, right down to the optional Lowrance big-screen display and sport wheel.
Yamaha’s drive-by-wire Command Link Plus shift and throttle defeats the curse of cable-controlled flybridge shifters, which tend to be stiffer than a pre-oilcan Tin Man. Finally, I got to jam the throttles, and the Barracuda 9 jumped on plane in just 3.8 seconds with very little bowrise, and reached 30 mph in only 7.3 seconds. This was also our best cruise speed, with the Yamahas consuming 18 gph at 3500 rpm, yielding a range of around 160 miles on the 106-gallon tank. There’s a bit of chop through the inlet, but even after I trimmed the motors out a little to reduce drag, the Barracuda rode level and had far more hull out of the water than I expected for a 7,584-pound boat. Despite the chop, very little water was being thrown out, and the ride was exceedingly smooth. Obviously there was something going on, because it felt nothing like I expected.
Credit Beneteau’s revolutionary Air Step Hull for the Barracuda’s stellar performance. Twin air ducts on the side of the wheelhouse direct air through twin 2-inch ducts under the hull to introduce air bubbles, which “lubricate” the hull and greatly reduce friction. This is being done on a large scale on cargo ships with systems such as AirSKIN, which is said to reduce hull friction by up to 50 percent. The hull itself features large reverse hard chines that keep spray down to a minimum and promote lots of lift. I loved the sweeping shearline that delivers plenty of freeboard toward the bow in case seas kick up. Another huge plus is the pronounced Carolina flare at the bow, which kept us from getting the first drop of water on the windshield despite a marine writer at the helm trying to upset the applecart for test purposes.
I was astounded by its nimbleness in turns. The first hard turn from the flybridge was thrilling, as the Barracuda leaned over pretty far, but its impressive stability and predictability made me comfortable, and I realized I could crank it in turns like a ski boat. In the open ocean, we had gentle but not tiny ocean swells. I jammed the throttles wide open, and the boat reached a top speed of 45.3 mph, which is impressive enough, but consider this: The boat was being delivered to the Bahamas right after the test, and it had bottom paint and a full tank of fuel. In calm water with less weight on board, this is about a 50 mph boat.
Although I never fancied myself as a pilothouse kind of guy, I readily admit to lusting after the Barracuda 9. You can order it without a flybridge, but it’s a tremendous feature for spotting weed lines and signs of fish, not to mention obstructions on and under the water. The scenery’s pretty good up there, too. If I could wave the magic wand and change anything, I would want about twice as much fuel as the 106-gallon tank holds, to increase range, and I would definitely have a Bimini top installed on the flybridge. This is a multiple-mission kind of boat that will have boaters rethinking their view of pilothouses.
Posted By: autocash On: 10/25/2013
Title: sounds nice but at what price???
a price range would be nice