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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Marquis 50 SC

Sitting in a marina full of white fiberglass vessels of varying sizes and shapes was this dark-hulled, silken-looking, 50-foot, triple-IPS-powered express sport cruiser. While the Marquis 50 Sport Coupe's appearance was in stark contrast to a majority of the vessels docked at Bahia Mar, she shared a familial look with two Palmer Johnson megayachts out by the face dock. Why the resemblance? Both this 50-footer and those megayachts feature lines courtesy of Italian design firm Nuvolari Lenard. A question entered my mind: Was this Italian-designed and American-built cruiser actually a mini-megayacht?

The first indication that this may be the case came while I was looking over her profile; this was no two-part, pop-out-of-the-mold vessel. In fact, there are three large molds that make up the Marquis 50: one for the hull, one for the side decks and hull sides, and one for the superstructure and hardtop. These molds sport more than 40 inserts that help create the design elements ranging from the hardtop's wing-like spoiler feature to the multitude of inset windows. Even with the tedious demands of removing every single insert before a section can be popped out of the mold, the total build time for one of these lookers is just a little less than one month.

That time includes constructing the 50 with a solid-fiberglass bottom to the waterline, PVC foam core for the hull sides, and quarter-inch balsa core in other strategic areas where strength is needed without adding unnecessary weight. Another weight-saving feature is her carbon fiber retractable hardtop, which also allows for an open feel at the port-side helm while providing a flood of light throughout the bridge-deck and saloon areas. When I ran our test boat off the coast of Fort Lauderdale in three- to five-foot seas with a small chop on top, the 50 felt solid underfoot, and that hardtop never budged or creaked.

My test boat's modified-V hull form was well mannered in the slop, too. Her running-surface design is a collaborative effort between Nuvolari Lenard, Marquis, and Volvo Penta. Since the 50 features Volvo Penta's IPS system, the engine manufacturer requires third-party confirmation of all hulls designed to accommodate its forward-facing drives. Once the Nuvolari Lenard team drew the hull, Volvo Penta had naval architecture firm Donald L. Blount and Associates perform a bottom study. In addition, Marquis had its own staff ensure the 50's running surface was the one the builder wanted.

With all that expertise fine-tuning the hull form, it's no wonder my test boat's triple 435-hp IPS 600 diesels propelled her to a top hop of 43.8 mph. At a 3000-rpm cruise, the 50 effortlessly made 36 mph while the motors consumed a total of 48 gph. This speed is also her most efficient, earning 0.75 mpg.

She's not only speedy and efficient but she's maneuverable, too. I easily turned her in her length via the IPS joystick and slid her sideways just as easily. The drive system provides a feeling of confidence at all times, even with a stiff crosswind and docks close at hand. In addition, the Volvo Penta single-lever controls offered smooth shifting and were rivaled in feel only by its fly-by-wire electric steering.

So the 50 has megayacht looks and turn-on-a-dime handling, but does she have a big-boat interior? In a word, yes.

It starts with the main-deck saloon, which benefits from headroom that averages seven feet and tops out about six inches more than that. This area's volume further benefits from the cabin-wide raked windshield and aforementioned retractable glass hardtop. Add in the two massive side windows spanning the length of the house, and the area feels like a solarium.

Her interior's appearance is contemporary with two Ultrasuede chairs to starboard, reminiscent of those you might find in an upscale Manhattan loft. A dark Brazilian-cherry sole and U-shape Ultraleather settee to port add to the sophisticated feel. The saloon seating is also complemented by a special table.

Accenting the abundant high-gloss Zebrona (cherry is also available) throughout the saloon is black-stained wood. Its finish is called Steinway—think baby grand piano—and it imparts a luxurious, high-gloss look that is achieved via baking. The finish is applied in a spray booth, then flash-baked with UV rays, creating an appearance that's not only glossy but hard and durable. The lustrous look is highlighted at night by no fewer than 21 overhead LED lights throughout the saloon, which aren't just bright, they're efficient, drawing only one-quarter of an amp each. In comparison, a typical halogen light draws a full amp per light.

The double-wide port-side lower helm seat has the same Ultraleather finish as the saloon seating. Just across from them the galley up has a black-and-silver color scheme derived from stainless steel appliances and silver-metallic painted cabinets.

While my test boat scored high marks in most every category, her Hull No. 1 status meant there were naturally a few fine-tuning measures needed, such as tidying up the caulking around some of the inset windows and cleaning up the adhesive sticking out around some of those LED lights. In addition, I found a few drawers loose on their tracks in the master head.

After a successful day of sea-trialing, it was back to Bahia Mar so I could catch my flight home. But just prior to returning the 50 to her slip, we maneuvered her alongside a champagne-colored Palmer Johnson to do a little side-by-side comparison. The resemblance was even stronger than it had been earlier in the day. This 50-footer is a mini-megayacht.

For more information on Marquis Yachts, including contact information, click here.

Multitasking is a part of your everyday life, so why should your boat be any different? This high-gloss table in the 50's saloon does double duty as a coffee table and a formal dining area. With the flick of a switch, a ram lifts the table up and towards the Ultraleather seating area. Just fold open the table to its full length and, voila, dinner for six.—P.S.

This article originally appeared in the April 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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