The term ‘high performance’ covers a multitude of sins – you could buy a Fletcher speedboat with a 200hp outboard and justifiably claim to own a high-performance boat. And there are superyachts that can crack on at a fair pace.
However, for my four choices this month I’ve chosen boats that comfortably exceed 40 knots yet still give a reasonably smooth ride. They are all useable in harbour or at anchor and you can overnight on them comfortably too, even though these kinds of boats are often used as ‘fast commuters’ to get you quickly between ports or out to an anchorage ahead of the pack rather than for extended long range cruising.
But what these boats offer most is a thrill, the visceral sensation of power and of speed. For all the practical purposes of shrinking time and distance, it’s the joy of simply covering ground (or in this case water) that shines brightest.
The Windy Ghibli has always been one of my favourite boats for its combination of looks, quality, speed and handling, so when Windy replaced it in 2014, I hoped that they wouldn’t lose the essence that made the Ghibli great. I need not have worried.
Windy took a great boat and made it better. With the same hull and proportions, only a slightly longer bathing platform altered the basic dimensions, but changes like a resin-infused hull construction proved that this was no lazy makeover.
The Ghibli was never a cruiser, more a dayboat with overnight accommodation, so Windy scrapped the dinette in the small cuddy cabin and fitted a proper double bed instead. The logic was that you rarely spend much time sitting inside these boats, so why not make it more comfortable to sleep in? The heads is still present and correct, and there’s a diesel-fired ceramic hob built into the small galley unit.
The cockpit layout of the Ghibli worked well, so the Coho is largely unchanged, with a pair of bucket seats for helm and navigator and a generous seating area aft with a backrest that slides out over the sunpad.
But given that this is now the living area of the boat, Windy felt that it should be easily enclosed, so the cockpit canopy is conveniently stowed out of sight on a framework that lifts quickly and easily into place on assisted gas struts. Exterior styling is a little sharper too, with sexy angled hull windows replacing oval portholes.
I drove the very first Coho Windy made. Fitted with a 6.0 litre 380hp V8 petrol it howled its way to 42 knots. This example is fitted with the far more economical but even more powerful Volvo Penta V8-380 for a 43-knot top end and the ability to cruise at 40 knots!
40-knot cruising ability would be pointless without a hull that could match it, and that’s where the Coho shines. The deep vee-hull offers a wonderfully smooth ride for its size, even in properly lumpy seas, but find somewhere more sheltered and another facet comes to the fore – slingshot cornering that gets better the harder you turn. As an open day boat for guests or a fast but efficient weekender for a couple, it’s hard to beat.
Length: 29ft 1in (8.9m)
Beam: 8ft 10in (2.7m)
Draught: 3ft 6in (1.1m)
Displacement: 3.2 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 81 gallons (375 litres)
Engine: Volvo Penta V8-380 diesel
Lying: Mandelieu La Napoule
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Goldfish 32 Sportcruiser
Craftsman and offshore racer Pål Sollie founded Goldfish in 1991 and has been producing very high-performance boats for the leisure market and the military ever since. Quality and attention to detail shine throughout each and every product of the little-known but highly-respected yard, but above all, Pål’s boats are built to go hard and fast, and this rare sportscruiser version is certainly no exception.
It’s called a sportscruiser, and by Goldfish standards the interior is positively luxurious, but don’t expect a viable alternative to a 32ft Sealine. Headroom is limited and there is just the one double berth plus a settee. It’s beautifully trimmed though, and the heads is in a separate compartment, making overnighting a far more civilised and comfortable affair.
Press a button and the galley swivels up through 90° on the port side of the cockpit, containing a sink with hot and cold water, a stove and a fridge. The double helm seat is a nifty arrangement that flips over to provide bolster cushions for the helmsman and navigator, and aft-facing seating for the centre of the cockpit, augmented by a flip-up table. Back aft, a long sunpad stretches across the top of the engine space.
So it’s narrow (less than 9ft wide), it’s low, and there are 25ft boats with bigger cabins, so what’s the point? Well, apart from looking absolutely fantastic, the point is to go very, very fast.
A pair of Yanmar 6LP-STZE engines fire 600hp through two Mercruiser Bravo 2 legs to give a 50-knot top end and very smooth and comfortable cruising at 35 knots. It’s efficient, too, with the dealer claiming seven gallons an hour at cruising speeds.
Unusually for a Goldfish, the hull is not stepped. But it is scalpel-sharp, cutting through rough seas with the confidence of a surgeon’s slice. It’s not the ultimate top speed that most impresses with Goldfish boats, it’s the way that they keep going almost irrespective of conditions.
Length: 32ft 2in (9.8m)
Beam: 8ft 10in (2.7m)
Draught: 2ft 7in (0.8m)
Displacement: 3.1 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 131 gallons (600 litres)
Engines: Twin Yanmar 6LP-STZE 300hp outboard
Lying: St Tropez
Contact: Parton Yachting
Scorpion Pioneer RIB
Based in Lymington in the New Forest, Scorpion introduced its Pioneer RIB in 2007 to bridge the gap between its open models and cruiser range. The unusual looking wheelhouse was designed to protect the crew from the elements without removing the connection with them, hence the huge screen (60kg of 10mm toughened glass) that curves back into the roof moulding and open sides. The huge pantograph windscreen wiper maintains visibility whilst also bestowing more than a hint of high-speed train cab to the look.
Two settees either side create a couple of berths for overnighting, and a table plus a sea toilet tucked beneath the centre seat provide extra creature comforts. It has even got 240-volt shore power. There is direct access to the small bow cockpit from the cabin, rather than having to go out of the back and then down the sides.
Four wrap-around seats keep the crew safe and secure at high speeds, protected by that massive hard top. Helm and navigator get matching Raymarine E120 Series multi-function displays linked to chart plotters and the radar. Further aft in the surprisingly deep teak-laid cockpit there are steps either side to assist with access and a bench seat towards the back.
Two Mercury Verado 275hp outboard engines (new seven years ago) grace the transom, offering up a serious amount of horsepower for a narrow 10m RIB. Cruising speed is about 40 knots, with a top end not far short of 60 knots!
Scorpion is famous for its ultra-capable deep vee-hulls, with a fertile back catalogue of winning race boats and ocean-crossing explorers. The Pioneer displays the same wave-flattening long-legged gait as its siblings, with that huge hard top shielding the crew and helping to shrink distances, aided, of course, by twin 455-litre fuel tanks. In the Pioneer, Scorpion has produced a great all-weather commuter or an equally good explorer.
Length: 32ft 10in (10.0m)
Beam: 9ft 6in (2.9m)
Draught: 3ft 11in (1.2m)
Displacement: Approx 4 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 200 gallons (910 litres)
Engines: Mercury Verado 275hp outboard
Contact: Salterns Brokerage
Sunseeker Superhawk 43
The Superhawk 43 lives at the very end of a long legacy of high-performance Sunseeker ‘Hawk’ models that stretches right back to the mid-Eighties with boats like the gorgeous Mohawk 29 and the outrageous Thunderhawk 43. The latter was based on a Don Shead-designed race boat hull and often sported big block V8 petrol engines for maximum performance.
A pure but sophisticated muscle boat, it took on the American Cigarettes and Donzis like Daniel Craig squaring up to Vin Diesel. The Superhawk 43 did in fact make an appearance in the 2008 Bond film Quantum of Solace but was launched two years earlier at the Southampton Boat Show in 2006.
As 43ft boats go, the interior of the Superhawk is not generous. But it is entirely sufficient for a couple to overnight, or even over-week! There’s a large double berth in the forepeak and the settee backrest lifts to create two Pullman berths. Finish is typical Sunseeker, high quality and nicely detailed.
In classic Hawk tradition, the Superhawk 43 is absolutely gorgeous – long sexy flowing lines that make the boat look like it’s doing 40 knots even when it’s berthed. The cockpit is deep and sheltered with drop bolster race-style seats at the helm.
Most of these boats get sterndrives, either Volvo Penta or Yamaha. The most popular motors were Volvo Penta D6 at 350hp each, upgraded to 370hp in later boats, which should give about 40 knots. Triple Yamaha 315hp engines mated to super-smooth Hyradrive outdrives up the ante toward the mid-40 knot mark, but if you want the ultimate then you want the engine option fitted to this boat.
It’s one of only about six Superhawk 43s that were specified from new with twin Yanmar 480hp diesels mated to Arneson surface drives. They commanded a £100,000 premium when new but take the top end to almost 50 knots with a cruising speed well above 40 knots.
The double-stepped hull rides completely flat, scything through the water like a, err, scythe, hurling curtains of spray high and wide whilst those Arnesons throw a spectacular rooster tail of spray out the back. It’s an awesome spectacle and huge fun to drive!
Length: 44ft 3in (13.5m)
Beam: 11ft 11in (3.6m)
Draught: 3ft 6in (1.1m)
Displacement: 8.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 220 gallons (1,000 litres)
Engines: Twin Yanmar 380hp diesel
Contact: Parton Yachting
First published in the October 2018 edition of Motor Boat & Yachting.