The new Pershing 80 mixes trademark sleek design and high speed thrills in equal measure
There was a time when high speed on the water meant roughing it. At 50 knots, you would have expected a hard ride and the minimum of creature comforts. All that has now changed and Italian builder Pershing has been one of the pioneers of sophisticated high performance. Now you can have your cake and eat it too, with the latest addition to the Pershing range. The 80 offers the best in high society living in port, combined with the excitement of high speed at sea. For the lucky owners of this new Pershing, life on board can take a whole new meaning.
Most performance yachts start to run out of steam at 40 knots as they come close to their top speed. Not this new Pershing. At 40 knots, it is just getting into its stride, with this being just a comfortable cruising speed. Open up the throttles and there is still exciting acceleration left. The response is immediate and as the engine note rises, the speed climbs rapidly. On a test boat with heavy fuel load, we topped out at 48.6 knots. But with a lighter fuel load, the Pershing 80 can reach the magic 50 knot mark, which is exciting performance for even the most discerning speed demon.
High speed, cool running
Running at 50 knots used to mean that you felt the excitement – you had the wind in your hair. But the Pershing 80 is so sophisticated that you don’t really sense the speed. You are closed in and so nicely cosseted in the calm and quite of this sports yacht that there is little physical impression of how fast you are travelling when the engines are flat out. You can talk in a normal voice at the helm. The hull almost ignored the metre high waves and maintained a level ride, though there was an increase in the harshness of the ride at higher speed. The only realy impression of speed you get with the 80 is when you start overtaking all the other boats around you.
Open up the sunroof and the saloon doors and you get a bit closer to the world outside but even then the yacht remains remarkably sophisticated and the breeze is only gentle. If you really want to get the feel of this yacht at speed, then you need to head out onto the foredeck where there is an intimate seating area that is wide open to the wind. This is where you can really feel the excitement of 50 knots at sea.
The 80 certainly looks the part of a high performance yacht. The deep hull is topped by a low profile hardtop that merges into the sleek lines. This hardtop features the new window design from Pershing in which the main side window arches over and embraces a lower window, adding to the style. The yacht is finished in a blue silver and it all looks beautifully styled except for the large round side window in the hull. This allows wonderful light and a view of the sea from inside the master suite, but does little to enhance the sporting style from the outside.
Inside the 80
For the internal luxury, Pershing has opted for a minimalist style, balancing the warmth of natural oak furniture with dark wenge decking and softer fabrics. In the saloon and cockpit, a cream fabric is used for the settees and it looks more practical than luxurious. But the mood changes in the staterooms where the image is softer. The layout follows convention with the master suite amidships, the VIP stateroom forward and two twin cabins in between. These twin cabins are narrow and bit basic and they share a bathroom, which comes as a bit of a surprise for an 80-footer.
The master suite is wonderful, with the full-sized bathroom occupying the starboard side. It is separated from the main cabin by a frosted glass screen, but with the door open there are excellent outside views from the king-sized bed. There are thoughtful stowage areas incorporated into the furniture, as well as a walk-in closet. Luxury items include a drinks fridge and a leather-covered couch.
Pershing has found a clever way of opening up the deck saloon and cockpit. There is an electric sliding door on each side of the dividing screen and when these slide open, the whole aft screen can be lowered into the settee back so that cockpit and saloon are one. This produces a maze of seating, with a sunbed aft and dining areas both inside and outside. Adjacent to the outside one is a barbecue grill and bar, so outdoor aficionados can refuel after a day of watersports. One downside: the galley is located down a steep flight of stairs on the lower deck, which could make serving difficult. The galley itself is compact as are the quarters for the three-man crew.
Making the idea move
Pershing has really refined the art of sophisticated speed at sea and they use a tried and tested propulsion package for their performance yachts. On the 80, this consists of a pair of V-16 diesels from the MTU 2000 range that deliver just over 4000 horsepower to the Arneson Surface Drives. There is a harshness about the big, five-bladed surface propellers that is part of the excitement of performance yachting, but it does introduce some drumming in the hull at speed and some vibration when at idle. This is only to be expected from this type of propulsion and Pershing has found a good balance between the requirements of high performance and docile low speed.
The big propellers also make harbour manoeuvring a bit stop and go. The minimum speed on both engines at idle is close to eight knots, but there is the option of switching the gears to trolling mode for more subtle manoeuvring. With the bow thruster, there is enough help to make sure you can park this yacht where you want it. The Arnesons do need to be trimmed carefully for maximum performance, but they represent one of the best solutions to the sometimes conflicting demands of high and slow performance.
With the engines well aft, most of the noise comes from the hull interacting with the waves. Both the spray rails and the chine are quite pronounced, and this is the reason for the harshness found at high speed in waves. The bow is quite full to give extra internal space and the topside features two knuckles that help to create a finer entry at the waterline. The hull has a deadrise of 18 degrees, which is a good balance between cushioning the ride in waves and getting the maximum performance. At speed, with all the saloon openings shut, it is easy to forget that you are covering nearly a mile a minute.
Seeing all sides
At high speed, you need all the visibility you can get, and here the design is let down by the wide windscreen pillars on the sides. With the helm station on the centreline, this is not initially a major problem. However, you do lose visibility as the yacht heels sharply into a turn, so you cannot see what is lying close by on the side you are heading towards. It is important to do a complete check around the horizon before turning to ensure safety.
On this 50-knot-capable yacht, safety and security do cause some concern as well. There is not a handhold in sight in the saloon and cockpit, so moving around at speed can be a bit precarious – it’s best to stay put and leave moving about till at slower speeds or at anchor. On the side deck, the rails are set low, at about knee height although there is a top inboard handrail to provide some support. The rear cockpit gates are equally low so it would be best not to move around too much on the 80 when the engines are at full power.
At the helm, the owner and guests are much better provided for, with three secure, adjustable seats. The centre seat is the control seat, and has the throttles mounted on one side and the tiller steering lever on the other, so you have full control without having to reach for the dashboard. Close by the wheel are the flap, power trim and the bow thruster controls. It all works well, with the twin electronic navigation displays providing all the navigation information you need for high speed driving. The helm’s view astern is clear for stern-to mooring. However, the 80 does have a very wide swim platform to provide protection for the Arneson Drives. This is not visible from the helm, so you need someone aft to gauge the docking distance.
This teak swim platform lifts with the garage door to reveal a cavernous storage space for the tender and jet ski. A tilting ramp makes the launch and recovery of the tender quick and easy – just drive the boat onto the ramp, attach the winch wire and haul away. Equally thoughtful on the 80 is the inflatable bag for anchor chain stowage in the forepeak. Once the chain is stowed, the bag is inflated and the chain is thus secured during high-speed runs. If only Pershing would give as much thought to the security of the people on board, this fine yacht would tick all the right boxes.
This latest addition to the Pershing’s high-speed fleet is a masterpiece of engineering and design, with many ingenious features to translate high performance into an exciting experience. There is a need to look more carefully at the requirements for the security of the guests, but in this new design Pershing has found a good balance between the requirements of performance and luxury living. What is certain is that the Pershing 80 has very few competitors in its league.
Technical Specifications – Pershing 80
LOA 24.5 m
LWL 18.25 m
Beam 5.5 m
Draught (fully laden) 1.4 m
Displacement 60.1 t (full load)
Engines 2 x 2030 hp MTU diesels
Drive type Arneson Drives
Speed (max/cruise) 50/38 knots
Range at 38 knots 370 ms
Fuel capacity 5950 L
Bow thruster 24 hp
Generators 2 x 20 KW
Watermaker Idromar 3120 ls per 24 hours
Freshwater capacity 1300 L
Communication/navigation electronics Raymarine/Simrad
Entertainment systems Bose
Owner and guests (number) 8
Crew (number) 3
Construction Composites using Scrimp system
Classification RCD Cat A
Naval architect (name/company) De Simoni and Ferretti Engineering
Interior designer (name/company) Pershing