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Boat Reviews: Beneteau GT 49 Hardtop and Jeanneau Velasco 43

 

Beneteau-Aug14

by Alan Gibson

The name Beneteau is synonymous with sailboats, but the French builder’s powerboat division has become a competitive force to be reckoned with, not only in terms of price but also build and ride quality. The term “economy of scale”—and all it entails in terms of craftsmanship—springs to mind when one considers Beneteau Group’s massive output. Its latest and largest sport cruiser, however, defiantly flies in the face of conventional wisdom about what to expect from a production builder.

The boat originated as the Monte Carlo 47 but was given a flybridge option and rechristened the Gran Turismo 49, although the vessel reviewed here is the hardtop version. It’s equipped with twin Volvo Penta D6 IPS 600 (435-horsepower) drives with joystick controls both at the helm and in the cockpit as standard. The joystick controls in the cockpit proved invaluable as I boarded the boat at Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale with Alex Wilkes of Denison Yacht Sales. Thanks to the IPS drives’ pinpoint maneuverability, Wilkes was able to hover within inches of the dock, with nary a line or fender in sight as I climbed aboard. This model featured an all-white hull, but the GT 49 is also available in wine-red and white, or grey-blue and white. The aforementioned flybridge version of the yacht will set you back an additional $27,000, approximately.

Despite the presence of a garage that can house a tender up to nine feet, four inches—quite large for this size boat—the cockpit and aft deck are spacious and inviting. “The hydraulic swim platform and a tender garage are features you don’t typically see on a boat under 60 feet,” says Wilkes. “You can also stow a jet ski on the swim platform, which can support 720 pounds.”

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Jeanneau-Aug14

by Brian Hartz

Not quite a trawler, not quite a sport yacht, Jeanneau’s new Velasco 43 occupies a niche in the market that will attract attention from a wide variety of boat buyers. And that’s saying nothing of its price tag, which at first glance would seem to be missing a figure. But more on that later.

Debuting at the Palm Beach International Boat Show in March, the boat’s appeal lies in a sweet spot at the epicenter of several sought-after qualities. Think back to your math-class days and picture a Venn diagram with overlapping circles labeled “performance,” “value” and “luxury.” The spot where all three circles overlap is exactly where you will find the Velasco 43.

Like sister brand Beneteau, Jeanneau is well known for crafting high-end production sailboats such as the Sun Odyssey series. Powerboats are quickly becoming a focal point for the French boat-building powerhouse, however, and it’s easy to see the smarts behind this strategy. Sailing enthusiasts can be a superstitious lot, and as they look to make the trade from sail to power, brand loyalty often enters into play.

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