PRE­CIOUS JEWEL

Yachting - - CONTENTS - by kevin koenig

Noted mega-yacht de­signer Bill Dixon penned the Pearl 80, which pos­sesses a bevy of chic, su­pery­acht-style el­e­ments.

THE 80 FROM BRI­TISH BUILDER PEARL SHINES WHEN IT COMES TO IN­TE­RIOR STYLE AND EX­TE­RIOR SPACE.

if you have yet to hear of eng­land’s Pearl Yachts, al­low us to in­tro­duce you to a stylish, well-thought-out brand that’s mak­ing a push into the Amer­i­can mar­ket. I re­cently tested the Pearl 80 on a blaz­ing hot day in South Flor­ida and was im­pressed with what I found. ¶ Pearl was founded in 1997 and has a strong foothold in Europe, with its largest deal­er­ship in Palma de Mal­lorca, Spain. The com­pany builds its hulls and su­per­struc­tures

Iin south­ern China and then ships the ves­sels to its other yard in Southamp­ton, Eng­land, for what the builder refers to as the “fluff and buff.” The 80 I tested was Hull No. 1 of the new model, which is de­signed by Bill Dixon and fits in the builder’s lineup be­tween a 65 and a 95. ¶ The 80 is in­tel­li­gently spec’d for the way Amer­i­can yachts­men typ­i­cally like to cruise. The din­ing room ta­bles that usu­ally morph into gi­ant key trays are gone, be­cause most Amer­i­cans pre­fer to eat out­side. There’s a Blue­tooth sys­tem, up­graded air con­di­tion­ing for South Flor­ida sum­mers and a 100-amp shore-power cord. A Sea­keeper 16 han­dles sta­bi­liza­tion du­ties, while a hot tub on the fly­bridge with a wa­ter­fall and LED back­light­ing is a mega-yacht touch. ¶ The in­te­rior de­sign in the sa­lon and on the ac­com­mo­da­tions level also has a distinctly Amer­i­can am­bi­ence. Pearl aimed to make the sa­lon to feel like an open and airy Man­hat­tan loft (a sen­sa­tion the miss­ing table helps to cre­ate). The soft beiges

and tau­pes on the ac­com­mo­da­tions level cou­ple with win­dows to evoke the feel­ing of a cot­tage on Nan­tucket in New Eng­land. The in­te­rior de­signer for Pearl Yachts is Kelly Hop­pen — step­mother to ac­tress Si­enna Miller and long­time de­signer for Bri­tish pow­er­house cou­ple Vic­to­ria and David Beck­ham, known for their stylish taste. It’s a point of pride at Pearl to have such a high-pro­file name on hand. ¶ The yacht’s gal­ley is an­other in­ter­est­ing space. For­ward and to port on the main deck, it has an elec­tri­cally op­er­ated aft par­ti­tion so that an owner or guest can be part of the con­ver­sa­tion while cook­ing, also giv­ing a pro­fes­sional chef pri­vacy dur­ing on­board events. The boat’s steeply raked wind­shield washes the gal­ley — as well as the break­fast nook for­ward of it — in light. Vitrifrigo ap­pli­ances are stan­dard, and the oven looks big enough to cook a Thanks­giv­ing turkey. (Per­haps an­other Amer­i­can­iza­tion?) ¶ Down be­low, the yacht

has a four-state­room lay­out. The amid­ships mas­ter has a walk-in closet and a shower with nearly 16 square feet of space. A boudoir to port and a set­tee to star­board give the state­room an at-home feel­ing of spa­cious­ness. Mov­ing for­ward is a de­sign el­e­ment that I can’t re­call ever see­ing on any yacht: nearly iden­ti­cal guest state­rooms to both sides of the yacht with win­dows fac­ing into the com­pan­ion­way (with Vene­tian blinds for pri­vacy). The win­dows open the ac­com­mo­da­tions level im­mensely and help to cre­ate a highly mem­o­rable in­te­rior aes­thetic. The fi­nal state­room mov­ing for­ward is the fore­peak VIP with an athwartships berth, a walk-in closet, and nearly sole-to-ceil­ing mir­rors at the foot of the bed, giv­ing the il­lu­sion of even more space. ¶ Space is also con­sid­er­able up on the fly­bridge. To my eye, be­ing there felt like be­ing aboard a yacht a good 10 feet longer. And the fly­bridge is fully wired for

en­ter­tain­ing. There’s that afore­men­tioned hot tub, plus a wet bar to port with an L-shaped counter with a hid­den grill. Two set­tees with ac­com­pa­ny­ing ta­bles are also here, with for­ward sun pads for the bronz­ing set. More sun pads are on the fore­deck, where there is also a U-shaped set­tee. This is the place to be when the yacht is moored stern-to and own­ers de­sire some pri­vacy from pry­ing eyes on the docks. The Fu­sion stereo sys­tem can play mu­sic here that is in­de­pen­dent from what­ever tunes are fill­ing the rest of the yacht. ¶ While our test day didn’t of­fer a whole lot in terms of in­ter­est­ing sea con­di­tions, the Pearl still made a mark. She tracked straight and true, and her deep-V hull form (also Dixon de­signed) proved grippy as she breezed through S-turns. She got on plane right around 13.5 knots and topped out at 32.6 knots, a bit slower than the man­u­fac­turer’s listed top-end of 35.2, but that could owe to a num­ber of eas­ily cor­rectable fac­tors in­clud­ing load and prop ad­just­ments. I cruised her mainly at 2,050 rpm do­ing 26 knots, a speed at which her en­gines purred. ¶ And I do mean purred. The boat was ex­cep­tion­ally quiet in terms of engine noise, creaks and groans, a tes­ta­ment to her solid build. Power plants on board the test boat were twin 1,800 hp MANs housed in a gleam­ing engine room with just shy of 6 feet of head­room and good ac­cess to both the en­gines and the twin 20 kW Kohler gensets. ¶ The yacht showed some peppy speed num­bers for a ves­sel in this class, and she drove with a sporty feel that the low-pro­file lines and sharply raked side win­dows en­hanced. As I sliced her though the ocean, I could see in my mind’s eye how grace­ful she must have looked from a dis­tance, whether here or splash­ing across the At­lantic from Southamp­ton to her new home wa­ters.

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