Sweet Spot

With space, style and per­for­mance to spare, the pearl 80 is a mid­size sport cruiser reimag­ined.

Yachts International - - Boats Of Distinction - For more in­for­ma­tion: pearly­achts.com

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.

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