FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #177, March 2004
Beneteau is better known for its high-performance sailboats than its powerboats, but the French boatbuilder has been making a variety of performance boats for almost as long as it’s been making yachts.
It’s obvious by looking at the craft’s distinctive, sporty styling that this is not your average half cabin, and the differences are more than skin deep. How about a cabriolet canopy with clears that fold into a boot in front of the curved, one-piece windscreen?
The ’glass-laminate composite over balsa core construction is also pretty advanced — but it’s natural enough considering the company has been using composite technology in its cruising/racing yachts for many years. Beneteau says the hull is exceptionally strong and rigid without incurring a big weight penalty: rolling on its trailer (dry) the 550 comes in at a shade over a tonne.
The individual styling and interior layout is certainly different (the boat was designed by Boxer, famous for its motorcycles), and might take some people a while to warm to — but the sophisticated European lines and functionality of the hull are something Beneteau and importer JW Marine feel Australians will embrace.
Straight coaming sheerline and low-slung chines lend the 550 Flyer Cabin a purposeful look, while its high sides suggest the boat would be a dry one. A midsection helm position makes the cockpit entertaining area social and cohesive, Beneteau says, while allowing more space for the big forward U-shaped berth inside the cabin.
In fact, the boat makes a comfortable overnighter for a couple and a spacious party platform for more guests during the day.
Broad shoulders and prominent chines carried low before sweeping up at the bow means the rig is big on stability, with a moderate vee also reducing tippiness. Mated to a four-stroke either side of the 140hp mark, and with its large 100lt fuel tank, trips to the fuel dock or servo will be infrequent, the company claims.
The 550’s stern incorporates a large, flat sunpad/bench seat area with dry storage underneath, and a wide walkthrough area over the transom to starboard. The stern seating relates well with the helm seating, making for a social atmosphere.
The lock-up cabin features a U-berth with cushion infill, parcel shelves, a pair of windows for natural light and an optional chemical toilet and “comfort pack”. Access to the deck and hatched anchorwell is around the cabin using the split stainless bowrail for support.
Helm positions are set high to offer excellent 360° vision, while the skipper is treated to a sports wheel and full complement of gauges.
Standard fittings around the boat include an aluminium bowroller, five mooring cleats, diamond-point non-slip deck surface, handrails, stainless boarding ladder and two ski tow eyes in the transom.
Families looking for a general-purpose boat to set them apart from the crowd would do well to further investigate the Beneteau range, which runs from a 5m centre-console through to a non-trailerable 9.2m sportscruiser in both open and cabin variants.
Priced from: $39,950 w/
Honda 90 sans trailer
Length overall: 5.47m
Towing weight: 1040kg
Rec/max power: 130/150
Fuel capacity: 100lt
For more information, contact JW Marine, tel (02) 9518 6977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
First published in TrailerBoat #177
Want more boat reviews? Click here for hundreds more!