BOAT TEST: PERSHING 64
The Pershing 64 is an offshore thoroughbred in which you can blast places in half the time, discovers DAVID LOCKWOOD
There's a rooster tail erupting 20 metres astern, tracing our path like a signwriter on a vivid-blue sky, as our boat bounds from crest to crest seemingly riding on nothing more than thin air. Quick as that, we're doing more than 40kts, almost taking flight on the powder puffs of white foam, as a collective 3240hp kicks in.
The twin MTU V10s, with sequential turbochargers, are mated to a pair of Arneson drives spinning Rolla surface-piercing propellers. Meantime, E-glass reinforcing ensures the lithe (optional) pearl-silver hull is up to the task, an airbag in the chain locker inflates to prevent rattles or inadvertent deployment, as we straddle the saddle on the wonderful Pershing 64.
This is powerboating par excellence yet, ironically, the importers want to shy off promoting the surface-piercing drives due to our apparent unfamiliarity with the performance system. I beg to differ.
Thanks to thrusters, docking this boat is no more difficult than berthing a 30-footer. But driving the Pershing is an absolute thrill. Leave those run-of-the-mill production boats floundering in your wake. The Italian-designed and built luxury 'yacht' redefines the notion of passagemaking and propels you to hitherto new heights.
It's after a stint behind the wheel that I coin the phrase: Pershing time. Built for speed, this 64 can conquer the tyranny of distance and smash accepted travel times. Get places in half the time - Pershing time - and bank on more leisure time instead.
Just think of the possibilities: day trips from Versace to Mooloolaba; two-hour trips from Sydney to Port Stephens or Jervis Bay; Docklands to Devonport in a blink; Kangaroo Island or Margaret River for lunch. Or how about from the Ferretti factory in Mondolfo to Venice in less than four hours.
Take delivery OS and ship your boat home after a season of exploring the Med'. Wherever you point the bow, you are assured of a unique travel itinerary with this veritable rocket ship.
Despite the bloodlines, the importers are keen to point out that their Pershing is more than a one-trick pony or, rather, racehorse. Once you reach your destination - well ahead of the plodding weekend fleet - you'll find a clever stage configured to assuage. Add Poltrona Frau leather trim, upholstery, and helm seat - preferred by Maserati, Singapore Airlines, and so on - genuine Italian interior design, décor and fittings and the pull is great going, well, nowhere at all.
Then it's out with the artillery or ancillaries. The jet tender in the garage can be dispatched using the passerelle as the crane in case a restaurant calls, there's an inbuilt barbecue for lunching aboard, icemaker to chill the drinks, and satellite television as part of the Bose AV kit. Among the upgrades is a 130lt/h watermaker so you enjoy endless hot showers in the tiled bathrooms and stay away for weeks.
I wish. Reel back. My Pershing experience begins with a dawn start at Jones Bay Wharf just west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Joggers trace the foreshores, ferries transit the harbour, as the mid-week traffic builds to a crescendo. But it's nothing compared with what the MTUs have in store.
We cast the lines - the boat has electric aft capstans to facilitate stern-to mooring as is de rigueur on the Med' - and the fenders are tucked away. It's an easy exit thanks also to the walkaround teak decks. Stainless steel grabrails, a bowrail with lifeline and twin stairways flanking the central tender garage make this a crew-friendly boat.
Besides the upgraded stainless steel anchor, the bow boasts a big sunpad for six recessed into a moulded cavity and fixed so that it stays put when fanging or Fangio-ing it. Look back and the boat's clean, raked lines hint at the performance.
As touched on, the hull is engineered to go the distance. Construction is vacuum-bagged fibreglass for consistency, with balsa coring, E-Glass and carbon fibre (windscreen frame) reinforcing. The main structural bulkheads and flooring are composite creating a monocoque or one-piece hull. Offshore, the Pershing feels tight thanks also to that air-bag in the anchor locker preventing chain rattling.
The one-piece curved glass windscreen frames the views that soon flash past, while big pantograph wipers ensure you can see fish traps, trailerboats and trawlers on the road ahead, when not already spotted on the recessed Raymarine C120 with split-screen radar and chartplotter. The aluminium and carbon-fibre dash add to raceboat look.
A cockpit hatch leads to the engine bay, which is full but serviceable. There's headroom at the foot of the alloy ladder, abundant heavy-duty sound insulation and, mounted aft, ugraded 20kW Kohler generator, air-con units, hydraulic PTO (with oil heat-exchanger) trim and steering rams, and the watermaker.
You can crawl around all sides of the MTUs, whose fuel filters are mounted under the checkerplate walkway in between the V10 blocks. Sight gauges let you check on fuel and, I noted, a compressed air-pump was fitted to help keep the engines clean.
The boat's inverter can run the fridges and AV system during silent-ship mode at night. Otherwise, the generator was an upgraded 20kW Kohler. Incidentally, each Pershing comes with its own particular owner's manual.
Engineering summary: in a word, shipshape.
Anchor down, the cockpit comes to the fore. It boasts a plush sunbed for six and lounge atop the central tender garage, an L-shaped cockpit lunch setting for six, and shade courtesy of an electric awning.
The inbuilt amenities centre with the barbecue and icebox beckons nearby. Sun-drenched, the deep swimplatform and foredeck sunpad let you hang out at either end of the Pershing. This is good news for family crews.
But press a button and the entire rear saloon glass pane retracts, creating a seamless single-level indoor/outdoor deck. The retractable roof and electric windows with blinds add to the open-plan effect. Naturally, the supplied crockery and cutlery for six has a safe home packed in purpose-built drawers. No Greek wedding en route to your destination.
Dark wenge timber flooring and contrasting grain-matched light oak veneers set the tone around the second dining setting indoors, whose table drops in case of coffee and cakes. Opposite, the small U-shaped galley might be seen as an area of compromise, but entertainers might call in caterers in any case.
What the galley lacks in bench space it makes up for with amenities that are in keeping with an upmarket apartment. There's a four-burner ceramic cooktop, microwave oven, 186lt fridge-74lt freezer and generous underfloor storage. Even more storage for victuals remains in the separate crew cabin back aft.
This brings us to the accommodation spanning three cabins - quite an achievement considering the trim beam - and as many bathrooms. Include the separate crew cabin, with its head and hot/cold handheld shower, Fusion AV system and air-con, all accessed under the cockpit lounge, and you can sleep seven aboard.
But the way I read the Pershing 64, you entertain a crowd doing 8kts in gear (36lt/h in fuel), drop them off minus a few litres of champagne sometime later, then light the afterburners and rocket away for a weekend somewhere special. A family of four would fit aboard like a driving glove on the boat's leather-bound wheel. Yet a couple might be even more content.
In case of extended family, there's a third cabin deep in the boat featuring twin single berths. Its en suite/dayhead is on a mezzanine level that requires you step down and then back up when serving as a communal convenience. As per usual, the VIP cabin in the bow sports an island berth, while the stateroom is full-beam and amidships, with king bed, chaise lounge, opening polished stainless steel portlights, drawers and dresser/office, his-and-her hanging lockers, fridge and large television.
All bathrooms have genuine Italian fittings, authentic tiled splashbacks, quiet-flush Tecma heads and separate showers with maxi-flow overhead roses. Similarly, the light-oak grain-matched joinery, leather trim and mirror features are the real interior-designer deal, while trick LED lighting finishes things off nicely. The luxe factor is evident, yet there is nothing extraneous aboard.
The only thing pared back is the price. Parent company Ferretti Group - who also own the namesake motoryachts, Bertram flybridge cruisers and Riva runabouts - realised it had to get real to make its boats more attainable. Bundled for $3.1 million as tested, the Pershing 64 in optional pearl-silver hull colour with watermaker, Raymarine electronics suite, and upgraded generator and air-con is keen buying.
With a separate crew quarters including bathroom, you could carry hired hands. But take it from me, you won't want to relinquish the wheel. Have the cabin boy iron your business shirt as you command the helm and, with the aid of bow and stern thrusters, berth back in the CBD. Step off on Monday morning and straight back into the office. Such are the possibilities with Pershing time.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Like a Ferrari or Lamborghini, the Pershing 64 likes to be driven. Advance the throttles too briskly and the propellers - aka wheels - cavitate. But edge the levers forward and the acceleration builds. To attain maximum velocity, you then trim-up the articulating drives and the trim tabs or flaps.
That the Pershing calls for driver input, much like a finely tuned sportscar, adds to the experience. And, in keeping with that, the boat rewards. As fast as you can say Monaco or Majorca, we are hurtling along near the boat's 46kts top speed. As we're about to take flight, I reapply a touch of hydraulic trim to button the boat to the water. A 10m high rooster tail leaves its mark astern. We trace an arc and whoop with delight.
With sequential turbochargers, the twin 1620hp V10 MTU diesel engines provide torque across the rev range. Arneson drives with surface-piercing Rolla propellers transfer the power into the raceboat experience. Best of all, the boat is built for speed and the handling is commensurately, wonderfully, in-control.
At 38kts cruise, the MTUs consume 534lt/h in total for a safe range of 224nm. At 36kts and 80 per cent engine load as desired, consumption drops to 428lt/h for a range 265nm. So ports within 100nm from home are within reach in just a few fast hours.
PRICE AS TESTED
$3.1 million w/ V10 MTU diesel engines and options
Generator and air-con upgrade, watermaker, pearl-silver hull colour, Raymarine electronics package, sternthruster, satellite TVs in all cabins, barbecue, icemaker, and more
POA depending on exchange rate
MATERIAL: GRP fibreglass with E-Glass reinforcing, cored decks, superstructure and hull sides
TYPE: Hard-chine planing hull with surface drives
LENGTH OVERALL: 20.04m
DRAFT: 1.58m (max)
WEIGHT: Approx 35,900kg (dry w/ standard 1015hp Caterpillar C18 engines)
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x MTU 10V Series 2000 M94
TYPE: Full electronic V10 triple sequential turbo, common rail diesel
RATED HP: 1620 at 2450rpm (max)
WEIGHT: Approx 2660kg (inc. gearbox)
DRIVE: Arneson surface drives
PROPS: Rolla surface-piercing
The sheer thrill of going fast in high-style and complete control is the Pershing's raison d'etre. From my position, behind the wheel betwixt Sydney Heads, Palm Beach is just 30 minutes away, Port Stephens or pristine Jervis Bay is two hours. It's with this in mind that I coin the phrase: Pershing time. Since it's twice as fast as a mainstream cruiser and six times that of a clunky cruising yacht, you can explore faraway places on a whim. Weather windows need only be brief. Outrun a storm. Powerboating at its most puissant.
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