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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Hatteras 60GT Convertible

The twin-engine Embraer turboprop I was aboard slid and skipped along the flag-stiffening breeze like a boat that was being beaten by breaking seas. The approach to the Bahamas' Marsh Harbour—and the end of this interesting voyage across from West Palm Beach, Florida—was in sight, but it wouldn't be my last tangle with this blowhard of a wind. However, the next time we'd meet, the vehicle under my feet would push back with a vengeance.

I made my way to the dock at Abaco Beach Resort and took in a sad sight. The east-northeasterly blow was so bad that the Bertram, Hatteras, Viking, and custom-built battlewagons all lined up to fish day two of the Big Four billfish tournament were huddled in their slips. This was no weekend-warrior event, either; these were all top-gun teams representing the biggest and baddest. And it was Hatteras' newly designed, resin-infused 60GT Convertible battlewagon that I was here to see.

I've never been one to back off if bad weather arrives on test day, and neither is this builder. Hatteras marketing director David Ritchie, Capt. Dave Fields, and I decided that if we couldn't fish, we might as well see how our test boat, which was designed for the hardcore fisherman, handled equally hardcore conditions. This was going to get fun.

As we exited the marina, the wind was puffing 30 to 35 knots, causing the protected waters to kick up into four to five feet of steep, nasty, go-back-to-the-dock-and-watch-TV chop. The three of us just smiled as Fields called out that he was going to run the 60 for a bit to get to some deeper water for our speed trials. Twenty-three, 30.3, and then 37 mph, the 60 sped along as the optional twin 1,800-bhp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels hummed happily inside her hull until she reached a 2000-rpm cruise speed of 41.7 mph. Based on a full 1,800-gallon complement of fuel, this vessel can make a 582-mile run at this speed while consuming 116 gph. I was truly dropjawed, which wasn't the best idea, as the equally forceful wind managed to fastball spray over the expansive flared bow and right up into my face. (This 60 had a completely open bridge; may I suggest you get yours with a full enclosure?) Ritchie and Fields had a good chuckle at my salty-faced expense, but it was refreshing. Even more refreshing was when Fields put the Caterpillar single-lever controls to the pins and the 39x64 five-blade Veem wheels ate up the choppy white water, propelling the 60 to an average hair-straightening top hop of 48.6 mph—the fastest Hatteras ever. Of course, this will cost you 190 gph. However, her large fuel capacity enables a 414-mile range at this speed. Even more important, this high-freeboard behemoth moved along in utter defiance of the elements she was facing. There was no bang, slam, or even a stutter—ever.

The 60's easy-riding, solid-fiberglass bottom is similar to the successful convex, variable-deadrise hull of the builder's popular 54 Convertible, which debuted four years ago and features a sharp entry, about 20 degrees of deadrise amidships, and a flat, two-degree aft section. But according to Bruce Angel, Hatteras' vice president of product development and engineering, the 60's hull bottom also takes advantage of the lightweight build that the resin-infusion process offers. This system, which Hatteras recently added to its manufacturing process, involves the fiberglass being held in position on the mold's surface via a vacuum, all of which is in a sealed plastic bag. Resin is introduced into this closed system in a controlled manner. The result is a low-emission, clean lay-up. It also maximizes the glass-to-resin ratio and minimizes the voids and inconsistency that can be found in a hand-laid hull. By example, the glass-to-resin ratio on the 60's hull was around 60:40, where as it would be the other way around if the hull had been hand-laid, according to Angel.

This technique saved the builder 5,000 pounds of weight, and the savings directly affects bottom loading, which Angel says was a major factor in this boat's speedy nature. To explain bottom loading, let's say a boat's running surface was 100 square feet and the displacement of that surface was 1,000 pounds. The result would be ten pounds of load per square foot of bottom. So if you could shave 100 pounds of that displacement for the same size area, the bottom load becomes nine pounds per square foot, which means you need less hull structure. Now when the 60 is honkin' with a minimal amount of hull surface in the water at high-end speeds, she is lighter than her hand-laid predecessors and therefore has a lower bottom load. According to Angel, my test vessel has the lowest bottom loading of any Hatteras built to date. And because the hull is resin-infused, she's even stronger. (To even further reduce weight and enhance the vessel's toughness, the builder used PVC foam core in the hull sides and superstructure.)

The 60's nimble, too. During my wheel time, her Hynautic hydraulic, power-assisted steering was fingertip-responsive, and the boat rode like she was on rails. In addition, the Twin Disc Quickshift transmission's deep 2.48:1 reduction was deliberate and real time during shifting and spinning those massive Veem wheels. It makes sense that her hardware would be as overbuilt as her hull. She's a fine specimen of a sportfisherman, indeed.

However, that doesn't mean she's lacking niceties: a standard 42-inch plasma TV in the cherrywood-accented saloon, Cruisair air conditioning blasting from the decorative and subtle overhead valances, a comfy master stateroom, two guest staterooms, and two heads with top-of-the-line Headhunter MSDs. She's fishy with 60-inch-long big-eye-capable cockpit fishboxes, deep-freeze bait stowage under shady standard mezzanine seating, an optional PipeWelders tower, and enough food stowage for a crew to hit the tournament trail for quite a while. Heck, the amount of food I saw in the optional flying-bridge freezer alone was enough to keep a crew happy for a month.

The most telling part of my time in the Bahamas with the 60 came during a dinner when I saw some helicopter footage of the tournament boats heading out in the rough stuff on day one. There was the 60, out in front, taking the ever-swelling sea to task and busting through like a silverback knocking down the forest. She never looked back because she knew no one was there to see. If you like to be out in front of the rest of the pack, Hatteras has an 85,000-pound gorilla of a battlewagon ready to put you there.

For more information on Hatteras, including contact information, click here.

The choice is yours. Hatteras Yachts has put together a vessel that is about customization and therefore offers four layout options for your 60GT. You can run her as lean as the more traditional three-stateroom, two-head vessel we tested (first layout at right) or as busy as the four-stateroom, three-head setup (next to last layout). This kind of choice goes hand in hand with other options such as interior woods. Teak? Anigre? Maple? Cherry? Yes, you can have those and many others. Aside from moving bulkheads, this builder offers a fair amount of interior customization for its owners.—P.S.

This article originally appeared in the August 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.