- The helm has a commanding position and plenty of all-round visibility.
- This boat is built in true practical Antares minimalist fashion.
- … it is tough, seaworthy and has a decent turn of performance as well as being fairly fuel efficient
- It was a pleasure to drive the Antares 8 flat out into a sea that boats its size would normally have problems with.
- The boat was taking a beating, but you could feel that it was not slamming, and that it could take it.
- The hull’s forefoot is pretty sharp while still having plenty of flare.
Beneteau Antares 8
The latest boat to leave the Beneteau production yard may sound like a new tune on an old fiddle, but the Antares 8 is anything but a compromise, as Greg Copp reports …
The new Antares 8 is distinctly Beneteau, and very much like the Anatares 780 that it replaces, it also draws from the design of the Beneteau Flyer 770. The end product is a typically tough Beneteau sports fisher, but one with a bit of a sting in its tail. The underwater lines are based on the 780, but with some tweaking based on the sharper air step hull of the Flyer 770. It does not have a Beneteau air step, on which there are divided opinions; instead, like the Antares 780, it has a straightforward constant deep-vee hull, which, as I found, works very well.
Faced with catching up a 50ft photo boat heading directly into the long rolling swell, I went into wide open throttle mode. Having earlier tested a slightly bigger boat in the same conditions, I was expecting a similar punishing ride and so was on the guarded side. My caution quickly vanished as the 8m 2.2-tonne boat, powered by just a 200hp outboard, had no issues breaching the swell gap at 25 knots. The swell had not got any shorter or smaller since the morning, but the Antares 8 was clearly capable of cresting and cutting with indifference to the conditions. I ignored the precaution of sitting at what appeared to be the boat’s 25-knot sweet spot for a while, and pushed on past the photo boat.
It was a pleasure to drive the Antares 8 flat out into a sea that boats its size would normally have problems with. The boat was taking a beating, but you could feel that it was not slamming, and that it could take it. The hull’s forefoot is pretty sharp while still having plenty of flare. It gives the impression of making the boat look portly, but has the result of providing a sharp, dry ride, as surprisingly little water comes topside, all things considered.
Running into the swell, the boat was soon the other side of 30 knots and you could feel the poise was right, needing nothing much more than a touch of leg trim. Running the other way we were close to 33 knots, again with little need to bring the outboard leg out. As with any of the boats being tested out of Port Ginesta that day, you had to think about the swell when throwing the boat into hard turns, but the Antares was more forgiving than most, though I got the impression that the steering was a touch on the heavy side. I would have liked to have driven her in milder conditions in order to get a more accurate feel of her sporty credentials. I also feel that this hull would be even more fun with a 250hp engine, as it can clearly take it and the very small amount of extra weight would make no difference to the balance of the boat.
Helm ergonomics are simple and very effective – the throttle is where you want it, the wheel is easily reached when seated and the bow thruster joystick is located at arm height between the two. The chartplotter is under your line of sight at the top of the dash with the engine display panel next to it. I found this arrangement spot on when I needed to quickly cast my eye over both, before turning my attention back to the next wave. The helm position is great as you can stand securely wedged in with the bolster up – as I did – or in more relaxed conditions sit in the comfy wrap-around seat. All-round visibility is great as a result of the huge windows and windscreen wipers, which are capable of clearing most of the windscreen and not just a section of it, though you have to hit a big wave to need them.
The wheelhouse table is a squeeze for four to sit around, and converts to a snug double berth with an infill cushion. However, the forward seat quickly converts to a double navigator seat by removing and turning round the backrest. The forward cabin houses a double berth, which extends diagonally across while enabling access to a compact heads on the starboard side, which not that surprisingly does not have full standing headroom. All of this forward accommodation is only possible as a result of the boat’s heavily flared bow, as the bed actually takes up little of the boat’s overall length. The compact galley is located behind the helm and is par for the course, but sensibly Beneteau have not scrimped on fridge size. Storage is outstanding for this size of boat, as not a single square inch has been left to waste. Lift-up floor panels, including a section under the table, enable access to key service items and/or offer storage. If this is not enough, then a large lazarette housing the cockpit table can also accommodate more cruising stores or water sports/fishing gear. There is storage under the cockpit seating as well.
In keeping with current design trends, the outboard is flanked by two deep bathing platforms, which, with stern to Med berthing, is a sensible feature, as is the pulpit gate and teak platform that sits over the bow roller. Forward deck access is a bit of a squeeze along 6″ side decks, but then this is an 8m boat, and it does have very credible guard rails and coachroof handrails. Texturised non-slip decking extends over the foredeck and along the side decks. True to form, there is a large anchor locker at the forepeak housing a windlass with plenty of extra space for warps and fenders.
This boat is built in true practical Antares minimalist fashion. Consequently it is tough, seaworthy and has a decent turn of performance as well as being fairly fuel efficient. It is also good value even with declining sterling, which is not reflected in the standard of construction. However, it doesn’t enjoy quite the same standard of finish or attention to detail as a similar-sized Scandinavian boat. As a family weekender it will have accommodation limitations, but it is not designed exclusively as such. It competes in a highly contended sector of the market, where I suspect its driving experience will give it the edge.
Fuel figures (Suzuki flow meter)
RPM Speed (knots) Fuel consumption (mpg)
2000 6.5 3.8
2500 8.0 3.1
3000 9.5 2.6
3500 12.0 2.4
4000 16.1 2.1
4500 22.6 2.6
5000 27.0 2.3
5500 (WOT) 31.2 2.0
What we thought
- Good heavy-weather seakeeping and handling for an 8m boat
- Solid build quality that takes a beating in its stride
- Good helm position/visibility
- Price hard to beat
- No 250hp engine yet?
- Fairly long extras list, some of which should be included as standard items.
- LOA: 8.23m
- Beam: 2.79m
- Transom deadrise angle: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 2269kg (with engine)
- Power options: 150 to 200 hp
- Fuel capacity: 280 litres
- RCD category: C for 9
- Test engine: 200hp Suzuki DF200
31.2 knots (2-way average), with 50% fuel, 2 crew and heavy rolling swell
As tested: £52,000 (inc. VAT) (euro exchange rate of 1.15)
Bates Wharf Marine Sales Ltd