Luxury on the Fly
By Alan Harper
The big British and Italian boat brands fight for market share in this sector, but over the last 15 years small UK producer Pearl Motor Yachts has carved a successful niche for itself. With this new flying-bridge design it is taking the fight to the enemy by offering an unusual level of customization. The Pearl 75 boasts naval architecture and external styling from Bill Dixon, and this example features an interior scheme from the studio of London-based designer Kelly Hoppen.
If Hoppen’s mix of modernism and eastern themes is not your thing, Pearl is happy to introduce you to their in-house designers, or have you introduce yours to theirs. The shipyard stresses its willingness to customize—variations on the 75 include an internal dining table, with galley access aft instead of forward. You can also have an enclosed wheelhouse. Her generous beam makes the 75 seem big inside, with excellent headroom too. The amidships master suite has a separate entrance lobby, a large walk-in wardrobe, and a space-saving sliding door into the head. The two guest cabins are similar in size but different in character, one with a good-sized double bed and the other with a pair of singles, while up in the bow the VIP suite is cleverly laid out with its bed offset to starboard. Stowage has been well planned, and the corridor is fitted with transparent panels to let the daylight in.
Pearl says that the only way to thrive as a small British yacht-builder is to do what the big builders do, but better. That sounds ambitious, but key to the Pearl operation is its unusual production regime. Mold-tooling, molding, and first-fit engineering are all done in Taiwan, with the part-completed boats then shipped to Pearl’s Portsmouth factory for high-quality fit-out and finishing. The Taiwan connection is crucial, the company explained, and helps to make customization financially viable.
One of few negatives we noted on the Pearl 75 was the difficult engine-room access—but Pearl is planning some design improvements by all accounts. The engine room itself, however, once we’d negotiated the tortuous entrance, has excellent headroom. The compact motors are mounted flat and well aft, and the gensets are installed outboard. Crew accommodations are reached via the ER entrance lobby.
In a choppy trial off Palma, Mallorca, the ride was on the firm side upwind, but not so firm as to make us want to slow down, and on all other points the 75 demonstrated confident, fun, and vice-free handling.
This is the biggest boat so far to have been fitted with ZF’s pod drives, and 1,250-horsepower per side is right on the maximum for the torpedo-shaped 4000-series units, which are independently controllable via the joystick and SmartCommand software, with twin contrarotating props facing aft.
They passed the handling test with flying colors, and the way in which the boat was so willing to obey even our wildest helm inputs without so much as changing stride suggests that the engines’ considerable torque is being transmitted to the water efficiently. ZF claims significant speed and consumption benefits, and certainly Pearl is delighted with the new drives.
Pearl Motor Yachts, +44 (0) 1789 740088; www.pearlmotoryachts.com
: 108,025 lb.
: 1,506 gal.
: 396 gal.
: 2/1,250-hp MTU 8V 2000 M94s
: $3,995,663 (ex. taxes)
: $4,101,731 (approximate, ex. taxes)
: 20-kW Kohler
: 2/1,150-hp Cat C18s; 2/1,200-hp MAN V8s
: ZF 4000 pods, 1.985:1 ratio
: 2/ZF 4-blade contrarotating twins
2 Seakeeper M8000 gyro stabilizers ($205,140); second 20-kW genset ($55,146); colored hull ($42,978); underwater lights ($5,928); Intellian 16 satellite-TV system ($24,320); hydraulic flybridge bimini ($20,046); 3 wicker chairs ($1,053).
Air temperature 59°F; humidity 86%; seas: 3'; load: 760 gal. fuel, 330 gal. water, 7 persons, 250 lb. gear. Speeds are two-way averages measured w/ Garmin GPS display. GPH taken via MTU display. Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Decibels measured at helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.