The Fairline Targa 53 Gran Turismo could be the boat to revive the Oundle yard's fortunes. How does it fair on trial? Jack Haines finds out
A new owner and temporary job cuts are grabbing the headlines but, for now, we are going to focus on the newest boat in the Fairline range that was introduced to the world at the Southampton Boat Show.
So what do we have here? The 53 is loosely based on the outgoing Targa 50, but with just enough changes to qualify it as a whole new model.
The 50 will be discontinued meaning boat owners now jump from the 48 to the 53 and then on to the (sportscruiser) flagship 62.
Fairline freely admits that it made little sense to splurge funding on new tooling and moulds to create the 53, so the 50 was used as the framework to create the new model but the difference on board is huge.
The first thing you notice is how much sweeter the 53’s proportions are – the 50 was a towering beast that loomed over the pontoon.
Design director Andrew Pope tells me that reducing the height of the boat was a primary focus throughout the design process.
It’s done the trick, the lines are much sleeker and the visual height is greatly reduced. The sparkly, light blue hull wrap looks fantastic in the early morning sunlight too.
Of course you can’t just reduce height without compromises, and Andrew explains that the midships master cabin is one place where the design team had to concede some headroom – you can only stand around the foot of the bed.
The 50 was unique in that the master suite was located in the bow so a lack of headroom was never an issue.
The flipside was that guests were in matching twins amidships, whereas the 53 has a spacious ensuite VIP in the bow and a third twin cabin with proper side by side beds on the port side.
To try and scrape back some of that headroom there is a big step in the middle of the 53’s saloon that might have been better split into two smaller steps.
There are two different interior layouts on the 53, the one you see on our test boat, which is destined for the States, with the galley tucked below decks, or the alternative with the galley on the main deck and an extra bathroom and utility area in the void down below.
Life on deck
The layout of the 50’s cockpit was a point of contention – some liked it, some found it an odd waste of space with the centrally located seating giving you great access down either side to the bathing platform but guests had to perch without backrests during alfresco meals.
The 53’s layout is more uniform with a walkway to port leading to the wet-bar and a generous wrap of seating to starboard where everyone gets a backrest.
Aft is a sunpad, which looks like it sits atop a tender garage but is in fact space for a single berth crew cabin (mainly aimed at the Far East market) or storage space if you’re an owner/operator.
The tender is dealt with on a hi-lo bathing platform now that the slightly gimmicky Tender Launch System has dropped off the options list.
Fairline has adjusted the engine options on the 53 so you still get the base D11 675hp from Volvo but the Caterpillar option has been ousted in favour of the D11 725hp and there is also a 710hp Cummins on the way that isn’t yet on the UK price list as the necessary testing hasn’t taken place.
Our boat had the largest 725s in the engineroom, giving what the yard cautiously rates as 32 knots on the website.
On trial, with test kit on board, seven crew, safety stores and full fluids, we topped out at 34 knots on a two-way run – pretty good going.
There wasn’t enough time to get comprehensive fuel figures but at 1,900rpm at 27 knots the boat was burning 170lph and delivering a range of just over 300 miles with a conservative 20% reserve.
And, if our brief run out is anything to go by, those 300 miles will be suitably relaxing thanks to well contained sound levels, especially with the cockpit doors shut.
It was a calm morning but Southampton’s shipping traffic created sporadic chop for us to give the hull a bit of a test, yet none of this managed to unsettle the boat in the slightest.