BOAT TEST: MONTEBELLO 12.5M COUPE POWER CATAMARAN
Queensland luxury boatbuilder Montebello has a new pod-driven cat that’s just purrfect for touring the islands and reefs. KEVIN SMITH takes the reins
When it comes to top-class catamarans, world-renowned naval architect Roger Hill is the man for the job. Hill has designed boats for more than 30 years from seven to 20m in length out of steel, alloy, wood, and composite materials. But after reading Hill's profile it's even more fascinating running his boats. He specialises in power and sailing catamarans but also the odd monohull. His shapes are modern and precise, based around strength, overall quality, and something that is going to work for the client at the end of the day. Above all, efficiency is the trait.
Take these design qualities and pair them to a reputable Australian catamaran manufacturer like Montebello and the results are something special. Manufactured on the Gold Coast under the strict eye of CEO Gary Zamparutti, the Montebellos are customer driven or customised. Take the new Montebello 12.5m Coupe Power Catamaran.
At first glance, the Coupe is aesthetically pleasing to the eye with striking lines, and beautiful exterior and interior finishes. But dig deep and you'll find a boat executed to suit the client's specific needs. You can read a lot into the Coupe.
A mini home-away-from-home, or even the perfect bachelor pad, the Coupe calls with its full-width swim platform. Totted on here are the inflatable tender and its outboard, mounted in such a way as not to obstruct movement across the stern.
You then step into the cockpit through either of the stainless steel framed transom gates. That cockpit is at once workable and a relaxing entertaining area. The first thing to catch your attention is the centre module in the transom. The lid opens to reveal an all-in-one master chef's domain, with retractable stainless steel barbecue, sink with hot and cold water, storage cupboards, and a safely secured gas bottle tucked away.
A sturdy, permanently mounted outdoor table and chairs with stainless steel framework are set central in the cockpit, beneath the cabin roof overhang. There are port and starboard side clears to help protect you from the elements. Could this be the perfect lunch setting? It would take some beating.
On either side of the table and chairs are flush-mount motor hatches. Lift the lids and you'll note the neat presentation and good working space of the cleverly designed enginerooms, fitted out with all the necessary equipment to run the boat, from genset to air-con unit to pumps, desalinator and more.
Within the gunwales are flush-fitting panel lockers concealing stowage that also house the easily accessed deckwash and plumbing fittings. Just before the saloon, there's a hint of the boat's long-range cruising intent - a deep freeze and washing machine on either side of the companionway.
Small moulded steps either side of the cockpit take you to the sidedecks and the bow where movement is assisted by strategically placed grabrails and full-length side and bowrails. The bow is yet another wide and spacious area on the Montebello Coupe and its uses are unlimited. As an avid angler I would use this forward deck as a casting platform, but others might just soak up the rays or toast the sunset.
The saloon is open planned and air-conditioned with a social lounge, galley and coxswain's office. Here you'll find tinted windows maintaining natural light levels that open and assist with ventilation. To port is a wraparound leather lounge with beautifully finished wooden table and timber trims, all blending into the timber flooring.
The galley to starboard has timber trim, stove and oven, sink, spacious worktops, ample cupboard space and built-in side-by-side fridge and freezer. Any gourmand worth his salt will whip-up a five-star repast here. Also notable is the galley's built-in and pop-up flatscreen plasma TV, flush mounted into the counter top and remotely accessed, so it's is out of sight and protected when at sea.
The helm is a skipper's dream, fitted out with twin leather bucket-style seats, the latest Simrad electronics package, and high-tech operating systems. Twin hydraulic power-assisted rams, fly-by-wire controls and the magical IPS joystick make up the controls, all easy and smooth to operate. Basically, you can sit back and relax while driving without too many technical details to worry about. Beneath the helm seating is the bar cabinet that is accessible from the galley and lounge area - a definite prerequisite for a boat of this class.
In respect of accommodation, there are a few options available on the Montebello Coupe. This owner went for a full-width forward cabin for extra space and living area instead of twin cabins. If you have kids or like entertaining guests then the twin-cabin layout is clearly the better option.
The test boat's big forward cabin is accessible from either side of the saloon stairs and this luxury suite has good hanging space and drawers, as well as hidden vanities on either side of the queen bed. In fact, on one side of the bed is a small fold-down seat where you can perch in front of the mirror and preen yourself before arriving at the yacht club in style. Although such is the comfort and style you are likely to spending many more nights onboard.
The Coupe comes with a spacious and uncluttered bathroom with shower, toilet and vanity sink. Opposite you'll find more stowage space and the AC/DC control panel behind a tinted 'glass' door.
With twin Volvo Penta six-cylinder IPS 500s specified by the client, the 12.5m Montebello Coupe was raring to go. With a displacement of nine tonnes one might expect a bit of lag out of the hole, but she flew to a comfortable cruising speed within six seconds.
The acceleration is exceptionally smooth throughout the rev range and the most comfortable and economical cruise speed came at around the 22 to 25-knot mark where the Montebello purred along the open ocean. Even when pushed to a top speed of just over 30kts, the Coupe's hull held firm and she was a pleasure to drive.
When it comes to economy, the IPS 500s pushed out maximum consumption figures of 78lt/h per motor at full throttle and averaged 50 per cent less when dropped back to about 20kts. Considering the size of the craft that's not bad, besides, many bluewater folk consider 20kts an ideal cruising clip.
The balance of sea trials included high and low-speed manoeuvring on the controls, as well as on the joystick while idling. All of which the Montebello passed with flying colours. Speaking of which, she is an ideal craft for long-range trips out to the dazzling islands or atolls of the Great Barrier Reef.
Specifications-MONTEBELLO 12.5M COUPE POWER CATAMARAN
With twin Volvo Penta IPS 500s, the Montebello Coupe performs superbly through the rev ranges and serves as both your classic cruising vessel as well as long-range adventure traveller. Considering it is 12.5m in length, she's big but manageable. Even if you're a novice, it won't take long to become the master behind the Coupe's helm.
PRICE AS TESTED
$810,000 w/ twin Volvo Penta IPS 500, D6-370D-C engines, and options
Fully optioned with generator, air-con, watermaker, pop-up TV, bar, washer-dryer, double helm seats, extra refrigeration, side curtains, extra window covers, signage, dressing table, Simrad electronics, tender, and more
$700,000 w/ twin Volvo Penta IPS 500, D6-370D-C engines, and options
MATERIAL: Infusion hulls, delivering the exact glass and resin ratios to increase strength and reduce weight
TYPE: Planing power catamaran with asymmetrical hulls
LENGTH OVERALL: 12.5m
WEIGHT: 9 tonnes
HOLDING TANK: 150lt
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta IPS 500 6 cylinder
TYPE: Six-cylinder common rail diesel
RATED HP: 370 (each)
DISPLACEMENT: 336 cu in
DRIVES: Inboard performance system
Meridien Marinas, Horizon Shores,
Cabbage Tree Point Road
Woongoolba, Qld, 4207
Contact: Gary Zamparutti
Phone: (07) 5546 2170; 0437 791 770
Nothing beats customising your own craft, especially under a quality brand-name. From top to bottom, inside and out, the Montebello Coupe is a force in her class. Her executive style and finish are complemented by all the creature comforts of a floating home - what more could you want? Take the fish and dive gear and you can add fish for the frying.
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