Subscribe to our newsletter

BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Pershing 64

The fuel berth in Palma, Mallorca, seemed unusually popular considering the recent rocketing price of oil. Sailboats drifted about, patiently awaiting their turn. Three or four motoryachts circled warily, their captains tweaking the throttles and burning out their bow thrusters in an effort to keep station in the afternoon breeze—alert to the imagined danger of some impertinent fishing boat jumping the queue. Across the harbor a large, blue Ro-Ro freighter sounded two blasts on her horn and began to pull away from the quay as a sailboat crossed under her bow, oblivious.

Finally it was our turn. A tanned marinero in a straw hat and shades took our lines and dragged the diesel hose over from the pump. Our captain jumped ashore and disappeared into the cabin on the end of the dock. Following a leisurely Spanish interlude—discussion, negotiation, and, I don't know, maybe refreshments and family photos—the fuel started flowing.

The tanks weren't even that low. Considering we were about to carry out a full performance trial, the skipper seemed remarkably unconcerned about the effect the added weight might have. I've known yards to run boats on vapors and empty the water tank before a test, anxious to achieve the best possible speed. But here in Palma, watched by a gaggle of waiting boats milling about in the afternoon heat, fuel flowed into our Pershing 64.

And flowed. Four hundred liters came and went on the gauge. Then 500—that's nearly 1,000 pounds. Six, then 700, and finally—and only when the pump halted at its maximum readout of €990 (about $1,550)—it stopped. We had taken on 760 liters—an extra 1,400 pounds—and were heading out to see how fast the boat would go.

The new Pershing 64, launched this past summer in Europe, replaces the excellent 62 in the lineup. Since last year's 72 was introduced ("Seductive and Stylish," January 2008), the company's design department has been busy reinventing the brand, with many of the styling and technological advances first seen in that boat rolling out into new models. So as well as the new curves to the superstructure—the old Pershing curves having been so comprehensively imitated by just about everyone—this new boat has the excellent extending cockpit overhang that we admired on the 72. Plus there's the truly show-stopping saloon bulkhead: a heavy two-part glass partition which simply slides away, completely out of sight, between the two sofas—or in reality, between the master cabin and the tiny crew cabin. It was also good to see the custom teak-lined cutlery and crockery stowage in the saloon.

The cheerful pastels of 2004's 62 ("Rocket Cruiser," January 2005) have given way to a much cooler scheme of hard-edged, pale oak veneers and dark wenge flooring, with a pleasingly tactile coarse-weave mat in the saloon by way of contrast, and plenty of leather to add a touch of luxury. Perhaps I should have worn socks, but I couldn't help noticing that a virtually black floor didn't get half hot on a summer afternoon in Mallorca.

The layouts of the old and the new models could hardly be more different. The 64 is definitely a design from the Midships Master era, with a big central suite between those huge hull windows, instead of the paired twin cabins of the 62. The central double berth faces forward, with the shower and head on the port side, aft of the obligatory chaise lounge by the window. Over to starboard, there is a sideboard and dressing table, with further stowage in the entrance lobby—including a small fridge.

None of the spaces down below feels especially large, thanks to the 64's relatively narrow, performance-oriented beam of just more than 16 feet. This is perhaps more noticeable in the VIP cabin in the bow, although with a hanging locker on each side and two big drawers under the berth, it will at least be possible for your guests to keep their stuff tidied away. The head is a reasonable size, although no bigger than that of the guest twin, over to starboard, which is set down three deep steps and feels a little cave-like. There is 6'7" headroom, however, and two full-length berths of slightly different widths—one 28 inches, and the other four inches wider.

Another big difference with the new 64 is the galley, which is set down low on the port side and linked to the saloon via a rather vertiginous companionway. There's a nearly four-foot difference between the two floor levels and not a lot to stop unwary guests from finding themselves down there unannounced. The small sofa on the port side, overlooking the galley, also looks like a precarious place to sit, nearly seven feet above the galley floor. You'll want to make it out of bounds when underway.

The galley itself is a workable size and well equipped with a ceramic cooktop, dishwasher, a big 'fridge-freezer, and an enormous stainless steel sink. Avid chefs might complain about a lack of stowage space, however. There are plenty of drawers, but at only ten inches deep, they're not as big as they look, and the floor-level cabinets are awkward.

It is the saloon which shows off Pershing's new decor to best advantage, with plenty of daylight washing through to highlight the clean, crisp, and fundamentally minimalist interior design. Generous sofas and an oak saloon table, along with a teak table in the cockpit—both of which unfold to measure nearly five feet—provide plenty of comfortable relaxation space (as well as a dilemma as to where to have dinner).

For all the looks and luxury, however, the Pershing brand image is all about handling and high performance. I wrote that the 62 was a hot ship: "a sea-skimming missile that lives up to her name." The new 64 is some six tons heavier as well as two feet longer on the same beam. The upgraded MAN V-12s provide an extra 50 hp per side—but as the marinero at the fuel berth cast off our lines and we pointed the 64's nose towards the harbor's mouth, I couldn't help wondering about the two and half tons of fuel and water we were now carrying.

The two-seat helm station is on the starboard side, with a good view all around except of the compass. If you sit, everything is a bit of a stretch—fine if you're just keeping watch on autopilot—but flip up the footrest and stand at the wheel, and it is transformed into a functional, ergonomic driving position. We nudged the throttles forward and started to cruise out into open water. The afternoon's onshore breeze, a typically Mediterranean feature of hot summer days, had picked up a good three-foot chop out at sea—nothing serious, but a good test of hull and handling at the sort of speeds I was hoping we'd hit.

And hit them we did. After trimming the drives down to give the props some bite, I began to feel the 64 surge forward. Up on plane with the MANs' second turbos spooled up, things started to happen more quickly. Drives up a tad. No need for flaps. I wasn't thinking about all-up weight anymore—I was concentrating on pointing that long snout into clear water, because we were already going 30 knots, and there was clearly plenty more to come.

Heading upwind and hitting the waves diagonally, the hull started to pound, inducing creaks and groans from the interior—hardly surprising at 40 knots with a three-foot chop. I turned in towards them, allowing the deep-sectioned forefoot to do its stuff and slice through the waves.

Helm response was immediate and gratifying, with such a dramatic angle of heel in tight turns that—in true Pershing style—I had to look out of the sunroof to see where we were going. Running parallel to the seas, we tracked level and rock-steady. Downwind, with the drive trim at zero, we might have been cruising on a millpond. Even with the Arnesons up and threshing the surface, the hull's grip on the water never slackened or even hinted that it might.

We managed a two-way split of 44 knots—more than 50 mph. This was what I came to Palma for. And with all that fuel, we could carry on doing it for hours.

For more information on Pershing, including contact information, click here.

The title above sounds a bit pretentious, but the way the cockpit and saloon work together is a lesson in how these things should be done. At the touch of a button, the glass bulkhead—in just two big sections—can insulate the saloon from the outside world, or completely open it up, joining the two living areas as one. And the superstructure overhang, as on the 72, can be extended or retracted over the cockpit. Along with the sunroof over the helm, these features can be used to divide and enclose or turn the entire main deck into one open alfresco living space.—A.H.

This article originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

Related Features