BOAT TEST - Fairline Targa 58 Gran Turismo
Fairline Yachts is the company that put sex appeal into seafaring. Meet the Targa 58 Grand Turismo
"Sex appeal" you say, surely not from the Brits. The Italians we could believe but not the Brits. Sure they know a thing or two about seafaring but sex appeal? It’s not really their thing old chap.
Well I’m going to stick to my guns on this one and here’s why. I first saw the Fairline Targa 58GT at this year’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. A brief walkover it may have been, yet I was overwhelmingly impressed with one of the prettiest packages on display.
Months earlier a press release crossed my desk boasting of the boat’s 2011 triumph in a Boat of the Year award for sportscruisers greater than 45ft. I have to admit I probably treated the proclamation with too much skepticism, given it was an award judged solely by representatives of UK marine titles Motor Boats Monthly and Motor Boat & Yachting. However, having glimpsed the boat for myself it was clear I would have to reserve judgment until a thorough inspection could be conducted.
In previous months, we have tested two other offerings from Fairline, the Squadron 42 and the Squadron 65. Both are fine vessels, mixing presentation with practicality. Even so it would be a stretch to describe either boat as sexy. The Targa 58 on the other hand makes no apologies for its obvious hedonism.
Research soon revealed this approach to be completely intentional. Fairline envisioned from the outset an utterly unconventional boat in the 58GT. If the company’s hugely successful Squadron range targets the family cruiser market then the Targa is fairly and squarely aimed at the glamour set. Not only is it enticingly sensual to look at, from a hardware point of view no expense has been spared to ensure every possible convenience the heart desires can be realised with the touch of a button.
If indoor-outdoor flow heads your list of must-have features look no farther. The entire upper deck, approximately two-thirds of the overall length, is built on a single level running from the forward-facing alfresco dining station aft, through the concealed galley and saloon to the ultra-sleek helm station and its adjacent chaise lounge. With all the touch-of-a-button ventilation options activated, the atmosphere is akin to cruising a county lane in a Bentley convertible, albeit with four times the space and the option to wine and dine on the run.
Outboard access to this platform of luxury is via a sophisticated teak-laid bathing platform. Sophisticated not only because it is hydraulically operated but that it also incorporates a hydraulic tender carriage and launching platform as well as a hydraulic bathing ladder (see photo hereabouts).
Twin gates lead to the cockpit, its suntrap-like recliner and outdoor dining table. In keeping with the vessel’s long list of ingenious innovations this teak-trimmed picnic table has several setup options to ensure all occasions are allowed for, including converting the lounger into a huge outdoor double bed. I can think of a few appropriate (or otherwise) uses for that feature in a secluded bay.
Naturally the galley is only a step or two away in the rear starboard quarter of the main cabin. Pleasingly Fairline have concealed all the kitchen utilities under or behind a stylish array of cupboard doors, cavity sliders and retractable lids. The effect is magician-like when, after the big reveal, a fully-functional galley, including a two-burner induction cooktop (augmented by an additional hotplate outdoors), a comprehensive refrigeration system and the obligatory microwave/convection oven combo materialise out of the shelving. A Fairline edition china dinner service adds the finishing touch in style; just don’t break anything because you won’t find a replacement at Myer.
The rest of the saloon is presented in a refined mix of satin white hard and soft furnishings accented by chocolate and timber tones. If this choice of trimmings is not to your choosing Fairline offers a comprehensive choice of interior and exterior upholstery fabrics, carpets and covers chosen exclusively by the Fairline Interior Design Department.
A James Bond-like enclosure of the galley returns the saloon to an abode befitting the king of British chic himself. So slick in fact, I doubt I would have taken a second glance should a Bond girl have strutted in from a dip and asked for a towel. Okay, maybe a quick look.
In boats of this class it can be a struggle to avoid luxury car analogies. Having gone down that road once already — pardon the pun — I will avoid it this time except to say plenty of automotive manufacturers could take notes.
Twin independent helm and copilot seats feature the full range of electronically-adjustable subtleties. And Fairline has taken the pilot/copilot approach literally. A well-designed popup dash in front of the helm seat houses Volvo Penta’s factory gauges with the other essential guidance and controls systems — wheel, trim tabs and bowthruster — directly below. All the navigation equipment and most of the accessories switching is to starboard adjacent the copilot’s position.
Rounding off this refined control centre, Fairline’s custom-built vessel-monitoring system adds a fitting touch of Star Trek to the whole package.
STAIRWELL TO HEAVEN
To the portside of the helm station, an L-shaped staircase leads down
to the accommodation deck. Access to a tidy utilities space, which includes the inverter and 12V control panel, a washing machine and yet another fridge, is located handily at the bottom of this lobby-like enclosure.
To date Fairline has stayed true to its principals in regards to developing propulsion technologies, maintaining that conventional shaftdrives still offer a better all-round package than the current alternatives. This is not a debate I wish to comment on today, except to say the overwhelming customer demand for more spacious master cabins, such as those offered in many pod-drive vessels has forced the company to think outside the square to compete. And it has succeeded in a breathtaking manner.
Still located in the forward section of the hull, an abundance of natural light illuminates this spacious retreat imbuing it with an airiness that is completely unexpected in a boat. The traditional forepeak arrangement is forgone in favour of a more contemporary lateral approach that Fairline aptly describe as hotel-like. Photographer Ellen Dewar and I agreed the description Japanese minimalist was probably fair, although it does have a slightly modernist touch to the highlights.
As impressive as this voluminous space is (almost a third of the vessel’s total floor area) — with its oversized bed, chaise lounge and matching vanity and full-length mirrors — the effect is taken to a new level when at the push-of-a-button the already beautifully lit cabin becomes awash with natural light by virtue of the electrically-operated skylight.
In keeping with the hotel approach, this enclave of serenity is serviced by a capacious yet clean and simplistic en suite. A teak floor provides the perfect complement in terms of warm tones for the otherwise cool finishings and colour palette, while twin gullwing-opening skylights flood the bathroom with even more wonderful natural light.
Farther aft a pair of similarly-styled twin-single cabins sits side-by-side with independent en suites. Both cabins benefit from large rectangular portholes providing an unobstructed view of the outside world. The single beds in the portside cabin can be electrically pushed together to form a double, while the starboard en suite also provides the dayhead duties.
The only negative I noted on the accommodation deck was the lack of door catches. A bit odd on a boat, I thought. Perhaps it is just an oversight particular to this showboat.
BELLS AND WHISTLES
Fairline has spared no expense aiming to impress with the Targa 58GT. The boat targets the man who has everything with a few items he doesn’t. If it could have been done manually the Targa 58GT has a button for it.
Of particular note in this regard is the way the boat converts from its enclosed cruising setup to its glorious weather-appreciation mode. The huge semicircular side windows can be opened at the touch of a button, but I stood back in awe when I saw the enormous pneumatically-sealed hardtop in action. Talk about bringing the outdoors inside.
And this is no open-and-shut case. A variety of other magically-manipulated features allow for a comprehensive range of settings depending on how much light you deem perfect. Look for shutters over the skylights, electrically-operated pleated blinds on the side windows, more blinds on the main doors, and if it’s artificial light that’s required, multiple banks of energy-efficient LEDs hide in every conceivable nook and cranny.
THE BUSINESS END
As any experienced boat owner will know, a plethora of bells and whistles is certainly nice to have, but those toys are only as good as the engineering behind them. This is not an easy thing to assess on an all-too-short boat test. The best I can offer is a good look behind closed doors — such as the engineroom.
Accessed via a lift-up hatch in the cockpit floor, my first impression was of a reasonably pokey space. This is to be expected. With so much accommodation space a compromise has to be made somewhere. Two 900hp Volvo Penta D13 engines live in this spotlessly clean area. I was pleased to see the designer had been careful not to overly clutter the compartment, which will ease any servicing constraints encountered.
All the workmanship I could see looked professional, as in there was no indication of a rush job such as rounded-off bolts or ragged zip-tie tag ends. Personally, I would like to see more evidence of preventative maintenance — an extra dollop of anticorrosive grease here and there wouldn’t go astray.
POWER WHERE IT’S NEEDED
Weather conditions on the day greatly restricted our operating area. Not because the Fairline wasn’t up to the rough stuff but because our photo boat would have struggled to keep pace.
However operating in such close quarters provided the ideal circumstances to get to grips with the finer details of the boat’s performance. She’s quick enough out of the hole, only the self-governing of the electronically-fuel-managed Volvo’s holding her back. More importantly for a big boat the Targa 58GT proved surprisingly nimble, a real confidence booster when travelling at speed — it’s good to know you can avoid unexpected obstacles, like propeller-destroying floating debris.
Moving the engines aft like this means the propellers have been set in semi-tunnels, improving the shaft angles and reducing the draft. Both of these factors will contribute to the vessel’s overall efficiency. Of course it also shifts the weight balance farther aft than is maybe desirable. However, the straight-line-run testing we did does suggest any issues with trim were easily resolved with a minimum of additional uplifting pressure from the tabs.
Even in fairly blustery conditions we achieved a solid 25kts and kept the windscreen reasonably dry, thanks no doubt to the full-length spray deflectors. Apparently the boat will exceed 30kts when all the stars align for a perfect run.
My brief inspection of the Fairline Targa 58GT back at May’s Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show promised much. I am happy to say the best part of a day we spent getting to know her better exceeded all expectations.
I like that the boat makes no apologies for obvious boating hedonism. She’s not really family orientated although she does have the accommodation to cope should this be a box that needs ticking (there’s another crew-cabin aft not mentioned above).
I also like that Fairline has stuck with shaftdrives in this boat. It proves with clever design and innovative thinking an owner still has choices if he/she wants the best of both worlds.
The 58GT is as she is billed — a quite simply stunning vessel, gorgeous to look at and a slightly overindulgent pleasure to experience firsthand.
Fairline Targa 58 Gran Turismo
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL Handlaid fibreglass
LENGTH OVERALL 18.07m
DRAFT 1.31m (dry)
WEIGHT Approx 25,000kg
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6+1
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Volvo Penta D13-900 EVC
TYPE Inline six-cylinder turbo-diesel
DISPLACEMENT 12.78lt (each)
RATED HP 900 at 2300rpm
WEIGHT 1560kg (each)
DRIVE Straight shaft
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 434, Dec-Jan 2013, Story: Jeff Strang. Photos & video: Ellen Dewar.
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