This Dutch yard’s aluminium craft look sensational, but how does the Vanquish VQ48 perform?
There is really not a lot to the Vanquish VQ48. The cabin down below is pretty spartan – minimalist, if you prefer – with its white decor, straightforward seats and simple head compartment.
In the cockpit and on deck, what you see is absolutely what you get: plenty of places to sit, plus big sunbedsfore and aft, while the engineroom is
compact but not so filled with machinery that you can’t get around in there perfectly well.
The styling is fiercely fashionable, with its slab-like topsides and emphatic chine flats running all the way forward to a pronounced knuckle half way up that axe bow.
What you might not appreciate at first glance, however, is that the Vanquish is also a thoroughly seamanlike vessel. Sure, it has an insanely capable sound system and obviously as a package, it’s designed to appeal to the kind of person who can say things like ‘babe magnet’ without irony.
But settle yourself behind the wheel, and the deeply recessed sole and tall, tall windscreen will fill you with a feeling that might seem unfamiliar in a fast, open boat – safety.
This is the most secure sportsboat cockpit I have encountered. The only way that your guests are going to find themselves struggling to stay aboard during your more outlandish manoeuvres is if you truss them with twine and grease them with goose fat.
Personally, I would ask for the helm seat to be mounted about 6in higher, with a commensurate adjustment to the footrest. Then someone of my height – about 6ft – could drive either sitting or standing in equal comfort.
And I doubt that such a request would be met at the shipyard with anything other than cheerful compliance, because another thing you might not notice until you get up close – and maybe not even then – is that the Vanquish is built entirely of aluminium. It is beautifully constructed and perfectly faired, and even the helm console and its angular space-age seats are welded alloy.
It’s from Holland, of course, where they know a thing or two about welding. The company was set up just six years ago by Tom Steentjes, a welder by training, who sold a successful industrial equipment company in order to launch himself into the boatbuilding business.
The VQ48 is the fourth model to hit the water and there are four more on the drawing board, just awaiting customers, which go all the way up to 90ft.
Steentjes describes the VQ48 as a distillation of his 43 and 50, and like them it is styled by Guido de Groot, whose portfolio includes work for yards as diverse as Mulder, Selene and Feadship. Naval architecture is by Studio Delta.
Essentially a giant walkaround design, thanks to deep bulwarks protecting the side decks – it’s not just the cockpit that feels safe – the latest Vanquish has the feel of a mature design concept.
And if you can convince the yard to make any changes, then aluminium construction makes modifications fairly straightforward to do. There are no moulds to break.
With headroom in the cabin just 6ft (1.83m), that attractive quilted deckhead lining will come in handy.
The galley is a very basic affair by the door with just a sink and a microwave and a few drawers and lockers, but if you had a mind to, you could probably rob some space from the starboard sofa for a worktop and a small cooker.
The gas strut on the door to the heads is a nice touch, and the compartment itself, with its separate shower, is roomy and practical.
This is perhaps not really a boat for sleeping in, but the forward cushioned area could serve as a berth, as it’s well over 6ft long and 5ft 8in (1.73m) at its widest. It tapers to almost nothing, however.
In spite of appearances, the VQ48 is quite a conservative craft. It is not designed as an outright speed machine. It’s pretty beamy and carries its beam well forward, as you will appreciate as soon as you try out the generous seating area on the bow.
Deadrise aft is a fairly moderate 17°. Although more horsepower is available if you want it, before you opt for the bigger Cummins or even the 800hp MANs on Arnesons which I heard mentioned, I would seriously recommend a sea trial with the twin 600hp diesels and Zeus pod drives fitted to our test boat.
It’s terrific. Truly a driver’s machine, the VQ48 proved to have utterly impeccable handling, and resolutely refused to put a foot wrong no matter how extreme the helm inputs.
Ours was a flat calm day in the south of France, of course, so the boat’s rough-weather capabilities remain unknown, but it has a versatile hull shape which combines plenty of lift aft with a razor-sharp entry, and a broad envelope of cruising speeds from just over 20 knots all the way up to its maximum of almost 40.
Handling responses were precise and immediate, and I’m pretty sure that on a choppy day, driving the VQ48 could be a lot of fun.
The automatic trim worked well. With Zeus pod drives and the clever joystick control system that goes with them, low-speed handling of this lightweight windborne craft is about as easy as it gets.
Interestingly, there was no baffle or other soundproofing in the engineroom air intake, which lies along the starboard side deck – I was told that the owner likes to be able to hear the engines.
We have good news for him: with no wind interference at the helm behind that tall screen, we measured a maximum of 85dB(A) at top speed, which – with no wind interference – is certainly difficult to ignore. But it would be easily fixed.
Vanquish’s new model has undeniable personality, which is sometimes a polite way of saying a boat is full of annoying quirks. Not in this case. Not for me, anyway.
If you can handle the look of the VQ48 and appreciate the basic concept – and it’s really very simple – then one turn of the wheel at 35 knots is all it will take to make your mind up.
For this kind of money there are a lot of options out there but with its aluminium construction and razor sharp styling the VQ48 offers something that is truly different