Beauty and Brawn
International yachtsman Mark Richards started Palm Beach Motor Yachts in 1995 after an illustrious professional sailing career. Under his stewardship, the Australian yard embraces a mantra of no compromise quality over quantity. “I don’t want to be the biggest, I just want to build the best boats for a few people a year and I’m happy,” Richards once told me. His latest creation will certainly help lead the charge in that pursuit.
If you’ve perused enough boat reviews, you surely have read a line about a boat’s hole shot and time required to plane. Well, these words are not exactly appropriate in a review of the new Palm Beach 45 Express. The waterline grabs hold of the surface with a vengeance during the entire speed curve. When more power is applied the bow doesn’t shoot skyward, the boat just moves faster with a seakindly motion. This is a result of Richards’ slippery warped planing-hull design that keeps the bow down without the need to apply any trim tabs at all. The wide stern also helps to create a superior lateral plane characteristic.
Palm Beach accommodates a variety of propulsion systems based on owner preference, including conventional shafts, IPS pods, and Zeus pods, as well as jets. A pair of 435-horsepower Volvo Penta IPS600s powered our test boat. The engines are placed just abaft amidships and employ jackshafts that connect the engine with the pods located beneath the cockpit. This distributes the weight appropriately and enhances the 45’s fine running characteristics. During our test, we achieved a top speed of nearly 34 knots at 3600 rpm. The sweet spot, however, is at 83 percent load or 3000 rpm. This produces 25 knots while burning a total of 25 gallons per hour.
The Palm Beach 45 benefits from Richards’ extensive sailboat racing background, where weight reduction is the name of the game. Composite construction and high-tech laminates keep the 45’s displacement down to a featherweight 26,880 pounds.
All bulkheads and furniture are bonded to the hull and deck for added strength. Richards approaches mechanical and electrical systems through the eyes of an offshore sailor where simplicity and serviceability are key components to safety and success.
The interior of the 45 is a departure from the builder’s traditional all-teak fit out. (In my opinion, the craftsmen of Palm Beach are some of the best in the world, bar none.) For this model, the builder eliminated some teak and introduced exquisitely finished and stylish painted fiberglass and composite components trimmed with satin-finished teak accents. The result is a lighter build, less cost, and a fresh, contemporary look. A more traditional teak interior is available as an option.
Our test boat featured a single stateroom, down-galley arrangement. Several layouts are available, including a two-stateroom version. The saloon is huge and benefits from overhead hatches, opening windows, and almost a completely unobstructed 360-degree line of sight. Australian’s affinity for outdoor entertaining and family time is evident in the 45’s spacious cockpit layout with ample seating, a transom door, refrigerator and loads of stowage.
Although this builder embraces customization, I don’t think there’s any reason to change much on the 45. She’s one heck of gorgeous ride.
: 26,880 lb.
: 315 gal.
: 185 gal.
: 2/435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600 diesels
: Various pods, conventional, or jet-drives
Air temp.: 79°F; humidity: 45%; seas flat; load 300 gal. fuel, 100 gal. water, 5 persons, misc. gear. Speeds are two-way averages measured by Garmin GPS. GPH taken via Volvo display. Range is 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels taken at the helm.