During a recent trip Down Under, I got the chance to give the Palm Beach 55 Express a hypothetical kick in the tires. And boy I’ll tell you, she ain’t no lemon. (In fact, though I realize this boat isn’t quite as recent a launch as usually appears in this column, I liked her so much, I decided to massage the rules a little for her. Plus the 55 is fully customizable—so really every single one is technically a “new boat,” and you’re just going to have to deal with that.)
We eased the 55 off the Gold Coast dock and into a mostly flat channel, but a gusty breeze, as well as the head-high waves breaking on the beach I had seen earlier from my hotel room bore ominous tidings. Sure enough, the instant we rounded the point and broke out into the Coral Sea, the swells came rolling through. Fours and fives, sixes and eights, maybe even bigger. They were nicely spaced for the most part but still plenty big to get a sense of the 55’s mettle.
It might be cliché to say, but this boat really does have a hull like a duck. She bopped up and down over those rollers like they weren’t even there, thanks to a proprietary hull form designed by sailing champion and all-around Aussie boating master Mark Richards. Meanwhile her twin 670-horsepower Volvo D11s paired with straight shafts offered smooth acceleration, a top hop around 32 knots, and a cruise speed of about 24. With that kind of performance, coupled with absolutely gorgeous lines, the Palm Beach should have no problem attracting buyers.
Those buyers will surely enjoy picking out their customizable layouts. Two staterooms or three? Should the dining settee in the saloon go to port or to starboard? And how much seating might you like in the plush cockpit? She really is a luxurious boat, replete with finely crafted wooden accents and incredibly soft leathers.
Despite going up against some seriously good and rightly revered brands, Palm Beach is making its mark in the notoriously traditional Down East segment of the market. And with Richards leading the way it seems the builder may very well be positioning itself as the pacesetter in the field, daring all others to lead, follow, or get out of the damn way.
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This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.