ABSOLUTE 56 REVIEW
Priced under its competitors, and with great handling and economy thanks also to the latest IPS drives, not to mention drop-dead gorgeous Italian styling, the Absolute 56 has till now gone largely unnoticed. DAVID LOCKWOOD reports
The Absolute 56, which takes its name from the boat's overall length, proves that performance doesn't only come from huge horsepower. Designed for Volvo Penta's IPS pod drives, in cahoots with the Swedish engine manufacturer's naval architects, the agile 17,500kg fully-loaded hull hit a sprightly 31kts. The twin IPS 600s are in fact 435hp diesel engines, so that's quite some achievement for a 50-odd footer.
Ranging from 39 to 70 feet, the sleek Absolute sport or express yachts do a good job of flaunting rakish lines, flowing curves, and chic interior fitouts. There is real Italian performance and styling, too, the kind often emulated but rarely replicated. As such, you could call these boats the genuine articles.
But unlike many boats designed entirely around utility, style and substance are behind the Absolute 56. Externally, with twin tinted sharkfin side windows and a blue hull, the boat looks sleek and sporty. Construction involves closed moulds for the hull, deck and hardtop and, thanks to that process, plus excellent attention to detail in the fitout, the 56 had a seamless feel, something like a cocoon.
The shiny, moulded surfaces in the cockpit are in keeping with a modern wipe-clean apartment, but once you descend into the three-cabin/two-head accommodation plan you will find a wonderful level of luxury derived from beautiful joinery, Italian fabrics, trick lighting, supplied crockery, and trendy bathrooms with the latest designer fittings.
STYLE AND SUBSTANCE
As for substance, the 56 we tested some time ago ticked just about all the boxes you might imagine: electric sunroof, aft garage with remote tender dispatch, capstans for mooring stern-to <I>a la<I> med', and terrific accommodation including an owner's full-beam stateroom. Not yet done, the importer added satellite TV and Foxtel, a Zodiac 350 jet RIB in the garage, radar for night passagemaking, underwater lights, twin docking cameras, and there was a Joystick controller for the IPS, of course.
A 9kVa Mase generator powers the 26,000btus of air-con, which doubles as a demister and dehumidifier. With all the glass before the helm, you may need this function during dewy autumn starts. The big Italian-made wipers will come in handy when vision might otherwise be compromised offshore, while on the good days and nights you can open the sun/moon roof.
With the hardtop and sunroof, the Absolute 56 offers a combination of indoor/outdoor living. But first, what the factory terms "lounge attitude" refers to the popular European practice of bearing your bronzed body outdoors. To this end, there's an island double sunbed atop the boat's aft tender garage big enough for four, and another big sunpad on the bow.
Moulded steps, a raked bowrail with intermediate wire, good grade of non-skid, recessed handrails and moulded toerails make the foredeck a safe, second outdoor lifestyle area. At rest, you can send the tykes up here without worrying too much about their safety. Or do sundowners when nose to the wind.
The anchor is a self-stow type and, with chain counter, there's no need to leave the helm during those duties. There's also storage space for fenders, lines and more back outdoors, thereby keeping the decks clean when travelling.
Also at the transom, twin moulded steps lead from the swim platform either side of the island sunpad to a big single-level, teak-laid, all-weather covered cockpit, lunch setting and social helm station. A circular lounge to port around a teak table can take eight, opposite an impressive amenities centre with griddle, sink, icemaker, fridge and a Sharp 20in TV.
Trick helm and co-pilot seats front a purpose-built moulded dash with recessed analogue engine gauges, Raymarine autopilot, EVC controls and monitoring panels, and bilge and fire-alarm systems. The sporty wheel adds to the intent and it's just a fun boat to drive.
Thankfully, the whole deck area is air-conditioned, as the moulded white surfaces and abundant glass direct a lot of light and heat aboard. You'll need sunnies in summer, too.
Plenty of panorama windows and opening ports ensure connectivity below decks, rid the boat of cooking odours, and make for a great calm-water formal entertaining setting. The U-shaped dinette setting opposite the galley can cater for six, with two casual stools that can be stationed on the outboard side of the glass table.
The mood is lively, enhanced by the light timber joinery and cream upholstery, and mood and task lighting. A 26in TV and Bose Lifestyle centre, with flush-mounted speakers, and 3500W inverter take care of entertaining. The DC electric system is mainly 24V, while the water gauge is back up in the dash.
Highlights of the galley including a big, square sink set in a stainless steel counter, four-burner electric hob with pot holder (even the style-conscious Italians fit them), microwave oven, and practical timber floor. The timber door concealing the fridge doubles as a huge glass and crockery cupboard with 36 individual holders. And despite its sleek looks, storage space abounds on the Absolute 56, as do the details and nice touches, such as soft-close doors.
WHEN IN ROME
The VIP cabin in the bow has an island double bed, LED lighting, opening portlights, escape hatch with insect and privacy screens, and en suite that doubles as a day head. The shower screen is the circular space-saving type, while the timber and tile finish is smart but not too contemporary. The crew or kid's cabin aft of the saloon has big twin single beds, but it's the full-beam stateroom with en suite that calls loudest back here.
Thanks in part to the aft IPS engine mounting, the owner's get a queen-sized bed on the centreline, with standing room alongside, fully lined his and her hanging lockers, and plenty of storage for personal effects. The shower in the en suite is huge with a stylish Italian-designed rose, and the heads are the good Tecma type.
The Absolute 56 comes with optional triple IPS 600s for a 40-knot top speed. But, really, the twins are all you need. And in respect of the engineroom, I thought it tight but serviceable. Top speed of 31kts is exciting and the boat banks nice and flat and rips around off the wheel. If you want to reel in the sea miles, you can sit on 25kts at 3210rpm and the boat just hums along in the groove. And with twin 435hp engines, expect less than 150lt/h.
We came away impressed by the Absolute 56 and only the Global Financial Crisis prevented us from bringing you this report earlier. Should forecasts for a cruiser-led recovery ring true around the waterways of the world, should Absolute keep its prices down as it has done to date, then the smart boats will find more berths Down Under. It's the genuine Italian article, fully loaded and ready to please.
Specifications: ABSOLUTE 56
PRICE AS TESTED
The Absolute 56 was selling for approx $1.79 million, with twin Volvo Penta IPS 600s, and options
Joystick, satellite TV/Foxtel, Zodiac 350 jet tender, radar, underwater lights, sea anchor, fore and aft docking cameras, blue hull, dishwasher, icemaker, HD Radar, Bose system in saloon, LCD and TV to guest bedroom, and watermaker
$1.696 million w/ twin Volvo Penta IPS 600s
Material: Vacuum-bagged hull, deck and hardtop with foam-core
Type: Variable deadrise monohull
Length overall: 16.80m (inc. bowsprit and boarding platform)
Hull length: 16.45m
Weight: 17,500kg (loaded w/ standard motors), 14,120kg (half load)
Black & greywater: 2 x 106lt
Make/model: 2 x Volvo Penta IPS600
Type: Electronic six-cylinder diesel
Rated HP: 435 at 3500rpm (each)
Weight: 901kg (each package)
Gearboxes (Make): Steerable IPS pod drives
Props: Forward-facing Duoprops
Jo Jo's Marina,
Nedlands, WA, 6009
Phone: (08) 9389 7300