The inside grabrails—I counted seven—are especially nice because they’re wrapped in dark leather with baseball stitching, a theme borrowed from the Squadron 74 that repeats throughout the boat, down to the master-stateroom reading lights. Even the galley and lower helm soles are leather. Combined with lots of beautiful dark cherry, it creates an effect somewhere between Park Avenue apartment and old-line yacht club—luxurious, comfortable, inviting. Adding to the feel are elegant light and plumbing fixtures, free-standing saloon furniture, and a single-level saloon. Unlike many builders, Fairline doesn’t use valence air conditioning outlets. Cool air for the saloon enters through two large circular vents—effective, but a bit more air noise.
The port-side galley, forward and across from an elegant dining table for six, is screened from the saloon by a slatted cherry divider and is way cool. It has high-end appliances, Avonite countertops available in a staggering choice of colors, a panographic door leading to the port-side deck, and an inboard island that provides workspace and cabinets for stuff like the standard china, flatware, and crystal. But the outboard cabinet, which holds the deep two-compartment sink (the smaller for the standard disposer) and four-burner cooktop caught my eye. It has two bamboo chopping blocks (see photo B, page 70) that slide along metal rails to cover whatever you’re not using or remove altogether. Talk about maximizing space.
Forward and up two steps is an L-shape shelf with two stools that provide a view out of the windshield and communication to the helmsman, who’s screened from the dining area by another cherry divider. I wondered about having stools instead of a settee but was told that Fairline fitted them because they proved so popular on the 74.
The helm is also reminiscent of other Fairlines, and that’s a compliment. There are excellent sightlines forward and a panel with good, clean, ergonomic design. Seating is on twin Recaros that adjusted more ways than my body could, and there’s enough space between and behind them so that one occupant can come or go without disturbing the other—something missing on a lot of competitive boats. I also liked the VDO analog gauges that also display digital information in a small window and so supplement the electronic engine readouts.
The flying bridge, accessed from the cockpit, sports those same gauges (but no Cat displays), even better sightlines, and to the helmsman’s left, a nifty double seat that folds flat to join a forward sunpad, creating what can only be described as a playpen that’s sheltered by a big, effective windshield/wind deflector. Those occupying areas abaft the helm can avail themselves of expansive circular seating, a barbecue, ,fridge, and sink.
The one thing missing from our bridge was a bimini top, and fitting one could, in my opinion, be a problem, because it would almost certainly mar the 66’s luscious lines. I admit, I liked the stares those lines generated as I returned the 66 to her slip. But I also took pleasure in what those admirers didn’t know: This beauty is also a brute.
Fairline Boats North America (954) 525-7430. www.fairline.com.
Spotlight on | Ipswitch
Fairlines are built in a series of factories located in and around Oundle, a picturesque but landlocked town about three hours northeast of London. It’s the town where the company began and provided a fine location until Fairline started building big, complex boats and shipping a lot of them out of the U.K. That’s when management decided it needed to have a facility on deep water where it could test and ship boats. After investing a passel of pounds a few years ago, it ended up with a test center located in Ipswitch, a couple of hours farther east and hard by the North Sea.
Today the facility performs two functions. One, all models over 60 feet and all models due for the United States are sent here for final check-out and preparation, prior to being delivered to a port for shipping as deck cargo. Key components such as radar arches that have been fitted at the factory are removed and wrapped securely to survive the trip when the boat makes the transatlantic trek as deck cargo on container ships.
The second function involves testing and evaluation of every Hull No. 1 by a team of engineers, who among other things do a complete performance workup, like the one Alan Masters sent me for the 66. Then the boat is sent back to Oundle along with a series of recommendations to be incorporated into full-production models. While the facility has its own crew, personnel from Oundle frequently make the short hop to be involved in the testing as needed.
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