Bertram 50 Express
Heraclitus knew of the ways things change. The Greek philosopher is famous for coining the aphorism “no man ever steps in the same river twice.” Heraclitus never stepped on board a Bertram, but his saying still applies to the 50 Express, the builder’s newest sportfisherman. For the 50 isn’t entirely like the Bertrams we’ve seen in the past—and neither are we the same people we used to be. In the ensuing decades, our tastes have changed, and Bertram appears to have readily understood those intricate changes and adopted them into their design.
The 50 falls between the 35 and 61, two boats that heralded, in their own way, the iconic builder’s triumphant return under new leadership and a new facility. The 35 jump-started the brand’s revival, after Beniamino Gavio, an Italian entrepreneur and owner of superyacht builder Baglietto, vowed to make “an American boat,” acquiring the old Lazzara facility in Tampa, Florida to build his vision.
To get a better read on the direction the company is taking with their new express, I caught up with Tommy Thompson, Bertram’s vice president of sales, at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show. The 50’s deck was dry fit around the beginning of November. Accommodations include a two-stateroom/two-head layout, with a salon and finishes that—if the renderings are to be believed—slightly surpass the quality of competitors in this size range. Shirking the coupe designation, the express will be available in both open and sport top configurations. “Coupe sounds like granddad’s car,” said Thompson.
The 50 has been built with the serious angler and family-focused owner in mind. That’s evident in the 178-square-foot cockpit with mezzanine seating. Better for fighting fish. And renderings hint at the modular nature of the components, which allow a tackle center to be swapped out for double mezzanine seats. Better for cruising. That semi-custom mentality extends along the one-piece deck from bow to mezzanine—a layout dictated in part by customer feedback. Thompson demonstrated the modularity of the boat with four business cards, explaining how the settees and three helm chairs can be moved around or removed entirely.
Don’t forget performance. “We felt like hull number one needed to be a rocket ship,” said Thompson. To that end, power options include twin 1,550-hp MAN engines as well as the standard Caterpillar 1,150-hp C18s. Bertram estimates the 50 will be able to reach a top end of around 45 knots with the MANs. With a 1,236-gallon fuel capacity, the sky is the limit for where and how owners will use it. “At their core, they’re offshore fishing boats,” said Thompson of the Bertram line. “You can’t just throw a rod in a rod holder and call it a sportfish boat.” But he can also envision a couple using it to complete the Great Loop, “maybe a little faster than the other guys.” Look for it to make its debut at the Miami boat show in February.