- Few 45ft planing boats offered this level of practicality, performance, seakeeping and safety.
- What is evident in the Antares 13.80 is that the design is focused on safety and practicality over accommodation and stylish contemporary looks.
- …if you are after a serious seagoing planing boat that can cope with our ever-changing weather patterns, then seeking to source an Antares 13.80 could be time well spent.
Beneteau Antares 13.80
Greg Copp inspects a high-quality sea boat from the noughties whose French manufacturers unsurprisingly placed hull and engineering above luxury and style …
The Beneteau Antares 13.80, in my opinion, is one of the best flybridge boats to have come out of France. Though many will disagree when you consider some of the stylish craft that have emerged from across the Channel in recent years, it is hard to argue with the fact that the Antares 13.80 is an exceedingly capable sea boat. It is practical and minimalist in layout, and offers performance and seakeeping that outstrip most of its contemporaries, past and present.
Launched in 2002, it was built for a period of seven years and sold well on both sides of the Channel, though the Europeans bought many more than the Brits. Price had much to do with this, especially as 10 to 15 years ago sterling bought plenty of euros. This aside, it was still keenly priced, though to be fair it did not have the bells and whistles one would expect on a Fairline. Its fan club grew quickly as it attracted serious skippers who appreciated its flared seaworthy hull and solid construction. Few 45ft planing boats offered this level of practicality, performance, seakeeping and safety. On top of this, it had 15in side decks, small bulwarks and whopping 16in cleats – arguably more Aquastar than Beneteau.
Power options were originally twin 7.3L 480hp Volvo TAMD75s on shafts, which were then replaced in 2006 by 5.9L 480hp Cummins QSBs on shafts. Both engines proved reliable, but the later common-rail injected Cummins engines had the edge in terms of economy, and were also more responsive at low speed, making for better berthing. Flat out with a clean bottom, the 13.80 is good for 32 knots with either engine option, though I have heard that the Cummins QSB does make for a slightly quicker boat.
Based on what I have discovered from speaking to an Antares owner, Dick Sharpe, who has kept his boat in the Channel Islands, the 13.80 has a sweet spot between 22 and 25 knots, where she returns about 0.9mpg with TAMD75s. At this speed she can go through all sorts of weather, he told me, including some awful seas in Biscay. Dick said: ‘On some occasions I am down to semi-displacement speed – something the boat is pretty good at, as the sharp forefoot and wide bow flare work a treat at shovelling greenies out of the way.’ He added: ‘You can comfortably plane down to 18 knots, and even slightly less if you use the trim tabs, as the boat has very good natural poise, which also helps when you need to open her up in a sharp chop.’ In such conditions, it is often better to run at 25 than at 18 knots, Dick reckons, as the forefoot cuts more effectively, and unless you are running into a particularly heavy head sea, the ride is unusually dry. One design aspect of the Antares 13.80 that benefits its ride and stability is the location of the fuel tanks centrally in front of the engines.
Engine access is outstanding, as very few boats of this size make life in the engine bay this easy. It is a straightforward affair of lifting the hinged companionway steps to the saloon, assisted by two gas struts. Once inside the engine room, the space between the engines measures well over 2 feet, with the primary fuel filters staring you in the face on the forward bulkhead. Unusually the gearboxes and stern glands are easier to get your hands on than the engines themselves. Access to the oil filters and dipsticks is an easy task, as is getting to the raw-water strainers forward of each engine. For annual servicing, it is a case of lifting the saloon floor. Should the situation warrant it, there is also an access panel in the starboard mid cabin so you can get to the wiring circuits behind the dash.
What is evident on the Antares 13.80 is that the design is focused on safety and practicality over accommodation and stylish contemporary looks. The flybridge is not the usual long, overhung affair that aims to accommodate the boat’s full complement up top. It is far from small, but it is designed around providing a helm on top of the wheelhouse, while creating minimal windage and weight in the process. The wheelhouse itself is naturally limited in beam because of the 15in side decks, as the whole concept of the accommodation inside and out takes second place to the design of a safe and seaworthy boat. Access to the flybridge is up a substantial stairway, rather than a set of steps, so older and younger crewmembers need not be resigned to staying below. For all that cruising kit from inflatable tenders to the obligatory lines and fenders, the lazarette has seemingly endless space underneath an equally large cockpit.
Like most French boats, internally the Antares has a minimalist feel to it – in this case embellished with high-gloss oak joinery. It does not have the same fit and finish as its British rivals, but then it does not have the same price tag. I always get the feeling that the Antares range is designed from the keel up – in other words, the hull and engineering are the focus, while luxury and style are considered overly indulgent. The helm position benefits from an abundance of glass around the wheelhouse, with the only blind spot caused by the flybridge stairs on the port quarter. Driving below is an enlightened affair – literally. By today’s standards, the dash set-up looks slightly dated, with an array of analogue instruments, but the 12in plotter is canted to provide the helmsman with a perfect view, while the wheel and throttles are located within comfortable reach of the bolster seat.
Some may find the saloon a little on the compact side for this size of craft, and likewise the galley may seem less than generous. However, the boat makes up for these shortcomings by offering two decent mid cabins and a good forepeak master cabin. The mid cabins have twin single berths that convert to double beds if need be, and both have full standing headroom in the entrance area. The master cabin has an en suite heads, while a day heads serves the rest of the boat.
Fourteen years ago, this boat cost a shade under £240,000 with a realistic complement of extras. Today, UK boats can be had from £130,000, though they are thin on the ground in this country because people tend to hang on to them. However, if you are after a serious seagoing planing boat that can cope with our ever-changing weather patterns, then seeking to source an Antares 13.80 could be time well spent.
- Build period: 2002 to 2009
- Number built: 130
- Designer: Beneteau
- Berths: 6 (permanent)
- Cabins: 3
- Hull type: Deep-vee planing
- Transom deadrise angle: 20 degrees
- RCD category: B for 12
- Length overall: 45ft 09in (13.95m)
- Beam: 14ft 11in (4.30m)
- Draught: 3ft 07in (1.09m)
- Displacement: 11.9 tonnes (light)
- Fuel capacity: 330 gallons (1500 litres)
- Water capacity: 140 gallons (640 litres)
- Cruising range: Approx. 250 miles at 25 knots with a 20% reserve
- Performance: 32 knots
- Current values: From £135,000 to £185,000
Points to Consider
There are two engine options: twin 480hp Volvo TAMD75s or twin 480hp Cummins QSB 5.9s. Performance is similar, though the common-rail injected Cummins will be more responsive lower down the rev range – and slightly more economical. Cummins-powered boats, due to being newer, will naturally cost more. Both engines have a good history in terms of reliability.
These boats have lost most of their depreciation already, and are not likely to lose much more, so you get plenty of boat for your money.
Build quality/fit & finish
A well-constructed boat with engineering to match. However, over time, especially with plenty of sea miles logged, evidence of falling off a few big waves is more likely to be found behind the scenes – in the fixtures, fittings and joinery.
Buying in Europe
Though built for UK waters, most of these boats can be found in sunnier climates as the French and their neighbours love them. Aside the ravages of the sun, you need to consider that many of these European boats have higher price tags thanks to the strength of the euro. Finding one on the other side of the Channel would be ideal, if you can’t find a UK boat.
An efficient hull and a relatively light displacement for its size mean that this boat will return around 0.9mpg at cruising speeds in the low to mid-20s. This is good compared to its heavier rivals like the Fairline Phantom 46.
2005 Price: £145,000
Located at Kinsale, Ireland, she is marketed by Network Yacht Brokers in Pwllheli and is one of only two on the market this side of the Channel. Powered by 480hp Volvo TAMD75s, this boat is equipped with a bow thruster and has the extra security of having rope cutters fitted. Her electronics comprise a full Raymarine package, including a 12in plotter, dual-helm autopilot, radar and a second 8in plotter on the flybridge. Internally she has Eberspächer heating, cherrywood joinery, ivory upholstery and a TV. She has the full range of fittings available for her galley, including a microwave oven, and has been maintained to a very high standard throughout.
The Antares 13.80 comes from the high-volume production stable of Beneteau, and so is designed and built to provide maximum function for minimal cost. In this respect, she is a great success, and the product meets the functional requirements very adequately while also providing comparatively long-term reliable service. What more could you ask for? Well, prospective customers with deeper pockets might choose something a bit plusher and with more handcraft in the finish, but that’s a matter of choice. Whenever I survey a boat from the Antares range, I do not expect to come across significant problems originating from the boatbuilding factory or design. That’s not to say that I don’t find defects, but these are nearly always related either to accidental damage or a lack of maintenance.
Jim Pritchard BSc CEng MRINA MIIMS