BOAT REVIEW Swift Trawler 41 Fly Eclipse

December 2021 Launch Reviews
Words by Norman Holtzhausen, Photography and video by Roger Mills.
OUR RATING
4 STARS
Performance
Economy
Handling
Value
Build Quality
Specification
MODEL DETAILS
MODEL Swift Trawler 41 Fly
DESIGNER Beneteau Design
BUILDER Beneteau
PRICE AS TESTED $1,268,800
SPECIFICATIONS
LOA 13.43M
LENGTH (Waterline) 12.52M
BEAM 4.20M
DRAFT 1.15M
DISPLACEMENT 11040kg
ENGINE 2 x Volvo Penta D4-300 or 2x Yanmar 300hp V8
FUEL CAPACITY 1170L
WATER CAPACITY 400L
Maximum Speed 25 knots
Cruise Speed 12-16 knots
ACCOMMODATION Three cabin, five to seven berths
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spacious interior with 1.95m headroom, good-sized cabins
  • Superbly practical vessel is a great all-rounder
OBSERVATIONS
  • Comfortable traveller that’s economical at cruising speed, but can sprint to 24 knots when in a hurry

French boat manufacturer Beneteau is one of the oldest and largest boatbuilders in existence, still owned by the family of the original founder.


The first boatyard was established in 1884 in the Loire region of France, and Beneteau remains based in the same small town where it started. Originally, Beneteau built wooden sailing trawlers, but in the mid-1960s started fibreglass boat production to address the growing recreational market. Its extensive stable now includes prestige brands such as Jeanneau and Lagoon, as well as American brands Four Winns and Wellcraft.
Under the Beneteau brand the company currently has more than forty powerboat models and a parallel range of almost 20 production sailing boats. The design history includes several yachts designed by well-known Kiwi Bruce Farr in the 1990s, and Beneteau has become world-renowned for its boats’ build quality and value for money. These values are matched in New Zealand by their exclusive agents, 36 Degrees Brokers with offices in Auckland, Opua and Picton.

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And so it was with great anticipation that the easing of lockdown restrictions in Auckland meant we were able to finally get down to Westhaven Marina and ‘have a play’ with the new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 Fly. Her nametag implies a solid and reliable passage-maker, but the trawler design also gives her a generous and comfortable living area while giving away little in terms of performance.
The flybridge version of the Swift 41 has a huge upper deck helm station and entertainment area, but a sedan version without this feature is also available. The review boat had a pair of the super-reliable Volvo Penta D4-300 four-cylinder 3.70litre turbocharged diesels, rather than the base spec Volvo D4-270 models. Another option is Yanmar 8LV-320 diesels, with a 4.46 litre displacement in a V8 configuration. All of them turn a four-blade prop through a conventional shaft drive.


The Swift’s massive 4.2m beam provides a huge amount of space, which is immediately evident in the stern. A wide swim platform, fitted with locally made stainless staples and bait boards, leads straight through into the self-bailing cockpit. A sliding bench seat either maximises swim and fishing space, or else slides backwards to increase the size of the cockpit lounge. A folding table and additional seats, normally tucked neatly into a locker inside the cabin, makes this the perfect place for sundowners.
For further versatility, almost the entire rear saloon bulkhead opens up, creating a walk-through flow between the saloon, galley and cockpit. The review boat is going into shared ownership (through 36 Degrees’ sister company The Yacht Collective) so the base non-slip textured fibreglass floor was specified for durability and ease of use, but teak deck options are also available for all exterior areas.


Inside the cabin, a well-appointed U-shaped galley at the rear has a three-burner gas hob, a double stainless sink with hot and cold running water, a gas oven (with a microwave as an option) and a full-sized fridge with a separate freezer compartment. The galley space is well laid out, with a large food preparation area and plenty of storage.
Moving forward we found a comfortable lounge area with dining table, upholstered in a brilliant-white textured PVC, complemented by light Alpi oak wood panelling. A fold-out table provides a seated dining area, while the skipper’s double seat serves extra duty by swivelling around to provide additional seating around the table. An optional drop-down table and in-fill squabs turns this into another double berth if more sleeping space is required.


The helm station is a delight. Not only is the double seat multi-functional, but the front portion also swings up to provide a support if standing up while driving. A twelve-inch Raymarine display dominates the dash, with an array of gauges for the twin Volvo diesels above it. An electronic throttle control, plus bow and stern thruster toggles, make this boat an absolute breeze to control. Conventional switches are used for the wipers, navigation lights, anchor winch and other accessories.


A really nice feature on this style of boat is the sliding side-door opening onto the side deck. The skipper can quickly step out to get to the bow if required, which is great for solo handling. The side-deck on the starboard side has a good thigh-height gunwale, making it safe to walk along even in rougher conditions, while the port side walkway is narrower to maximise interior space with higher gunwales. A handy side-door through the gunwale makes boarding and disembarking onto a jetty or pontoon easy.
Down below we found a spacious master cabin with a double berth. All the cabins have headroom of around 1.95m – in fact, this applies to the entire boat. An ensuite toilet and a separate shower compartment complete the owner’s area. Further aft is the VIP cabin with twin berths, convertible to a double. On the starboard side is the day head and shower and a third cabin with a single berth.


At this point we decided to head out the marina before exploring the rest of the boat. Jono Bakker, General Manager of 360 Brokers, eased her out of her berth – with bow and stern thrusters, this was a doddle, so no fancy manipulation of the twin throttles was required to spin her around. Bakker mentioned that the twin thrusters are particularly good for syndicates or yacht shares schemes, where skippers may have differing levels of skill.
Clear of the marina, we headed out of the Waitemata into the sunshine and a sheltered beach off Motuihe Island.
The day was fairly windy with a solid swell and chop hitting us exactly beam on. This is where the seagoing nature of a trawler hull pays dividends, and we were hardly aware of the seas. At one point one of the harbour ferries came past us at speed, but the resulting wake again produced hardly any roll.


The Volvo 300s purred along, cruising at 2900rpm and holding the 11-tonne boat at a steady at 18 knots for just over 70 litres of diesel per hour. She will do 25 knots wide-open, but at cruising speed we were superbly comfortable and able to converse normally inside the cabin. And given the performance is combined with excellent seakeeping, this is an excellent all-round boat for a family, including any members who don’t like rough weather.


While underway we popped down into the engine compartment, accessed through a well-soundproofed hatch in the galley floor. The two Volvos left plenty of space to move around in safely, even underway, and we could see that maintenance on these motors would be easy. The two 585-litre aluminium fuel tanks could be seen either side of the engine room, one of the advantages of a boat with a 4.2m beam.The test boat did not have a generator or air conditioner, opting instead for an inverter and efficient forced air diesel heating, but these options can be accommodated in the engine room and aft lazarette if selected. A water heater runs off an engine heat exchanger or 220v power.


The shafts exit the hull well forward of the stern, to run four-blade propellers in tunnels under the cockpit, together with underhung rudders. This means that all the moving surfaces are well clear of any swimmers on the boarding platform – a great safety feature that also reduces the overall draft to just 1.15 metres. Above those tunnels is another huge storage locker under the cockpit sole big enough for water toys, barbecues, scuba gear or any other bulky items.
This left just one more area to explore: the fly deck. And after climbing the stowable stainless ladder we were astonished! This boat must have one of the largest flybridge decks of any vessel this size, with an area almost equal to the downstairs saloon and cockpit combined. The rear entertaining area is big enough for at least half a dozen people to socialise, and beanbags or folding chairs would make this area extremely versatile. The radar arch divides the upper deck, which has a wet bar with optional drinks fridge and electric grill.


Further forward, an L-shaped couch and table on the port side, plus a single couch to starboard, offers seating for another half-dozen people. In these social-distancing times, we were able to have four people up there while keeping a two-metre distance from one another. A bimini-style foldable top over the front half of the flydeck was yet to be installed.
The upper helm station is the place to drive in good weather and this one is extremely well equipped. The comfortable skipper’s seat is within easy reach of the duplicated engine controls, while a pair of smaller Raymarine displays (instead of the single MFD below), are easy to read. The skipper can see the bow and anchor from his seat, which is great, though the stern is hidden from his view by the upper deck.


This is a superbly practical vessel with great all-round performance – fast enough to get places reasonably quickly, economical to run and extremely stable even in marginal weather. Twin fuel tanks allow over 200 nautical miles at cruising speed, with a generous safety margin. At a more sedate displacement speed her range could exceed 1000 nautical miles, so she would be perfectly suited to passage-making or extended cruises.
The amount of space on board is astonishing, and with five berths (expandable to seven), the Swift 41 would suit a large family. Her twin thrusters, plus of course two engines, mean she can be manoeuvred into the tightest of berths, even by those with limited boating experience. And at her price point, she represents fantastic value for money.

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