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Rack up the sea miles at a frugal passagemaking pace or shoot along at a heck-the-expense clip on the Hampton 650 Endurance. Either way, you’re travelling in the lap of luxury, writes TONY MACKAY

Hampton 650 Endurance

A passenger aboard the Hampton 650 Endurance will have a quick inspection and wonder what they are apparently meant to endure. Unless you have some issues with guilt during indulgence or you are Amish with Spartan inclinations, there will be few who are suffering any form of endurance while on board. Naturally, the name refers to the ability of this handsome vessel to very capably move you from port to port with safety, confidence and in the lap of luxury.

Hampton Yachts were founded in 1992 in Taiwan and have considerable experience as a small manufacturer of semi-custom cruisers in a variety of configurations. The latest range of Endurance models of 60, 65 and 70 feet have evolved from large high-performance craft and now offer long-range ability at a variety of speeds. While it is hard to make a slow boat go fast, it becomes comparatively easy to make a fast boat go slow, maintaining high efficiencies over a wide range of speeds.

Renowned US naval architect, Howard Apollonio, has created for Hampton a 'hybrid' hull with split chines and a blending of features which offer a smooth ride and superb performance in the eight to 24-knot range. Like most successful naval architects, he has considered a huge variety of factors such as centre of gravity, buoyancy, roll speed, roll stiffness and stability. In fact, the Apollonio hull exceeds the stringent US Coast Guard and IMO regulations for licensed commercial vessels in open ocean service. The details and documents supporting these claims are comprehensive and most interesting, and tank testing and sea trials confirm the design specification. In short, a fabulous sea boat at all speeds, so stop worrying about the technical stuff and let's have a better look onboard.

The Hampton is attractive and the lines are pleasing, combining the solid and powerful appearance of a ready-for-the-seven-seas cruiser with the fine lines and aspects of go-fast boats. It is a far more satisfactory styling exercise than some of the stubby and plump competition that fail to set the salivary glands watering.

There are two models of the 65 Endurance: one with a reverse sheer wheelhouse and our test boat, with the more attractive, to my eye, raked screen style. The bow is well shaped with a fine entry and the sheer lines contribute to the purposeful appearance. It comes as no surprise to the onlooker when she swiftly rises onto the plane and accelerates away to 22kts, sitting very well while at speed. It is a handsome and capable hull with a spacious and comfortable interior benefitting from Apollonio's long and successful career.

Construction centres on handlaid fibreglass with all the latest resins and high-tech materials, while the fit and finish are first class. The boats are built by teams that take great care with their work. You see, Hampton Yachts refunds the unused warranty money to the team as a bonus should nothing go wrong. We're told many of the workers drive to work in new European cars. The scheme has been a winner for all concerned, but particularly the purchaser.

The Hamptons are offered with a variety of interior layouts and a long list of standard inclusions and optional extras. Our test boat would suit most buyers. But being a semi-custom vessel, one can select from a range of veneers, fabrics and décor appointments, and Hampton welcomes the input of experienced customers who know what they want.

Imported into Australia by Leigh-Smith Cruiser Sales at the Gold Coast, the Hampton 650 Endurance is big but not a handful. This was born out when she was dexterously maneuvered alongside Marina Mirage using the cockpit controls, the twin Caterpillar C18 diesels and the Westmar hydraulic bow and sternthrusters. All terribly civilised.

The swim platform has outside safety rails and a submarine-style door into the aft compartment. Up the side stairs and onto the spacious teak cockpit, it's off with the shoes and into the snooping. It always such fun having a wander through a new boat, especially one as impressive as the Hampton.

Indoors, the boat wows with a richly appointed cabin in gloss (a little shiny for my liking) American cherrywood veneers, plush crème carpeting and leather sofas in muted tones. Of course, the choice of interior finish is entirely your own. The joinery fit and finish are excellent and the layout follows a proven formula for luxury entertaining.

A large stainless-steel-framed sliding door links the laid teak aft deck to the spacious saloon replete with entertainment systems, cocktail bars, glass cabinets and framed picture windows .The saloon is very much a sitting room and the table is not suited for dining. Food aside, one would soon settle in for a feast of entertainments, be it with friends or using the high-tech TV and music systems.

Forward and up two steps, one enters the combined galley and wheelhouse with a dinette mounted forward and to port. Our fearless skipper is comfortable in his centre-mounted leather helm chair, a few guests are quite cosy in the dining banquette and hopefully someone is in the forward facing galley dealing with some drinks and perhaps a modest sliver of pate.

The dining table, while on the small side, moves in and out for better access, and two highchairs allow extra seating or one can use them to sit at the galley bar and chat with our budding chef. The galley is well equipped with Miele appliances and there are ample storage opportunities. Twin sinks, a garbage compactor, domestic refrigeration and granite bench tops give household comfort levels, and those working here are still connected with the skipper and guests. A curtain will separate this area during night navigation so as not to impede vision.

The helm station is commanding and being located well forward, the visibility is excellent. Electronic controls and panels connect the big Cats with the skipper and the Raymarine C140 navigation systems will guide you to whatever destination is selected. Camera systems connect with all parts of the vessel including the engineroom and the view aft when maneuvering. All the usual electrical controls are in place and the Westmar thruster controls, NAIAD stabilisers, Hynautic trim tabs and Muir winch can be easily controlled from the helm chair. A large wheel and effective power steering complete the general systems.

Two aircraft-style side doors allow quick access to the side and fore decks and they are fitted with opening windows for fresh-air ventilation. A few steps up the sidedecks and one is sheltered by the Portuguese bridge which has twin centre doors and two forward facing seats on either side for guests to enjoy the scenic cruise. A Muir Thor winch and very suitable ground tackle are mounted on a large fibreglass bowsprit, deckwash pumps and two hatches are on either side. I would have liked to see the now popular mud collecting tray fitted under the winch which prevents a messy fore deck, and perhaps that could be fitted as an option. Strong bowrails add an extra element of safety to this for'ard area and there is additional storage for fenders and lines in the Portuguese bridge.

For those wanting more fresh air, the flying bridge with hardtop and clears is accessed internally next to the galley, up some stylised stairs and through a large hatch onto the very large bridge area. Some extra grab rails were fitted locally, but the non-skid sections of the upper decks were rather glossy and slippery underfoot. And although the bridge had been fitted with the optional teak decking which offered a more secure footing, there were no handholds on the dashboard or along the underside of the hardtop. Again, they should be easy enough to install locally.

There are twin helm seats and a dash panel comprehensively fitted with many of the controls from below. There is also plenty of storage under the dash and the L-shaped sofa, which was nicely upholstered and under cover alongside the large table in the starboard corner. This is served by a console housing a sink, fridge and storage, and would be the perfect position for a large BBQ. The aft boat-deck will hold two tenders and is serviced by a Steelhead hydraulic crane of 500kg capacity.

Back in the lower wheelhouse, a semicircular stairwell on the starboard side leads down to the grand lower lobby which has a marble compass rose set in the floor and a domed ceiling with a replicated map of the Pacific, painted in the manner of an early explorer.

The accommodations are in three cabins and all are very glossy and spacious. The layout is excellent with a forward queen-sized VIP cabin in the bow, a twin cabin to port with side-by-side beds which are more accessible than the upper and lower style, and a vast master stateroom amidships with a king-sized bunk and every comfort. All these cabins are attractively fitted out with hanging lockers (the smell of the camphorwood was strong), storage drawers, cupboards, individual entertainment and climate control systems. The heads and showers were beautifully appointed and will not disappoint. Most comfortable.

Meanwhile, back in the saloon, a very cunningly hidden cupboard in the port aft corner opens to reveal the stairs to the fourth/crew cabin, which is fully self-contained with twin bunks, small galley, a head and shower, and Miele washer/dryer. Most of the major electrical controls relating to 240V are located on a wall panel in this cabin and the full-height access to the engineroom is through a door with a glass porthole. Twin Caterpillar C18 six-cylinder engines of 873hp each are beautifully installed along with twin Onan generators of 22 and 11kVa capacity. Chilled water air-conditioning, Victron inverter charger and all the other machinery is intelligently fitted. Three FRP fuel tanks total 7571lt and water capacity is of 1843lt, plus a watermaker to top this up.

Many will scream "long-range passagemaker" with such large motors, however, this model ACERT Caterpillar shuts down cylinders at lower revs and the capacity subsequently drops to the equivalent of 300hp engines. As a result, at nearly 9kts the fuel is parsimoniously sipped at 11.4lt/h giving an effective range of 5700nm which is very impressive. Increasing to 9.7kts sees the consumption double to 24lt/h as the other cylinders cut in and the range reduces to a still impressive 3002nm. All very good. A faster cruise of 11.2kts consumes 50lt/h with a range of 1681nm, however, swish the levers down for 19kts at 2000rpm and she wants 257lt/h and the range is down to 546nm. Flat out we saw 22kts at 346lt/h.

Through all of this, the 650 Endurance was silky smooth and quiet, with the underwater exhausts whooshing away sickness inducing fumes. There is no vibration, no hump to climb over, just a seamless increase in speed and a very reassuring feeling of comfort and stability.

We motored out of the Southport Spit into short and lumpy seas, which had been rolling surf the day before, yet she resisted any slamming or pounding and the decks and windscreens remained dry. Apparently, Apollonio knows what he is doing. The Naiad stabilisers were on, leading to just a slight sense of heel as we turned out of the marina and gad down the Gold Coast.

It was very comfortable and most pleasant in the sunshine, despite our photographic helicopter swooping close over the flybridge, ruining my morning reverie. We returned across the bar without a movement and champagne flutes would have easily kept their precious contents upright - surely a most crucial nautical test criteria. Steering commands were deft and perfectly controlled. In fact, you would be hard to find fault in this sea trial and one's confidence in setting forth on a spirited adventure would be well reinforced.

Close-quarters maneuvering is easily accomplished with the assistance of port and starboard cockpit controls for engine and thrusters, cleverly hidden in opening compartments. Forward visibility is unimpeded for anchoring or picking up a mooring and the flying bridge is best served for command once out of tight spots. With 44 tonnes plus fuel, she sits well in the water and the propellers in the hull tunnels will allow the skipper's commands to be executed with alacrity. With a reasonable skill base, you will not get into too much trouble handling 65 feet of luxury cruiser.

There are well-placed combination fairlead bollards that allow the securing of lines from the dock or on board, although I felt the access for hands was slightly cramped. The walkaround decks are covered along both sides and the cockpit is also well covered for weather and sun protection. Two gates allow access to the swim platform from either side so your diligent crew can be placed on the dock to quickly get the lines secured and the shorepower connected.

There are many well conceived and detailed features on the Hampton and these can only evolve from experienced designers with most executed in high-quality fashion. The 650 Endurance is termed a long-range cruiser rather than a passagemaker or expedition yacht which may be pitched at another level. Many of these very rugged vessels offer extreme weather competency but then again, so do submarines. They fail in comfortable outdoor entertaining spaces when a safe haven is reached and will therefore not suit those who are less adventurous yet more people oriented.

I doubt you would get into any difficulties in your new Hampton 650 Endurance and for most Australians, she will cruise our coastlines with safety and comfort, host fabulous parties and offer pride in ownership on so many levels. You have arrived in your Hampton Haven.

SPECIFICATIONS - Hampton 650 Endurance

$3.45 million w/ twin Caterpillar C18 diesels

Material: GRP handlaid solid hull w/ high tech components
Type: Modified V-bottom twin-chine 'hybrid' hull
Length: 20.17m (overall); 20.02m (hull)
Beam: 5.69m
Draft: 1.52m
Weight: 44 tonnes

Berths: 8 in four cabins
Fuel: 7571lt
Water: 1893lt
Holding tank: 454lt

Make/model: 2 x Caterpillar C18 ACERT                                                                                                         Type: Six-cylinder electronic turbo-diesel
Displacement: 18lt
Rated HP: 873
Max. RPM: 2240
Gearbox (make): Twin Disc
Propellers: Four-blade bronze

Leigh-Smith Cruiser Sales,
Gold Coast City Marina,
Coomera. QLD, 4209
Phone: (07) 5502 5866; 0408 758 887

Find Hampton boats for sale.


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