She’s No Guppy
The Barracuda 9 may look small, but she offers a whole lot more than meets the eye.
Beneteau, the French builder known more in North America for its sailboats, continues to promote its powerboat line on this side of the Atlantic with the launch of the Barracuda 9. The 29-footer is the first outboard-powered boat (twin 225-horsepower Yamaha 4-strokes or a single 350) Beneteau has ever offered in North America.
“The inspiration for the Barracuda was to build a fishing/cruising crossover which could easily be customized based on her intended use while providing more protection than ever; we believe that is the real appeal of the range.” says Laurent Fabre, vice president of sales and marketing for Beneteau Powerboats Division.
One look at the Barracuda 9 and the fishing/cruising crossover makes sense. The boat features an enclosed wheelhouse with 6-foot, 6-inch headroom and opening doors to port and starboard. A triple-wide aft bench seat stretches from side to side in the wheelhouse.
There are fold-up tables, and a head and V-berth are below. Galley equipment includes a standard refrigerator and a single-burner stove. The self-bailing cockpit has a hot-water shower, and a flying bridge is optional.
Visibility is exceptional on the Barracuda 9, with glass surrounding 360 degrees around the wheelhouse. The flat windshield is designed to reduce glare. The helm and observer seats are on adjustable pedestals, which accommodate superior visibility while under way, but also can be turned around and adjusted to dining height at the tables just behind.
“I love its practicality. The enclosed [wheelhouse] extends the season,” says Kevin Fraser, a broker with Cape Yachts of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, the first North American dealer to take on the Barracuda line. “Beneteau is taking a center console-sized boat and turning it into an overnight cruiser.”
Side decks ranging from 12 to 14 inches allow access all around the wheelhouse to the open bow area and cockpit, and there’s ample seating fore and aft, including a forward-facing bench seat fore, and a large triple-wide aft bench seat that tilts forward with the aid of gas struts to allow for the engines to tilt forward in turn.
For anglers, the boat fulfills the mission of a center console and walkaround. The generous freeboard (up to 30 inches high) appeals to families with young children, Fraser says. The four rodholders and high freeboard have equal appeal to anglers.
Other options include single or twin outboard propulsion, Fisher Panda DC 4-kW generator, 12,000-Btu Cruisair air conditioner, a forward hammock-style sunpad, sun awning at the bow, cockpit bimini, sliding windows, and a sunroof for air circulation.
The hull features Beneteau’s patented Air Step design, incorporated from its Gran Turismo line, which channels air beneath the center of the hull for reduced drag and fuel consumption, quicker acceleration, and enhanced maneuverability, according to the company.
“It’s just different, and people love the concept,” is how Fraser sums up the Barracuda 9. “It’s the sweet spot between fisher and cruiser.”
An August sea trial off South Dartmouth confirmed the boat’s quick time to plane—less than four seconds with three aboard—and maneuverability. With twin outboards, she cruised easily at 39 knots in calm seas. Conversation in the wheelhouse, with windows open, was easy even at that speed.
Beneteau is launching the 23-foot Barracuda 7 in Europe this fall. “It’s our intention to quickly bring her to the North American market, where enclosed center-console boats are starting to gain much traction,” Fabre says.