John page williams
The following review was written by John Page Williams, Editor-at-large, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. John, senior naturalist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has been a regular contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine for 30 years, specializing in environmental issues, nature, wildlife, fishing and boats. He has been testing new and used boats for the magazine's Time-Tested and New Boat News departments since 1998.

OCTOBER 2012
 
   
LOA  31' 10"
Beam  11'
Draft 3' 3"        
Displacement 11,860lb
Fuel 129 gal.
Bridge Clearance 11' 9"

Beneteau’s 34 Flyer Gran Turismo comes to the U.S. with a lot of accommodations packed effectively into a compact hull, but its most distinguishing characteristic is what’s underneath: the company’s patented AirStep system. The forward two-thirds of the bottom looks like a conventional deep-V, with sharp-cornered chines and twin strakes, but they “step” suddenly into a recessed, V-shaped area fed by twin ducts that in turn receive streams of air from external scoops placed high on the topsides. The step extends outward on each side, but not quite all the way to the chines. Thus while on plane, the hull rides on a cushion of air, significantly reducing wetted surface and friction.

As a result, the 34 Flyer performs well with modest power. Twin 200-hp Volvo D3 diesels driving DuoProp outdrives (with joystick low-speed control) pushed our test boat. At speeds from 20 mph (3,000 rpm) all the way to full throttle (33 mph at 3,900 rpm), fuel efficiency was virtually the same, around 1.6 miles per gallon. Below 20 mph, efficiency dropped. Clearly this hull wants to run on a firm air cushion. The boat’s performance is like that of a similarly powered boat we’ve run that is 2,000 pounds lighter. Below decks, the 34 offers a comfortable forward V-berth/dinette below, a two-burner galley, a full head and a roomy mid-cabin that offers full standing headroom. On deck there’s a wet bar opposite the helm, with a huge sitting/dining area aft under an extended hardtop, and a large swim platform. The deckhouse comes with a large, electrically operated sunroof. Styling is definitely Euro, but is pleasing to all but the most traditional eyes. Base price is $284,447. Beneteau Powerboats, Annapolis. 410-990-0270; www.beneteauusa.com.