The UK brand, Pearl, has ramped up the stakes with a 75-footer that is well designed and well-lit in the interior, and with a lot features included in the standard price
Launched in September 2012 at the Southampton Boat Show, the new Pearl 75 offers owners stylish, big-boat yachting opportunities in an easy-to-handle package. Despite the best efforts of other British builders, this is the yacht that carried off our own personal recommendation as Motor Yacht of the Show. We were among the first journalists invited aboard and found the yacht to be refreshingly different. Priced the way she is, she offers plenty of bang for the buck, and is probably set to become serious contender in the market for yachts of this size.
What is now the company’s largest boat to date, she comes in a range of multiple layout and styling options. The new flagship is a sleek and innovative design, created by Bill Dixon, who took over four years of work to get this design to where he and his client are happy with the result. His vision has incorporated vast areas of specialist glass that maximise the use of light. The unusually spacious lounge-style saloon, open-plan galley and dining area are flooded with light from the conservatory style glass roof.
Evolution of a Flagship
Dixon has been able to maximise on available space because the boat, unusually in this size of yacht, is fitted with the ZF series 4000 pod drive propulsion. Not only is this an efficient way to propel a yacht, it also ensures increased economy compared to more conventional shaft drive vessels. The compact pod design reduces engine room space dramatically and that in turn increases internal accommodation space, meaning this motor yacht is probably the most voluminous vessel in her class.
Built out of infused composite, the Pearl 75 comes with a choice of engines. With pod drives, the power requirement is less than similar sized yachts, and that helps keep the purchase price down and reduces fuel costs. The twin MTUs engines, each outputting 1250 horsepower, fitted to this, the first boat, produce a comfortable cruising speed of 25 knots and maximum speeds of approximately 29 knots.
It is fun to drive and because of the rudderless pod steering and propulsion system, which incorporates electronic engine controls with joystick mooring control technology at the helm, manoeuvring is easy enough to allow 23-metres of yacht to slide sideways into a tight mooring spot. This greatly increased manoeuvrability gives owners the option of operating the yacht themselves without crew, if preferred.
The fail-safe nature of the pods, designed to shear off below the hull if struck by an underwater obstacle, is another welcomed safety feature that again sets them apart from conventional shaft driven yachts.
The 75 is fitted with iAnchor, another great feature of the ZF 4000 POD drive system, which uses GPS to ensure the yacht stays in a specified location at the push of a button and without an anchor. It is similar to the dynamic positioning systems found on larger yachts and commercial ships.
Externally, Dixon has created a fly bridge design that boasts numerous seating and entertaining areas. It comes complete with BBQ, wet bar with sink, fridge and icemaker. The bimini cover that gives shade to this expanse of social space is hydraulically controlled.
On the foredeck, there is U-shaped seating around a teak table area can also be shaded with a bimini. Otherwise it can be folded away and the area converted to become sunbathing pads. Both this area and the seating on the aft deck make alfresco dining and entertaining a possibility. Aft of this is the jet-ski garage, large enough for a small tender. A hydraulic bathing platform provides quick and easy access to the water. Both the door and the passerelle are also hydraulically operated. Brochures describe the yacht as having teak laid cockpit, fly bridge and side decks. We however noted this, as yet unnamed yacht, was built with Esthec decking, a lightweight, easy to clean and maintain composite that is available in different colours.
A light touch on the interior
Interior Designer Kelly Hoppen has brought a fresh and different feel to this sector of the motor yacht market. It is more geared towards the superyacht side of things, with a sizeable sprinkling of bling – more than you would otherwise find on a boat of this stature. Hoppen’s design ethos is one of balance. With the use of texture and her trademark neutral colour scheme, she has created a very contemporary interior. Commenting at the launch party, Hoppen said “My aim with this exciting project was to instil a feeling of sanctuary, so it was perfect to use my East meets West philosophy. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the build team and I’m thrilled with the results.”
Below decks accommodation areas have been carefully designed to maximise space, with four, large guest cabins and a crew cabin for two. Large rectangular bonded-glass port lights flood these cabins with sunlight. One clever feature seen here for the first time in a boat this size are Courtyard Windows set into the inboard bulkhead of the Cabin. These make the cabins appear to be much bigger than they are and allow outside light to pass through the cabin into the companionway that runs fore and aft on the lower deck. This gives a wonderful feeling of spaciousness. It is a feature that will undoubtedly be mimicked elsewhere and rather like the ubiquitous drop down balconies, seen first on Sanlorenzo yachts, will in future years, be seen aboard many other motoryachts. The effective use of windows in the hull and then into the corridor is both dramatic and creative; it creates bright open spaces that contribute to the feeling of being on a superyacht.
Amidships, the guest cabin to port is a twin berth and to starboard there is a double, but these can be specified as doubles or twin cabins. Right forward, the VIP cabin has a bed offset from the centre that makes full and good use of space to provide an excellent guest cabin with walk in wardrobe to starboard and a pleasing bathroom to port. Located right aft, the master suite feels huge. The bathroom has no tub, instead there is a massive shower, and we particularly liked the little touches that convert space that would otherwise be wasted into display cabinets. As standard, all guest cabins are fitted with LCD TV sets.
On the main deck, the wheelhouse is right forward and is unusual in its layout in that it incorporates the galley behind and to port. The steering position has its two seats in an L shaped sofa that predominantly and somewhat strangely faces aft. However, the wheelhouse is well equipped and features a Garmin 4-screen, 4-camera navigation and monitoring system, together with an E-plex touch screen electrical control system.
The main saloon, with its electrically operated patio doors leading to the aft deck, is very definitely a lounge and not a dining area. In fact, we assume that in inclement weather when eating outside is not an option, meals would be served TV dinner style in the main saloon or in the small dinette adjacent to the lower helm.
The boat, even without adding extras, is well equipped and comes with reverse cycle air-conditioning, a central vacuum system and an integrated audio system to name just three desirable features. The saloon comes with a 40-inch LCD TV while the galley is loaded with a combination oven and grill, a coffee machine and a dishwasher. Elsewhere a washing machine and tumble dryer are included in the price and make boating more enjoyable for the entire family when cruising. As standard, the boat even comes with its own crockery, cutlery and towels.
In September 1998, with Iain Smallridge as Managing Director, the first Pearl 45 motor yacht was launched in Southampton. Over the next four years the 43 and 41 joined the range. In January 2000, the company relocated to purpose-built premises in Stratford-upon-Avon. In 2002, Tony Whittaker, an engineer by profession, became the company chairman. The naval architect Bill Dixon and the interior designer Evan K Marshall were hired to add style and flair and in 2003, the Pearl 55 was first seen at the 2003 Southampton Boat Show. The Pearl 60 appeared in 2005 and the following year the Pearl 50 was launched at the 2006 Southampton Boat Show. Hulls are cold moulded using infusion methods and fitted out mechanically in Asia before being shipped to the UK for completion and testing. This takes place at the Portsmouth-based Endeavour Quay facility, which was formerly the Camper & Nicholson Gosport shipyard. The current fleet consists of the 50 and 60 and now the new 75.
Smallridge believes the new flagship will make a real impact. “The response to the launch of the new boat has been very encouraging and there is a great deal of anticipation surrounding her appearance in Mallorca where she will be based. We are extremely proud to be able to launch a vessel that really is ground-breaking.”
The firm’s ability to provide a 75-foot boat with this level of personalised semi-customisation shows they have the ability to respond to the needs of individual clients without the restrictions imposed by mass production. It is the synergy of this flexibility, agility and empathy with clients, combined with the experience they have amassed over 13 years that makes Pearl a force to be reckoned with.
Technical Specifications – Pearl 75
LOA: 23.3 metres
LWL: 21.37 metres
Beam (max): 5.98 metres
Draught (half load): 1.55 metres
Displacement (half load): 55 tons
Engines: 2 x MTU 8V20000M94
Speed (max): 29 kts @ 2400rpm
Speed (cruise): 25 kts @ 2200rpm
Fuel capacity: 5800 litres
Range @ 25 kts: 345nm
Range @ 15 kts: 402nautical miles
Accommodation: 8 guests
Crew accommodation: 2 members
Designer: Bill Dixon Design
Exterior styling: Bill Dixon Design
Interior design: Kelly Hoppen Interiors