Let’s start with the most enticing part of the new entry-level Bénéteau Barracuda 6 and that’s the price. We talk about entry-level boats a lot but the Barracuda 6 is a true starter boat, designed to get families out on the water on a brand new craft for as little cash as possible.
How little cash exactly? Our test boat came in at €33,740 including VAT. That, at the time of writing, is a smidgen under £30,000 for a boat with a 115hp 4-stroke outboard and all the basic amenities you need for a day out on the water.
You can’t expect to pay that little for a boat and find it drowning in creature comforts and there’s no doubt that the Barracuda 6, in the spec we tested it in, looked and felt pretty sparse. It had no doors on the wheelhouse, just some canvases that rolled up when not in use, no cockpit seating and a couple of thinly padded perches inside the wheelhouse for two people to lean against.
The cuddy has space to shelter, a smattering of storage voids beneath thin PVC mattresses, a porthole (optional, €190), a marine toilet and that’s it. It’s not exactly luxurious but just look at the price!
There are options to make life on board more comfortable, like a pair of proper pilot seats for the wheelhouse, folding bench seats in the cockpit and a slot-in cockpit table for picnics. A 49-litre fridge in the wheelhouse offers some chilled space for the day’s supplies and though the cuddy isn’t a place to sleep, it does mean you can sling all of your kit into a spacious, dry storage void.
The test boat was specified with fishing in mind so it had rod holders atop the wheelhouse and in the bulwarks, plus a bait prep board over the transom – the wipe-clean nature of the boat does lend itself to being used as a fishing platform. Most would spec the flip-down seating though, to create a sociable seating area in the cockpit for those on board to enjoy the sun.
The wheelhouse has an open back and side access with no doors as standard but you can either spec the canvas doors that this boat had or proper doors if you want more protection. Unless you plan on heading out regularly in winter, the canvas doors seem a good compromise that offer reasonable protection but ensure the wheelhouse still feels very open.
The wheelhouse itself is set to port with asymmetric decks, allowing for a generous walkway to starboard but no way of getting down the port side of the boat. The starboard deck leads to a stubby bow, broad enough to make handling lines or the anchor as easy as possible. There is a small forward-facing bench too, which allows a couple to enjoy the view on anchor or at displacement speeds.
What the upright dash lacks in finesse and glare-reducing materials it makes up for in functionality, and the view from the helm is excellent. The open wheelhouse and slender mullions ensure there are very few blind spots, and quick access to that starboard deck makes single-handed crewing a breeze.
We had the middle option of a 115hp Suzuki outboard but you can have a 90hp or 140hp. I would recommend the latter as the 115hp felt laboured and made noisy work of getting us up to a top speed of 27 knots. At the top end, the engine became ‘boomy’, a side effect most likely of the hooded transom acting as an echo chamber.
For regular coastal work, the 140’s extra grunt will be necessary and should hopefully help the 6 on to the plane a little quicker than the 115 could.
The handling isn’t particularly engaging but the boat turns tidily enough and it’s well weighted, so there isn’t the need to make constant minor adjustments at the wheel. And despite only being 21ft 4in (6.5m) long, the Barracuda handled our choppy test conditions admirably.
It wasn’t carving through the crests with the grace of a Cormate or a Goldfish, but it stood its ground and would look after you and your family if it did kick up in the afternoon.
It’s easy to be critical of the Barracuda 6 with its potting shed looks and basic fit-out, but it fills a crucial void in the new boat market for low-cost products that allow people to get into boating for a sensible sum of money, turn the key and go.
Contact See Bénéteau website for dealers. Web: www.beneteau.com
It lacks grace and needs to have the right spec but for the price, it’s hard to complain