You don’t need a monster boat to enjoy the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour, and John Ford reports that this little beauty will suit families with a limited budget.
REVIEW: BENETEAU ANTARES 7
• Serious offshore fishing platform
• Comfortable family boat
• Big performer
• Economical for size
• Long-distance adventure towing
• Some modernising of the lines would be nice
It’s said that good things come in small packages and after spending time cruising Sydney Harbour on the compact Beneteau Antares 7 – one of the shortest in their range of cabin cruisers – I’d have to agree.
With a length of only 6.48m, the model has recently seen a redesign of the hull to better match the different performance of outboard power. Inboards are only available in the larger models, so Beneteau recognises the eggbeater as the way of the future.
For more than 40 years, lovers of traditional boating have embraced Antares models, varying from 6m to 11m, for their versatile enclosed cabin design that adds to an all-year boating experience. Because this latest version weighs in at around 1880kg and has a beam of 2.5m, it’s towable, making it an even more desirable option. Here’s a cruiser that avoids mooring fees and is ready to head to distant locations behind a mid-sized tow vehicle.
A sharp entry and flared bow combine with a moderate deadrise and wide reversed chines to promise a soft ride and excellent stability at rest. An unusual convex shape just above the waterline helps the bow cut through seas and widens higher up for extra forward buoyancy when needed. The swooping sheerline and rub rail blend with the raked cabin for a sporty impression, while large windows and triangular black accents at the transom and cabin top soften the lines of the gleaming white fibreglass superstructure.
ON BOARD & INTERIOR
As clichéd as it sounds, once aboard there is a fantastic amount of room for a boat of this length. This impression is reinforced by the solid feel underfoot and remarkable stability at rest. A table slots into the cockpit sole and comfortable lounges wrap around the transom and port side for a decent sized outdoor relaxing and dining experience.
Swimplatforms sit either side of the engine, and there’s a gate to starboard where a recessed ladder folds out to climb aboard. The lounges have moulded storage underneath, and there’s an icebox underfoot, and a side mounted freshwater shower at the transom walkthrough.
As well as gaining sharper performance from the upgraded hull shape, the OB versions benefit from increased storage in their roomy lazarette where the engine room of an inboard would reside. Moulded corner seats double as steps to the sides and a narrow walkway to the bow where side rails surround a sunpad with removable cushions.
You can’t expect a vast saloon in a boat this size, so the layout needs to be smart to include amenities we expect when cruising or day-tripping. This interior leans more to the functional than the luxurious, and that’s understandable given the limited space the team had to play with. Walnut timber panels and soft beige coverings help to soften the minimalist theme, and some of that smart thinking has delivered a versatile and very usable space.
With windows along the sides and front, a big opening hatch in the roof and two big glass panels at the back, there are loads of light and air. A sliding glass door gives access, and a central walkway leads through to the helm and a step down to the bow cabin.
On the starboard side is a compact galley with a 45lt upright Waeco fridge set into a timber bench with a single burner gas cooktop and a moulded fibreglass sink with tap. There’s storage below, and the helm seat hinges forward to make more space for cooking.
On the opposite side is a timber café-style dining table with a twin seat at the rear and a single at the front with a back that can be lifted out and set for a forward-facing companion chair. If extra guests are staying overnight, the table can be lowered to make up an occasional double bed with extra cushions stored under the seats.
Curtains at the windows and a clip-in cover for the windscreen close in the saloon at night and sliding insect screens or blockouts for the Ocean Air roof hatch provide ventilation or privacy.
The forward cabin shares a compact head and a double bed, shaped into the angled side walls and the walnut bulkhead. Access looks a bit awkward, but I managed to settle in, and there seemed to be plenty of room for two, although I couldn’t convince anyone to help test that theory. A small overhead hatch with a clip-on block out and screen flips open for ventilation but isn’t big enough for access. Holds under the bed add to storage, and a hatch gives access for servicing the bowthruster and battery.
Including an enclosed head in a boat of this size is pretty talented, so I’m not complaining too much that head height is a bit low, but I would have liked better ventilation. On the upside, there’s an electric-flush Jabsco toilet connected to a holding tank with level gauge and pump-out.
WINDSCREEN & WINDOWS
The raked single-piece windscreen looks sporty and along with the vast side windows, offers excellent vision to everything happening outside even if the white fibreglass bulkhead reflects on the screen at some angles of the sun.
Bolster seating offers a high view, and a removable platform gives options for standing with up to 1.9m of head height.
On the black dash are a Lowrance HDS-7 screen, a Mercury SC100 tacho and digital display, controls for the Quick anchor and a neat panel of accessory switches. Over on the side are the Mercury throttle and a Lowrance VHF radio.
Twin wipers are standard, but they weren’t needed during the test as not a drop of spray came over the sides.
Given the somewhat conservative impression the interior imparts, the performance of the Antares 7 was a bit of a shock. In short, it’s amazing, with a ride and handling so sporty and precise the boat was a pure joy to drive. It skipped smoothly across wake and chop, and the 150hp Mercury four-stroke delivered well-matched power and a top speed of 33kts (61kmh). Acceleration was impressive, and the efficient hull was by planing at only around 10kts and 2800prm. A cruise of 18kts gave a fuel burn of 22lt/h and a range of 125nm. There was no cavitation at takeoff, and I found plenty of grip from the 16in Enertia stainless steel prop to carve effortlessly through lusty turns.
Beneteau’s overnight capable pocket cruiser is versatile and sporty, with applications for family day-boating, overnight cruising and offshore fishing. The added benefit of being towable puts it into a rather exclusive category and means lower costs for berthing and maintenance. Add a trailer to the $124,900 price as tested and you open the horizon to exploring waterways as far away as your imagination allows.
PRICE AS TESTED
TYPE Planing monohull
LENGTH 7.48m (overall), 6.48m (hull)
PEOPLE 4(NIGHT) 8 (DAY)
MAKE/MODEL Mercury F150
TYPE Fuel injected inline four-cylinder four-stroke outboard
RATED HP 150
GEAR RATIO 1.92:1
PROPELLER 16in Enertia
Chapman Marine Group
Suite 2 Sydney Boathouse, 2 Waterways Court, Rozelle, NSW, 2039
PHONE 02 9818 2000