You would think the designers had never stepped aboard a boat before. It’s an oft heard comment, and one that I fear is occasionally closer to the truth than we realise. Think about it – all those guys beavering away on their drawing boards and CAD machines
to produce the very latest in flybridge boats – is it really reasonable to assume that they spend their weekends aboard their own million-pound motor yachts? Not really.

The same is as true for Sea Ray as it is for any other brand. But I’ll tell you who does spend his life using and playing with seven-figure flybridge cruisers – Rusty Higgins. Rusty is Sea Ray’s Luxury Series customer handover guru. Buy a Sea Ray L650, L590
or this latest model, the L550, tested by MBY just three weeks after launch at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, and it comes with a free Rusty.

“I personally hand over every L-Series Sea Ray,” Rusty tells me. “In theory, I’m there for three days ensuring that the customer is 100% happy and confident in the operation and handling of their new yacht. In reality, I won’t leave until I’m convinced that the client is completely up to speed with it – and if that takes a few more days then that’s what they get.”

As a result, Rusty spends more time using, explaining, crawling over and experiencing these boats in real-world customer conditions than anybody else in the world. And he’ll fit right in with however the owner wants to play it. “I’ve had customers decide that whilst they’ve got me, we’ll take the boat to the Bahamas, so the whole handover period is conducted on a cruise. And why not? As long as I fulfil my duty of getting that customer completely comfortable with the new boat, I’m happy.”

Rusty is showing me over the new Sea Ray L550 Fly (there are two versions, this flybridge model and a sleek Express Cruiser version, without a flybridge and gaining a sunroof, but otherwise identical) with real pride.

And it’s a pride well earned – the Sea Ray design team has spent months during development downloading knowledge gleaned by Rusty over hundreds of hours and thousands of miles spent cruising and using these boats directly with the end customer. This, then, is Rusty’s boat – the embodiment of what he’s learned in that time.

Read Nick’s full report on the Sea Ray L550 in the May 2017 issue of MBY.