Maxim 55 — By Capt. Bill Pike
Fast and Sassy
|Italy's Cantieri di Sarnico brings a hot new import to America--the Maxim 55.|
Ever notice certain inconsistencies in yourself? Like how you're totally into economical, highly engineered, politically correct automobiles these days--I mean, you own one or two, or even three--yet there's still a nifty chunk of your autonomic nervous system that dries your mouth out and slips your ticker into overdrive every time you get within a country mile of a refurbished, revitalized, gas-guzzling muscle car from the "Born to Be Wild" era? You know, like a Dodge Coronet Super Bee with a 426 Hemi, four speeds on deck, and two hulking, four-barrel carburetors.
A recent sea trial of Cantieri di Sarnico's new Maxim 55 brought me eyeball to eyeball with the same kind of inconsistency in myself. While I'm indeed "a trawler guy," with a mighty love for displacement speeds and all their attendant green-hued virtues, from fuel economy to easy-ridin' serenity, there's a significant part of my personal makeup that loves the endorphin-pumping rush I get from driving big, bodacious conveyances fast.
And the Maxim is indeed big, bodacious, and thrillingly fast. In fact, at one point, while throttling the 17-tonner straight across a succession of four- to six-foot head seas off Fort Lauderdale, I was constrained to jack my jaws above the windshield, deeply inhale the salt-laden air roaring past at a solid 40 knots, and gleefully yell, "Whoooooooooeeeeeee!"
Of course, speed usually comes at a price. And as you peruse the acceleration curve shown here, you'll see our Maxim mixed top-end alacrity with significant lag time coming out of the hole. There are two reasons for this, I believe. First, the boat's ZF transmissions turn a top-speed-enhancing 1.757:1 gear ratio--this tends to consume a little extra bottom-end torque during spool-up, at least by comparison with the more common 2:1 ratio for this size and type of boat. And second, I'd say our 1,050-hp MAN diesels needed a little tweaking. Why? Throttling up quickly from dead idle during our trials engendered virtually no black exhaust smoke, a highly irregular--albeit squeaky-clean--phenomenon, even for electronic engines. What this indicates to me is that, via a simple mechanical adjustment on each engine, a more muscular balance could be struck between low emissions and out-of-the-hole performance. I ran this observation past a MAN representative, and he agreed.
At any rate, while the resulting 10 or so seconds required to get the test boat fully up and running felt a bit drawn-out, the payoff--an average top speed of 48.2 mph and near soot-free operation--seemed to compensate, especially when teamed up with some related factors.
Seakeeping, for instance. To begin with, the running surface of the Maxim is atypical of the high-speed, express-type, big-boat genre--her transom deadrise is a mere eight degrees. The upside of such flatness is increased lift and planing efficiency. The downside? The potential for a boisterous ride, something I did not personally observe on test day, perhaps because sea conditions were just a tad less than boisterous. What I did observe, however, was impressive. The Maxim handled the Atlantic's four- to six-footers like a big-hearted, easy-riding thoroughbred, cornering smoothly if widely, planing without obfuscating visibility with bow rise and tracking like a train whether going up-sea, down-sea, or even side-sea.
The helm is another important factor. Our Maxim was equipped with smooth, optional Mathers MicroCommander electronic controls, fingertip-sensitive Italian BCS steering hydraulics, easy-to-see analog VDO instruments, and an ergonomically savvy ordering of dashboard, helm seat, and windshield. All these elements combined to instill a sense of calm and control in me, the driver. Even at wide-open throttle I felt more like I was presiding over a comfy snooze cruise than a high-speed romp-and-stomp across the high seas.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.