Benjamin Bénéteau created a boatyard in the south of France in 1884, and, unsurprisingly, this new venture featured his name on the gate.
Beneteau boats at this time were unpowered traditional craft, and for their hardy skippers, a boat’s performance was judged by how quickly it could transport the crew back to the harbour — whoever returned first would corner the market on price for the day.
It wasn’t until 1909 that Beneteau would build its first power boat in the region, which must have really tipped the daily race on its head.
While Beneteau may not have invented the powered fishing vessel, he did pioneer a style which still holds true to the company’s more modern offerings.
The Beneteau Barracuda 7 of 2020 carries the look of a miniature trawler more than the typical lines of a go-fast boat.
But she is certainly no ugly duckling; rather a practical, spacious fishing boat with steep raked screens on the pilothouse for weather protection, creating a fabulous all-weather fishing platform.
The flipside of this serious-looking angling launch is in its ability for the spacious wheelhouse to transform almost to an open boat, with a large roof hatch and two sliding side doors either side of the helm bringing the outdoors in.
There is also an aft three-part sliding door, enabling you to enjoy large al fresco areas in calm conditions or alternatively, batten down to survive a Beaufort-scale Force 6 screamer.
This aft sliding door can also be optioned as a bulkhead with window, giving you a bit more wall space in the cockpit to store gear like dive tanks. Inside the cockpit, the aft bench seat is placed as far back as possible — and while that means it needs to be hinged forward to tilt the engine — it does create enough space for a second aft-facing bench, and suddenly you have a dining area for seven people.
The distance between the bulwarks and the wheelhouse is a bit snug for a big unit like myself to charge through in full forward mode, but the Barracuda makes up for it with high protected sides rising up to my hip level.
The high V-shaped bow is bluff at the bulwark and tapers down aft, ensuring splash is kept to a minimum, while the ride is comfortable over waves and sharp on the turns.
A little bit of extra engineering can be found under the water, where the optional bow thruster ensures no gasps from onlookers as you kiss the dock.
A maximum of seven people, plus the skipper, is recommended onboard and I can imagine this vessel would easily accommodate all, given the cockpit and internal spaces.
Speaking of the cockpit, the underfloor storage and wall compartments are generous and plentiful.
HELM AND CABIN FEATURES
The features list on the Barracuda 7 is very comprehensive.
Down below you get a basic cabin with an opening porthole for great airflow and matching cabin cushions for a comfy spot to relax after a hard day popping plastics on the fish.
Alternatively, a separate head and wet area compartment can be optioned in, which would be a great idea for some privacy after a dive or just long days on the water.
At the helm we find twin wipers, a foot brace, compass and a 42-litre fridge beneath the helm seat.
The layout is clean with simple instrumentation and navigation including a Lowrance HDS 7in multifunction screen and HDI sensor.
The two helm seats are tough but comfortable, made from PVC in a Silvertex Ice and Diamante Meteor upholstery — and each has a bolster for when the going gets rough.
There’s also a Fusion MS-RA70N 50W sound pack with twin speakers included.
The roof of this craft is beautifully designed, providing shelter, safety and creature comforts to its occupants.
There are external grab rails for the crew, along with rooftop rails which also offer a telescopic section, enabling you to extend an integrated canvas bimini over the cockpit to protect your passengers from the elements. All this and a retractable skylight!
The straightforward walkaround layout is further optimised with some clever space management in the large self-draining aft cockpit.
The second bench seat is cleverly mounted on the aft bulkhead of the wheelhouse, so it can be hinged down flush, to open up the deck space for use as an obstacle-free fishing area.
Drawing on the experience of the company’s popular European Barracuda Fishing tournament, this vessel has a fishing station that will be the envy of many boats in this category.
Boasting modular options such as a removable aft seat, we also found a plumbed livebait well, offering the ideal solution for preserving live catches.
Even in full-fisher mode this aft deck offers a pleasant spot to relax, but with the addition of the two side benches and another sliding seat, the Barracuda 7 reinforces its twin credentials as both reliable workhorse and classy dayboat.
This vessel is pushed along by 200hp, courtesy of the Suzuki four-stroke outboard engine, and this seems a well-considered match.
The performance and power-to-weight ratio of this V6 engine was perfect and the upgrade to white perfectly suited the Mediterranean aesthetics of the white hull and beechwood bulwarks. Although our test was taken on an oily calm day in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay,
we played around as much as possible, launching across our camera boat’s wash trying to get some air, in order to get a real feel for the cushioned landing.
Beneteau’s Air Step2 technology below the water ensures shock absorption from the thudding of leaping over an oily swell.
The deep-vee of the bow also ensures great tight turning with minimal slippage, thanks to what I imagine was also a small keel, noted at the boat ramp.
She took the corners like she was on rails, while the rake of the bow and an air draft of just 2.4m makes for an unbelievably dry ride.
The take-off was urgent, but with minimal aft squat, and on the plane the ride was superbly level.
Lowrance HDS 7in multifunction screen and HDI sensor, Fusion MS-RA70N, electric windlass, fish tub underfloor, cockpit cushions, forward cabin cushions, bowthruster, 220V electrical system and battery charger, Lowrance VHF, cabin porthole, wheelhouse hatch, overhead rod holders
Hull length: 6.48m
REC. HP RANGE 200
MAKE/MODEL Suzuki Four-Stroke 200hp
TYPE V6 six-cylinder fuel-injected petrol outboard
RATED HP 200
GEAR RATIO 2.29:1
PROPELLER 17in three-blade stainless steel prop
SUPPLIED BY/MANUFACTURED BY
Sandringham Yacht Club,
2/36 Jetty Road
Sandringham, Victoria, 3191
PHONE 1300 550 089