FAIRLINE TARGA 43 OPEN
This could be the boat that defines this era of Fairline Yachts. We test it prior to its launch at the Cannes Boat Show to see if it lives up to the hype
We are snaking through a minefield of waterborne exotica in search of the perfect empty patch of blue for some aerial footage. That, however, is a tall order when the location is the anchorage between the Lérins Islands off Cannes at the end of August. There are so many boats jostling for anchoring space they have effectively formed a chain of luxurious stepping stones that you could walk between the islands on. We find a handkerchief-sized dollop of turquoise water over white sand, which should look tasty from the drone, and hover a couple of feet off the bow of an Italian-flagged Sunseeker Camargue. The owner marches down the side deck to, I assume, tell us to keep our anchor away from his but in fact he enquires as to the make and model of the boat we’re on. “It’s a Fairline Targa 43,” our skipper replies from the foredeck. Our friend sticks up his thumb and smiles: “Nice!”
He’s right, it is nice, and has been drawing admiring glances from the second we departed Port de La Napoule. This is the 43’s first outing and this – hull number one – was shipped from Ipswich the previous day before having its IPS600 pods plugged in and its bottom dipped into the balmy waters of the Côte d’azur.
Like the Targa 63 GTO, launched this time last year, the exterior styling is by Alberto Mancini, so it’s no mistake that the 43 looks an awful lot like the flagship has been put through a hot wash. It shares the same distinctive window design and sweeping roofline, which disguises a truly enormous sliding roof. When it’s open the aperture is staggeringly big, yet it folds back very neatly into a cassette within the radar arch. A particularly neat Mancini touch is the pair of ‘wings’ that stop the bunched up fabric from peeping over the top of the roofline and disturbing the profile. Below the spectacular roof is a cockpit free of the shackles of having to incorporate a set of doors and an upper saloon. The 43 is a sportscruiser in the shape of how sportscruisers used to be, its cockpit open to the elements and delicately balancing slabs of sunbathing space with enough comfortable seating to feed a boat load of guests. The main deck is versatile, it has a tender garage large enough for a Williams Minijet but also the option of a hydraulic bathing platform with the capacity to stow a jetski on (though that’s a lot of weight back aft). Atop the tender garage is a sunpad with a two-way backrest that can push forward to create a sloping headrest for when guests want to recline. The teak table can be concealed behind the dinette seating in a matter of seconds by removing the cushions and folding it away and the aft-facing seat next to the wetbar has a detachable squab so it can be drawn up to the table to create an extra dining spot. It’s simple, clever design that Fairline has always done so well and it helps to make the most of a cockpit that, due to the boat being nearly a foot wider than the old Targa 44, already feels impressively spacious and is hot on the heels of the Targa 48 when it comes to living space.
A CLASS ABOVE
The theme continues below decks where the 43’s height pays dividends. You may have to reach above your head to attach a spring line amidships but the volume within the interior is noteworthy. Either cabin can be nominated as the master by sectioning off the bathroom to limit day head access. Our test boat had the master forward so the door to the amidships cabin is set further back to allow guests to use its ensuite during the day. If you want the amidships cabin as the master the door is brought forward and an entrance to the forward bathroom is
created in the starboard bulkhead to allow day access. Personally, I prefer the latter as the door breaks up the imposing forward bulkhead and, of course, it gives the owner the impressive central cabin. It’s here where the boat’s height pays off most as a person of 6ft or more can comfortably stroll about without cracking their head on the ceiling. The aft end drops down a touch where the cockpit step is but there are no other obstructions around the athwartships double bed. Both cabins aren’t short of storage with a mix of full-height wardrobes, shelving and easily accessed under-berth storage that doesn’t involve lifting up mattresses. One extra string to the forward cabin’s bow is the option to have scissor-action twin berths instead of the standard fixed double. There are few complaints in the saloon where a neat galley sits opposite a plush dinette spacious enough to host breakfast if it’s too cool on deck. The omission of a full-height fridge/freezer may frustrate but there is supplementary cooling space in the wet bar on deck and there are thoughtful touches to maximise space like stowing the microwave in the forward bulkhead with a retracting flap to keep it hidden away when not in use. The fit and finish and attention to detail of the interior is back where it needs to be and reminiscent of the original 43, which set the benchmark two decades go. There is a lustre and solidity in comparison to French and German rivals; it is a scaled down 63 not only in look but in feel as well.
Early in the development stages of this model Fairline suggested that there would be sterndrive and IPS versions of the 43 but as the project progressed it became apparent that the 400hp limit per sterndrive wouldn’t be man enough. As such it is a pair of (435hp) IPS600S squeezed into the void below the tender garage. Squeezed is the correct verb, too, as there is very little space around the engines in order to make room for a Williams Minijet inside the tender garage. In fairness, the garage floor hinges once the RIB is out to make access easier but trying to fix a problem in a heaving sea would not be a pleasant experience. What of performance, though? Well it’s not exactly blistering given that we topped out at 30.8 knots, albeit with 80% fuel, and full water tanks plus the Williams on board. Declining sportscruiser performance is a trend; take a look at the Sunseeker Predator 50 tested in last month’s issue or Prestige’s coupe line-up. Living space is king and with wider beams and heavier specifications comes an inevitable drop in outright speed.
The thing is though, the Targa 43 doesn’t feel sluggish; in fact it nips up on to the plane eagerly and settles at a 23-knot, 3,000rpm cruise so comfortably I would have been quite happy sitting there until the fuel tanks had drained. Despite having no cockpit doors and with that enormous sunroof peeled right back the helmsman can chat to passengers sitting opposite without having to raise their voice over engine or wind noise. The handling is light and accurate with just enough heel in turns to have a bit of fun, but nothing that is going to lead to a loss of control. Though conditions were benign on the day, there was enough wash from passing craft to kick up a challenging artificial playground which the 43 negotiated comfortably. Its ability to flatten out the awkward chop without slamming or letting off squeaks and rattles suggests that the quality of construction is more than skin deep. This is not a hard-edged sportscruiser in the mould of a Windy or Hunton but more a laid-back grand tourer suited to covering distances at a decent lick without getting ruffled. The driving position is perfect for this as the seated position is so comfortable and easy to adjust on its powered pedestal. A folding step allows you to stand at the helm if needed but the lack of bolster means it’s not that comfortable for long periods of time. When it came to negotiating the narrow fairways of Port de La Napoule standing on the step with sunroof open ensured a great all-round view and allowed me to place the boat with dainty tweaks of the joystick.
If performance figures are on a negative gradient it seems prices are heading in the opposite direction. The boat we tested, with options, cost £830,111 inc VAT. Closing in on £1 million for a 43ft (okay, it’s more like 46ft all told) sportscruiser is steep to put it mildly. This being hull number one Fairline stuffed it with factory options to give a worst case scenario in terms of loading and performance so you could potentially shave off some costs here and there but not many. Apart from the ludicrously pricey Volvo dynamic positioning system at £19,861, nearly £45,000 of
air-con and the hi-lo bathing platform at £25,000, which isn’t necessary because there is a tender garage, most owners will want the rest of the options boxes ticked. Fairline finds itself in a tricky position at this level. Under-engineer the boats and it is accused of corner cutting to compete with higher volume manufacturers that have the economies of scale to keep prices lower. Engineered to the level it is and, though beautifully put together, it’s understandable that some customers’ heads might be turned by the bang for buck on offer from a yard like Prestige, Bénéteau or Galeon. The Prestige 46S tested earlier in this issue, for example, which has two ensuite cabins, a hardtop and is available with IPS600S starts from almost £120,000 less than the Fairline. It’s not as well put together as the Targa, nor as stylish, but that’s a serious amount of money to keep in your pocket. VERDICT Putting the price to one side, though, (which is easier to write than to do) there is a very good boat here. Considering it was box fresh it looked and behaved more like hull number ten than number one and, most importantly, it drove and felt like a Fairline should. The reassuring sea-keeping is there, the elegant styling is there and crucially the fit and finish are there. It’s this perception of quality and all the special little touches that go with it which will ultimately help justify the price to those in search of the best 46ft sportscruiser rather than the best value one.
With the 63 GTO, Fairline emphatically announced its rebirth, with the hotly anticipated F33 it showed its creative ambition but it’s the Targa 43, with a string of class-leading ancestors bobbing along in its wake, which will ultimately determine the yard’s long-term success. Provided you can swallow the price and aren’t fussed about tearing along at 35 knots plus then we’re confident the Targa 43 will hit its mark and power the yard to new heights. CONTACT Fairline Yachts. www.fairline.com
Ever since the age of 10, when our neighbours on a holiday campsite in the South of France took me out in their Mirror dinghy, I’ve always loved boats. I spent much of my 20s sailing Sigma 38s, making friends for life with the people I met. I bought my first motorboat, an old 72ft trawler yacht, in 2000. Initially my sailing friends refused to come on board my ‘stink boat’ but during Cork Sailing Week they needed somewhere to stay and once they realised how comfortable it was I couldn’t get rid of them! I crossed Biscay three times in her despite getting knocked over several times. I finally sold it in 2004 to focus on my career.
It wasn’t until 2014, after 10 years without a boat, that I took the plunge again. I’d flown to Mallorca to look at a holiday villa in the mountains. The villa wasn’t right for us but while I was there I chanced across a 2004 Horizon 78 motor yacht for sale in Port Andratx. It was on offer for roughly 15% of the villa’s asking price, but was still in good condition and had four comfortable cabins.
I bought Vivace as a floating apartment knowing that she was large enough for all five of my children to stay with us. They absolutely loved her, and the high bulwarks and big deck spaces meant she was safe for the younger ones to move around on. Even now the older ones have grown up and left home, it’s still the only place they will all come and stay!
We rarely cruise for any great distance — there are so many great places to anchor near Port Andratx that we normally just turn right or left out of the marina, motor for no more than an hour and drop the hook. The only drawback is the swell that often builds up during the day and the wake from passing boats. We have a wonderful chef who comes and cooks for us when there’s a crowd on board. On one infamous occasion she’d prepared an amazing lunch for us all and laid it out beautifully on the cockpit table when a big boat charged past the small cala we were anchored in. The entire lunch ended up on the cockpit floor and our normally mild-mannered chef turned the air blue in frustration. I decided there and then that we needed to retrofit stabilisers.
I investigated all the options including hydraulic fins and gyro stabilisers but retro-fitting either of them to Vivace presented a number of issues. Limited space in the engineroom would have meant remodelling the aft cabin to make room for the hydraulics or cutting holes in the cockpit floor to install the two smaller gyros needed to stabilise the substantial size and weight of our heavily-built Horizon. Both options were possible but not without considerable expense and hassle.
Then, at the Palma boat show, I wandered past the Humphree stand and saw its new electric fin stabilisers. They had only recently been launched but they appeared to solve a lot of the issues we were facing. The electric actuators for the fins were small enough to fit into the corners of the engineroom without any remodelling. There were no high-pressure hoses or hydraulic reservoirs to worry about, just a couple of electric cables and a pair of additional chargers. They also seemed to offer a number of potential benefits. Provided we added extra battery capacity, we could have the stabilisers on without needing to run the generator, and unlike the gyros we wouldn’t need to wait 45 minutes for them to come up to speed before using them.
The hull is solid through waves and well-balanced, though some may crave more speed
The enormous cockpit and sunroof are key to the 43’s charms. It shines in the sun
The engineroom is very tight but there is at least an effort to make filters accessible Teak side decks are only an option but they add a classy flourish to the deck spaces
ERGONOMICS The relationship between the driving controls is really good OLD AND NEW The MFD is supplemented by analogue controls at the top of the dash STORAGE There are a couple of cupholders but the dash could do with more cubbyholes