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Incoming! Man the guns

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 9 Feb 20:00 UTC
Imperial Star Destroyer - nothing more to add © Star Wars

The reality is that this notion got its first outing in the Special Boat Service section of Caped Crusaders. That section's role was certainly that of the harbinger, which I suppose in the naval sense is the classic 'send the first salvo across the bow'.

Yet what we're really talking about here is a certain military feel. A no nonsense look. Decidedly with these craft, form follows function, with an inherent ruggedness present all the while. There's a proud burgee of dependability flying from the mast, a subdued colour palette, and a very restrained design ethos. Think Bauhaus over Rococo and you're probably there.

Irrefutably, you would have to say that pleasure craft reflecting naval lines lays firmly at the feet of the Demigod, Jon Bannenberg. Carinthia V and VI were effectively Lürssen Frigates with the Master's deft touch only adding to the purposefulness of that glorious sheer line. They certainly did have an innate ability to make many a liner look pedestrian, and a good deal of yachts appear boring, both then and now.

Motor Yacht A just looks like the Conning Tower of some massive sub, Nord looks like an aircraft carrier bearing down on you, Bold went the whole hog and sports a grey paint job, and Yaz said what the hell, and just repurposed a Frigate's actual hull. Skat went for her project number in drop shadow on her quarters to demonstrably indicate the owner's brief to the designer, and back in the Jurassic Period, the Martin Francis-penned Eco just said, 'I'll be a waterborne Imperial Star Destroyer, and thank you very much!'

It has been kind of interesting to see a wave (no pun intended) of military-esque vessels popping up. Now some designs of late might have been more Capital or Flagship, others strike vessels, some more recon or fleet replenishment ships like all the explorer/expedition vessels (to say nothing of the shadow boats) with a couple even adopting camo as their livery, and even strong overtones of landing craft.

However, the one category that has been missing so far from the regalia is the PT, MTB, E-Boot, fast-attack type craft, although there are subtle undertones of such in some of the ones mentioned here. Everything old is new again eh? All of that is totally terrific, and can be as mesmerising as a concentric circle going around at an amusement fair, or the spinner in the centre of a turbofan on a jet liner.

Second Salvo

Yet the craft that set the range for this second salvo, as it were, is the Mazu 62. In just the one image you got the notion of speed, an 'I mean business' prow, command in the naval sense of the word with the central helm, and what is effectively a slab sidedness that without those large windows would make her ultra-utilitarian. But all of that means volume, both on deck, and below, with a hefty 5.3m beam being put to good use. A shallowish draft of 1.4m talks speed, and a pair of 1350 IPS units says 43 knots WOT and 33 for cruise.

Versatility is key, with options for two or three cabins, crew quarters, and so forth, matching her day boat, overnighter or weekend credentials, just as much her ability to be the chase boat for the mother ship. There is a forward facing foredeck lounge that can also be a huge sunpad, seating under the hardtop, and also a convertible aft deck to be more lounging, or tender/toy stowage.

Big Sister, the Mazu 82 had a real PT feel, 40 knot pace to match the looks, and even space for the 40mm cannon on the foredeck. That could be a smidgeon hard to see past when under way, but if it popped up out of the deck, like the Spirit of Ecstasy from an RR grille, then you certainly would own the anchorage.

Well and truly in the mix...

Sanlorenzo's Bluegame BG72 definitely had a place in this ditty. From Destroyer raked wheelhouse windows, to flying buttresses, and a free flowing main saloon that went out onto an aft deck that just screams a place to roll out the depth charges on the enemy subs below. This one boat had all the juxtapositioning between military and yacht going on, and for my money, the practicality versus style combo works handsomely.

Now Bluegame love to call it the 'disruptive BG72', but that's just the Marketing Department talking after a really long lunch. I think it is better to talk about integration, personality, along with quality of fit out, and space utilisation, which to some degree is customisable. Adaptability to suit your specific needs extends to the massive aft deck, resplendent for a mega sunset cocktail party, to über swim platform with it's own stairway to the sea, or stowage for toys, toys, and more toys.

The full beam, sea-level space just in front can be the main saloon, or an owner's oasis. Like many a craft in this segment, she opts for the space saving of Volvo Penta IPS, and can clip along at 31 knots when required.

RIBs were always going to be in this

It could be the pronounced collars, and the 'R' part could be way more in use than any hint of 'I', but the SACS Marine Rebel 55 is our bridge from boat to RIB. Looking a bit like the Whiskey Project's craft with its totally atypical acronym name for the military sector of MMRC (or Multi Mission Reconnaissance Craft), but there's plenty of muscle and menace, style and sensory intel on offer to make the Rebel 55 a distinct node on this journey.

Continuing on, and SACS and Tecnorib joined forces late last year, and they are definitely set to be an even more powerful member of the dayboating fraternity. Throw in a great name like Pirelli, and it is kind of like some Italian - Game. Set. Match. - sort of thing, with everyone dressed in Fila or maybe Sergio Tacchini. Euro disco from the speakers, Negronis for everyone, and the deal is done. Party on, Wayne.

Could have probably picked any of the Greek RIB manufacturers for this one, especially after my time with this Ribco 28R, but the shots of the Onda 341P also came to mind, with a skinny, stepped hull, military style stand-up, bolstered seating for pilot and co-pilot, and no-fuss sun protection. If it were not for the bright accent colour you would have not got past Navy in the first sentence just now.

And you were always going to be able to include the Italians in the form of Capelli and Lomac in this sector, as well. Maybe the softer colours took away some of the brutalness, but the intent is always there, and nothing says paramilitary quite like a RIB in full flight...

For when a name says it all...

Tactical. As in Tactical Custom Boats, who launched their next generation model, the Adventure-44 late last year. It's all alloy, with the hull being quarter inch 5083 aluminium, and her structure actually surpasses that of the US and Canadian navies. Powered by triple COX 300hp Diesel outboards, she is intended to cruise at 30 knots in conditions most others would be tucked up in their bed for, and with 670 US Gallons on board, she'll do it for a while, too.

Tactical, a division of Platinum Marine Group (Crescent Yachts), refer to her as 'a capable cruiser, aggressive sports fisher, an entertainer, and a relaxation machine.' However, it is her look that got her in this space, and she too has a yacht-type feel, not an all work, no play discarding of anything remotely lush.

The Greg Marshall-designed craft is coated with closed cell foam for insulation and sound deadening to improve ride quality. Ride quality of the A-44 is improved with a pair of Shockwave pneumatic seats and there's an onboard diesel heater for cooler climes, and a powered sunroof, to go with all the opening glass for the warmer times. She can be set up to fish, or carry paddleboards, inflatable, bikes and so for the adventurer types, even tow water toys for all the kids to enjoy. There are even a water and also air drone included in the sale.

A wrap

So the most amazing part of all of this is just how fun it can be. Some won't have the palate for it, and that's fine. For those who can handle the angular design, the performance, no matter whether that's measured in pace or latitudes of operation, these craft have all the airs and graces expected of their type and time. I guess you might call them follies, especially if you are a fan of certain building restoration shows, but there is one major difference.

These are not water tanks, mills, factories, hangars, or bunkers trying to be repurposed way beyond anything their original designers intended or envisaged. From the keel up they have been built to deliver luxury and entertainment, and do so with a certain cheek (and chic too). By all accounts, they have excelled at their mission. Vive la difference!

OK. Today you will find that our website has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo.

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2022 is off and running. Woohoooooo.

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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