Boat Review – by Pat Carson
It was almost exactly 10 years ago that I was lucky enough to have two of the new Beneteau Gran Turismo line of express cruisers for a dual boat review. In May 2013 my review of the Gran Turismo 38 appeared in the Bay & Delta Yachtsman, and my review of the of the Gran Turismo 44 was published in the Oct 2013 issue. This new line of express cruisers introduced in 2010 was an almost instant hit and helped pave the way for a new category of recreational boats. These first versions featured the patented Air Step hull which has been a key feature in every one of the Beneteau GT cruisers. The Air Step hull was developed in 2003; it uses air vents in the foredeck of the vessel and channels air to a pair of vents in the hull. The result is an improvement in both fuel economy and ride. Introduced in 2021, the Gran Turismo 41 (that I recently had the opportunity to sea trial in San Francisco) is the third generation of this mid-size express, replacing the earlier GT 40 and the original GT 38. No surprise that the GT 41 continues with the Air Step hull.
Noticeably the new GT41 lines are different from the older GT38 and GT40 with the single sleek black panel that runs nearly the length of the vessel and incorporates all the hull windows and ports giving her an updated modern look.
When stepping aboard you almost immediately land in the main entertainment area. From the hydraulic swim platform, one enters the gate on the port side and to starboard there is a U-shaped settee wrapped around a teak dinette table with enough seating for six. Across on the port side is the wet bar along with an electric grill. The refrigerator is located just forward of the wet bar along with a dedicated location for trash and storage that is covered by a pair of doors when not in use. Completing the wet bar is a stainless-steel sink with a foldaway faucet.
Aft of the settee and dining table is the double-sized lounger with a folding backrest overlooking the swim platform. For all those ship’s essentials, located under the sun pad is an extra-large storage space easily accessed from the swim step.
Forward of the main entertainment space is the centerline helm sporting a Garmin flagship 8612 multifunction touchscreen display that is equipped with Volvo engine software displaying engine and navigation data. Our Gran Turismo was equipped with Garmin RADAR, VHF radio with integrated AIS and autopilot. The MFD is bookended by other Volvo engine controls, the bow thruster control, joystick and various manual switches for the essentials of boat operation. Whether seated or standing at the double-wide helm seat with a folding bolster, the controls fall almost exactly at your fingertips.
For the sun worshippers, Beneteau has designed a monstrous electric sliding hardtop that opens to uncover the entire helm area and allows the fresh air and sunshine in. Want more fresh air, there are opening slide windows on both the starboard and port side. For the skipper, there is a single pane wind screen with no mullions providing unencumbered visibility. Close everything up and the 16,000 BTU reverse cycle heat/air system will keep the area temperature controlled.
Rounding out the helm is a third helm seat to starboard for a copilot or guest, grab handles for everyone and enough cupholders to go around. Beneteau has even included a wireless phone charger pad right at the fingertips of the copilot. Having a centerline helm and three forward facing helm seats is a welcome design improvement. To the port side of the helm is a large opening hatch that reveals the companionway to the belowdecks.
Taking a walk to the foredeck is safe and easy with the sufficiently wide walk around side decks. When gazing at the side of the GT you see there are no grab rails along the hardtop. However, Beneteau did not forget about safety, they have molded in a “grab trough” all along the top of the hardtop. Your fingers fall naturally into the trough and you feel secure walking along the sides. Up front we find a large sun pad fully equipped with drink holders and a folding backrest. At the business end of the bow, we find a Lewmar windlass with a remote control instead of the traditional foot switches. All these essentials are concealed under a hatch. Next to the windlass there is an access hatch to the chain locker. Anchoring duties look straight forward, and the bow has a nice clean look to it with the cover and absent the foot switches. Our Gran Turismo includes a sunbathing mattress with ratcheting backrests and a flip-up mini-Bimini top that pops directly from behind the lounger.
The GT41 is a two-cabin, single head layout with a pedestal queen berth forward and a mid-cabin that features a pair of single berths that slide together and convert into a double berth. Our GT had the Alpi grey walnut woodwork, brown oak laminated floors and a grey walnut table.
When entering the saloon, one passes the electrical panel on the port side and then lands in the main saloon and entertainment space. Across the starboard side is the galley with the head and separate shower just aft. Skylights and one opening port allow sunlight and fresh air to fill the galley and saloon living space. One window runs across the dinette/lower saloon area and another on the opposite side of the boat at the galley, allowing you to swing the ports open and enjoy a fresh breeze.
Access to the mid guest stateroom is aft and down a few steps and includes two single berths, a bedside table and panoramic windows. There are storage cabinets on the outboard sides of the cabin and a large storage drawer between the two berths.
The full beam forward master stateroom has the pedestal queen with large panoramic window views, as well as an opening deck hatch with a screen. There is plenty of storage on both sides of the berth as well as hanging lockers on both sides at the foot of the berth.
Having explored most of the boat it was now time to fire up our Volvo diesels and see if we can maneuver out of the marina. Today Clipper Yacht Harbor had the prevailing westerly wind helping push us down the fairway once we departed the slip. Maneuverability with the joystick made the bow thruster unnecessary, but nice to know it is there just in case. The amount of control with the outdrive joystick is amazing, but I will reserve final judgment until we come back in three hours when the afternoon winds have picked up and we will be in the middle of the ebb. Conditions like that always make docking at Clipper in tight quarters more interesting.
After we clear the minimum wake zone of Richardson Bay, I power up our GT41 to a sedate cruise of 18 knots and get a feel for the boat. You do notice immediately that the boat jumps on plane quickly even though I left the drive trim at 0 degrees and kept the trim tabs in the fully retracted position as we came on plane. Making a few trim adjustments for best speed at 2300 RPM the bow still felt a little high, but not enough to limit visibility. However, activating the automatic tabs settles the boat into an almost ideal pitch and efficiency. On our way to the Golden Gate, the fog is rolling in and once past Point Cavallo we can really feel the west wind and the current rips.
I bring the boat to a stop while the drone pilot prepares to launch and I get ready to make a few timed starts. Leaving the trim adjustments on automatic, in our first run we are on plane in less than six seconds and see our speed climbing past 28 knots in 12 seconds. We hit our WOT maximum speed of 38 knots in just under 16 seconds against the tide with the engines turning 3600 RPM. After several more tries I was not able to improve on those performance numbers.
Our GT tracks straight and true in the light chop of the Bay as I back the power off just a bit to 2800 RPM, dropping our speed to a comfortable fast cruise of 28 knots and bring the helm hard to left with just a single turn of the wheel. The GT leans into the turn just a smidgeon, turns smartly and carves a nice arc that looks to be around just two and half boat lengths in diameter. It appears the designers hit their mark with confidence inspiring performance and the Air Step hull is predictable. After making nearly a full circle, I snap the helm to hard right and we make another tight circle; the helm is just a bit over two turns from hard left to hard right. I centered the helm as we approach our own wake and sliced right through the three footers with just a few bounces and a rocksteady track. Now that the water is churned up a bit, we head into Racoon Straits for some calmer water.
With a few more timed runs and some still beauty shots around Angel Island, we start heading back towards Richardson Bay cruising past the Corinthian Yacht Club, just having fun on this beautiful San Francisco spring morning.
Back to Clipper, the winds are now westerly past 15 knots and we are near max ebb making docking just a bit more challenging. As expected, the combination of the joystick and bow thruster made docking in these adverse conditions manageable and drama free around the docks. It will not take a new boat operator long to be comfortable docking and undocking in less-than-ideal conditions. Volvo virtually invented the joystick for recreational boating with more boat builders offering the Volvo system as an option. The sterndrive joystick builds on existing Volvo IPS technology to control individual Volvo DPS drives in a twin sterndrive application. The system makes docking and close-quarter maneuvering safer and easier, and I would guess that it also makes these yachts worth more when it comes time to sell.
Secure in our berth it is time for me to wrap up this morning of fun. A special thank you to Nick Deuyour of Denison Yachts who runs the new Sausalito office located at the KKMI boat yard.
According to Beneteau, factory performance numbers, the standard power Volvo D4-300 puts you at a cruise in the range of 23 knots and a top-end of about 33 knots. Looking back at my review of the GT38 10 years ago and comparing performance, the new GT 41 is three feet longer, over a half a foot wider and 1,000 pounds heavier (mostly due to the weight of the larger engines.) With our optional Volvo D6-380’s she goes faster and with similar fuel economy. Back in 2013 the GT38 with Volvo D4-300’s topped out at 33.5 kts burning 30 GPH total and WOT of 3500 RPM, approx. 1.1 NM/G. Thank you Volvo for the extra four knots and thank you Beneteau for the increased cabin space in our 2023 GT41.
In the market for a mid-size sport cruiser? You deserve to take a closer look at the Beneteau Gran Turismo 41 or any of her siblings, the GT32, GT36 or the GT45. She represents the latest in Gran Turismo technology and is a cutting-edge sophisticated sport yacht.
Call Nick at Denison Yachts in Sausalito to arrange for your private sea trial.