BOAT TEST MUSTANG 50 IPS SPORTS CRUISER
Add IPS pods and you get a full-beam stateroom on the family-oriented Mustang 50 IPS Sports Cruiser, the second in the range from Bill Barry-Cotter. JEFF STRANG also finds Maritimo’s genes run strong throughout the low-profile conveyance
In April 2010, when Maritimo acquired Mustang Marine, Bill Barry Cotter promised to "deliver Australian's a great sportsboat". As a previous editor of this magazine, Geoff Middleton, observed when he reviewed the first boat delivered under the new ownership, the Mustang 32, the old moulds were tossed on the scrapheap and the talented Maritimo design team started with a clean sheet.
Perhaps it wasn't an entirely clean slate because to give credit where credit is due, Bill's men already had plenty of data to "draw" a honey of a hull from. The Mustang IPS 50 Sports Cruiser has obviously benefited much more from the Maritimo gene pool than it has from its old stable. In truth, when I first saw the boat I actually thought it was a Maritimo. To my mind this is a good thing - after all the new parent company certainly builds pretty boats and the Mustang 50 IPS SC is easy on the eye. Regardless, if I read the brief right the point was to deliver great sportsboats at a price the family market would perceive as good value.
PROFESSIONALS AT WORK
The great thing about dealing with the Maritimo group is that you know at the outset you are dealing with experts. This is not a company of people who got into the industry because they thought a career in the boating industry might be a cushy number. Bill's team are almost exclusively marine industry specialists dedicated to their craft and the presentation of the IPS 50 was proof of that. A qualified interior designer had been engaged to dress the boat for the photoshoot and it was money well spent, we could not have been more impressed.
Joining us were GM of marketing, Luke Durhan, and mechanical maven Ross Williton. Away from the office Luke and Roscoe team-up as driver and throttle-man respectively for the Maritimo Offshore Racing team. I was confident the test drive would be one to remember.
The Mustang IPS 50 SC is the second of the new Mustang's to hit the surf since the change of ownership, although we expect to see a third, the Mustang 43, sometime before the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show next month. Like the first model the IPS 50 has been extraordinarily successful, given the market, since its release in 2011, with 11 boats sold between Australia and the USA.
Even though the target audience is primarily professional family's looking to step into a great-value sportscruiser, the boat has received plenty of interest from seasoned seafarers including no less than a retired American Navy Admiral - they don't come much more seasoned than that.
The low-profile sportsboat styling looks sharp and the lack of windage contributes to the hull's excellent fuel performance. As a consequence of that low profile it has a relatively small volume for a 50ft boat, but plenty of thought has been invested to get the best from the space available, with the family-orientated design brief held as sacrosanct.
The available space has more or less been divided into thirds: accommodation below and forward; a combined saloon, helm station and galley amidships; and a cockpit with a strong emphasis on water-play aft.
The accommodation is divided into three cabins and two bathrooms. A bathroom and dayhead services a guest cabin featuring a double vee-berth, and a side cabin with single bunk. Both rooms are well appointed, with fully trimmed haberdashery and adequate storage, although those looking to cater for more guests or children might want to consider an alternative bed format - perhaps a pair of singles in the forward cabin that can be pushed together to form a double.
If the key to keeping the lady of the boat happy is comfort with a touch of luxury then it's the stateroom that will deliver on this obligation. Accessed by a reversed stairwell, this is a retreat to be envied. Like most pod-driven boats, the stateroom is located under the saloon floor allowing the designers to make full use of the boat's beam.
For me, the diagonal berth arrangement is a new take on the full-beam stateroom configuration and it seems to free-up even more space than the more conventional centrally located berth. So much room, in fact there is space for a full-length chaise lounge to port and dedicated make-up cabinet to starboard. The walk-in wardrobe and private en suite are really just the icing on the cake.
If the stateroom is the retreat of the IPS 50 SC, then the saloon is the social hub. Again, this all-in-one living space has received a patient designer's pen to ensure it is efficient and uncluttered, while making sure as many features as possibly have been optioned in. The four-seater dining table folds out to cater for six with the addition of a couple of chairs, and a wine rack is hidden in its centre. The electric sunroof (standard on all IPS 50 SCs) is two-stage, with a blind in place to keep the light to a minimum should it be required. If the weather doesn't allow the sunroof to be opened, two independent air-conditioning units assuring the climate is controlled to optimum at all times, as well as doubling as a windscreen demister when needed.
A generous galley sits aft on the starboard side. With Corian bench tops, a ceramic four-burner cooktop, and a convection/microwave oven all serviced by a slide-out pantry, an oversized fridge-freezer and a dish-drawer dishwasher, there are no excuses for not producing gourmet delights or catering for the masses. The only issue I could see was that the ceramic cooktop could do with a fiddle to help keep pots in place when travelling at sea as they are prone to untimely sliding incidents. Situated aft, it is ideally placed to service the internal dining table or the alfresco options outside in the cockpit.
As they say "the family that plays together, stays together", and to this end the Mustang 50 IPS Sports Cruiser is tailor made. The cockpit, accessed by a pair of wide-opening bi-fold doors, has most the trimmings appropriate for a sportsboat. A four-seater couch and a beautifully varnished fold-up table sit under the sunshade. A quick stroll down either the port or starboard stairs (both designed with wide, easy steps, high coamings and a stainless steel click-shut gate) will lead you to a wide hydraulic swimplatform. From here you can access a large-volume freezer and a stainless steel barbecue and sink.
This rear part of the transom is also home to the tender garage. The whole rear section of the boat lifts up on electric rams to expose a massive storage room and custom-built tender cradle. To make launching and retrieving even easier, the aft-most half of the swimplatform submerges which, if used with vigilant adult supervision, would be a great tool for introducing the young ones to the joys of swimming in the sea.
If you add in the optional sunbed on the bow it is fair to say the Maritimo design team have done a fairly comprehensive job of optimising the outdoor areas of the Mustang 50 IPS Sports Cruiser for fun in the sun and the surf - maybe a couple of rodholders wouldn't go amiss, but that's a five-minute job at the dock if needed.
This boat has had positive buoyancy built in to its aft section as an added safety feature. If, in the unlikely event of serious structural damage to the running gear resulting in flooding, the rear of the boat will remain afloat allowing any passengers onboard clear passage to escape the stricken vessel. This is a move applauded by the industry and it's likely to see increased uptake by others utilising pod-drive technology.
The engineroom itself is accessed either from a large storage well in the cockpit, or via the tender garage. Both the engines and the pods have their own access hatches to allow for daily maintenance checks and servicing. This access is probably tighter than on most vessels, but it is functional. Personally, I would like to see better seals on all these hatches to help minimise any water ingress through the tender garage. In theory this should be a straightforward aftermarket task during handover.
The engines themselves are twin 435hp Volvo Penta's coupled to IPS 600 pods. Every engine installation is individually signed off by Volvo Penta. It is our belief that no other builder in Australia can boast this.
With Maritimo Offshore Racing's throttle-man Roscoe Williton in the hot seat, and with the boat's reputation for high-speed performance, I was expecting to be impressed and was not disappointed.
The helm station is really quite James Bond like. Low-profile and sports-like, it is appropriately in keeping with the rest of the boat. There really is loads of space for any additional mod cons you may want to install and I liked the dip in the dash that helps ensure all the random items the helm tends to collect - sunglasses, pens and the like now have a place to rest, where they won't end up on the floor. The new seat from Rayline also looks the part and functions beautifully, whether you like to drive sitting or standing.
It has to be said that the performance of this hull is extremely impressive. From a standing start she rockets off without digging a hole and if you keep the throttle down, just keeps on accelerating. We had no trouble exceeding 30kts in a confined and busy Broadwater, even though we were forced to operate in a few limited windows. Roscoe is a very experienced driver and managed to get the most out of the trim tabs, but even a relative novice will be delighted with the performance.
Not only is it fast and predictable, it's also very dry. At times, we had more than 25kts of breeze and plenty of chop to contend with and the windscreen remained virtually splash free.
Needless to say, with a multidirectional control head, IPS pods and almost no windage to speak of, this boat is a doddle around the dock. With a few well-placed fenders any skipper should have no issues parking blemish-free in tights spots many boats would be too ungainly to attempt.
The Mustang 50 IPS Sport Cruiser is on track to deliver on Bill Barry-Cotter's promise to Australian boating families. It's an appealing boat, built to please an audience that just wants to have a thoroughly enjoyable, fuss-free time on the water with the comforts of home. Although it could be a little pricey for its volume, it can be extensively optioned up or down and if driven wisely, will not come with an unpleasant experience at the fuel pump. We are happy to say there is plenty of value to be found in the Mustang stable these days.
"When Maritimo first took over Mustang Marine few could have envisaged just how completely transformed the product would become. There are no comprises here. We were promised a great family sportsboat and the new Mustang 50 IPS SC goes a long way towards delivering on that promise."
MUSTANG 50 IPS SPORTS CRUISER
PRICE AS TESTED
TYPE: Planing monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 16.34m
HULL LENGTH: 15.43m
WEIGHT: 13,000kg (dry)
HOLDING TANK: 300lt
PEOPLE (NIGHT): 5 (standard)
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Volvo Penta D6 IPS 600 (standard)
TYPE: Six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 435 (each) at 3500rpm
DISPLACEMENT: 5.5lt (each)
15 Waterway Drive,
Coomera, QLD, 4209
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 426, Apr-May, 2012. Photos by Ellen Dewar.
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