The Pershing 7X blazes through a rough-water sea trial with not a hair out of place. (Wish we could say the same for the crew.)
It was a mild, breezy day in La Spezia, Italy, cool in the shadows and pleasantly warm in the lingering, late-season sunshine. The sun was welcome, but the breeze was merely a remnant of a proper blow the day before, the kind of instantaneous gale that you often get in the Mediterranean. The weather threatened to knock our Pershing 7X sea trial on the head, but around breakfast time both the wind and the vessel’s captain relented.
Latest in the X series from the Italian yacht builder, the 7X replaces the 70 in the company lineup, and although slightly shorter in length, it’s a foot wider and more voluminous than its predecessor. It is also, thanks to the latest in construction processes and lightweight materials, nearly five tons lighter when fully fueled. And significantly faster, or so the builder claims. We would soon see about that.
Gallery: Pershing 7X
Like its brethren, the 7X’s most distinctive features are the curvaceous wings over the side decks which add a little shelter from the elements, help to concentrate the slipstream aft to keep the cockpit clear of spray, and, along with the complementary air-intake bulges in the topsides, look pretty cool. Thanks to the descending glass bulkhead, the cockpit and salon commingle nicely, and that aft-facing sofa makes an excellent spot to watch the wake stretching back to the horizon.
Huge glass windows on all sides and even overhead make the main deck a spectacular and welcoming space on a sunny day. Two sets of steps down to the hydraulic swim platform flank a sunbed-topped tender garage big enough for a Williams 345 Sportjet. There is an additional sun-lounging area on the bow.
Built as a three-cabin boat, the 7X’s optional lower-deck layout offers a spacious seating area on the starboard side opposite the galley. The owner’s suite occupies the widest part of the hull, and with an L-shaped entrance and enormous side windows it feels like an enviably luxurious space. The head is dominated by an impressive shower.
The VIP is set well forward, but it doesn’t feel cramped, thanks both to its good-sized opening windows and its headroom, which, as with the other cabins, is a generous 6 feet, 5 inches. The third cabin, a surprisingly spacious twin-berth to starboard, has en suite access to the day head.
A single-berth crew cabin is standard, occupying the space between the engine room bulkhead and the owner’s suite, on the port side. Access is via a hatch in the end of the cockpit sofa, and down a vertical folding ladder. It’s not too bad once you’re in there—there’s even a window.
This being a Pershing, the 7X’s accommodation areas are styled with as much care and attention to detail as the exterior. They are rather similar in color as well. Pershing being Italian, numerous high-end design houses are name checked—Poltrona Frau, Pellini Nautica, Dedar, Armani Casa, Casamance—and while such pale and muted décor might not be to everybody’s taste, the hard edges, flat planes and a preponderance of stainless steel do bespeak a certain modern masculinity. It is beautifully put together, and there is no denying the quality of the detailing. I was so amazed by the opulent thickness of the leather covering the salon table that I found myself taking a photo.
Quality also extends to places that guests wouldn’t normally see—the engine room, for example. What the machinery space might lack in headroom—and it’s actually not too bad in this
respect—it makes up for in its excellent organization and solid
fit-out, with pipework, cabling and switch gear expertly run, accessible and clearly labeled.
The Pershing 70 we tested in 2014 had twin V10 MTU diesels rated at 1,623-hp apiece and managed 46.1 knots with a moderate load. The 7X has more powerful 1,800-hp MAN V12s as standard, and this, taken alongside the 7X’s lighter displacement, explains the shipyard’s confidence in boasting that this vessel is a 50-knot boat. Now it was time to take her out and see if they were right.
The wind dropped off, but the sea has a long memory. Beyond La Spezia’s stone breakwater the swells were piling in from the southwest, bending around the southern tip of Isola Palmaria and filling the bay with an undulating obstacle course that glittered in the morning light. At 5 to 7 feet and not especially steep, the seas were hardly a problem for the 70-footer, but they did nevertheless present us with a challenge. The trouble with any sort of seas in a very fast boat is that there’s no negotiating with them.
At a sensible speed, say 20 knots, you have options. You might not want to head right into the waves at max revs, but running down-sea would be pretty relaxed, while crossing them on a parallel track would also feel fairly civilized, although you’d still be negotiating peaks and troughs as they passed beneath you.
At 50 knots (which I would classify as a very nonsensible speed) all bets are off.
The 7X proved to have an excellent, capable hull that not only handles beautifully, but has a pretty incisive deadrise that only reduces to 17 degrees at the transom. Nevertheless, whatever direction we took the waves at high speeds, the impacts were what I imagine hitting a landmine in a tank would feel like. Repeatedly. I offer this analogy by way of expiation for the slight element of guesswork in our data panel at maximum revs because we couldn’t go there.
Heading straight into the seas at full power was obviously out of the question for the formal part of the test—the bit that requires us to maintain a steady course in both directions at different revs while noting speed, trim, noise levels and fuel consumption. So we attempted the parallel track method, running across the bay. It hardly seemed to make a difference. It was obvious that the 7X had more to give, and in flat water it would have been pure pleasure to push the throttles to the stops and watch the GPS flick up to 50 knots, which I have little doubt it would have done. But at 2,200 rpm and 49.2 knots, just 50 rpm shy of the engines’ rated maximum, it felt like every man for himself.
Which is entirely appropriate for a company named after a nuclear missile. Sensible has never really been a thing at Pershing. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Pershing 7X Test Report
Pershing 7X Specifications:
Displ.: 77,162 lbs. (dry)
Fuel: 951 gal.
Water: 211 gal.
Power: 2/1,800-hp MAN V12 1800