Summer is here and if you haven’t got a boat to make it onto the water then what’s the holdup? I love the hot weather and the excuse to down tools and muck around in something nautical with friends and family. It doesn’t have to be a monster gin palace to have the time of your life; anything that floats will work.
But for a really good time, call Mark.
For some reason, Mark Chapman of Sydney’s Chapman Marine keeps coming up with perfect Sydney summer surprises. When I say "for some reason" perhaps it's his years of experience matching boats to lifestyle. It could be his range of vessels that are always contemporary and fun. Whatever it is, this Beneteau Flyer 10 hits the X-factor button with a whack.
Beneteau is a large European company with sailing and motor yacht divisions, and the Flyer range sits as a dayboat in an eclectic fleet of sassy models spanning compact, agile speedsters out to a long-range 60-footer. The Flyer 10 is the flagship of a model offered down to five metres, and it walks a line between dayboat and cruiser.
With so many unusual but practical new features, the design team has brought a fresh interpretation to the bowrider concept in a hull that pushes that boundary. It's a walkaround, a cabin cruiser, an express cruiser and it could probably get away with being a wake boat. At the same time, it blends American flair and European style in a 10-metre package of fun.
To increase deck space upfront, the bow is squared off and the lines quickly widen to achieve almost full beam at the helm for increased space in the forward cabin. A finer deep-V entry is completed low down with the hull recessing into hefty chines and running strakes that run to a moderate deadrise.
Another design feature is Beneteau’s second generation of the Air Step hull, specially rejigged for the outboard power of the Flyer range. Steps either side around amidships create turbulence and force bubbles of air under the rear section to provide lift and separation from the water. The innovation is said to offer better acceleration and top speed by reducing friction.
Our review boat had optional grey gelcoat sides that matched the grey water and sky of much of our test. Long dark windows hint at roomy accommodation below.
Guests arrive from swim platforms either side of the twin-engine pod and through a starboard side stainless steel gate. The platforms are about 300 millimetres above the water, but a recessed ladder to starboard will assist re-entry after a dip, and I noticed a freshwater shower at the gate.
Grey vinyl seating with cheerful orange trim surrounds a teak table that could handle half a dozen guests for lunch. Drop the table on its sturdy moulded base and hey presto! You've got a full sunpad to laze the afternoon away. Three cup holders are set into the side, and the seats lift to access storage below.
Opposite is a wet bar/galley, comprehensive enough to cook up a meal for the crew. On the bench are a moulded sink and a twin burner Eno gas cooktop, while below are storage cupboards and an Isotherm 49-litre fridge. There’s also a Fusion subwoofer with enough volume and base to shake the utensils off the bench.
From standard, the Flyer comes with an open deck, which would be fine in milder summers, but for most of Australia, the optional hardtop on the review boat would be a must. The top fits smoothly into the boat's lines, and it did an excellent job of shading the helm and galley. There were no rattles when underway, and there's a further package of clears for even more protection in cooler weather.
A section of the windscreen folds back on itself to give access to the bow along a portside walkway. This unusual asymmetrical layout adds to the usable space in the bow where three side-by-side lounges with dividing armrests take pride of place. Each lounge has its own adjustable backrest as well as a stainless-steel cup holder. Flexi Teak seats in the bow peak add to the social space and a low rail around the perimeter has a gap at the bow for more comfortable boarding from a beach or wharf.
The helm area separates the bow and cockpit spaces with seating for two each side of a central walkway. There’s enough separation from the rear lounge and front sunpad to make this a third hangout for younger family members who would be happy to spend time mingling here imagining the day they get the keys to themselves.
A wide Perspex door ahead of the helm slides open to four steps down to the cabin, which can entertain or dine around a six-seater timber table when the weather turns. And for nights aboard simply drop the table and convert it into a wide double bed.
The furniture and light timber wall panels are beautifully crafted in a way that the European builders have mastered. Cupboards are fitted to all the available spaces, and the timber lining adds to the luxe impression, as do the leather handles.
Long windows either side are just right when seated to enjoy the view. You would do most of the cooking on deck, but an 89-litre Dometic fridge here adds to the cold storage while a microwave could be handy for quick snacks.
To starboard of the companionway is a surprisingly roomy en suite. Again, the room is well finished and includes a Vacuflush toilet, a vanity with floating ceramic bowl, an opening port and a separate shower with moulded seat.
A door to port leads to a second cabin with standing room at the entrance and a transverse bed in a low space under the cockpit sole. Access is tight, so it's more an occasional option for adults or a popular nook for children.
The helm is a skipper’s delight, bound to impress newcomers with its stunning display of technology and edgy design. The moulded black dash cuts down on reflection and looks super cool with the sporty wheel and touchscreen Simrad display. A single VesselView screen shows information from the twin Mercury engines and their side mount controls are easily reached from either a standing or seated position.
Blue lights on the tips of the elegant accessory switches add to the contemporary look, and their symbol markers make them easy to identify. The full-width screen rakes back sharply, and it gave excellent wind protection at all speeds. The bolster seats combine with moulded footrests for safe and comfortable travelling positions even in sharp turns, and I noted well-placed grab rails for the passengers should they need them.
Exiting the dock was simple. A Quick bow thruster combines with the twin engines and all-round vision from the helm for confident manoeuvring. At legal speed through the six-knot zone, the boat tracked predictably, and engine noise was inaudible.
Twin 350-horsepower Verado engines power the Flyer, and when you plant the throttles, they react immediately. There was little lift from the bow as we transitioned imperceptibly onto the plane in the smooth waters in the upper reaches of Sydney Harbour. These supercharged six-cylinder Verados remain current in Mercury’s range along with a new batch of V8 and V6 performance motors. They have proven to be reliable and feisty performers over their production run, and they make a good match with the Flyer in their flashy white livery.
The boat’s automatic Zip Wakes work in secrecy to make anyone look like an experienced driver. Even without them deployed, the Beneteau tracked evenly with only two onboard, but they would come into their own carrying a full load of eleven people, who might be less aware of the balance needs of a boat.
Trimmed out at wide-open throttle, speed across smooth water was 40 knots, just as predicted by the Beneteau brochure. Mark told me later that they have seen 42 knots as the engines bedded in and that’s impressive for a thirty-footer. At this speed, the Flyer felt very safe and stable, but in the back of your mind must be the proviso that fuel is disappearing at 235 litres an hour.
Cruising at a more sensible 23 knots, the engines are working effortlessly with 90 litres per hour fuel use and a range of 184 nautical miles. Handling is nimble and unsurprising. As the hull leans smoothly into the turns, there is no wallowing or any signs the bow is going to dig in.
Conditions under the Harbour Bridge will test any failings in the rough sea handling of a boat, and the Flyer came through without fuss.
I've posited in previous reviews that Chapman Marine has come up with the perfect day boat and I might propose it again here. The Flyer has all the attributes you would look for in my opinion. There's room for a family or up to eleven friends. The layout works to give groups space to spread out. There are bathroom and cooking facilities onboard. The swim platform works seamlessly, and sunpads offer ample room to laze the hours away. A dayboat needs some zing to blow out the cobwebs, and the Flyer 10 delivers with speed and handling to suit.
Is it perfect? Throw in overnighting for couples or a young family, and you must be getting close.
As tested the cost is around $425,000 with options like electronics, electric windlass, Zip Wake, Fusion sound and teak flooring.
Price starts at $348,000 with 300 horse power motors and fewer options. Either way that's good value for a beautifully crafted European design with impeccable handling and impressive performance.
PRICED FROM $343,000 with 250hp engines
OPTIONS FITTED Simrad Go 12 electronics, Engine upgrade, Electric windlass, Fusion sound system, gray hull, Zip Wake, bow thruster, teak flooring and more.
PRICE AS TESTED $425,000
MATERIAL FRP, Balsa core
TYPE Monohull Sports Cruiser
DRAFT 0.8 – 1.3m
PEOPLE 4 (NIGHT) 11 (DAY)
FUEL 2 x 400L
CE CERT B8/C11
MAKE/MODEL Twin Mercury Verado 350hp
TYPE Supercharged in-line six-cylinder four-stroke
RATED HP 2x 350
WEIGHT 303kg (with lightest leg)
GEAR RATIO 1.75:1
SHAFT LENGTH 30”
PROPELLER 19” 4-blade revolution 4
Chapman Marine Group
2/2 Waterways Ct Rozelle NSW 2039
P (02) 9818 2000