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Pershing 62

High Style

The new Pershing 62 shows that there will always be a place in the market for high-speed cruisers as technically sophisticated as they are elegant.

We were zooming across the Baie de Cannes at 40 knots when I asked the question. It was boat-show time. A couple of senior shipyard engineers and I had been discussing the market, and the way the financial upheavals of recent years had influenced attitudes and fashions. Times have changed, I suggested—do boats like the Pershing 62 really have a place any more?

The engineers had clearly considered the question, and dismissed it. I could see their point. Pershing is one of the strongest brands in European boatbuilding, and it got that way by being totally focused on design, engineering, and performance. To soften the edges a bit, to compromise, would be a betrayal of its entire ethos.

But perhaps the most eloquent answer to the question lay in the fact that I was able to ask it without even raising my voice. We were sitting in total comfort in a stylish saloon, surrounded by vast windows, while the sea outside whizzed past in a blur of blue and dazzling white foam. Behind us, the rooster-tail swept up by the ZF surface drives towered over the stern like a huge white monument. If I’d had a gin and tonic on the table in front of me—it was a little early—that’s where it would have stayed.

This is what the Pershing 62 and her sisters were built for—safe, high-speed cruising so relaxed and apparently effortless that you forget what a formidable technical achievement it is. 

Cannes was the new 62’s first public outing, and it was shown with the standard layout—a three-cabin arrangement with an impressive midships master suite that features a luxurious head and shower compartment along the whole of the starboard side. The VIP in the bow is less generously proportioned, but still a perfectly pleasant cabin, while the ambience of the small twin-berth to starboard is greatly enhanced by the clever use of mirrors. In the two-cabin layout this area becomes a lower dinette, with an optional double sofabed. The galley is opposite, concealed by a sliding door. 

Unusually—and perhaps unnecessarily, in most markets—the 62 also has a crew cabin, accessed via a hatch in the cockpit sofa. If you do need a hired hand, make sure you find a small one—firstly so he’ll fit into his quarters, which are more coffin than cabin, and secondly so he’ll be easier to ignore when he’s in a bad mood, which will be most of the time. 

Everyone else onboard will be fine, however, and although floor space is at something of a premium in the VIP and in the guest cabins, the accommodation doesn’t feel cramped. Headroom is 6 feet 6 inches pretty much everywhere (6 feet 4 inches in the master suite) and the berths are all full size. Hull windows in the master and VIP bring daylight down below, setting off the décor to excellent effect: lots of lustrous Poltrona Frau leather, ebony veneers, high-gloss polished lacquer, and contrasting textures—including a pearl-gray wallpaper in the cabins, which is apparently as durable and impervious to moisture as you would hope for on a yacht.

A freestanding bed always looks very stylish but it might seem an extravagance in the master when you’re looking for somewhere to stow your bags. You could still stick them under the bed, of course, but that’s probably not what the designer had in mind. Elsewhere, stowage volumes look reasonable, and there is even a useful locker under the saloon sofa for two folding cockpit chairs.

Better Boat: Power in Control

Pershing 62

As boat design and engineering have improved over the last couple of decades, life has gotten a lot simpler for owners—not just in terms of easier maintenance and windows that don’t leak, but in the driving experience too. Better power-to-weight ratios, tauter handling, and more refined naval architecture have taken a lot of the guesswork out of helming, and every owner now can be pretty confident that he’s getting the best out of his boat.

There was one exception—until recently. Surface drives come from the racing world and are optimized for speed. They’re incredibly sensitive to trim, and take time to master. Get them slightly wrong and you waste fuel. Get them very wrong and they bite. By way of an analogy, it’s possible that you could survive the step up from flying a Cessna 150 to flying a P-51, but it’s unlikely that you’d fly the fighter the way it was designed to be flown, at least immediately.

But now, thanks to the wonders of software, every boater can be Chuck Yeager. ZF’s Automatic Trim Control System links trim tabs and drives and matches them with boat speed to ensure that the boat is trimmed safely and running efficiently at all times. It works. On a boat like the Pershing 62 I wouldn’t be without it.

The main deck is the 62’s strongest suit. The cockpit is remarkably spacious, and in Pershing’s signature style the glass doors and bulkhead disappear downwards between the two sofas. This unifies the indoor and outdoor living areas in spectacular fashion. A sunroof and huge, one-piece side windows—that curved central ‘framing’ is actually a beautifully engineered handrail—complete the picture. The foredeck sunbathing area can be shaded beneath an optional bimini, and the aft sunbed sits on top of a substantial garage, which is big enough for a 10-foot 6-inch Williams 325 jetRIB.

That dramatically sloping windshield is a curved, one-piece molding more than 11 feet wide. It might be that its impressive dimensions place it on the limit of the manufacturer’s capabilities, or maybe it was just this particular example, but the view through it, exaggerated no doubt by its extreme rake, was rather wobbly. It wasn’t too noticeable in port, but out at sea the horizon ahead looked distinctly distorted.

In reality we had virtually flat conditions, and the 62 accelerated rapidly to a two-way average maximum speed of just under 46 knots, with a fair load of fuel and water, rather more people than you might take on a typical cruise, and a substantial tender in the garage. 

Unashamedly optimized for 40 knots—take a look at the cruising range figures —the boat was still happy to plane at speeds as low as 18 to 19 knots, although such sedate velocities will need a skilled hand on the trim. As is usual on a surface-drive machine, in this transitional phase at around 1750 rpm we found that speeds could vary by six to seven knots or more, according to the position of the drive legs: one reason why automatic trim can be so useful (see “Better Boat: Power in Control,” right). Nevertheless, handling was exemplary: the boat launched into every high-speed maneuver with abandon, heeling so far over in tight turns that the open sunroof came in handy as an extra window. During the more extreme maneuvers we occasionally got the sense that the hull was preparing to skitter sideways a bit (hardly an unusual sensation in a surface-drive boat), but it never actually did so, and it never gave us cause for concern.

It was fantastic—fun, impressive, and exhilarating all at the same time, and before long we were miles offshore, with the boat show forgotten. All boats can make your onshore cares disappear, but Pershings do it quicker than most.

So to get back to that question: Do boats like this still have a place? One answer is that there really aren’t too many other boats like the 62—and many of those also have Pershing written on the side. Another answer is, simply, yes. Like its sisters, the 62 is a great example of excellence in design and engineering—and there will always be a place for that.

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This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.