As soon as we laid eyes on the grace­ful lines of Cockwells’ lat­est of­fer­ing, we knew we had to take her for a spin... Nick Burn­ham gets up close with this ex­quis­ite work of art

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - WORDS Nick Burn­ham

TESTED Just as its name sug­gests, this one-off wooden ten­der is a float­ing work of art

We get many emails from boat man­u­fac­tur­ers ask­ing us to test their lat­est boats. Fre­quently sent via a PR com­pany or from a mar­ket­ing exec, they’re usu­ally full of flow­ery prose (that al­ways in­cludes the word ‘life­style’) about a ‘brand new model’ that, on closer in­spec­tion, of­ten looks sus­pi­ciously like the pre­vi­ous model but with larger win­dows.

The email from Cockwells was some­what dif­fer­ent. Partly be­cause it came di­rectly from the man with his name above the door, Dave Cock­well. But mostly be­cause of it’s brevity. En­ti­tled ‘Fancy a go?’, it sim­ply read ‘Our lat­est cre­ation, we don’t have her long so please let me know’, and had a photo at­tached. It took us about half a sec­ond to de­cide that yes, we fan­cied a go. A builder of cus­tom su­pery­acht ten­ders and be­spoke one-off com­mis­sions, boats from Cockwells tend to be se­ri­ously high-end, but the photo sug­gested that he’d gone strato­spheric.

Catch­ing sight of the boat at Port Pen­den­nis Ma­rina, it’s im­me­di­ately clear that the photo didn’t do the boat jus­tice. Based on a con­cept by Rod­man Whitely Dixon, with an in­te­rior de­signed by Cul­lum Be­spoke, the Ti­tian’s low pro­file, cold­moulded con­struc­tion with teak ve­neer fin­ish mar­ries the min­i­mal­ist geo­met­ric form of a Wally Power to the grace of a Riva, yet re­sem­bles nei­ther of them. In fact, it looks com­pletely dif­fer­ent to any­thing else on the wa­ter.

And if you think it looks good from a dis­tance, wait un­til you get up close! The teak deck­ing of the fore­deck, for ex­am­ple, is laid out her­ring­bone-style, and the caulk­ing be­tween the tim­bers is cop­per in­fused. Noth­ing is al­lowed to taint the per­fect lines – stain­less steel cleats re­tract, filler caps are flush and there is no an­chor, winch or even bow roller in ev­i­dence on the fore­deck. On board, a walk­way leads be­tween twin aft sun loungers to a cock­pit that would seat six com­fort­ably plus a dou­ble helm with an­other twin seat ad­ja­cent at the front. The wooden floor echoes the her­ring­bone mo­tif of the fore­deck. In fact, al­most ev­ery­thing you see that is not ei­ther up­hol­stery or part of the dash lay­out is wood, re­mind­ing you that what you are aboard doesn’t just look spe­cial, it’s built spe­cial.

It’s the same story in­side. The low ceil­ing of what is unashamedly a day boat fea­tures silk pan­els set into wooden frames im­bued with fine art unique to this boat. Cabin sides are slat­ted wood and the floor and gal­ley units fea­ture more of that trade­mark cop­per edg­ing. What the in­te­rior lacks in head­room it makes up for not just in the de­tail­ing but also in fa­cil­i­ties. The gal­ley may be com­pact but there’s a proper oven, a ce­ramic hob and even a cof­fee maker, while the sep­a­rate heads fea­tures a sleek Tecna elec­tric flush loo. The en­tire area is air con­di­tioned, cre­at­ing a com­fort­able, cool haven in which to es­cape the heat.

The whole boat is a work of art, but it is per­for­mance art. The con­cept and build might sug­gest old-school cool, but the tech­ni­cal sys­tems are from the fu­ture. Not a sin­gle knob or but­ton is al­lowed to mar the ‘glass cock­pit’ dash ahead of the tac­tile wood-rimmed al­loy spoked steer­ing wheel. In­stead, two large touch screens con­trol ev­ery as­pect of the boat from en­gine in­stru­men­ta­tion and nav­i­ga­tion through to switch­ing via an Em­pir­bus con­trol sys­tem for light­ing, pumps, and my favourite gadget, the an­chor sys­tem. Press ‘de­ploy’ and two hatches at the front of the fore­deck open, fol­lowed by a stem head roller un­furl­ing into place, an­chor at­tached and ready to be low­ered. An­other op­tion com­mands a bi­mini to mo­tor into place, shad­ing the en­tire cock­pit. But for the ul­ti­mate in per­for­mance art, press ‘en­gine hatch raise’ and feast your eyes on the pair of Yan­mar 320hp V8 diesel en­gines – they’re linked to a pair of Hamil­ton jet drives be­neath the swim plat­form. Bet­ter yet, press the two but­tons marked ‘en­gine start’.

Ex­haust pipes be­neath the bathing plat­form rum­ble men­ac­ingly be­fore set­tling to a throaty bur­ble. A joy­stick dock­ing sys­tem takes the guess­work out of ma­noeu­vring, and a dy­namic po­si­tion­ing sys­tem al­lows you to vir­tu­ally an­chor the boat in place. But the throt­tles are more fun to play with.

Dave Cock­well sug­gests giv­ing me a demo first. Is this to pro­tect his new baby, to show how gen­tly to treat it? Quite the re­verse – he’s con­cerned I won’t push it hard enough! “Hold­ing on?” he asks, be­fore wind­ing on a huge slug of lock, punt­ing the boat onto its ear into a tight turn. Show­ing no mercy, he hurls the wheel the other way, slalom­ing the boat like a down­hill skier, hull grip­ping, soak­ing up the abuse and beg­ging for more.

Once my in­ter­nal or­gans have ar­ranged them­selves back into roughly their orig­i­nal po­si­tions I take the wheel. The jets run con­stantly, buck­ets de­flect­ing the thrust to achieve a vir­tual neu­tral. So ma­noeu­vring is su­per smooth as there are no gears to mesh. Helm con­trols are con­ven­tional, two throt­tle levers and a wheel. No tabs, no out­drive trims, just fast/slow/left/right. No cav­i­ta­tion ei­ther, since there are no pro­pel­lers to aer­ate and lose grip, in fact the more you gun it, the harder it turns. It’s hi­lar­i­ously fun to drive. With a 40 knot top end and in­sane han­dling it’s just like a jet­ski! An ex­quis­ite, hand-built, wooden, push­ing £1m jet­ski…

SPEC­I­FI­CA­TION Build Cold moulded RCD C8 per­sons LOA 32ft 11in (10.50m) Beam 9ft 11in (3.35m) Draught 1ft 0in (0.30m) Dis­place­ment 5 tonnes Price £900,000 inc VAT En­quiries

L E F T The ex­cep­tion­ally tac­tile wood and al­loy spoked steer­ing wheel MID­DLE The con­sole ahead of the pas­sen­ger side matches the helm RIGHT Ev­ery de­tail is exquisitely de­signed

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