It’s typical – you want one fantastic flybridge to get excited about and then three come along at once

I bet the people at Fairline can’t believe their luck. Having endured the success of the Princess 42 for many years, it finally fights back with a new 42ft Squadron only to find an outstanding Sealine F42 blocking its path to glory.

All three boats are on show at the PSP Southampton Boat Show but how do they fare when pitted against each other?

Sealine’s F42 (stand no M187) is without question the most interesting and exciting of the three boats, offering class-leading accommodation and fantastic lower helm visibility from its vast wraparound windows. The master and guest cabins are “best in class” and it has nothing to fear from Fairline or Princess up top, because it boasts a big and luxurious flybridge. Sealine’s decision to go for pod-drive power looks to have paid off too, with 34 knots on tap – the other two can only claim 31 knots.

With its powerful looks and high quality build, the Fairline Squadron 42 (stand M168) looks capable of out-muscling the competition by simply turning up to the party. Add in the kind of engineering and ingenuity that is making Fairline famous in the 60ft sector and its claim to the flybridge crown looks strong. The aft cockpit is impressive with a reversible transom seat from which to look out over the water, plus the neatest tender launch system you’ll find this side of a superyacht. Inside, however, there are issues.

The saloon only has one section of seating, rather than a facing bench over to port that would gain you a more social surround. What you do gain is plenty of floor space, but unless you plan to break out some dance moves on board we’re not convinced of the advantages. By comparison, both Princess and Sealine offer two sets of saloon seats. Below decks both of the Fairline’s cabins come up short against the Sealine, but then most boats under 50ft will.

So where does this all leave the Princess 42 (stand M155)? A 2010 update does give the boat a new lease of life, with a greater window area; the coolest, most luxurious helm seats we’ve ever seen on a 40ft boat; and a more contemporary fitout, thanks to a new tone of cabinetry. The overall design of the boat has always been good and the interior layout loses nothing to the new Fairline in terms of space or luxury, but it simply can’t match the Sealine’s vast innovative interior.

All three boats are priced around £380,000 and can be found on the pontoons of the Southampton Boat Show.

VIEW PICTURES of the three flybridges in our online gallery.