Con­quer­ing Hero


Power & Motor Yacht - - EXPOSURE - BY ALAN HARPER

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).

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