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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Horizon E88

Sophisticated Lady

Conventionally styled and propelled, the Horizon E88 is out there in terms of technology.

I carry a pocket knife. Yeah, I usually carry an iPhone as well during my travels, and the ol’ get-gone kit also tends to include a rather cool little laptop. But my Case Medium Stockman (complete with harvest-orange bone handle) goes everywhere with me, including the boat-testing destinations I visit for PMY. I adhere to this time-honored practice even during an era of increasingly onerous airport security, incidentally. Flying from pillar to post with a radar gun these days typically means checking at least one bag. So I simply stow the Stockman in checked luggage and break it out once I get to where I’m going. A pocket knife, after all, can come in very handy on a boat.

If using a seemingly unrelated but decidedly traditional proclivity of mine to launch a test report on the new Horizon Yachts E88 Skylounge Motoryacht (E stands for Elegance, by the way) strikes you as just a tad strange, my reasoning’s simple enough. After spending just a day onboard this big Euro-styler, I’m convinced she’ll appeal almost exclusively to folks like me, folks who appreciate both the glories of cutting-edge technology and the charms and practicalities of tradition.

Let’s cover the traditional stuff first. Despite her whiz-bang attributes, the 88 is what boat-biz guys call a “simple straight-shot inboard.” Her engines—our test boat sported optional 1,700-mhp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs—were coupled into a set of 42-inch by 40-inch Hung Shen propellers via big ZF transmissions and Aquamet shafts. The running surface undergirding all of this was mainstream—no prop pockets with miniscule vibration-prone tip clearances and no pods, pod-related hull modifications, or other naval-architectural gadgetries below the waterline. Just a straightforward V-shape Patrol Boat-type hull with slight concavities on either side at the transom.

The performance this approach engendered was heartwarming. After recording test data on a relatively flat Lake Worth, not far from Horizon’s stateside offices in North Palm Beach, Florida, I took the 88 out for a coastal-Atlantic test spin. Her tracking was excellent. Thanks to a slightly nose-up running attitude (her angle of attack at speed hovered at an optimum two degrees throughout), she virtually steered herself—once for two whole minutes! Turns were tight. I estimated diameters of about a boat length at two-thirds throttle and noted virtually no tendency to lean disconcertingly outboard, the mark of an intelligentally proportioned keel. And the quiet ambiance at the helm in the swanky skylounge was lovely.

Docking followed suit. By using just one of the 88’s Cats to maintain sternway after doing a twin-screw pivot at the mouth of our slip and then controlling rearward progress via powerful 38-hp American Bow Thruster hydraulic thrusters forward and aft, Horizon’s Capt. Matt Vought slid ’er home while—I swear—stifling a yawn. Indeed, the maneuver went so smoothly that it hatched a fond personal speculation: If I were the kind of pocket-knife-carrying guy who had $5.1 million to spend on an 88—or rather $5,830,900 (our test boat’s price tag with options)—I believe I’d forego the services of my paid skipper occasionally, just so I could have the fun and satisfaction of docking the boat myself.

But what about the cutting-edge features on the 88? For starters, there’s her construction, a highly advanced process Horizon calls “3D Infusion.” According to Keith Chen, R&D supervisor at Horizon’s main yard in Taiwan, it entails infusing both lateral, 2-D surfaces (like the 88’s hull) and raised 3-D structures (like her longitudinals and transversals) at the same time.

This is sophisticated, even by today’s standards. While many builders use SCRIMP and other processes to mold parts with varying degrees of success, few are capable of infusing an entire hull—including longitudinals and transversals—in one shot. “The technique gives us great confidence in our boats,” Chen says. “We don’t have to worry about delamination issues from secondary bonding of the stringers and other parts. There is no secondary bonding.”

OctoPlex is the 88’s other high-tech biggie. Officially given the moniker Moritz Aerospace Multiplexed Power Management and Monitoring System, OctoPlex replaces large old-fashioned electrical panels with a series of smaller multiplexing touchscreens that can manage and monitor all onboard electrical circuits, both A.C. and D.C. The touchscreens, in turn, give ultra-convenient fingertip access to everything from fuel tank info to breakers for galley appliances. Moreover, the system’s got built-in redundancy galore, with manual-override capability and an extra CAN-bus line for backup.

“Never seen better,” I remarked, as Vought and I completed a tour of the 88’s engine room, a succinctly organized, superbly outfitted extravaganza featuring triplex Racors, a Reverso fuel-polisher, a Delta T ventilation system (with a temperature sensor that optimizes engine-room air density), and an environmentally friendly Hamann waste-water treatment plant. Space was plentiful, with headroom of 7'4" and walkway clearance between the mains of 1'8". “Top-notch brand names everywhere,” I added, “and the layout’s as easy to read as a stop sign.”

I polished the day off by checking out both our 88’s four-stateroom, four-head interior and her immense—and most likely, immensely comfortable—crew’s quarters. The level of finish everywhere was high. And I noted a raft of nifty details as well, among them the wholly unobstructed view I enjoyed while seated in the saloon (thanks to the cut-down window sills in the superstructure and her somewhat adumbrated bulwarks); the easy swing of the beefy Airtex pantograph-type watertight doors on either side of the main-deck dinette; and the lacquered touches in the galley, saloon, and elsewhere, which lent an Italianate cachet to what had been wrought by Taiwan’s biggest builder.

“A traditional motoryacht in many respects,” I told Vought by way of a day’s-end synopsis, while packing up the test-gear, with the Case Stockman stowed carefully inside. “Technologically though, she’s as cutting edge as they come—a truly sophisticated lady!”

Horizon Yachts

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.