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Boats

Fairline Squadron 66

Fairline Squadron 66 By Richard Thiel — June 2006

The Velvet Hammer

Can a 66-footer that comes with her own china and crystal be a great sea boat?

   
Courtesy of Fairline Boats N.A.
 More of this Feature

• Fairline Squadron 66
• Fairline Squadron 66 Part 2
• Fairline Squadron 66 Specs
• Fairline Squadron 66 Deck Plan
• Fairline Squadron 66 Acceleration Curve
• Fairline Squadron 66 Photo Gallery

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When a PMY editor tests a boat, he or she is supposed to approach it with an open, unbiased mind. Of course, this is impossible. Being human, we can’t avoid preconceptions. Every time we step aboard, we take along our notebooks, measuring tapes, inclinometers, dB meters—and yes, our baggage, which we try our best to ignore.

My wring-out of the Fairline 66 Squadron was like that. Before I boarded her in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I’d been aboard her in Southampton, England, and was impressed by her luxurious interior. Before that, I’d driven a number of Fairlines, including the cushy 43 Phantom PMY had for a summer. Before that I’d been to the factory in Oundle, England, and seen how Fairline lays up its hulls and finishes its joinery.

But a different impression resulted from a conversation I had with Fairline product manager Alan Masters at the 2006 Miami International Boat Show. Learning I was about to test the boat he helped create, he offered to send me Fairline’s own test results: speeds, fuel consumption, and sound readings. This is rare. If I ever get factory numbers, it’s usually after my test, and usually because someone wasn’t entirely satisfied with the outcome. When the document arrived and I realized I’d be at the wheel of a luxurious, 80,000-pounder that topped out around 38 knots, I had a feeling my experience would be different from all the others.

As it turned out, the top speed I got on test day was about 2 knots shy of what Masters and his team got during their evaluation, and yet I was anything but chagrined. Our 66 planed without hesitation, never pounded on any heading, knocked down every hint of spray, and heeled into full-throttle turns like a 30-foot sportboat. Quiet and comfortable, she was also brutally effective at squashing the three-footers like so much roadkill. This hull is so good at slicing and dicing, in fact, you forget you’ve got four staterooms and three heads underneath you. No wonder that despite her standard two-berth crew quarters abaft the engine room—but without direct access to it—the 66 was designed to be run by a couple.

Credit for all those knots goes partly to optional 1,550-hp Caterpillar C30s, which of course don’t come cheap: 175 gph at full roar. But there’s another cost: They’re big—even for an engine room of this size. You must lay over them to add coolant to the outboard reservoirs, the air-conditioning compressors are buried beneath them in the forward corners, and I never saw the raw-water pumps, much less reached them, because the engines are so close to the forward bulkhead. I liked the engine-mounted auxiliary instrument panels, but they’re at thigh level, and with just over a foot between the engines, you can’t even squat down to read them.

Yet the engine room is well insulated, including the outboard fuel tanks (so I couldn’t tell if there were access plates, but there were definitely no sight gauges), it has an effective 24-volt fan system and 6'3" headroom, and its Racors and clear-top seawater strainers are clustered aft where you can quickly check them. So is the 27-kW Onan genset, right under the 24-volt breaker panel. It’s just that the Cats are big. Standard 1,100-hp V-10 MANs are shorter, but also wider.

Anyway, while your mechanic’s tending to business down there, you can launch your PWC from the garage (also available as a utility room), launch your 10-foot RIB from the bridge using the standard davit, or just hang off the two-foot-deep teak swim platform, which is part of the running bottom and so provides extra lift for better planing. Or maybe you’ll want to lounge around the ten-foot-deep teak (standard) cockpit, which is covered by the very cantilevered bridge overhang that holds your RIB. If it’s really nice, you could stroll up the well-bulkwarked, 13-inch-wide side decks (teak optional) and lay out on the standard foredeck sunpad. Don’t worry if it’s a little rough; it’s surrounded by a beefy stainless steel rail. In fact, if anyone ever tells you to get a grip on this boat, you won’t have to go far. There are grabrails everywhere, outside (including a big circular one outside the saloon-cockpit door) and in, and God bless Fairline for it.


Next page > Fairline Squadron 66: Part 2 > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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