With space, style and performance to spare, the pearl 80 is a midsize sport cruiser reimagined.
Britain-based Pearl Yachts, a relatively new kid on the block here in the United States, has introduced a new way to think about midsize sport cruisers. The North American debut of the Pearl 80 packs some new pleasures for this niche, essentially ditching the “sex sells” cliché in favor of a well-rounded, space-centric take on the cruising lifestyle. That’s not to say the Pearl 80 is without sex appeal. She’s got it in spades. It just wasn’t the first thing I noticed when I approached her—nor was it the second. In fact, she’s anything but typical, and that’s by design.
Where conventional boats in this class would have a full-beam salon, the Pearl 80 has an open-plan lounge with low, modular sofas. A seating area alongside the helm serves as the cozy interior dining space.
“In most boats of this size, the salon is dominated by a large dining area, but we found our clients rarely ate there, instead preferring to eat on deck or on shore,” says Pearl Yachts Managing Director Iain Smallridge. “By opting not to force the dining table, we get an even larger entertaining area.”
Interior design is by Kelly Hoppen, with three optional themes: Studio, Taupe and Luxury. Studio has stripes and rich browns. Taupe has pale joinery with calming earthy tones from ivories to warmer grays. Luxury has polished surfaces, nickel and pops of black.
Regardless of the décor theme, the interior feels traditional, yet contemporary. Contrasting fabrics and woods add to the visual depth, and glossy white lacquered overheads enhance the feeling of spaciousness. Glazing and overhead windows add light in the salon, galley and helm area, and the galley has a bulkhead panel that opens to the lounge, adding fluidity to the living space.
All accommodations are on the lower deck. The full-beam owner’s stateroom is amidships with a walkin closet, king-size bed, sofa, vanity and ensuite bathroom. The volume in this space feels larger than I’d expect on a yacht with a 78-foot, 5-inch length overall.
Forward are two twin-bed guest staterooms, both ensuite and able to convert to doubles. The VIP stateroom, also ensuite, is far forward, with walkaround access to the bed, and a sofa and walkin closet. The yacht’s deep-V hull creates this stateroom’s volume, allowing the bed to be positioned at a 45-degree angle to centerline.
Designed to accommodate the possibility of charter, the Pearl 80’s laundry facilities, crew’s quarters for two (or a couple of kids) and engine room have an
access point to starboard. Crew can access the galley from a side door, too, meaning they won’t disturb guests in the lounge area.
For all her interior merits, the Pearl 80 is a cruising yacht at heart. Owners with a penchant for outdoor amenities will not want for much. Three areas allow alfresco dining, on the flybridge, foredeck and covered main deck aft. Sun-worshippers will appreciate the array of sunpads on the flybridge and the bow, plus a bar, a grill and a spa tub. A PWC garage is integrated into the transom, keeping the flybridge clear for entertaining guests. The garage can also accommodate a Williams Turbojet 325. Once the playthings are in the water, the transom hydraulically lowers to become a swim platform.
Overall, the Pearl 80 is an evolution of the builder’s previous flagship, the Pearl 75—but with traditional shaft drives instead of the 75’s pod drives.
“We took the best features from the 75, such as the floor plan, which we loved,” Smallridge says. “But instead of modifying the 75, we made completely new
tooling, so it really is a new 80 rather than a Mark 2 of the 75—which is apparent in the deck design, window design, the hard top…everything is all its own.”
Penned by Bill Dixon of Dixon Yacht Design, the yacht’s exterior styling and hull design convey an aerodynamic aesthetic with an emphasis on the windscreen and three tiers of glazing seen from each side. The belt of continuous window paneling just above the waterline permits a well-illuminated accommodations area, and a skylight is over the galley. Construction is in vacuum-infused GRP with a white gelcoat finish.
Our test run in Miami’s Biscayne Bay aboard hull number 1 was in calm seas. Taking the helm at the flybridge, I found the 80 to be trustworthy, tracking well and feeling nimble for a yacht of her size. She came on plane around 14 knots and was surprisingly agile, carving S-curves with a comfortable bank. I clocked her at 35.6 knots with the needles pinned, exceeding her quoted top speed by more than half a knot—with full water tanks and 60 percent fuel, plus eight guests on board.
Equipped with 1,800-horsepower MAN V12 engines with V-drives, her cruising speed is 18 to 28 knots, with 25 to 28 knots as a sweet spot for a range north of 300 nautical miles. A 1,150-horsepower Caterpillar C18 package is also available. With an optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer, she’ll yield a 15-knot slow cruise with a range of nearly 1,000 nautical miles.
If I’m being honest, having personally witnessed a number of European sport-yacht invasions here in the States through the years, I admit I first approached the Pearl 80 with tempered expectations. Standing dockside staring down the business end of yet another white boat in a crowded market, I wasn’t going to allow myself to be overly optimistic. But once I was aboard, the Pearl 80 surprised me, and continued to do so during my sea trial. Whether it was her inventive interior, her easy handling or a combination of both, the Pearl 80 struck me as a yacht that is fresh and stimulating—just the thing we need more of here in the Americas.
top: Understanding that guests rarely utilize a formal dining table on a yacht of this size, Pearl Yachts designated other areas of the yacht, such as the flybridge, to accommodate meals. The result is an even larger entertaining area in the salon.
CloCkwise from left: The interior design is traditional but contemporary, with clean lines and neutral tones dominating the living spaces; Digital entertainment is integrated into the bulkhead for extra space savings; Despite pushing nearly 60 tons, the 80 performed beautifully on our sea trial, with a top speed just over 35 knots in comfort and control; Stainless steel detailing throughout adds an element of refinement.
Loa: 78ft. 5in. (23.9m) beam: 19ft. 6in. (6m) DrafT: 5ft. 3in. (1.6m) DispLacemenT: 121,254 lb. fueL: 1,386 gal. WaTer: 330 gal. TesT poWer: 2 x 1,800-hp MAN V12 with V-drive opTionaL poWer: 2 x 1,150-hpCaterpillar C18
above: An extra two steps down on the lower deck give the master stateroom additional headroom below the salon. Top: Once the tender and toys are in the water, the hydraulic swim platform can be put to good use.