Maritimo M58By George Sass Jr.
The Wizard of Oz
Maritimo’s Bill Barry-Cotter employs his magical design philosophy (again) to create the new M58.
Bill Barry-Cotter was carefully evaluating his options. His heartstrings pulled hard in one direction. After all, he was having too much fun building and developing new boats. Why stop now? Then his brain took command of the decision-making process. Perhaps he and his management team should sell Riviera Yachts to a courting private-equity group. It was 2002 and Barry-Cotter was at the top of his game.
He crunched the numbers in his head while walking down a floating dock at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show with one of the private-equity representatives: “I did the math and realized they were offering me better than $40,000 for every boat that I built up to that point,” Barry-Cotter says. Considering he was beginning his fifth decade building boats, the payout was a life-changer.
He had two options. He could sign the offer and stay on board in a product development and design capacity. Or, at 58, he could walk away and enjoy the fruits of his success travelling the world with his wife, Lesley. He chose the latter—kind of. He knew he couldn’t work for anyone else—especially a boardroom full of bankers—so Barry-Cotter took his check and walked out the gates of Riviera, a company he’d founded in 1980 and run for over two decades, for the last time.
A nine-figure payout made him a very wealthy man. Yet, there is more to this serial Australian boatbuilder than wealth and a life of leisure. “I realized I just wasn’t ready to retire,” he says in an unemotional, matter of fact tone. Barry-Cotter needed an outlet.
So in 2004—two years after leaving Riviera—he reached out to several of his former employees and set up shop across the street from his old factory along the Australian Gold Coast. Maritimo was born.
The first model was a Maritimo 60, a cruising design that epitomized Barry-Cotter’s philosophy. “The aim in starting fresh was to build the boat I had always wanted for myself—a long range motoryacht with superior finishes, and make it fuel efficient,” he says. Furthermore, he no longer had a desire to become the biggest builder. “We only wanted to build 20 boats a year, but the best boats.” The 60’s instant success began to fuel the new endeavor with high-octane energy.
Other models soon followed; the very popular 48 and 52, a 73, express models, sportfishing boats, the Aegean series, the Mustang series, and more. With so many models coming out of the Maritimo factory at a rapid-fire pace, the casual observer may have thought that Barry-Cotter was going for the volume play. “Nah, we started to develop new product fairly quickly to meet the changing markets during the GFC [Global Financial Crisis] and were responding to the buyers,” Barry-Cotter says, with an undertone of exasperation at a line of questioning he undoubtedly has been hit with before. Adding to the economic challenges, Australian exporters were now faced with a weak U.S. dollar, contrary to an exchange rate that historically had worked in their favor. Times were getting tough.
Then at the end of 2011, Barry-Cotter caught his breath. Maybe it was a gentle tug on the shirtsleeve from an old friend telling him to stop trying to determine the desires of a fickle market and to start playing his own game again. Or perhaps he was becoming acutely aware that he wasn’t having as much fun as he’d had in the past. Whatever the reason, the hard-charging boatbuilder took action.
In an uncharacteristic move, Barry-Cotter, aided by his stepson and Maritimo’s marketing director Luke Durman, reached out to marketing consultants, owners, and dealers to analyze the company’s direction and determine possible next steps. What was the final conclusion of the collective parties? Go back to where you started! With this new mission, Barry-Cotter tuned out all of the peripheral static and indeed began playing his own game again. And the M58 is his first victory in the latest match.
Barry-Cotter’s original key design principles are at the core of the new M58: Simplicity, efficiency, cruisability, and a seakindly hull.
The waterline length is approximately three and a half feet longer than the 56—the model that the 58 replaces—and according to Barry-Cotter, she has improved weight distribution relative to her smaller sister, adding to her efficiency.
Based on customer feedback, a full-beam master was a must, although he wanted to keep the beam less than 18 feet in order to maintain efficiency. This was nonnegotiable. It meant changing the fuel-tank configuration from a one-tank design that spanned the centerline on the 56, to twin integral tanks running along the outboard hullsides. Barry-Cotter ensured they were placed in line with the center of buoyancy, adding another element to ensure a good ride.
This engineering effort allowed for a king berth in the master stateroom, placed at an angle to maximize space. Three steps separate the lower level from an upper level foyer and vanity area. It’s certainly one of the better uses of space I’ve seen in a long time. “After talking to some Americans, we realized we needed to make this an apartment,” said Barry-Cotter referring to the 58’s volume.
A double guest stateroom with en suite is tucked into the bow and a single stateroom lines the starboard passageway. Cruising details are incorporated throughout the M58. For example, large overhead hatches and opening ports are in each stateroom and head. There’s no need to have the 17-kW genset running all the time. Drop the hook and let the breezes flow.
Stowage is abundant. In every corner, behind every panel, below every berth, there is room to stow all the gear generated by liveaboard cruising. There’s more than enough space to store cases of drinks, canned goods, spare parts, extra bedding, cleaning supplies, books, and of course that stray piece of hard luggage that inevitably one guest brings onboard.
Although it’s safe to say that Maritimo has gone back to its roots, an evolutionary process has taken place with the interior details and execution. “We wanted to add a new direction to the finished product,” Barry-Cotter wrote in a follow-up email, explaining the reason for hiring Sydney-based interior designer David Stewart to refresh all the boats. The end result on the 58 is a richly finished interior, enhanced by details such as leather and stainless handrails, more fabric coverings, less exposed fiberglass, and updated hardware and joinery details. Stewart embraced that thin line between fresh and sophisticated and over-the-top trendy. Five, ten, 20 years from now, the 58’s teak interior will still retain its timeless elegance. My one complaint is I found the lighting a little harsh. This could be rectified with a few dimmers and another reading lamp here and there to reduce the cafeteria-like ambience at night.
The 58’s saloon is also noticeably larger than the 56’s. Barry-Cotter was one of the first motoryacht builders to turn the typical layout around and place the galley abaft the saloon and closer to the cockpit. This not only places the galley inches from the entertainment hub, but it allows for easier provisioning by negating the need to march through the saloon. And it puts food prep close to the integral staircase leading up to the enclosed flying bridge.
Barry-Cotter has achieved the not-so-easy feat of designing enclosed bridge boats that do not look like towering wedding cakes. And he’s done something else. With its sunroof, windows, and aft doors open, the 58’s enclosed bridge nicely converts to an open bridge. Moreover, there’s enough seating and amenities to promote the spot as a second saloon in good conscience.
Cruisers will appreciate the wide decks with solid safety rails, beefy deck hardware, and the Muir windlass system. There is a huge lazarette that sucks in chairs, spare parts, fishing gear, dive tanks, more parts, and provisions.
What about below the waterline? Barry-Cotter looks at bottom design more like a competitive sailor than anything else. He wants to ensure there’s a smooth surface to reduce drag to the barest minimum, and make the water flow as clean and uninterrupted as possible. The struts holding the shafts are recessed into pockets, and the keel is narrow, yet provides solid tracking on down-sea runs.
When entering the engine room, one striking element is the lack of unnecessary components. Barry-Cotter is militant about keeping his boats simple. “The way the human brain seems to work is that we look at the most complicated solution first,” he says. “Then you learn that it takes an effort to make things simpler.” Part of that effort at Maritimo includes evaluating every component to determine if it’s truly necessary. If not, it’s removed. If it’s an item that is prone to failure such as a freshwater pump, a redundant component is added.
Servicing all the points on the twin 800-horsepower Volvo Penta D13s will be a straightforward endeavor. In the past, when market fickleness was the driving force, buyers would demand larger horsepower packages for no reason other than wanting to have big engines. “There really was no net gain to speed. They took a look at their fuel figures and were horrified,” explains Barry-Cotter. “Now, people want to know ‘how far can I go on a gallon of diesel?’” The answer with regards to the 58 is pretty damn far. At 20 knots you can expect a range of 680 miles, with a ten percent reserve. Pull the throttles back to 1300 rpm and the range climbs to 803 miles at 13.1 knots.
During our sea trial of the 58 we hit 31.7 knots for an average top end in a sheltered waterway and then headed out into the Coral Sea to put the boat to the real test. Seas were four- to five-feet and remained confused from a passing front. Nevertheless, once I got going I didn’t want to turn around. The 58 found a groove that was habit-forming. She rose over each wave like a battleship, and settled into the ensuing trough with triumphant glee, throwing spray well beyond her forward quarter. The variable-deadrise hull took everything I threw at her with ease.
Had Barry-Cotter been onboard, I’m guessing he’d have rolled his eyes at my antics, amused perhaps by the way I was trying in vain to challenge his design, a design that embraces all the tenets that spawned the builder’s early success. I think too, that he’d have taken a moment to sit back at the upper helm and enjoy a few moments of peace. A peace he’s found by listening to his gut—and a few customers—and realizing that it is indeed possible to go home again.
This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.