Beneteau complete their renewal of the Gran Turismo line with this “flagship” which is really two flagships. The GT50 comes with a simple hardtop, or with a mini flybridge above the hardtop, the Sportfly. Featuring Beneteau’s Ship Control system that simplifies the operation of many of the ship’s functions. Navigation, hi-fi, water, lighting, batteries and engine control, all in one place. Ship Control will be rolled-out to all other Beneteau boats, power and sail alike.
A word about Ship Control, because it is a new idea for boats of this size. Like a Building Management System for a modern office block, so does Ship Control manage everything that can be connected to the ship’s electronics. Not everything can be, and what is connected will vary by boat model, but the simplicity and safety of the system which amongst other things allows access to an interface via a tablet and Wi-Fi, will be apparent.
On the Gran Turismo 50 the system controls navigational data, fluids and engine as well as lights, air-con, hi-fi, electrical sources and the bilge pumps. The multi-device Wi-Fi access enables delegation of control to crew members. It also permits the crew to override the skipper’s choice of music, so expect some jiggery-pokery when it comes to concealing who put on the heavy metal playlist.
This article will focus on the Sportfly variant. It looks sporty, which is just as well for a top-of-the-line sports cruiser, and the flybridge is the bare minimum if you want a helm seat (check), a bar (check) and companion seats that turn into a sunpad (check). The wind-jammer screen keeps the wind away.
The Volvo IPS 600 pod-drive and Airstep planing hull powers it up to 29 kts and a maximum cruising speed of 24 kts with all the manoeuvring capability the pod-drive can provide. She’s no slouch, and thoroughly deserves the sporting metaphor. Being 5m up on a 15m boat can be quite exciting when you are punching along at 29kts.
She has a very shallow draught – 1.16m, while the topside exceeds 5m in height. They have to put all the goodies somewhere. From bottom-up, for a change, this pocket rocket has room for a garage that will hold a standard 2.9m rib, or a Williams 280 jet-tender. There’s a hydraulically-raisable swim platform that will also help with tender recovery and a barbecue, and we haven’t got as far as the cockpit yet.
The cockpit is the piece de resistance – or rather the bulkhead that separates the cockpit from the saloon. It goes away. Fully away. This creates a truly-contiguous space and a Tardis-like impression of being bigger than it is. The cockpit saloon is just that – a huge space to lounge around, but not so large that it isn’t cosy. It has its own external mini-galley, important for keeping the hot and wet flowing during inclement weather, or the cold and wet when it’s fine.
For serious eating while at rest, there’s a full gallery on the lower accommodation deck. This can have either two or three cabins, sleeping four to six people, but if you go for the two-cabin version, there’s room for an informal dining area right opposite the galley, or the food can be trotted up to the main cabin where six can sit and dine in comfort. Park the kids downstairs and enjoy adult conversation upstairs. The choice is yours.
The two-cabin version has a master cabin amidships, full beam, with up to two built-in chaise-longues on either side of a large double bed. In the forepeak, another en-suite cabin which can be set up as two twins or a double, as can the optional third cabin, which shares the forepeak cabin’s head. This is on starboard, between the other two cabins, and replaces the galley’s attached dining space.
Outside space, the flybridge and cockpit apart, is a very large sunbed on the foredeck and a couple of gangways to access it. It’s hard to get everything you might need into what is, after all, only a 50-footer, albeit a 50-footer with a bit of poke, and there’s no question that the engine choice makes a difference. Pod-drives give even large boats the manoeuvrability of a dinghy, and as there are no propeller shafts to fit in, the engine/drive-train takes up much less room.
There’s also a marked in-use cost saving: these pod-drives claim a significantly-lower fuel consumption for the same output power as a conventional straight-drive setup. As might be expected from Beneteau, the fittings are top quality. Skilled craftsmanship, using materials matched in harmony, the overall effect is both practical and delightful.
Walnut woodwork and padded linings make for comfort in the saloon, and the Corian worktops in the galleys and the barbecue (remember the barbecue?) above the swim platform. There are three places to cook on this boat. Better remember to pack the food!
Words Nic Boyde | Images courtesy of Beneteau