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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Pershing 76

I’d just finished testing the Pershing 76 and was walking down the dock at Miami’s Bayside Marina when I was approached by a couple who’d just stepped off a rather boxy-looking 50-some-foot motoryacht. Noticing the Power & Motoryacht logo on my shirt, they introduced themselves as long-time subscribers. We exchanged pleasantries about the weather, the marina, and their boat, and then the gentleman put his hand on my shoulder, inclined his head to me, and, sotto voce, asked, “Can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” I replied. He pointed to the 76 I’d just left and asked, “Who buys a boat like that?”

A fair question. For moored amidst a sea of white sameness, this sleek silver and black bullet stood out like Britney Spears at an AARP meeting. I could easily imagine boaters abuzz as she (the Pershing, not Britney) pulled in that morning, wondering what movie star or media mogul might be aboard.

Unfortunately for me, no august personage could claim ownership of the 76; she was the property of the Fort Lauderdale MarineMax dealer (the MarineMax dealer network has a marketing agreement with the Ferretti Group, of which Pershing is a part), and she’d been brought here so I could conduct my test in the protected waters of Biscayne Bay, well away from the eight-footers that roared outside. The reason, explained the folks from Ferretti of America, was not fear of the elements but rather insurance limitations. Part of me was thankful I’d be saved from what would no doubt have been a raucous ride, but part of me was disappointed that I wouldn’t see the 76 in the conditions for which this deep-V-hulled, Arneson-driven sportboat had been designed.

Which brings me back to that reader’s question: Who owns—or more specifically, would own—this boat? Would it be the kind of person who would be outside on a day like today, challenging the best Mother Nature could devise? Although I judged the 76 capable of doing just that, I suspected not. Then who?

The question took on added interest when I stepped aboard. The first thing I noticed was that the galley was down a semicircular, eight-step companionway in the saloon’s aft port corner. Galley-down is not an arrangement that American boat buyers are generally enamored with. Moreover, well equipped though this one is, the galley is actually part of the crew quarters, which includes a double-berth stateroom and a single-berth stateroom, a head, and engine-room access via a watertight door aft. (There’s also access via a cockpit hatch.) It was pretty obvious to me that the 76 had been designed to be operated by a crew, and a crew of three at that.

A tour of the main deck offered a number of clues as to who actually would own this boat. It would have to be someone who appreciates stylish, modern design. The interior is a bright and airy combination of finely crafted, light Austrian pear (finished with a slightly orange stain and satin lacquer); a dark, wide-plank teak sole; a beige, open-weave area rug; brushed stainless steel accents; and a dark-brown, alligator skin-like vinyl, L-shape sofa to starboard. A translucent panel just forward of the retractable flat-panel TV on centerline separates the saloon from the helmsman.

Just as clearly, the 76’s target buyer would be someone who likes lots of light, air, and sun. Large side windows let in plenty of light (all saloon windows and the aft slider have privacy blinds) and are low enough to provide occupants a fine view outside. Although industrial-grade (72,000-Btu) air conditioning is standard, it’s easy to bring the outside in, thanks to a 9’7”W x 7’5”L electrically operated sunroof. Moreover, two of the three glass panels on the aft saloon bulkhead slide open, effectively making the shaded, teak-covered aft deck one with the saloon. If that’s not enough sun, there’s always the large sunpad atop the garage (an 11-foot RIB and optional PWC are below) and the even larger one on the foredeck.

At this point my impression of the 76’s owner was someone who probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time at the wheel. Pity, for it’s one of the best layouts I’ve seen. Everything is here—including all switches and breakers—but the most frequently used components, including electronics and gauges, are clustered in a vertical pod right in front of the helmsman. There are but two seats—four-way adjustable Besenzoni pedestals—not exactly an invitation for guests to watch the captain do his thing. They’re perfectly positioned to act as leaning posts, and indeed because the bridge deck is elevated, sightlines are better when you’re standing than when you’re seated. In the latter position the wheel is really too low for comfortable operation, not a problem since a standard jog lever lies to the helmsman’s left, between the seats.

Also between the seats and on the helmsman’s left are the MTU Electronik controls, a location that I, a right-hander, didn’t find particularly comfortable. I also found the control’s synching feature nonintuitive compared to other electronic controls: You first press the “synch/troll” button, then you must pull the port throttle back to neutral to engage it. To disengage it, you must perform the reverse operation.

But any helmsman would appreciate electrically operated (with readily available manual overrides) port and starboard watertight doors that lead to side decks that are wide going forward, a boon for docking. Going aft they narrow to little more than shoe width, and there is no bowrail here, although there are substantial handholds on both house sides.

To starboard of the helm a companionway leads down to the accommodations deck, which I suspect won’t get a lot of use. Again, a pity, for the amenities are considerable. Our boat had four cabins (a three-cabin version is available), which includes a surprisingly roomy full-beam master beneath the saloon and a smaller but nevertheless quite comfortable VIP in the forepeak. Like the starboard twin berth guest cabin between, these have en suite heads (the guest cabin’s has a second hallway door so it can double as a day head). The fourth cabin to port is probably intended for children, as it’s small, with angled bunks and no head.

One thing that I’m sure will define the 76’s owner is a love of speed. Like all but the smallest Pershing, the 76 has standard Arneson Surface Drives, which along with 2,000-hp MTUs—the only engines offered—provide impressive performance and an equally impressive roostertail. They also provide startling agility: I was able to carve a U-turn at more than 31 knots in just 50 yards. Indeed, crank the wheel hard over at any speed, and the 76 will heel into a perfectly controlled high-G turn that will have passengers grabbing their gin and tonics. She may have three flat-panel TVs, but the real entertainment center on this boat is the helm.

Our 76’s nearly 49-knot speed also came courtesy of an advanced layup that includes PVC coring and SCRIMP vacuum infusion. Interestingly, gelcoat is applied by brush, not sprayed on, and after curing, it’s polished with abrasive paste and fine compound to a mirror finish. Colored areas are painted with two-part epoxy to an equally flawless appearance. All of these technicalites, I’d guess, will be lost on the 76’s owner, who will probably be most interested in looking good, going fast, and getting a tan. The 76 permits all that handily, but should a real hands-on enthusiast come along, she’s got plenty of substance to please him or her, too.

MarineMax
(888) 71-YACHT

This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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