The Antares 9 is an outboard-powered express cruiser from French boatbuilder Beneteau designed to be a weekender for a couple with family or friends. Twin Mercury outboard power lends peppy performance to the Airstep hull, along with an available package of engine management features. The boat has a large berth that can be made into two singles, and a large crawl-in berth under the command bridge. A side door by the helm aids single-handed operation.
- Airstep hull
- Twin 200-hp Mercury FourStroke 3.4L V-6 outboards
- Expansive single-piece windshield
- Helm-station door
- Convertible companion seat in salon dinette
- Master stateroom with dual configuration interior dining booth
- Galley with two-burner stove and refrigerator
- Adjustable cockpit seating to allow engine tilt
- Available teak deck on swim platform, cockpit sole, and side decks
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||3.6 sec.|
|0 to 30||8.5 sec.|
|Props||16x17 Enertia Eco|
|Load||2 persons, 3/5 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||92 deg., 86 humid.; wind: 10-15 mph; seas: 1|
2 x 200-hp Mercury 200XL 4-stroke
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Contents of Report
Designed with the dual missions of day-boating and coastal cruising in mind, the Beneteau Antares 9 carries an affordable price tag, making it a cruising boat within the means of millions of people. With an enclosed cabin, a functional galley, indoor and outdoor dining areas, two sleeping cabins, wet head, electric toilet, plus an available convertible third berth in the salon, the Antares 9 ticks a lot of boxes for extended coastal cruising. Twin outboards are icing on the cake.
Beneteau seems to understand that all boaters like the features that make their boats easier to use and enjoy. Ideas like a sliding cockpit seat that makes the most of the deck space underway, yet gets out the way when it’s time to tilt the outboards out of the water, or well-placed hatches that let the owner get at critical parts like thru-hull fittings and pumps, lend peace of mind. The general idea of the Antares 9 is to be a small cabin cruiser with lots of functionality packed into 27’ (8.23 m).
- A helm-station side door lends the feel of a cruising boat, with easy access to the side deck with its spring line cleat and the bow for anchoring duties, not to mention adding excellent airflow to the salon.
- A wide-opening salon door lets the owner integrate the cockpit with the salon in a space that allows guests to enjoy all social areas seamlessly.
- Large salon windows and a single-piece windshield offer excellent views as the world cruises by, and there’s a slide-open panel in the portside window to add to the natural ventilation in conjunction with an optional sunroof hatch.
- A sliding seat in the cockpit makes it easier to get at the outboards for preflight checks and the post-cruise tilt to get the lower units completely out of the water, yet still lets an owner make the most of cockpit space.
- A berth measuring 7’1” by 6’4” in the forward cabin means Beneteau understands that people won’t overnight aboard if they don’t get any sleep when they do.
The Antares 9 has an LOA of 29’6” (8.99 m), a beam of 9’8” (2.95 m) and a draft of 2’7” (0.79 m). With an empty weight of 9,387 lbs. (4,258 kg), 60-percent fuel, test power and two people on board, we had an estimated test weight of 11,348 lbs. (5,147 kg).
With the twin 200-hp Mercury XL FourStrokes turning 16x17 Enertia props, we reached our top speed of 42.2 mph at 5500 RPM. Best cruise came in at 3500 RPM and 25.4 mph. It was at that speed that the 13.8 GPH fuel burn translated into 1.8 mpg and a range of 262 statute miles, all while still holding back a 10-percent reserve of the boat’s 158-gal. (600-liter) total fuel capacity.
We had mild conditions on test day so we are unable to comment on how she handles more than a light chop, but crossing wakes showed how her tulip-shaped bow and Airstep hull presents a dry ride by dispersing spray out and down from the dual spray rails.
Handling Around the Dock
For power, twin 200-hp outboards achieve the maximum horsepower rating of 400 for this boat for twins, but she’ll also take up to a single 350-hp outboard.
The twin 200-hp Mercury FourStroke 3.4L V-6 is a lightweight (475 lb. each) design with large displacement to create more torque in low- and mid-rpm ranges. These outboards offer a selection of features that can be managed through a Mercury SmartCraft helm display, including--
- Advanced Range Optimization that adjusts fuel burn to deliver optimal efficiency.
- Idle charge battery management that detects high power draw and increases idle speed to improve alternator performance.
- Adaptive speed control that maintains rpm regardless of load or sea condition.
- Optional Active Trim will automatically trim the engine to the best running attitude for speed and efficiency.
The helm is mounted to starboard and has a console and a single helm seat. The console has a black finish to help reduce the effect of glare, and we like that the top of the console under the windshield has the same finish. While the wheel is offset slightly to port, the compass is mounted atop the console at the center point, in the midst of a recessed area for stowing odds and ends. A rubber mat would be a nice addition here to keep stuff from sliding around.
The helm console is made up of an angled panel for screens in its upper register, a horizontal middle panel for accessory switches, and other control devices, and additional lower surfaces where other components are mounted to either side of the steering wheel mount.
The main helm dashboard panel has a 9” (22.86 cm) multifunction display at the top center. Just to the right are the two fuel gauges along with a 4” (10.16 cm) Mercury SmartCraft display for managing engine data and settings. Below we find a beverage holder, and two sets of rocker switches to manage electrical systems onboard.
The helm seat adjusts fore and aft and includes a flip bolster. There’s a footrest at the bottom of the console. Fuel shutoffs for the engines are to the outboard side of the seat, out of the way but readily accessible.
The single-piece windshield measures 6’11" by 3’2” (2.11 m by 0.97 m) with narrow mullions for good sightlines with little to obscure the view. Pantograph wipers have integrated washers.
An opening side door is a terrific and useful addition to this helm station. It adds excellent ventilation to the salon when running and cross-ventilation at anchor or the dock as well, thanks to the slide-open window section opposite. The door also helps when tying up the boat single-handed, a handy feature for a cruising couple, or even a solo cruiser.
The salon entry is a two-piece sliding door in the glass aft bulkhead that opens to be up to 3’7” (1.09 m) wide. The headroom inside is 6’5” (1.96 m) and a 22” (56 cm) walkway between the starboard galley counter and the port bench seat allows for easy entry.
The aft salon seat has the battery switches behind a wood-finish door on the inboard side of its base. That bench is part of a fore-and-aft booth-style seating area to port with an expandable wood-finish table on a fixed pedestal. The table has a folding leaf on its forward end. When folded, it gives enough space to allow the backrest of the aft-facing forward seat to flip aft. When it does, the backrest supports to raise the entire seat by a few inches to improve the vantage point in this companion seat configuration.
The galley is to starboard with a tempered-glass fold-up countertop that opens to reveal a single basin sink and two-burner propane stove. Below the counter is a soft-close drawer with additional storage underneath, and a refrigerator. The stove is served by a locker for the propane tank in the cockpit, located beneath the step to the starboard side deck.
The cockpit is ready for entertaining family and friends, with easy access to the galley and U-shaped seating wrapping around a solid wood table on a single fixed pedestal. There’s stowage in lockers under the seats. The aft-facing seat at the forward end of the cockpit has no backrest since it would interfere with the sliding doors to the salon.
The hardtop extends aft from the aft bulkhead and includes lighting. An optional Bimini can be added to the trailing edge.
A mechanical space is beneath the large deck hatch leading to the bilge area. The hatch is held open with gas struts, and there’s a good volume of useful stowage.
To the stern are the swim platforms flanking the outboards. On our test boat, they were covered in optional teak. A reboarding ladder with grab rail is to starboard. The grabrail may present a challenge for some guests when boarding the boat at the dock when she’s side-to, so we would like to see a different design there.
The starboard platform is positioned directly in line with the cockpit entrance. The transom walkthrough is protected by a stainless gate mounted on the inboard side that swings aft to open and stays put in both the open and closed positions.
The aft cockpit seat slides forward not only to allow the engines to tilt out of the water, but it also exposes a service platform to stand on while conducting the daily checks.
There are 11’’ (27.94 cm) side decks to both port and starboard. The starboard side is much more accessible since there’s a step in the cockpit where seating is to port.
On the trunk cabin, the decks are finished in nonskid and there’s a 26” (66 cm) high bow rail. The sun pad measures 5’ by 5’8” (1.52 m by 1.73 m) plus a 10” (25.40 cm) extension forward. With five separate and connected cushions, different configurations are available, whether one wants to expose the overhead skylight and hatch to the stateroom below, or just put out one lounge for a lone sunbather, the parts are easier to manage.
The fluke anchor is stowed in an extended stainless-steel roller pulpit, and the bow rail is split at the bow with a cable clipped across the gap for security. The bow has 10” (25.40 cm) docking cleats to both sides.
Beneath a hatch at the bow, there is an optional, horizontal electric windlass and an access point for the rode locker. Easy access to the rode locker is to port. A wired remote for the windlass is mounted on the underside hatch on our test boat but its position needs to be relocated since the remote interferes with the gas-assist ram that holds the lid up. It would also be a good idea to add a cleat to take the standing load off the windlass.
The accommodations consist of two cabins and a head, accessed by the forward companionway.
The forward cabin is forward and it is entered through a sliding pocket door. At the entrance, the headroom is 5’11” (1.80 m) with 3’4” (1.01 m) over the berth. The berth takes up most of the space in here and its dimensions are 6’4”, at its widest point, by 7’1” (1.93 m by 2.16 m). As a berth for two, its occupants sleep at an angle to optimize the amount of space.
Off the passageway to starboard is the head compartment, with 6’1” (1.85 m) headroom. It’s a wet head with a pull-out sprayer that can be hung on the bulkhead for a functional shower.
An opening portlight adds ventilation and, along with a hull side window, natural light. A manual flush ceramic toilet is covered by a flip-down seat to the side. The sink is recessed into the solid-surface counter and stowage is alongside.
The guest cabin is to port off the main passageway and includes a 6’7" by 4’8” (2.01 m by 1.42 m) berth. Headroom over the berth ranges from 1’5” to 2’5” (.43 m to .74 m). There’s stowage to the aft bulkhead, a hull side window, and LED lighting. Additional stowage is just inside the door, which is 5/8” (1.59 cm) thick and has polished hardware and a gasketed frame to prevent rattling when underway.
Options to Consider
- Mooring/Anchoring kit ($680)
- Cockpit sun pad ($2,270)
- Cockpit awning ($2,150)
- Cockpit enclosure ($5,010)
- Bow ladder ($210)
- Bow thruster ($2,990)
- Full 110 V electrical circuit and battery charger ($2,250)
- LED courtesy lighting in cockpit, wheelhouse, accommodations ($500)
- Additional double bed filler cushion for salon ($450)
- Interior curtains ($1,200)
$134,850 base boat with twin 200-hp Mercury FourStroke 3.4L V-6 outboards rigged with Digital Throttle and Shift Binnacle, plus Essential Trim Level package.
- 3-year parts and labor
- 7-year structural warranty
The Beneteau Antares 9 harks back to the 1950s and ‘60s when a number of American companies built outboard-powered cabin cruisers of wood. But American builders long ago lost the plot for a variety of reasons, and these models gave way to the ubiquitous open express cruiser.
But Times Have Changed. First, open express cruisers have evolved into coups and hardtops. Second, outboard engines are now fuel-injected, fuel-efficient, easy to start, reliable, smokeless, and they have also gotten much more powerful. Consumers have recently discovered that engines hung on the outside of the hull leave more room for accommodations inside.
Dollars and Sense. In the meantime, cruising boats have become a lot more expensive, thanks to new technology, available amenities, improving industry construction, and equipping standards, among other things – putting new cruising boats out of the reach of millions of middle-class Americans who would like to enjoy the cruising boat lifestyle.
The price tag on the Beneteau Antares 9 changes all of that. This boat can be purchased for less than a top-flight 25’ (7.62 m) open center console.
In many ways, the Antares 9 is a bare-bones boat – but that is a good thing. By eliminating an electric stovetop, air conditioning (it’s an option) and other electric amenities, a generator (which is an option) is not needed. (If one is ordered, it should only be the more expensive “Low-CO” type.) By going back to a more basic boat, but one with broad utility, perhaps more people can be drawn back to the fun of affordable cruising.