Alegria Sport Yacht — By George L. Petrie —
|Doral’s new sport yacht proves that Yankee ingenuity doesn’t stop at the Canadian border.|
Innovation is vital to the success of almost any product. Consider how the ubiquitous sport-utility vehicle has evolved, morphing from an overgrown station wagon with four-wheel drive into a plethora of luxurious landyachts, each seeking to outdo the rest by offering features like TV, DVD players, and onboard GPS. In the boat business, the counterpart to the SUV is the express cruiser, a breed that offers a similar mix of performance, style, and versatility and which has likewise spawned a burgeoning field of entrants into an increasingly competitive market. As larger and more luxurious models appear, they are often said to have evolved into a more refined genre, the sport yacht.
In a fiercely competitive environment such as this, what sets one product apart from another? That’s right, innovation. And a leader in the express cruiser market, Canada-based Doral Boats, has built a reputation for ingenuity that would do a Yankee proud. So I figured that with the introduction of its first sport yacht, the 47-foot Alegria, Doral would have some tricks up its sleeve. I found a slick mix of novel features, some big, but many just thoughtful enhancements that should nonetheless make cruising easier, safer, and more enjoyable.
Topping my list of favorite features is, literally, her top: a standard bimini that cantilevers fore and aft from the radar arch. What’s novel about that? For one, the top extends from the windshield all the way to the transom, offering protection from the weather (and standing headroom) throughout the entire bridge deck. And with full side and aft curtains (also standard) in place, the deck and cockpit can become true all-weather spaces. But the really slick trick is hidden in the radar arch. Rising 11'3" above the waterline to the base of her standard Raymarine radar, the arch could be a nuisance in areas with low bridges. But our test boat was fitted with an optional hinged arch, so with the mere touch of a button, hydraulic cylinders can tip it forward, reducing clearance by up to two and a half feet. To prevent inadvertent operation, turning a key is required.
Another sleight-of-hand ploy I like is the disappearing windshield, also a standard feature. It’s really only the center panel that disappears, to allow easy walk-through from the bridge to the foredeck, but the way it works is pretty smooth. Touching one button initiates the following sequence of events: A recessed panel on the center of the foredeck tilts up, a two-foot-wide windshield panel retracts into a space beneath the panel, and the foredeck panel closes. Another touch of the button reverses the process. And to facilitate the climb up from the bridge deck to the foredeck, a set of handsome teak steps flips down when needed and folds flat against the forward bulkhead, out of the way, when you don’t.
Even the foredeck offers several slick tricks. Take the Alegria’s sunpads, for example: not run-of-the-mill flat plastic pads, but rather a pair of teak-slatted seats with back rests that can tilt up or lay flat. For comfort on hot, humid days, the removable pads are covered in soft cotton fabric. And for safety underway, there’s a full-length grabrail alongside each seat. Oddly, though, the built-in cup holders are too far aft for easy reach when the seat backs are tilted up.
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.