When Beneteau decided to increase its involvement with powerboats, it realised that a special boat was needed if it was to make a significant impression on the open sports boat market. Wanting a boat that symbolised the true Mediterranean spirit, Beneteau chose one of the best known designers in the business, Italian Pierangelo Andreani, to work alongside its inhouse yacht designers.
Beneteau’s designers gave Andreani plenty of scope within which to work, with a good deep hull and a lot of beam. Consequently, he was able to produce a boat that is truly glamorous and luxurious, with lines that reflect a classic modern Mediterranean sports boat.
The 12-metre Monte Carlo 37 Open took prime position for JW Marine at its Sydney International Boat Show display in August last year. The striking red and white boat was positioned in such a way that the classic curved features of the screen and arch, and the wonderfully proportioned lines of the boat, demanded, and received, attention.
With the price starting around $450,000 and stretching up to $500,000 (depending on the options that are selected), the Monte Carlo 37 is at the higher end of the price scale for 12-metre sports cruisers and it’s a case of needing to compare apples with apples when looking around.
There is not a huge list of options offered, so in its base form, the Monte Carlo is a fairly complete boat. A cockpit bimini top is the most significant add-on. JW Marine orders the boat minus the bimini, giving the buyer the chance to nominate their own design, style and extent of top through the dealer’s contacts with local Australian companies.
Stepping aboard via the wide, low-level teak-lined aft platform, I was immediately reminded of the designer’s preoccupation with curves and the smooth, freeform lines and soft look surfaces he has created in order to integrate all parts and components of the boat. Start with the stairs that lead into the cockpit and continue around the side decks to the bow – this is all modern, contemporary styling applied consistently throughout.
There is little space wasted with the layout, with pockets created off to the sides to house various cushions, covers and carry-on items. As well as being generous in their extent, the seating and lounges are comfortable and accommodating.
The silver, metallic-like appearance of the bold raised helm console gives the command centre a futuristic look, setting it apart from the more contemporary colours and styling of the rest of the cockpit. The bolster seats provided for both the driver and passenger (a dual seat) is typical of many European boats, and I found both seats to be very comfortable.
The rear lounge is huge – I’d call it the ideal proportion for this size of boat. It wraps around a folding table that could comfortably serve and entertain about eight people. This also converts into an oversized sun lounge area at other times. Set off to the starboard side, immediately aft of the driver’s seat, there is a sink and cold water tap, grill top and fridge with icemaker options.
LIGHT AND BRIGHT
While curves and sweeping lines dominate the exterior, below decks it is the interaction of colour, texture and light that comes to the fore, producing an interior that is remarkably bright and refreshing. This is despite the naturally introverted nature of the interior that results from the separation of the fore and aft cabins and the main saloon.
This is a traditional European interior, where cabins are separated, in stark contrast to the very open layouts that are more popular on US sports boats, where designers attempt to create a feeling of space and grandeur.
On the Monte Carlo, designer Pierangelo Andreani has selected contemporary colours and materials to provide a genuine feeling of luxury without being overly complex. With a careful selection of light fittings and curtains, the resulting ambience, both during the day and at night, enhances the very up-market appeal for which this boat was specifically commissioned.
Though separated into cabins, this is still a very spacious boat below deck. There is full headroom throughout the forward cabin, saloon and bathroom, and a surprising twin-berth aft cabin.
Generally, aft cabins on sports cruisers can be awkward to get into – often they have limited headroom and can have a claustrophobic feel about them. Not so with the Monte Carlo 37. This aft cabin runs the full width of the boat, with single fore/aft parallel single bunks. The companionway runs down the centre, creating a good amount of headroom. The light pulled in through port windows and the light timber toning of the contemporary décor make this a very spacious, comfortable cabin.
If I were to be negative about anything in the interior – and this really is personal taste more than dispassionate criticism – I’d point out that the separation of the two cabins from the saloon closes up the potentially spacious feel of the saloon. But, as I said, this is a personal preference. The division of the cabins offers more privacy, which is a big plus when sharing a weekend on the water with friends.
Others may find fault in the European choice to use timber floor finishes throughout both cabins and saloon, instead of the fully-carpeted interior favoured by local and US builders. But the ease of cleaning timber and the ability to deal with wet and sandy feet provides a good argument in defence of this harder and more durable natural surface.
Though the “Air Stepped-Hull” used by Beneteau for the Monte Carlo models was supposedly patented by Chantiers Beneteau and has been used for the past few years on some of its smaller models, it is not unique. Many international manufacturers have incorporated, with varying degrees of success, versions of the stepped-hull concept.
Just as varied as the numerous stepped-hull designs, have been the explanations as to how it all works and what it actually does for performance, efficiency, softness of ride, etc. PR departments love something unusual or different in hull designs. It encourages them to waffle on about it, at times almost saying anything they please. But, in the case of the stepped-hull, the steps are there to break the suction of water on the hull. This reduces drag, and consequently, improves efficiency and performance.
For me, Beneteau has done it right. The design not only incorporates the steps, it also forces air into them. Scoops moulded into the side of the deck, duct the air through to the steps. This forced air creates the air flow that breaks water suction and frees the hull. For years, race boat technology has proven that air forced into the steps greatly influences the effectiveness of the steps and their contribution to efficiency and performance and I have no doubt that it works here, too.
Twin 260hp engines are not an enormous amount of power for a 12-metre hull that weighs around 7.8 tonnes with fuel and water. But the top speed of almost 34 knots (3500rpm) and a cruise speed of 25.3 knots (2800rpm) do say something for the efficiency of the hull over the water.
The hull planes with effortless ease. It only requires a gentle opening of the throttles to make the transition from displacement to planing mode, with insignificant bow raising or burying of the stern. With only a light breeze creating a slight harbour chop, we were able to keep the hull planing around 12 to 13 knots (2000rpm), though, admittedly, it was very difficult to precisely pinpoint when the hull was not actually on the plane.
The Volvo Z-drive seems to be well-suited to the Monte Carlo, as there is a nice balance to the rig when underway or at rest, and it is very easy to drive, with superb response to the helm.
The Beneteau Monte Carlo Open 37 is a very up-market, luxurious and spacious sports yacht. When the stylist is the same man responsible for the likes of Maseratti and Ferrari, it almost goes without saying that this boat will attract looks and attention wherever it roams.
SPECIFICATIONS: BENETEAU MONTE CARLO OPEN 37
Length (overall): 12.1m
Length (hull): 11.31m
Fuel capacity: 650lt
Water capacity: 200lt
Maximum power: 2 x 300hp
Test engine: 2 x 260hp Volvo D4
Drive system: Volvo Z-drive
Price from: $450,000
Manufacturer: Beneteau, France
Test Boat: JW Marine, Sydney (02) 9518 6977
RPM Speed (knots)
The contemporary style and interior décor will not age quickly, while externally, nothing is an add-on. From the bow, where the bowsprit, anchor and chain guide are masterfully integrated into the flush-moulded lines of the boat, to the clever integration of the air traps and ducts in the side of the deck, this is one very neat and beautiful package.