Absolute 64By Capt. Richard Thiel
Aboard Absolute’s newest sport yacht, the compromises are few and well-considered.
The first time I heard there was a new boat company called Absolute, I got it. Or I thought I did. Unfortunately I’d conflated the name with that of the vodka, failing to notice the elided “e”. (I don’t drink vodka.) Still, the mental images of slim, sleek, jet-setters clad in trendy black and lounging somewhere in the South of France remained. Perfect for an Italian yacht! But then I thought about it some more and decided maybe it wasn’t such a great name for a boat after all. After all, the term’s primary meaning is “not qualified or diminished in any way; limitless.” That sets a pretty high bar for boatbuilding, where compromise is not a dirty word but an admission of the genre’s spatial restrictions.
I was still ambivalent when I first saw the Absolute 64, one of two boats the builder introduced in 2010 and the second-largest boat in the lineup, after the 70. I knew there had to be trade-offs here; the only questions were how many and how well they had been executed.
In external appearance I could see none. The 64’s proportions are nearly perfectly balanced, an accomplishment abetted by the absence of a flying bridge, which reduces top hamper and yields the unmarred sleekness of an artillery shell. Well, almost unmarred. The busy fins on either side of her roof appear to perform no function other than providing a place to mount the running lights. On the other hand, the sleek winged radar arch is a nice accent, and the saloon window treatment is one of the most pleasing I’ve seen. Likewise the horizontally divided hull-side windows.
The 64’s focus on the sun was equally obvious. There are sunpads fore and aft—big ones that can each accommodate four adults. The forward one blends into a curved benchseat and bi-fold teak cocktail table, and its aftersections tilt to morph it into a chaise. The aft pad is, if anything, bigger and covers the garage beneath. It also blends into a seat, a cockpit bench that’s partially shaded by the overhang above, faces an expandable teak cockpit table, and is one segment of a large U-shape settee. An extendable awning above offers full shade, which you’ll appreciate if you want to watch the optional retractable LCD TV to port. Three skylights in the overhang ensure this area will always have plenty of light, be it from the sun or moon. Standard teak decking ensures safe passage among all the main-deck areas, but alas, the only way you can get to the starboard side deck from the cockpit is to climb over the lounge or go the long way, via the swim platform. Teak extends down to the standard hydraulic swim platform and inside (though with a smoother matte finish), all the way to the helm.
Yet more sun is available inside if you open the standard sunroof over the saloon, although light is in abundance here without it. Besides the fact that the sunroof is basically all glass (heavily tinted), the big two-panel windshield, floor-to-ceiling side windows, and all-glass aft bulkhead, make the main deck brighter than the average greenhouse. The combination of an essentially level sole from the helm all the way out through the cockpit and an unusually wide aft sliding glass door effectively erases the boundaries between outside and inside.
The starboard helm hints at Absolute’s focus on performance. Sightlines are excellent all around—aft included—and a deep outboard window at the helm eliminates what is often a blind spot on other performance boats. Blocky but oh-so-comfortable leather helm seats promise to take the fatigue out of long passages, but should you get the urge to stretch your legs, their bottoms fold up to create bolsters—not a unique feature but uncommonly well designed here so that both standing and sitting offer equally good positions.
A pedestal panel containing two standard Raymarine E120s and two smaller Volvo engine monitors puts everything in easy view. There are five fiberglass modules beneath it. On this boat the wheel was in the center, but you can have it in any module. (I’d have it in the second from the left and use the left-hand seat as the helm seat, as that would put the steering station nearly on the centerline.)
Part of the focus on performance is the company’s total commitment to IPS; no other power is offered. My boat was equipped with four 435-hp IPS600s; twin 850-hp IPS1200s are also available. I suspect the twins will produce about the same performance numbers and they’ll certainly offer greater mechanical simplicity. I can’t imagine helm response could be any better—this is one of the better multiple-IPS boats I’ve run. Both helm response and acceleration are strong, a top speed of 38.5 mph is plenty, and fuel efficiency, which hovered around 0.5 mpg for most of the mid-range, is on par with similar pod-drive boats. A fuel capacity of 795 gallons provides all the range anyone could want, even at WOT—313 miles.
Some may consider the 64’s galley-down arrangement to be a compromise, but it is the price you pay for that spacious main deck. And besides, the space is unusually bright since it’s open to the windshield above. While compact, the galley has all of the necessities: a four-burner cooktop, large fridge, microwave oven, and even a dishwasher, all by Bosch.
I suppose you could also say that Absolute compromised on the accommodations—theoretically it could have squeezed in four cabins. But unless you’ve got a passel of kids, the three-cabin layout is so much more civilized. Both the full-beam master and forepeak VIP have queen-size beds, 6'4" headroom, en suite facilities with enclosed showers, and hull-side windows. Even the twin-bed guest stateroom to starboard has its own head with enclosed shower. And if your annoying Uncle George invites himself for a weekend, you can stow him in the tiny crew quarters/lazarette, forward of the engine space.
Which brings us to where Absolute did compromise. The engine room is tight. You can get to everything if you’re svelte and agile, and access panels in the garage should ease major work. (The two-IPS version should have better accessibility.) But really, any boat under 80 feet with a garage has to compromise on aft space, and IPS makes this trade-off relatively painless.
Admittedly, garages have fallen out of vogue, but without one the 64 would not be nearly so sleek and uncluttered (except for those roof fins). Is a little loss of engine-room accessibility worth the gain in pulchritude? Absolutely.
This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.