Once you drive the Antares 12, or for that matter its coupé sister the Flyer 12, you begin to wonder how the competing yards manage to charge the prices they do. Launched in 2005 with a price tag of £220,000, the sure-footed and quick-steering Antares 12 was, in driving terms, a rival for any similar British boat. It was distinctly different to mainstream flybridge design at the time. Beneteau have long-standing roots in the fast fisher sector, which is evident in the practical design of the Antares 12; however, what made this boat so different was the choice of propulsion systems.
Like the Flyer 12, it came with either old-school shafts or IPS. There was much scepticism at the time over the newly emerging Volvo pod drive concept, but both the Antares and the Flyer proved to be superb sea boats. Built with a deep-vee hull and plenty of flare on the bow, both the Antares and the Flyer 12 are great boats to drive in the rough, with fast and responsive steering. Powering into short, sharp head seas is probably the boat’s strongest point. Even if you overdo it, the heavily laid-up balsa-cored hull will not complain, and fitted with Volvo QL trim tabs as standard, the boat does some of the thinking for you. My experience of a shaft-driven Antares 12 compared to the IPS-powered Flyer 12 that I did my RYA Coastal Skipper course in was that the hull design dominates both boats. The Antares has a more planted feel to it and runs with less bow-up trim. The Flyer was, as the name suggests, quicker and capable of hitting 35 knots, compared to the 29 knots that the Antares is genuinely capable of. Shafts were pretty much exclusively the option that new Antares owners went for. Though IPS certainly benefits the Flyer over the Antares in terms of economy and performance, the planted feeling that shafts provide is ideal for a flybridge boat with more topside weight.
I have yet to come across an Antares 12 with 310hp D6s. Apart from a cheaper purchase price when new, there was no benefit in choosing this engine. Twin 370hp D6s are a perfect match for a 9.9-tonne boat and will provide better economy at a like-for-like cruising speed than the 310hp option. The boat’s ideal cruising speed is 25 knots, and you can expect about 1.25mpg at that speed with 370hp D6s. Engine access is a bit of a mixed bag. You do get quick access via a cockpit hatch, but this then involves crawling between the engines with 16 inches or so between them and limited headroom. Checking the gearbox oil levels is easy, but if you want to get at the raw-water strainers, or check belts, engine oil and the outboard-mounted oil filters, you will need to lift the carpet and drop in through the two saloon floor hatches. The few boats built with IPS enjoy easy engine access through a large cockpit hatch due to the engines being mounted further aft. Lazarette storage courtesy of two hatches is good, enabling easy access to the steering gear plus enough room for all the essential junk that inevitably accumulates on board.
Practicality and safety are Beneteau bywords. The side decks are wide enough for the most rotund, the 4-inch-deep toe rails will deal with the clumsiest, and the guard rails are tall enough for the biggest Scandinavian giants. If you factor in acres of teak decking, plus coachroof handrails, there can be no reason for the crew trying to avoid fender duties. Access up top, however, is via a fairly steep but ornate set of teak steps, which is fine for adults but not ideal for young children. This is a product of the flybridge being located aft of amidships. It does, however, give good visibility over the stern when up top due to the relatively short length of the flybridge, and good views over the bow.
The flybridge in modern design terms is not generous. The very first boats had a large convertible sun pad in front of the helm with two helm seats located to the rear. This was known as the ‘Fisher version’ and only a handful were bought in the UK. If you turned round when seated you looked down into the cockpit. Later boats from late 2006, known as the ‘Cruiser version’, had a single helm seat located forward on the flybridge with circular seating to port and a convertible bench seat/small sun pad behind.
The sleeping accommodation comprises two double-berth cabins, both with generous en suite heads compartments. The forward double berth is the usual island affair and is far from cramped, but for the price there is a limited amount of standing space around it. In fairness, this is not really a hardship in the cabin, where you spend most of the time sleeping. Storage is reasonable in both cabins, though not overly generous – however, the en suites in both are. The forward cabin has a substantial en suite for a boat this size. The large shower compartment is separated from the heads area by a glass door, not the usual rotating cylindrical affair. The guest cabin boasts a large double berth instead of the usual set-up of two singles with full standing headroom in the doorway. The guest en suite is not as big as the master en suite, but is still a generous size.
The saloon with a galley up arrangement loses some internal space due to the width of the side decks, and the galley pays a price due to the size of the master en suite. However, the whole area is well lit from the abundance of glass surrounding it, which at the same time affords the helmsman superb all-round visibility. With the galley worktop closed you hardly notice its existence at first, and storage is again not overly generous. This is supplemented by an additional fridge and griddle in the cockpit. If you are single-crewed or short-handed the galley’s location close to the helm does allow the skipper to get a quick brew on while still keeping an easy watch over the bow.
The Antares 12 is a driver’s boat that will appeal to the practical skipper who does not shy away from rough weather. Costing what it did 10 years ago, its price today in boating terms is pretty pitiful and less than many similar-aged middleweight sports cruisers. Like many Beneteaus, the Antares 12 has provided boaters with the opportunity to step up to a credible middleweight boat, and no doubt will continue to do so for many years to come.
- Build period: 2005 to 2009
- Designer: Beneteau & Patrice Sarrazin ESD
- Berths: 4
- Cabins: 2
- Hull type: Deep-vee planing
- RCD category: B for 12
- Current values: From £90,000 to £140,000
- Length overall: 41ft 5in (12.62m)
- Beam: 13ft 1in (3.99m)
- Draught: 3ft 10in (1.16m)
- Displacement: 9.9 tonnes (light)
- Fuel capacity: 264 gal (1200 litres)
- Water capacity: 70 gal (320 litres)
- Cruising range: 250 miles with a 20% reserve at 25 knots
Points To Consider:
This boat was originally launched with three engine options of 370hp IPS 500, 310hp D6 on shafts or 370hp D6s on shafts. The first two are like hens’ teeth and the third option very popular. In 2008, twin 300hp Volvo D4s were offered, which work quite well with this boat as this option came a close second to 370hp D6s. They do not have the mid-range torque of the D6 but being lighter will have better fore and aft trim and consequently produce better fuel consumption between 20 and 25 knots.
The first boats, known as the Fisher version, had the flybridge helm located at the rear of the flybridge with a stainless steel radar arch, while boats built from late 2006 have a conventional forward-located helm with a GRP radar arch. There are pros and cons to both. The rear helm allows good communication with the cockpit and good visibility over the stern when berthing. The forward helm position has extra seating behind and to port of the helm as well as a slightly smaller sun pad than the first model.
This boat is at the bottom of the curve in terms of depreciation as a result of the recession and being the best part of 10 years old. Consequently it is a great-value buy that many of its British counterparts simply can’t compete with in terms of price, mainly due to its low price when new.
Build Quality / Fit and Finish
The Beneteau range is renowned for its solid build quality and good engineering. In comparison to the British yards, the internal fit can appear clinically minimalistic, though often more practical. You do not get the exceedingly high finish standard of, say, Fairline with yards of high-gloss joinery, but its Gallic character has many fans.
Buying in Europe
One of the reasons for such a wide range in values is the cheaper cost of buying in Europe due to the weakening of the euro against sterling (which was one of the reasons for its low price when originally launched). There are plenty of these boats in the Med, so buying one in the sun can make very good sense.
The Volvo D6 will cost around £600 for an annual service and a D4 about £500. The cost of spares has never been a Volvo strong point either in the UK or overseas, however availability and the abundance of service agents are very good in the UK and Europe.
Boats with 350hp D6s will return a healthy 1.25mpg between 18 and 25 knots. D4 boats will potentially be about 10 to 15 % more frugal at the same speeds, so stretching your cruising legs will not cost the earth.
2008 Price: £119,950
Featured in this article, this boat located at Brighton has the popular blue hull option. Powered by 300hp Volvo D4s, she has logged 180 hours and is fitted with Sleipner bow and stern thrusters as well as Eberspacher heating. Her electronics consist of a full Raymarine package including radar and a ‘sea-me’ radar reflector system. It’s evident that this boat has been very well cared for above and below decks. All the teak is clean, the upholstery/interior pristine, the covers in good order and her GRP polished. With a recent price reduction, the owner is clearly motivated.
Beneteau are established as the market leaders when it comes to providing maximum boat for minimum money. They have occupied this position very successfully for decades now, and are the masters at designing each model in their range to match the market’s requirements, while also designing their boats to be built in the most cost-effective way achievable. Substandard is not the outcome, however Beneteau do not produce a product that exudes handcrafted charm and character, nor is it built by time-served master boatbuilders and furniture makers.
The Antares 12 is no exception to their boatbuilding philosophy. It’s tough, strong, well engineered and finished, good at sea, and will provide excellent and reliable service, all for a lot less money than most other motor yachts. There is nothing in the design, building or equipment that I could seriously fault, so if you are buying an Antares 12 second-hand, then her condition will be almost entirely dependent on her previous owner, the care they have taken and the level of maintenance the boat has received.
Jim Pritchard BSc CEng MRINA MIIMS