Prestige 420 Flybridge
When Prestige Yachts was making its 2012 stateside debut I was on the hard from the marine space, a corporate exec in the doldrums. Workweeks consisted of managing a host of Sisyphean tasks and hours-long, back-to-back sessions in conference rooms, where I did my damndest to stay conscious and engaged. When the annual “Take Your Kids to Work Day” would pop up on the calendar, I was not an enthusiastic participant—as much as I wanted the kids around, parental duties to protect my children from the uninspired kept me from doing so.
I still spend an inordinate time trying to stay in the moment with a set of challenging tasks laid before me. But the tide has changed. Days are now spent among sublime natural beauty at the helm of sultry speedsters, chasing fish in southern climes on battlewagons or touring facilities where the world’s finest yachts are built. (To be fair and balanced, there’s a good amount of crawling around engine rooms, smelling of diesel and long airport layovers.) When family and friends only see photos of you engaged in such pursuits, it leaves little room for sympathy for the work that goes into the final product. How does one best communicate this career of ours?
Gallery: Prestige 420 Flybridge
Recently, I had the opportunity to treat my 9-year-old daughter Frankie to a few days in the life of a marine journalist when an invite arrived for the French builder’s annual Sea & Shore Event, held at Key Largo’s Ocean Reef Club. Prestige was celebrating their 30th anniversary as a stand-alone from the Jeanneau shipyard, showing its entire lineup from 42 to 68 feet (the flagship 750 would be excused). From what I’ve seen at boat shows, I was impressed with the engineering that allowed the builder to offer joystick piloting across their offerings of sporty coupes and flybridge models, no matter if the propulsion package called for V-drives, straight shafts or ‘stick-specific options like IPS or Zeus. Combined with the brand’s modus operandi—maximizing volume in a family-friendly model line—I could see how Prestige continued to enjoy its coveted spot in the behemoth Beneteau Group lineup. But it wasn’t until I spent several days with colleagues living aboard their 460 Flybridge last summer that I understood the sum of the parts: a confident cruiser with copious spaces for gathering or, if one chose, quiet reflection.
Frankie and I were to sea trial lé bébé of the lineup—the 420 Flybridge—the morning after our arrival but I wanted to give her a few pointers, so after some time in the pool (she needed to “decompress after the flight”) we headed down to the quays with the Prestige lineup. Over the next few days, these boats would be crawling with Sea & Shore invitees who either own a Prestige or are looking to add one to the fleet. Having the boats to ourselves would give me the opportunity to teach her an arsenal of nautical terminology and show her what we look for when touring a new vessel.
Naturally, we started on the 420 where I first demonstrated the hydraulic swim platform, lowering her up to her ankles and expounding on how it allows for easy egress to and from the salt, especially with water toys. She seemed to like the idea of using the ladder instead—“More fun,” she succinctly stated—and as I waxed on how its 330-pound capacity allows for dinghy storage and her gaze started to look past me, I flipped open the hatch to reveal the electric cooktop. Her eyes widened with excitement when I said if we had an opportunity to overnight on board in the future, we can make chocolate chip pancakes here in the morning after practicing cannonballs off the stern. Before she even boarded the boat, she was hooked.
To tell the truth, I was surprised at her enthusiasm when she joined me in the aft cockpit and I popped the two hatches in the sole, explaining what each offers for access to the mains and mechanicals. She zipped down the ladder and stood between the 380-hp, 6.7L Cummins powerplants and I recalled how Frankie relishes doing anything with power tools and menial automotive tasks, like refilling washer fluid. I pointed out a few belts and the oil dipsticks and said that unlike with a modern automobile, boaters tend to check these things nearly every time they set out for a cruise. When we traded spots, I was glad to find the engine room, while tight, offered up enough room for day checks and if needed, more substantial wrench-turning.
My girl also likes to chill (as in c-h-i-l-l) indoors and after she excitedly ran around the salon, staterooms and flybridge she asked if we can trade our apartment for the 420, suggesting “We keep it on the river near Whole Foods,” so that her and mom can easily get to school and work. Since our home is in Brooklyn, New York and the aforementioned water, the Gowanus Canal, is a Superfund site, I tabled the conversation with promises to discuss it with her mother. I did confirm for her that Netflix is available on the water, which seemed to lift her spirits after my unconvincing deflection.
After we toured the rest of the fleet, we joined the Sea & Shore guests at dinner along with President of Prestige America Nick Harvey who asked what she liked about the boats. “The flybridge. And the private, um, way to get to the master stateroom on the…” I step in. “The 680,” I tell Harvey, trying to contain my excitement as she remembered what I’d shown her. “She likes the forward master.” Harvey nods and we both watched as my daughter expertly flagged down the server with the chicken satay, took a skewer and added, “I also liked the way the teak decks and how the”—“Nonskid,” I remind her—“on the flybridge felt on my feet. Oh, the camera that you can see behind you on the screen at the wheel, that too,” she added, and munched away. Harvey commended me on raising the next generation of marine scribes and when I looked back at her, beaming, she was looking away but not out of embarrassment—the satay dude was back and beelining toward her.
I stole away for a moment and left Frankie to the hors d’oeuvres to speak with designer Camillo Garroni. The family’s Italy-based design firm has been with Prestige since the onset; it was Garroni’s father who penned the first Prestige and he proudly continues the lineage. I reminded him that the Power & Motoryacht team had the 460 for several months, adding that the 420 retains the open feel and spaciousness of its larger sibling. The designer smiled, took a sip of his vino and responded: “That’s something we pay particular attention to on the 420,” he said in a Genoese accent, “and we’ll continue to push the corners of the rectangle as far as possible.” As he explained what he felt was important to imbue throughout the series—a feature-rich interior layout and to continue to pursue “upscale materials and finish”—I felt a tug on my elbow. It was time for Frankie to get some sleep, as we had a busy morning planned.
Twelve hours later, a chopper circled overhead and snapped photos of the 420 and the rest of fleet as we buzzed around the Atlantic. There were eight of us on board, and most were on the flybridge as I had Frankie call out rpm numbers to the captain and then log our speed and fuel burn, which she did in tiny, precise columns she set up at the dock. After running the boat, I relinquished the helm to my daughter, whispering some pointers and giving her some space as she piloted the boat into a big S-turn and then with my urging, spun the boat 360 degrees with the joystick.
As Frankie squinted into the wind, she looked towards me and I saw generations of our family’s strong women in the contours of her smile, in her eyes. Stepping back to take it all in, I lost my breath. “There’s a bit of magic in everything,” Lou Reed sang, “and then some loss to even things out.” Time moves like a fighter jet and soon she’ll be grown and pursing her own dreams. I’m confident this trip will be a fine memory for her, but I hope it’s just the beginning. My plan is to raise a future first-mate who’ll join her mother, older brother and me on many nautical adventures in our later years, gleefully eating chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast after a morning swim.
Prestige 420 Layout Diagrams
Prestige 420 Test Report
Prestige 420 Specifications:
Displ.: 32,710 lbs.
Fuel: 309 gal.
Water: 112 gal.
Test Power: 2/380-hp Cummins QSB6.7 diesel V-drives
Optional Power: 2/425-hp Cummins QSB6.7 diesel V-drives