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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Princess Yachts V52

At-Sea Royalty

This across-the-pond import is the very definition of performance and elegance.

I sit on the starboard-side black leather helm seat, one of two on this sleek 52-foot express cruiser from British-builder Princess, and gaze at Lake Worth’s buoy-dotted route in front of me. The view reminds me of a giant slalom course where skiers take their performance to the ragged edge at seriously fast speeds, cutting, dodging, and turning in impressive fashion. Listening to the rumble of the standard 715-hp Caterpillar C12 ACERTs in the Princess V52’s belly, I engage the single-lever Cat throttles in the palm of my right hand as my test boat moderately lifts her bow and then sprints through the course. I only need to give the leather-clad wheel minimal input and her standard Hypro power steering does the rest as she effortlessly carves the water. I sense that if this V52 could smile, she’d be grinning ear-to-ear right now, just like I am.

I note an average top speed of 38 mph and a comfortable cruise of 31.3 (see PMY’s Numbers for the full data), which comes in a leisurely 21.5 seconds from a 650-rpm idle. Her ride across this protected fairway is super smooth, which I attribute to her Bernard Olesinski-designed deep-V hull form. It features 21 degrees of transom deadrise, which is about two degrees deeper than Princess’ flying-bridge boats. Her hull bottom is solid fiberglass and resin-infused to maximize the glass-to-resin ratio and provide plenty of strength without adding excessive weight. PVC coring is used in the topsides to further stiffen the vessel while reducing weight aloft.

Despite the fact that there’s a solid 15-knot northeast breeze blowing outside Lake Worth Inlet, Princess’ marketing rep James Nobel and I want to see how this vessel runs in a seaway. I’m taking notes as Nobel, now at the wheel, throws the controls forward to WOT, and sans trim tabs, the 52 barrels headlong into the steepening swells, dispatching them as a horse would shoo flies with its tail.

Nobel is putting the 52 through some hardover two-and-a-half to three boat-length turns at cruise speed, during which the boat displays only moderate heel, which briefly reduces visibility to the inside. However, whether she’s running upsea, in the troughs, or head-on, she executes everything with aplomb. And surprisingly, no water reaches the Delta anchor, the 27-inch-high side rails, the foredeck sunpad, or the wickedly raked windshield.

As taken in by the 52’s performance as I am, I can’t overlook her well-appointed open layout. Nobel tells me that many Princess V Series owners and fans like the idea of the openness of an express cruiser yet also want to have the feeling of a secure indoor space, especially in adverse weather. To that end, Princess fits the 52 with a house-wide sliding-glass door between the cockpit and saloon.

The standard teak-covered cockpit sports a port-side U-shape alfresco dining area with a table that can be dropped and covered to double as a sunpad station; the cushion for it is under the seat. Another interesting piece of gear back here is the optional Splendide washer-dryer combo, which is also under the seating area. (If an owner doesn’t want the washer-dryer, this compartment becomes dedicated stowage.) For those who want to carry a tender, the V52 features a standard hydraulically lowered, teak-covered swim platform that can easily accommodate a 9'3" Williams jet RIB. Princess has traditionally offered tender garages on its vessels, but the feeling for the 52 was that the platform was a more convenient, space-efficient solution.

Walking up a few steps and through the sliding door into the saloon is like being transported from the beach to an upscale Manhattan apartment. The warm dark-wenge sole is in striking contrast to the satin-finish light oak joinery that provides a contemporary accent. The dining and seating area is to port, directly across from the optional retractable 32-inch Samsung LED TV.

Checking the overhead I find halogen lighting (I’d prefer to see cooler, less power-hungry LEDs), which is superfluous during the day as the main deck features virtually 360-degree glass. A flood of natural light bathes both the saloon and the galley down, which also benefits from those large raked front windows. The galley, also to port, is equipped with a Sharp convection oven and Euro Kera electric cooktop, quite suitable for making meals at sea. There’s also a third dining area across from this space. The lower-deck dining setup could be configured as an over-under bunk-equipped stateroom with the addition of a bulkhead, but I think my test boat’s two-stateroom plan with a full-beam master aft and forepeak VIP with scissor berth is ideal. The addition of the bulkhead would compartmentalize what is a great, open entertainment area. Besides, the dining table here is already equipped to convert to a berth for two.

The aft master, which is three steps down from the galley, is the crowning achievement of the below-deck space. Like the saloon, it’s filled with natural light thanks to six oval portholes (three per side) that measure 29 inches high by nine inches across. In addition, the berth is big—five feet wide and 6'4" long. The oak interior and beige carpet add to the feeling of openness here, and the port-side seating area looks like a particularly inviting place to read a seafaring novel while anchored in some protected cove.

All too soon I exit this at-sea sanctuary to face the reality of a flight back to New York where winter’s grip has already started and the buoy-dotted waterways will lie dormant until spring. I sit at the helm one last time and try hard to burn the memory of my earlier run with this long-legged cruiser into my brain’s archives. The V52 will soon be in my past, but for any of you who enjoy performance cruising in a highly finished, well-executed express yacht, she may be in your future. PMY

Princess (877) 846-9874.

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