With the launch of its 65 Estrella, Hydra Custom Boats has taken the title of the world’s largest center console, and in doing so, creates a new category of yacht all its own.
I meet the HCB 65 Estrella in Montauk, NY where I find a short window to slip the beast from its chains for a test. The captain is a young-looking man named Matt Huyges who deftly uses the boat’s ZF joystick to slide us out of a tight, shallow (maybe 4-feet deep) slip. I mistake him for a full-time company captain; I’m surprised to learn he was much more than that. Officially, he’s the director of technical sales; his role on the 65 is, in his words, “a little bit of everything and designing the hull bottom.”
“They let the naval architect run the boat up the coast?” I ask.
“This is our testing,” he explains. “I actually deliver all of our 53s to their owners, which is unusual. It’s well worth it because we spend between three and seven days with each owner. Some need that time more than others, but it’s a yacht; it has as many systems as some boats twice the size and we go through all of them with our customers.”
Gallery: HCB 65 Estrella
Just a few of the systems aboard include a watermaker, generator, Seakeeper, refrigerators literally everywhere, livewells and air conditioning at the helm. And then there’s the interior. With a record-setting eight-plus feet of headroom you forget you’re below the console and sunpad. The settee could easily seat a family of five; there’s a small galley for meal prep in a pinch and a double berth in a separate master stateroom forward. The head is sizeable, but the shower is really impressive. A rainforest shower head looks like it belongs in a luxury hotel suite.
I noticed a pair of small hinges on the wall of salon. Huyges gives a small tug on and reveals a nice-sized Pullman berth. All total, the interior can sleep five.
But ok, that’s enough on the interior, back to the test. I was careful to review the sightlines around the boat at different rpm and turns. I was concerned that because of the LOA it might be hard to see the water in front of the boat. That quickly came to pass—I could see around the boat easily.
The ride was smooth, quiet (I measured 72 decibels at the helm and that was mostly wind noise) and sporty. Sporty, yet confidence-inspiring. In tight turns you never felt that the boat would slip and running the boat through its wake revealed pillow-soft landings.
The goal of the boat is to hit 52 knots. We were a couple knots shy of that during our test but with some prop tweaking from the team at Volvo Penta, which recently acquired Seven Marine, I have no doubt they’ll hit that number.
A smooth ride like that doesn’t happen by accident.
“We took this boat to Stevens Institute with a 6-foot scale model and ran it though a tow tank for seakeeping and bare-hull resistance testing,” says Huyges.
This extensive testing gave him the confidence to run the boat up along the coast from the Keys. “I took on 14 footers at one point at 42 miles per hour in the Out Islands. She handled it great.”
With world-record size and power, a thoroughly tested hull, and a motoryacht level of finish, this boat is going to make some serious waves at the Ft. Lauderdale show where she’ll debut to the masses.