BOAT TEST FAIRLINE SQUADRON 65

By: TONY MACKAY

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  • Trade-A-Boat

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Are you a sun worshipper, performance buff, hedonist… or all of the above? No matter, it’s all at your beck and call aboard the new Fairline Squadron 65, discovers TONY MACKAY

BOAT TEST FAIRLINE SQUADRON 65
Fairline Squadron 65

Everyone has a touch of the 'boy racer' in them and a craving for power and performance usually appears with the accumulation of wealth - unless you are a bearded scientific, in which case do not read any further. For most, there is a huge appeal with go-fast looks, roaring engines and the thrill of speed.

Some dreary psychologist may write this off as midlife crisis stuff, but little boys have the sports spirit engrained in them from the days of billycarts and skateboards. If you are thus inclined, go wobbly at the knees at the thought of 20 cylinders pumping out 2200 horsepower, and hanker for luxury - think James Bond moments - then read on. If not, head for Copenhagen.

For more than 40 years, the Fairline company has been a highly regarded boatbuilder manufacturing sports-style performance cruisers and motoryachts in the south of England. Weathering every sort of financial and union regulated storm, the yard has managed to create more than 10,000 boats for an increasingly loyal international customer base.

 

IN THE BEGINNING


The first Fairline was a surprisingly modest little 19-foot half cabin unit, whereas today's range seems light years away from these humble beginnings. A recently announced custom 85 is the queen of the fleet, which otherwise generally ranges from 38 to 78 feet, in targa or flying bridge styles. All are high-performance, twin turbo-diesel boats engineered for performance at sea, and in respect of general handling of equipment and onboard systems, built to exacting standards using sophisticated techniques.

The latest release to hit our shores is the new Squadron 65, dubbed a 2010 model, which shows the Fairline people are really ahead of their time. The Squadron series is their premium brand motoryachts from 55 to 78 feet and of the modern European styling, which has been evolving and subtly altering over the last few decades.

One must take care with the suggested 65-foot branding, however, as the hull length stated by Fairline is actually 60 feet and eight inches, excluding the hydraulic swim platform, which appears to be four to five feet long in itself. So you have an effective hull volume, stem to stern, of possibly up to 60 feet (I didn't put a tape measure over it). We spoke with Karl Gilding, the International Sales Manager for Fairline based in London, and he confirmed that "the number is more the name of the boat than the measurement."

Nevertheless, with that cleared up, there is capacious volume in the various cabins, which are all very well conceived and laid out. And the Fairline Squadron 65 has one of the biggest flybridges in its class.

 

GO! GO! GO!


The styling of these boats gives the appearance of speed even at rest. Sleek and slim with sharp angles accentuating the very willing desire to get up and go. The attractive midnight blue hull is all gelcoat, handlaid and designed by naval architect Bernard Olesinski who does all the Fairline work. It is deep-vee forward with 18? deadrise aft, multiple spray rails and semi-tunnels for the propellers. It is designed to get the boat up and out of the water quickly, making light work of any choppy conditions she may encounter.

All this has no doubt been thoroughly tested in the rigorous conditions of the English Channel and during years of nasty Mediterranean storms, so one can proceed with a high level of confidence. This is always the reassuring thing about buying proven and tested products from highly regarded builders. It does give you faith when the going gets tough. A belief in God increases with turbulence and heavy seas, but sound engineering is most helpful, too.

 

SUNNY SIDE UP


If you are a sun worshipper, then prepare to strip off, oil up and hit one of the three huge sunbeds either on the foredeck or the oversized flybridge. The massive bridge deck has aft lounges with adjustable backrests and their own venturi windscreens to eliminate excessive wind from fluttering your latest magazine. Another huge U-shaped sofa is ahead of the helm station so you can recline back and instruct the skipper. If you have no energy to climb the ladder, then the third queen-sized sunbed is fitted on the foredeck and will provide the perfect position to gaze at the glitterati around you, or have them gaze at you if you have the figure for it.

Those less gorgeous or not inclined to an early melanoma diagnosis will be equally happy under cover on the aft deck - or the flying bridge after the bimini top is fitted locally - and will have set up a table and chairs in the shade, most probably eating and drinking the offerings from the gourmet galley. Top down, sunlovers will be using the flybridge dinette and mini galley/barbecue console to attend to the hunger and thirst pangs. Wherever you position yourself, it will be in sleek and tailored comfort.

 

GOING DOWN?


Huge swim platforms are all the rage these days, and these hydraulic models will lift tenders and toys from the water or lower guests for a very lazy, assisted dip into the cool sea. I'm rather partial to that idea. "Pass me the remote. I am going swimming!" And you can carry a decent centre-console jet RIB on the tail of your 65.

A large storage locker is across the transom and there are three large windows that direct light into the brilliant aft/crew quarters, which is too often a prison cell on other boats. Stairs on either side allow access up to the cockpit, which has a three-seat sofa across the aft section. An optional laid-teak deck is well fitted and access hatches to the small storage lazarette and engineroom are located here.

Mooring bollards are located on each aft quarter and come complete with small capstans or deck winches to assist with docking in windy conditions. Clever storage bins open to swallow excess mooring lines. The flybridge ladder is to port and a large Perspex door seals the cockpit from above in inclement weather.

Up top, the two sun lounges are aft and either side of the navigation mast and both have, as mentioned, adjustable backrests. Forward and to starboard is the flying bridge dinette, which will comfortably seat six guests and this is serviced by a sink, fridge, griller and cupboard to port.

Forward is a twin-seat helm station, which is very smart and modern, and the dash panel is tres stylish and practically laid out. Ahead of this and down both sides are more sunbeds with adjustable backrests, tastefully styled and upholstered, perfect for watching toddlers while idling along. It is all a long way from the coalface of life. While not yet fitted to the test boat, a huge bimini top promises to make this area even more appealing for lazy days in the shade at high noon.

 

SALOON SWOON


Back in the cockpit the access to the saloon is through a huge sliding glass and polished stainless steel door offset to starboard. The saloon is a marvel of stylish design using the finest crème soft leathers, crème carpets and superb American black walnut veneers, crown cut and hand matched for colour and interest. The windows swoop up each side, angled outside but regulated inside to match the rectangular and straight-edge styling of the interior cabinetry. This is quite clever and while the overhead lockers lower the ceiling height, the illusion is of classic lines and sleek design. An architect would tell you that it 'reads well', and it does.

To port is a U-shaped sofa with coffee table and opposite is your entertainment unit featuring the optional trick Bang & Olufsen TV and hi-fi system, the TV electrically rising out of the cabinet so you don't get a sore neck looking down at it. Very thoughtful, Mr Fairline.

Farther forward is the galley to port, which has high-end cooking equipment, dish drawer washer and pullout refrigeration and freezers of generous capacity. Electric side windows allow fresh-air ventilation for our chef and there are multiple cupboards, which store the custom Fairline signature crockery and cutlery. A corner storage section is accessed by a bench top hatch and this can either be used for dry goods or rubbish.

It is a superb galley to look at but suffers from restricted storage for pots and pans, general groceries and the requirements of six guests on a cruise. But, thankfully, a separate pantry under the stairs is waiting to be kitted out for those wanting to spend longer holidays on board.

Opposite the galley is a dinette with a beautiful table that opens out for extended dining. All this joinery is very impressive and appealing and the cunning guest will quickly slip into the two back seats and therefore be unable to get up and help chef serve or, worse still, clean up. Let's face it, you're exhausted from all that sunbaking, flat out like a lizard drinking as they say in rustic circles. But there is nothing rustic here. It is all sleek glamour.

 

BOND APPROVAL


A few steps up and we are in the wheelhouse, which is very James Bond. Huge raked windscreens, an aircraft-style side door, electrically adjustable Recaro helm seats and a fabulous dashboard with every type of electronic device for the techno boffin.

Fairline has its own in-house electronic boat management system offering touch-screen operation and a clever diagnosis of any fault that may rarely occur. This eliminates all those circuit breakers from view (they are still there but hidden) and allow easy and logical control of every system from pumps to lighting.

The engine dials are still analogue and I do find these easy to read, particularly with tachometers. Electronic engine controls, power steering, bow and sternthrusters, the latest and greatest Garmin navigation equipment and every manner of device to dazzle you. Yet after a few moments, you will appreciate that it is very simple and logical, plus there is a car-style air-conditioning vent wafting a cool breeze on your face should you be anxious with the controls.

Writing about all the devices and goodies is sometimes longwinded and dreary, so let me condense everything and just say that the Fairline designers and engineers have spent years making everything logical and easy to use. A scroll through the equipment specifications reveal that they have forgotten virtually nothing except a nice little person to peel you a grape and prepare a tray of drinks. Crew is extra. Pity.

The vision from the lower wheelhouse is good, although restricted toward the aft quarters, which you would expect with this styling exercise. Cameras will partially solve this problem, however, navigation in busy waterways will require diligence as there is a certain feeling of isolation in the wheelhouse. I expect a buyer for this boat will be using the flybridge, and Fairline uses the description "flying bridge and second helm position" to denote the popular favorite, weather permitting. There are third station controls for docking procedures.

 

LIFE'S TOUGH


After a heavy day in the sun, and replete with fine wines and a suitable banquet, one will be enquiring as to the accommodations for a small rest, or if you are really lucky, where you will be snoozing for a week or two. On the port side of the wheelhouse, a stairwell leads below and an experienced owner will be delighted to find a guest head on the first landing, which will keep his quarters private. No excuse for over inquisitive guests to snoop below in the bathroom cabinet.

Moving on down, a small foyer directs guests to three possible cabins, the VIP forward with double and en suite, a twin-single cabin with en suite, and the master cabin, full width and very luxurious. Fairline has bunks described as 'floating', meaning they are suspended off the floor and appear to float above it. They look superb.

The joinery is all beautiful and it is a toss up between the master and VIP cabins. All cabins have air-conditioning controls, TV/DVD systems and excellent mirrored hanging lockers and doors. The spacious feeling is really excellent and considering the criticism of the actual boat length and volume, they have fitted it out magnificently.

The VIP cabin has a huge and rather clever centreline sunroof with electric blind and opening hatch, and there isn't even a hint of being under the decks. The en suite is actually open plan with the cabin, so those who prefer to keep their mystery should use the other more private facilities. But modern types will be toweling off with space and confidence. Mercifully, the head is behind closed doors.

Owners will have secured the midship cabin, which is very spacious and has the queen-sized berth offset to port. Every conceivable convenience is featured and the ventilation is via side panorama portholes or air-con. Mirrors feature to increase the space and the starboard head and shower have glass walls to let natural light into the main part of the cabin. If this sounds just fabulous you are not far wrong.

The heads boast superb detailing from the timber flooring, teak shower grilles, glass doors and natural light. A desk or makeup station will allow mother/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend to freshen up the war paint in time for cocktails and a light supper upstairs.

A fourth/crew cabin is accessed from the cockpit to starboard and this is a twin-bunk affair that, although tight, will provide a perfect 'brig' for recalcitrant children or noisy teenagers, both groups being best out of the main accommodations. My grape peeler will love this cabin and be very grateful for the panorama windows that face aft. Very nice digs for crew and quite amazing for the length of boat.

 

MANS AT WORK


There is nothing quite like having 20 cylinders throbbing underneath you with 2200 horsepower connected to the throttles and just a push away. It should read "Men at Work" on the engineroom hatch, as the twin MAN 1100 CRM turbo-diesels are waiting to get us up and running. More like a sprint actually, propelling the Fairline's 30 tonnes to 32-plus knots.

With the skipper using a feather touch on the controls we were underway for our photo session. The MANs are smooth and powerful, as you would expect, although they do exhibit a loud turbo whistle in the cockpit. Not that the cockpit is really the best spot at high-speed: there is quite a bit of turbulence and some backpressure spray flying around.

The swim platform is an equal no-go zone, particularly in banked turns when sheets of water surge across the sides. (Unavoidable with such a large platform at high speeds). Suffice it to say, a diligent and safety conscious skipper will have seated the crew, secured the saloon sliding door and prepared the boat for passage, particularly if speed is to be used.

The flying bridge is the very best spot for high-speed cruising with better vision and a dry and exhilarating ride. Passengers would be very well advised to stay put unless absolutely necessary, and the sidedecks should be out of bounds. The saloon door should also be firmly secured and, as it can only be locked open or closed, the closed position should be selected to keep the interior dry and clean.

Navigation from the lower helm is completely insulated from noise and engine vibration and, at 18kts, it was like a cocoon. Faster again, there was a hint of 'chattering' from the action of the boat's aggressive strakes and, hopefully, these strakes will not disturb a sound sleep with the very irritating hull slap that can happen at anchor.

The steering was responsive and the hull is extremely competent in tight turns, exhibiting a reasonably level banking angle and without cavitation or vibration. It is built for performance and it does so with confidence. And the boat is dry.

We got the jump on this boat, hence the lack of bimini and full electronics. But Fairline's sea trials give the following performance and consumption figures: 900rpm gives 8.3kts and 36lt/h combined; and, 1800rpm will see nearly 11kts and 140lt/h. The nice-and-easy speed of 17kts arrives with 1500rpm and 181lt/h. Sporty types will enjoy 28kts at 2150rpm, but may not enjoy the 335lt/h consumed.

The fully laden test boat did a tad more than 32kts with 418lt/h. You may rest assured that there will be no shortage of performance if desired. The whiter the wash, the more fuel you are burning, but as Getty remarked: "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it." Just fill her up and push the levers forward with confidence. We did.

The engineroom is accessed via the cockpit and any table or chairs would need to be moved for access. The engineering is well laid out with all the best quality equipment, including aerodynamic ventilation (fan boosted), fire systems, fuel filtration systems with alarms, comprehensive soundproofing and all white and bright. A 17.5kW Onan supplies 240V and Fairline's own inverter systems look after matters when all this is switched off.

The electrics are very well detailed and the battery systems seem quite up to the challenge of keeping all the systems running smoothly. Mind you, the generator will be required for long periods of time given the requirements of the refrigeration, air-conditioning and other convenience systems, most of which will be shut down at night. A second cockpit hatch opens the lazarette for storing incidental equipment.

In short, the Fairline Squadron 65 offers a superb high-speed weekend getaway apartment with more than a few conveniences, and more-than-expected luxury and performance to suit a nautical Sterling Moss (the English have one the most Formula One titles). Just add groceries, superior wines and a selected group of interesting guests and you will have the time of your life. Oh, and don't forget the suntan oil.

 

Specifications: Fairline Squadron 65

 

PRICE AS TESTED


$3,765,000 w/ twin 1100hp MAN CRM turbo-diesels

 

OPTIONS FITTED   


Bow and sternthrusters, B&O television and sound package, teak decks, third station, dishwasher, and more

 

GENERAL


Material: Handlaid FRP
Type: Modified deep-vee planing hull
LOA: 20.41m (67ft)
Hull length: 18.48m (60ft8in) inc. swim platform
Beam: 5.24m (17ft2in)
Draft: 1.37m
Weight: 30,000 tonnes (dry)

 

CAPACITIES


Berths: 8 in four cabins
Fuel: 3542lt
Water: 1074lt
Holding tank: n/a

 

ENGINE


Make/Model: 2 x MAN CRM
Type: V10 turbo-diesel
Displacement: 18.27lt
Rated HP: 1100 (each)
Max. RPM: 2300
Gearbox (make): ZF
Propellers: Manganese bronze

 

SUPPLIED BY    

 
CRS Yachts,
Rose Bay Marina,
New South Head Road,
Rose Bay, NSW, 2028
Phone: (02) 9327 8829

 

Find Fairline Squadron boats for sale.

 


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