The Fairline marque was born 32 years ago when an English entrepreneur, Jack Newington, acquired a converted lifeboat to pursue his hobby of cruising England's rivers in his approaching retirement. Finding he had nowhere to moor the craft, he decided to create his own marina in a series of disused gravel pits close to the River Nene, north-west of Cambridge. With the development came a small chandlery, a small hire fleet, and a boat repair and fit-out shop. The hobby business developed into what is now today's Fairline marque that consists of the Targa, Phantom and the top of the range Squadron.

The Squadron 52

Although the 52 is the smallest in the Squadron range it shares the same hull as the 55, but is designed around an expansive two cabin layout. Its not a boat for a young family and is designed to appeal to an owner who requires fewer berths, but still wants the comfort and facilities of a much bigger boat. However, the boat can be configured to sleep up to eight people with two in the aft crew cabin and another two bunks in the utility room off the galley.

The 52 comes in a pilot house configuration, but the overall layout is open and airy, and gives the main cabin the feel of a much bigger boat. The saloon is perfect for entertaining. The dining area has a circular, leather settee set on a mezzanine floor behind the impressive lower helm station. Down two steps, illuminated by hidden lighting, is the lounge area. The U-shaped settee around the small cocktail table, in contrast to the dining area, has a suede fabric finish that doesn't show finger marks when brushed against the pile.

The lower helm station resembles the cockpit of an aeroplane. As the brochure says, "welcome to the flight deck". Everything is flush-mounted in the console that virtually wraps around the driver including all the switches, switchboard, radio, the Raytheon radar and plotter screens and engine instruments neatly arranged.

A unique feature is the centre-line driving position with the passenger chair on the starboard side in a co-pilot's position right in front of the engine controls. The leather chairs are just luxurious. They are more than seats and just like a luxury motor car they can be adjusted to suit individual butts electronically. An airline pilot would feel right at home here.
The driving position is set well back from the windows to reduce glare with all the controls including the bowthruster joystick and windlass controls in easy reach. The galley is sunk below the main deck on the portside and has everything that opens and shuts, as expected in a galley on a boat of this style. An innovative touch is the cooktop range hood that stows away out of sight at the touch of a button when not in use.

A nice styling feature is the balustrade that stops people falling into the galley as they make their way below down the companionway to the sleeping accommodation. It replaces the solid wooden partition on previous Squadrons. And before we leave the main saloon and head up top to the flybridge, a peak inside the owner's cabin is a must. It is positioned amidships and is stunning. Many bigger boat owners would envy this one. From the large double-berth, that is not so high you need a pole to vault into it, to the entertainment unit and the cavernous full-height wardrobe. The en suite bathroom is also huge with a very large shower stall, toilet, hand basin and, yes, a bidet. All resplendent with gold- trimmed taps and fittings. The fittings on the solid wood doors come from Mandelli.

The guests have not been forgotten either. They have their own quarters in the bow. The cabin would also rival many owner's cabins on other craft. In fact, it is a stateroom with private access to the large second toilet and shower.
The entertainment facilities continue up on the flybridge with its layout around an oval table and lounge with a cooler, barbecue griddle and sink, which saves having to duck down below to the galley to fetch more food or that extra bottle of wine. And then there are the blue lights in the cockpit that can set the mood as guests arrive. Just tell the guests to "look for the blue lights". The boat would be hard to miss in a marina.

A handy option is the remote control station on the port side of the aft cockpit. It makes stern-in docking a breeze, however, the skipper can't see the bow from this position and there is a different perception of where the bow is, so there needs to be someone handling the lines up front who knows what they are doing. The bow can get out of shape very quickly in an exposed marina and if the boat is being backed into a pen with piles or close to another boat, it could hit and cause some damage. This option is a nice-to-have, but it is not really needed. The overall view from the flybridge is excellent, and most people would prefer to manoeuvre the boat from up top.

The 52 can be powered with a number of engine options that include the Volvo D12 EDC diesel 700hp and a Caterpillar 319 diesel 669hp. Factory testing has achieved a top speed of 34 knots with the Volvo D12 and 32 knots with the Caterpillar-engined version.

With the Cats there is a low idle facility that actually cuts the fuel flow off to three of the six cylinders so that the engine revs can be reduced from 700 to 550 for slow manoeuvring in and out of a marina or anchorage.

Length overall:16.2m (53ft 3in)
Beam:4.67m (15ft 4in)
Draught:1.12m (3ft 8in)
Berths:four to eight
Height above waterline:5.30m (17ft 5in)
Dry weight with Volvo TAMD 122P engines18,800kg (18.5tons)
Fuel capacity:2,182L (480gals)

The Phantom 38

The Phantom range sits between the Targa and the Squadron in the Fairline stable. The Phantom 38, like its larger sisters, has clean, simple and contemporary lines and is a balance between the luxurious and the practical. It has similar lines to the Squadron, but it is not as beefy and may not be as glamorous. Despite this, it is unmistakably Fairline and has the look of a boat with purpose.

The deep Vee hull with an 18 degree deadrise aft and full-length spray deflectors makes it easy to handle and gives it good seakeeping qualities. It is a boat that likes long-distance cruising and would not be seen at its full potential if only used for Saturday afternoon cruising on Sydney Harbour.

The Phantom 38 is also a pilot house design with a lower helm station. While most of the time will be spent up top on the flybridge, the lower helm station is easy to drive from with a good view over the bow. The flybridge helm position has a set of basic instruments set in a racing car style binnacle. There are two seats either side of the driver, each with a handle on the back for passengers to hang on to. A good idea, because up here one gets the feeling of standing tall.

The Phantom 38 shares the same entertainment design up top as the Squadron with the oval table and settee, but without the griddle, cooler and sink.

Docking from the flybridge is easy, although the skipper would have to ask the passengers in the copilot's seats to move, otherwise there could be a very friendly situation.

The Phantom 38 is also a great boat for entertaining guests and having fun, but in fewer numbers. The main saloon is finished in deep-lacquered cabinetry that comes in either American cherry or honey maple. There is an L-shaped settee to starboard with a pull out sofa bed and a two-seater settee and bar to port.

The whole area can be opened up with the anodised sliding patio doors to the aft deck.
The owner's cabin is forward with a central double-berth that comes with an upholstered bedhead, twin wardrobes, bedside lockers, a full-length mirror and a private door to the shower and toilet. Guests get a cabin with two single-berths.
Engine options include two Caterpillar and two Volvo diesels. Factory performance figures with twin Volvo TAMD diesel 63P, 370hp engines showed a top speed of between 29-32 knots. With the Caterpillar 3116 diesel 355hp engines a top-speed of 29 knots plus was achieved.

The Phantom 38 is a nice compact boat that drives like a bigger Squadron with the bow down and is easy to handle. It is an excellent boat for first timers in which to acquire the skills to handle a bigger boat like the Squadron 55.

Length overall:112.30m (40ft 4in)
Beam:3.82m (12ft 8in)
Draught:1.00m (3ft 3in)
Height above waterline:4.52m (14ft 10in)
Dry weight (approx)9,750kg (9.6tons)
Berths:four to six
Fuel capacity:910L (200gals)
Water capacity:500L (110gals)
The Targa 48

This is the flagship of the Targa fleet and, with its open cockpit design, garage for a PWC or tender and three-cabin accommodation, it can only be described as the ultimate entertainment craft.

The cockpit includes a U-shaped settee designed to seat eight, a bar complete with fridge, sink and optional electric barbecue griddle and drink holders in all the right places. A sun lounge is located over the garage, which lifts up at the touch of a button to reveal the tender stowage. Beside it is a transom gate that leads onto the teak swim platform with a ladder that, when underway, is concealed under a flush hatch next to the hot and cold shower. Virtually the whole of the foredeck also becomes a huge sun lounge.

Below there is a spacious owner's stateroom for'ard with a king-size bed, two full height hanging lockers, dressing table and full en suite facilities. This is complemented by two double-berth guest cabins aft. The main saloon makes no apologies for the fact that it is designed to entertain large parties. The semi-circular settee seats eight around an adjustable table and there are two stools that stow under the settee for a couple of extra diners. A bar and stereo come as standard and there is a cabinet for a TV and VCR.

The galley has sweeping worktops for food preparation and is a gourmet cook's delight with two-burner cooktop, oven and grill, two stainless steel sinks, a large fridge, extractor fan and lacquered wood cupboards.

The solid wood paneling is typically Fairline and gives the interior a warm feeling, and with only four oval portholes in the saloon it is very cosy. Although the whole boat is air- conditioned, much of the entertainment would take place on the upper deck and the main saloon would only be used in bad weather or at night and for formal dining.
The styling is similar to the smaller models except that the 48 has a new windscreen treatment and the extra length in the hull gives it a little more stability on the water. Although it would probably spend much of its time cruising in areas like Sydney Harbour, it still has a long-range cruising capability with its 1,363-litre fuel tank.

Power options include twin Caterpillar 3126 diesel 426hp engines, which give it a top speed of 33 knots or twin Volvo 74l or 74p EDC diesels, the Volvo 74Ps at 480hp each give it a top speed of 35 knots.

Length overall:15.20m (49ft 10.5in)
Beam:3.94m (12ft 11in)
Draught:1.00m (3ft 3in)
Height above waterline:3.25m (10ft 8in)
Dry weight (approx)11,176kg (11 tons)
Fuel capacity:1,363L (300gals)
Water capacity:454L (100gals)