Beating the Benchmark
Hatteras enhances its GT60 Convertible’s form while maintaining her at-sea performance.
Sometimes messing around with something already very good can make it even better. I recently came to this realization after heading down to North Carolina to take a look at Hatteras Yachts’ revamped GT60 convertible.
This model immediately grabbed the attention of both media and boaters when she was first launched three years ago (see “Hardcore,” August 2007). That first GT was fast, try 41.7 mph at a 2000-rpm cruise with 1,800-bhp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs rumbling in the vessel’s belly. In addition, she was one of the first Hatteras boats sporting a lightweight, resin-infused hull. This battlewagon, which has an 85,000-pound dry weight, also featured a sleek sheerline, a sea-piercing entry, a wicked-high wave-defying freeboard, and more. Blending this with a three-stateroom, two-head layout and amenity-laden, fish-fighting capable cockpit, it didn’t seem like she could get much better.
Although the boat’s success lead many to ask, “Why reinvent the wheel?” the builder says it simply thought it could improve the vessel. To start with, there were aesthetic changes made. And though they may seem subtle, the results were quite impactful with regards to the interior setup.
For instance, one of the initial moves was to flip the mezzanine layout. Instead of the saloon sliding door being located to starboard, like the first 60, the new boats have it located to port. This improved the vessel’s interior flow. Call it boat feng shui. When you walk into the new 60, the L-shape sofa is located to starboard as is the dinette. This opens up the saloon space and offers a straight path from the saloon entry to the companionway and the three-stateroom, and now three-head, layout. (On the first 60, the sofa was to port and the dining table to starboard, and making your way to the companionway required a few turns.)
The dinette table was also reconfigured from a U-shape to a diner-style benchseat, allowing people to get in and out more easily. And now guests at both the sofa and dinette can view the flat-panel TV at floor level to port. Another improvement inside the 60 included moving the electrical panel down to floor level from head height. This resulted in the removal of light-blocking chase boxes that partially covered the superstructure-spanning windows, which are now blinds-free, allowing a flood of natural light to bathe the area. Hatteras adorned this 60’s interior with a warm-tone, satin-finish African mahogany, too. Of course, the ever-popular cherrywood interior is still a no-cost option. All the doors are solid mahogany and beefy, too (Hull No. 1 featured cored doors). A particularly noteworthy upscale touch came in the form of the saloon and companionway’s wainscoting and textured Whisper-wall coverings (The original 60’s Whisper-wall coverings were flat). The textured fabric makes for a custom-boat feel. There are also high-end fixtures on the cabinets and drawers and top-notch Vimar light switches throughout.
For all the niceties inside, which also included switching out the galley countertop from a peninsula-shape cored material to a curved piece of granite with a breakfast-nook overhang, she’s still built tough.
The hull is vacuum-infused, as are the stringers and major bulkheads. This 60’s superstructure is hand-laid, simply because of the complexity of its shape. Hatteras also performed a complete reevaluation of the boat’s weight and, if it could find a way to save five or ten pounds, it was done. My test boat came in at a dry weight of 72,548 pounds, or about six tons lighter than Hull No. 1.
Aside from the layout and interior modifications, the builder did some neat handcrafting that resulted in concave–shape pilasters, unlike the original 60’s more convex appearance. This adds a custom look to the vessel’s exterior. The windows on the cockpit-facing bulkhead were treated with some curve in them, too, making almost-trapezoidal shapes. That first 60’s windows were a bit more square. Suffice to say, she’s perhaps a bit sleeker looking than her predecessors.
But one thing didn’t change—her performance. After running around in the six-footers outside of Beaufort, North Carolina, just to jog the memory about her brute strength in a seaway, I ran her speed numbers in the protected waters of the ICW.
The new 60 is powered by 1,900-bhp Caterpillar C32As, which are slightly more powerful than the original 1,800-bhp C32 ACERTs from Hull No. 1. In addition, the new 60 sports one 1,500-gallon integral fuel tank. (The original 60 featured three separate tanks.) This helps the boat maintain her longitudinal center of gravity (LCG) as she burns off fuel. The tank is on centerline and is built in between the stringers, which also means less fiberglass used as the tank is a part of the boat. My 60’s water tanks were also moved farther aft from the original vessel to further help that LCG.
With the big Cats, this behemoth battlewagon made a 2000-rpm cruise speed of 42.0 mph at a fuel burn of 148 gph. Considering her total fuel capacity of 1,750 gallons (my test boat had an optional 250-gallon auxiliary tank), the 60 has a range of 447 statute miles at cruise. She was a little faster than the original 60 at this rpm (Hull No. 1 cruised at 41.7 mph). When running the new 60 at WOT, she effortlessly hit 46.6 mph, which was just about 1.6 mph slower than the original 60. But given the strength of those engines and the efficiency of this vessel’s convex, variable-deadrise hull, she has the capacity to equal or perhaps even surpass her predecessor’s numbers on any given day.
The fact that Hatteras was able to make an already-successful boat better says a lot about the builder’s work ethic, creativity, and engineering savvy. And though the builder may not have reinvented the wheel, its efforts on the new GT60 show that not all wheels are created equal either.
Test Boat Specifications
- Transmission/Ratio: Twin Disc marine gears w/ 2.03:1 reduction
- Props: 37x54.5 ZF props
Hatteras GT60 - Final Boat Test Numbers
This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.