LOOKING FOR A SPRIGHTLY PERFORMER ACCENTED WITH A FINE FINISH? THE INVICTUS 370GT IS A WALKAROUND WITH STERN DRIVE POWER THAT MAY RAISE THE BAR FOR ITS CATEGORY.
WWhether it’s the hull color, the intricate stitching, or the stainless steel lettering immaculately inset into the gelcoat, there is something jewel-like about Invictus’s new 370GT. Sitting there in bright Mediterranean sunshine, its shapes, tones, and textures just get better the closer you go. Soft Alcantara lines the interior, with its wool carpeting and oak floors. And then there is all the leather: adorning door handles and grabrails, lining headboards, and cladding the retro lockers. There’s soft, stitched vinyl, too, on the steel frame of the cockpit table and even padding the front of the superstructure molding. The whole boat is a tactile delight.
This was at the recent Cannes boat show, which is always full of gleaming Italian hardware buffed to a shining brilliance. But even so, there seemed to be something other-worldly about the 370’s cosmetic perfection, as if it were too good to be true. It had an unreal, Photoshop quality. “No, it’s real,” Elisa Corti from the shipyard’s public relations firm, Sand People Communication, cheerfully assured me.
This Invictus is from the design studio of Christian Grande, and, as well as his assiduous attention to detail, he also displays a robust focus on the practicalities of onboard life. Three secure helm seats are as many as you could sensibly hope for, while behind them sits a grill and sink with big lockers beneath. There’s more stowage under the cockpit sole, engine access is very good, and the substantial swim platform is hydraulic, if you want. Hand-holds abound.
No fewer than four layout options are available below, variations that involve the choice of one or two berths in the amidships cabin, and a double berth or a dinette forward. Our test boat had three berths, all different, but each is a reasonable size, especially the 6-foot-4-inch-by-5-foot double in the forward sleeping area. They come with necessarily limited headroom—just 25 inches over the head of the berths in the amidships cabin, and 28 inches up forward—but this is no criticism in what is essentially a midsize walkaround. Headroom in the central living area is 6 feet 6 inches. The head compartment is small, but it works.
For all its manifest visual, sensual, and practical qualities, there is a limit to how long you can spend admiring a 37-footer in the marina. The crew threw the lines off and we negotiated the crowded waters of the harbor entrance, pointing that distinctively sculpted bow towards the open sea. It looked pretty choppy out there for a small, fast sports machine.
You can specify 300-horsepower Volvo Penta diesels, if you like— which I suspect would be more than adequate—but our 370 had 370s: the refined and torquey VW-based V-8s from MerCruiser, on twin-prop Bravo Three stern drives. It all starts happening once you push the levers through 2500 rpm. In the sort of lively conditions we had off Cannes, this is the time to hold onto something solid—preferably the steering wheel—and squint hard into the rising breeze, because whatever’s out there in front is starting to come
at you with rapidly increasing velocity. Twenty knots flashes by on the log, followed almost immediately by 25. Thirty knots barely registers as you begin to appreciate that the numbers on the screen aren’t just blurred because the wind is wringing tears from the corners of your eyes. They really are moving too fast to keep track of.
The steering is electronic, and very, very light. Somewhere around the mid-30-knot mark I thought it might be time to see what she could do. Amid the 2- to 3-foot seas raised by an offshore afternoon breeze in the Baie de Cannes, I soon realized that I could have benefited from more familiarization time with the boat, preferably at dawn on a mirror-calm sea with nobody watching. As it was, the combination of my efforts to discover what I could about its handling qualities while maintaining at least the illusion of control, together with the steep chop and the hull’s tenacious grip on the water, meant that the forces acting on the boat and its occupants were many and various. It probably gave my passengers more of a workout than they were expecting. Driving upwind was of course the sternest test, and for the good of our physical and mental well-being I did find it necessary to throttle back. It’s no offshore deep-V, but this modified-V, with 16 degrees of transom deadrise, is a very good hull. On every other point of sail the boat attacked the seas with puppyish enthusiasm. I enjoyed it, too. And somewhat to my surprise, in spite of that hip ax-bow that looks like it belongs on a submarine, the forward sections of the hull did a good job. I had imagined lashing sheets of salt spray turning my notes to pulp, but we stayed dry. The automatic trim on the Bravo Three drives might also have had something to do with it.
Steering a steady course once more, the moment came to explore what lay beyond 3500 rpm. Even heading downwind, which was the only practical option, I was reminded how offshore racing is a young man’s game as the flesh on my face took on a life of its own. Thirtyfive knots arrived and departed in the first second, and then the GPS was suggesting 40. The number wasn’t changing with quite its earlier rapidity, but it was clear that there was more to come. It eventually settled on just over 42 knots, and we all beamed at each other.
A faint ripping noise, just discernible through the buffeting gale, was followed by an instantaneously strange stroboscopic effect. The sky seemed to switch off for a millisecond as one of the big forward cushions flashed over our heads and came down in the sea some way astern. At the same moment the other one reared up and dumped itself into the cockpit with us. Examination of its remnants revealed that the plastic spring clips were blameless, and even the stitching had refused to submit to the gale howling over the foredeck. It was the fabric itself, sturdy enough by the look of it, which had given up the struggle, rent asunder like soggy newsprint.
“Nooooo!” Elisa howled. “We have a helicopter photo shoot this evening!” As we rolled slowly back through the waves to retrieve the waterlogged upholstery, I told her not to worry. If ever there was a job for Photoshop, this was it.
Think of the Invictus 370GT as a “dayboat plus,” with forward sunpads for days, a helm that lets you share in the fun (left), plus a sleek master (below), and some guest quarters to open up cruising possibilities (below right).