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FLIBS 2011: Beneteau debuts new cruisers

FORT LAUDERDALE - French sailboat builder Beneteau introduced four Italian-styled express cruisers - the Flyer Gran Turismo 34, 38, 44, 49 and 49 Flybridge - at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

The French builder is making a bid for the U.S. powerboat market, having introduced its Swift Trawler 34, 44 and 52 in this country during the past few years. Denison Yacht Sales in Fort Lauderdale and Marina del Rey, and The Yachting Group in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the North American dealers.

Beneteau is touting its new proprietary Air Step technology on its stern-drive 34, 38 and 44. Air Step consists of forward-facing steps and two air intakes on either side at mid-hull that distribute air to the rear, creating an air-cushion drive. Beneteau says the technology improves maneuverability, especially in curves and turns, as well as speed, fuel consumption and ride.

The 34, with twin 200-hp diesels or twin 300-hp gasoline engines, cruises above 30 knots and sells from $211,300 to $252,900, according to Beneteau. The 38, with twin 260- or 300-hp diesels and a cruising speed in the high 20-knot range, starts at $317,000.

The 44, with twin 370-hp engines and a cruising speed in the low 30s, and the 49 and 49 flybridge, with twin 435-hp Volvo diesels, Volvo IPS 600 drives and a cruising speed in the mid-20s, run $459,900 to $686,000, Beneteau says.

Italian designer Pierangelo Andreani designed the boats.

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