Fire and ice

Mark Rothfield | VOLUME 21, ISSUE 3

It could be straight out of a James Bond movie. Pershing’s new 62 has the red hot performance of an F1 racer, cloaked in the oh-so-cool styling of a an exotic sports car. And it even has a secret guest cabin…

If there was a defining moment in the recent Winter Olympics, high in the Italian Alps, it came during the opening ceremony when an F1 sportscar rolled onto the rink, growled its engine then smoked the tyres with joyous abandon.

Though more reminiscent of a scene from Canberra’s annual Summer Nats, it was also pure Italian; a proclamation of the passion that pulses in the Ferrari-red blood of every Latino. For me, it also defined the new Pershing 62, Europe’s 2005 powerboat of the year. Here is 19 metres of unadulterated Italian comfort, style and performance. Fire and ice…

The windswept lines signal the Pershing’s intention, even at a standstill, as they mould and meld harmoniously together. The raked transom meets an upswinging gunwale then greets the sculptured superstructure; a triumph of curves and darkened glass. Italian designers occasionally get it horribly wrong, but Pershing has got it handsomely right.

The vessel is as tall as it is wide – 5 metres – yet a black stripe disguises the topside height, while platinum silver for the cabin, deck and hull boldly set it apart from the white brigade.

Inside you find the sumptuous comforts of a pocket superyacht. Heart and soul of the Pershing, however, are two V12 1550hp MAN diesels and the accompanying Arneson surface drives. Displacement, fully-laden, is 35 tonnes, while maximum velocity is a breathtaking 47 knots!

She’s not for the faint-hearted, but nor for the hoon. Conspicuously absent is the thunder of turbo-charged, common-rail injected stallions… all 3100 of them. Rather, it is blissfully quiet throughout its stunning performance range. There are no wheel-spinning or wave-leaping antics; just cool, calm, athletic efficiency.

Forty-plus knots was made to look ridiculous on the relative calm of Sydney Harbour. It honestly felt like we doing no more than 20.

SILENT RUNNING

At the helm for our speed run was Rohan McJannet, CEO of Pershing agent Yachting Unlimited. On my tape recorder, he can be heard calling the speeds: “32 knots, 35, flaps up, 38, keep an eye out guys, 1900rpm, 40 knots and climbing”. There is no rise in background noise. He could be standing in the National Library, rather than cocooned in the cabin of a thoroughbred sports yacht.

Trimming the Arnesons sees 2150 revs and 43 knots on the GPS …at 2360 came 47 knots, the trailing rooster tail telling the story. A turn at 40 knots excited even more spray, but there was little lateral force applied to passengers; useful to know if a hapless kayaker strays across the Pershing’s flightpath.

The Arneson drives are one reason it’s so quiet. Consider the rooster tail – on a shaft-driven hull that maelstrom would be hitting the underbelly. They also explain the efficiency, for the drive angle is relatively straight and there’s minimal drag.

Coastal hops would be over before you know it. Then, in the blink of an anchor, the Pershing exchanges its devilish cloak for a dinner suit and white gloves.

The interior plan was apparently inspired by a new company philosophy, the “Family Concept”, but I can’t quite grasp it. It’s far too good for my kids – I see it as a boat for the young, savvy and successful to unwind in and entertain on.

Starting aft, there’s a vast boarding platform, with a hideaway hydraulic swim ladder. Concealed within the transom hatchback is a Nautica RIB tender, which is craned by the passarelle. Coming aboard, you notice a 1200-watt electric winch to make light work of berthing.

It’s not the biggest cockpit, but it has a major league sunpad at the rear. Again, at the touch of a switch, this converts into a huge drop-leaf dinette table. To port, isolated for privacy, is the entry to the crew cabin. A six-step ladder disappears into the basement, giving some clue to the hull’s inherent depth, and here you find a washer/dryer, shower and head, plus a single berth.

The aft cabin window hinges upwards to seamlessly bridge the transition from cockpit to saloon. Your eyes immediately rest on soft Italian leather, with curved settees sweeping across either side of the saloon. I’d like to have seen more handrails, as only the pedestal-mounted table to port would provide support.

CONTROL CENTRAL

Sunlight floods in through the tinted side windows, one-piece windscreen and sunroof, inexorably drawing you like a moth towards the central helm station. It’s no mere coincidence, this placement – there are practical considerations, like a circumambient view, but essentially the solo helm says, “I am captain, I am king… And at 47 knots, I’d better concentrate”.

The driver is rewarded with a carbon fibre dash, electrically-adjusted helm seat, Raymarine E-120 screen, engine management gauges, autopilot, toggles for trim tabs and Arneson drives and stylish throttles that can be synchronised or operated independently.

Passengers can view the action from two seats set to starboard, one of those being a sunlounge. Piece de resistance, though, is a large, commercial-grade LCD screen that surreptitiously rises from behind the starboard settee and serves as a repeater for the chart, radar or sounder displays. Basking on the sunpad, one may idly wonder how fast the boat is going or where you are, and the information is displayed in big print, like with an aircraft. Tire of that and you can watch Foxtel, a DVD or digital TV.

Four steps down from the saloon, passing the stereo nerve centre en route, is the mezzanine-level dinette and galley (deeper still is the master cab). This area enjoys about two metres of headroom and ample beam.

The dinette is to port, its burnt orange upholstery serving as a foil for the modern cream panelling with dark timber strips, glossy pear wood cabinetry and polished teak flooring. Opposite is the galley, fully concealed as per trendy inner-city apartments.

Lift the lids to reveal a four-burner ceramic cooktop, sink, microwave, dishwasher and upright fridge/freezer (large enough for a few days’ cruising, no more). Being a performance boat, the crockery and crystalware are cradled individually on racks.

The vee cabin is a vision in white, with twin single berths and drawers beneath the bed base. Topside ports afford water views and there are six halogen lights plus mood lighting. The ensuite is quite spacious and impressively appointed – it serves as the day loo as well.

Amidships, a further two steps down, is the master stateroom, taking full advantage of centre of gravity and width. We’re talking a queen-sized double berth, offset at 45 degrees to minimise intrusion, with a dressing table/desk, inbuilt safe, and an LCD screen and customised audio. Spending this sort of money you demand comfort, so the bed base tilts electrically to a height tailored to the owner’s wishes.

CLEVER CONTROLLER

After-market add-ons can help make a good boat an exceptional one, and such is the case with the Crestron automation system fitted to the Pershing 62.

It comprises a ‘floating’ touch-screen tablet to control the electrical systems, such as entertainment, lights, air-conditioning and bedtilt. Yachting Unlimited believes it’s a first for a production boat in Australia – only custom-built superyachts have similar arrangements.

As you move through the boat, the screen automatically displays a photo of the relevant room. At the touch of a button you can select iPod, audio jukebox, tuner, or TV – when you select an audio source the video screen automatically lowers. The overhead speakers are designed to blend in precisely with the halogen lights.

It comes with a mouse and keyboard that allow guests to surf the net, with a secure wireless network ensuring privacy. Yachting Unlimited has the details.

CLANDESTINE CABIN

All terribly impressive. But the Pershing has one more secret to divulge – a clandestine cabin for guests. The saloon settee opens to reveal the hidden passageway and McJannet says Italian maritime authorities failed to discover it when they performed a random inspection.

“When you’re away with friends for a couple of days, you naturally crave some privacy,” he says. “The idea is to separate guests, give them a fantastic environment with their own space and bathroom.”

It’s certainly no after-thought, nor do you feel locked in the dungeon. Guests get their own electric bed, ensuite, robe, independent Foxtel decoder, DVD, MP3 on a custom Onkyo sound system, reverse cycle air-conditioning and an overall feeling of airiness from topside portholes.

It’s another example of looks being deceiving on this boat. Such is its balance, the 62 appears smaller on the water than it is. The aesthetics are backed up by practicality – the foredeck, for example, is cambered inwards to provide secure footing, not tilt you overboard, and handholds are moulded imperceptibly into the cabin moulding.

Many of the attributes are concessions to speed. In the bow resides another Pershing innovation; an airbag for the anchor chain. On high-speed offshore voyages, the repetitive pounding can shake the chain into a tangled ball, making it difficult to release in an emergency. The airbag compresses to hold it in place, reducing the incidences of fouling and eliminating the cursed rattle.

To withstand the high-speed impacts below the waterline and bolster the power-to-weight ratio, kevlar and carbon fibre are woven into the fibreglass laminate. Offsetting this weight saving to an extent are the 1550s; top dogs in MAN’s range, which reside in a sub-cockpit engineroom boasting standing headroom.

FURTHER AND FASTER

For such a large hull, it’s surprisingly trim-responsive. By tilting the Arnesons like sterndrives, it’s possible to go further and faster on less fuel. With legs down at 28 knots we were burning 175 litres per side; correctly trimmed and without touching the throttle, speed rose to 29 knots for 164 litres per side (saving 22 litres, or about $40 per hour). Through 1800rpm, fuel usage rose to 400 litres in total for 33 knots – Arnesons and tabs up saw 34 knots and 376 litres, plus a bonus 70rpm.

While the props work on the cavitation principle, they never break free in turns, providing they’re trimmed down. There is no struggling out of the hole; just instant planing and, in moments, you’re doing 25 knots. Close-in manoeuvring presented no concerns either, thanks to fore and aft thrusters.

Anyone with general boating experience could drive the Pershing, negating a professional skipper. Polishing and cleaning would be the only chore worth paying for, especially since encrusted salt will show on the silver and black gelcoat.

Yachting Unlimited performs monthly systems inspections and employs MAN engineers to check the engines and gearboxes, thus maintaining the five-year warranty (400 hours of parts and labour are included). If owners have difficulties while cruising, a rapid-response team can fly to the boat.

Price of the demonstration model, ‘06 badged but with 70 hours clocked, is $4.1million. As a showcase for Yachting Unlimited’s mechanical and electrical skills, no effort was spared; indeed, it took three months to design and install the accessories once the craft arrived.

Who will buy it? I dare say the demographic will be a bit younger and perhaps more daring than the Sunseeker/Princess set because the Pershing is more avant-garde in its presentation and persona. At the same time, it benefits from all the design and build resources that parent company, Ferretti can confer.

Alpha males will thrill to the performance. Let’s be honest though – husbands may buy boats, but women choose them. There is more than enough in the 62 to keep the lady of the boat in raptures as well.

SPECIFICATIONS PERSHING 62

LOA: 18.90m

Beam: 5.0m

Draft: 1.25m

Displacement: 29.8 tonnes (unladen)

2 × MAN 1550hp (1140kW) V12 diesels

Power: Fuel: 3500 litres

Water: 900 litres (plus watermaker)

Cabins: 3 + crew, all with ensuites

Price: $4.1 million

Agent: Yachting Unlimited, Suite 66, Jones Bay Wharf, Pyrmont 2009. Phone (02) 9566 2628, www.yachtingunlimited.com.


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Boat Test
Cruiser
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