Italian flair and British seakeeping go head-to-head in our latest used boat round-up, but which 50ft sportscruiser would you have?
In the summer months, there is no finer craft to own than a really big sportscruiser. Sure, a flybridge boat is arguably more practical most of the year, particularly in the UK where the sitting room and patio arrangement of the saloon and cockpit work so well in inclement weather.
But boaters are optimists by their very nature, and when the sun is out the sportscruiser knocks the flybridge boat into the cockiest of cocked hats. Big expansive cockpits to lounge in, sunpads to stretch out on, the shelter of the high windscreen rather than the buffeting of the short-screened flybridge, and the cosy enclosed cabin to slip down into when the sun slides below the horizon.
They’re faster, they look more stylish and there’s less to clean. And let’s be honest, you can imagine James Bond slipping into Portofino at the wheel of a rakish sportscruiser, but a flybridge boat?
Cranchi Mediterranee 50HT
Launched in the UK at the Southampton Boat Show in 2002, the Mediterranee 50 was originally a classic open-topped sportscruiser. But in 2006 Cranchi jumped aboard the hard top bandwagon and began offering the HT (standing for, you’ve guessed it) variant you see here.
What marks this model out from many of its contemporaries is its three-cabin layout. Despite being unashamedly a sports boat, there are two double cabins below plus a twin cabin with a pair of single beds. Two heads, too, making the two double cabins en suite.
The high-gloss cherry and cream leather is very much of its era but it still looks classy. This particular example has been freshened up with new cabin carpets, AV equipment and LED lighting.
That massive sunpad aft isn’t just for lounging, it hides a surprisingly capacious tender garage capable of swallowing a 3m RIB. The inevitable dinette opposite a wet bar is forward, but interestingly, ahead of that Cranchi eschewed the usual chaise longue and put four forward-facing seats behind the windscreen – brilliant!
The carbon-fibre dash panel on this boat is a great touch, and the open-backed hard top features a sliding roof with a huge glass panel to keep this area light.
Twin Volvo Penta TAMD 75P engines at 480hp a side were the original choice, but by 2004 the more modern 500hp D9s were offered. No one chose them though, because the D12 775hp units were launched at the same time, giving a mid-30 knot top end that matched the looks.
Twenty-seven knots is a very easy 2,000rpm, displaying the characteristic directional stability of a good shaft-drive boat. It’s a good hull too, capable of handling some rough conditions.
LOA: 50ft 3in (15.3m)
Beam: 14ft 2in (4.3m)
Draught: 3ft 5in (1.0m)
Displacement: 15.9 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,950 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D12 775hp diesel
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Whilst unashamedly a sportscruiser, the Princess V50 focuses on the latter – it is all about volume. It’s a foot wider than Fairline’s equivalent Targa 48 of the same era for example, and taller too. As a result there is a huge amounts of space for a boat of this size and style, both inside and out. But it’s no floating caravan – it works on the water just as well as it works in the marina.
Despite being so much physically larger inside than the original Targa 48, Princess opted to give the V50 a two-cabin layout rather than the Fairline’s three. The result is elbow room everywhere. The guest cabin aft has two single beds and an en suite big enough for a separate shower stall.
The master cabin in the bow is similarly graced, and features a centreline double. Putting them at opposite ends of the accommodation provides great privacy too, with a large saloon area opposite a full run of galley dividing them. The cherry woodwork might be a little ubiquitous, but it still looks classy.
It’s a bit of a lunge from the pontoon onto the bathing platform due to buttresses that extend right to the corners, but once there you’ll find a huge sunpad hiding a large tender garage big enough to take a 2.85m RIB. A large dinette lies opposite the wet bar and a great driving position includes a lift bolster for a better view forward. Only rather short seat bases mar the experience slightly.
Princess opened the batting with a pair of shaft drive Volvo Penta D9 engines of 500hp or 575hp. But the larger D12 motors were the ones to have. Available in 615hp, 675hp and the 715hp fitted to this boat, the latter pushes the speed well into mid-30 knots.
The V50’s seakeeping maintains the emphasis on cruising with low noise levels, fast cruising speeds, good seakeeping and relaxed handling. The V50 is geared toward covering ground quickly rather than sporty handling, and is arguably all the better for it.
LOA: 50ft 10in (15.5m)
Beam: 13ft 10in (4.2m)
Draught: 3ft 6in (1.1m)
Displacement: 17.8 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 2,000 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D12-700 700hp diesel
Contact: Global Yacht Brokers
Baia Flash 48
I always try to find something suitably different or outrageous to consider as a wildcard. And at first glance it might appear that I’ve failed this time. To see what makes this boat different you need to take a peek under the bathing platform.
There, hovering a few inches under the surface like malevolent sharks waiting to pounce, are a pair of Arneson surface drives, the sort of thing you normally find sticking out the back of serious race boats.
Sit inside and you’d have no idea of the performance pretensions. Cherry wood, cream linings, thick carpets, it’s all there. The woodwork in particular looks really good. The layout is classic sportscruiser with a centreline double in the fore cabin and two singles in the mid cabin back aft. There are two heads, plus a separate shower. There’s even a small crew cabin under the back of the cockpit.
On the outside it’s a little sportier. First off, this is a hard top boat, still rare in the Nineties. But don’t expect a deck saloon, it’s a proper cockpit underneath with a huge sunpad back aft.
So, those Arnesons. An expensive option when this boat was new, someone forked out £36,000 to have those instead of conventional drives when this boat was first purchased. Why? Efficiency. The Arnesons run along the surface at high speed rather than dragging through the water like a huge brake.
It’s why, despite 480hp diesels compared to the Princess V50’s 715hp D12s, this boat reached 38 knots when we first tried it, compared to the Princess’s top end of 35 knots. And naturally, it’s using less fuel at the same speed too.
So what’s the downside? Low speed handling can be a little more challenging – use the bow thruster to steer when going backwards. The fact this boat has a stern thruster as well lowers the pulse, however. Once up to speed the boat runs flat, true and fast.
LOA: 48ft 3in (14.7m)
Beam: 13ft 5in (4.1m)
Draught: 3ft 0in (0.9m)
Displacement: 13 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,400 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta TAMD 74P 480hp diesels
Contact: Sunseeker Southampton
Fairline Targa 52
Fairline launched the Targa 52 in 2001 to take on the Princess V55. It underwent a cosmetic upgrade in 2005 and the Targa 52GT that launched in 2008 was the same boat but with an open-backed hard top fitted with a sliding roof.
The rich high gloss cherry interior typifies Fairlines of this era. Normally a three-cabin layout with twin berths in each of the mid cabins aft, this particular boat has had the port mid cabin converted to a wonderful little separate snug with a big TV as part of a recent refit (it converts to sleeping when required).
The starboard guest cabin remains as was, with a pair of single berths, as does the large en suite master cabin forward with its centreline double bed. Between them, the galley is sectioned off with a low return from the capacious and comfortable saloon area.
Classic sportscruiser with large sunpads aft hiding a tender garage, a big open cockpit with masses of social seating and a large wet bar. Another natty modification carried out during the refit is a hard top section connected to the radar arch, increasing shade and reducing the amount of canopy needing to be stowed. Further forward you’ll find fender storage on the foredeck.
Caterpillar engines were an option initially, but most buyers opted for twin Volvo Penta D12, either the 715 engines fitted to this boat or the slightly more powerful D12-800 versions. Both give strong acceleration and kick the top speed past 30 knots, giving effortless mid-20 knot cruising.
A comparatively narrow beam (it’s 8 inches narrower than a Princess V53) helps the Targa 52 slip effortlessly through the water at speed, and low topsides that give less resistance to crosswinds mean that close quarters work is pretty effortless too, especially when fitted with bow and stern thrusters as this boat is.
LOA: 52ft 5in (16.0m)
Beam: 14ft 0in (4.3m)
Draught: 3ft 7in (1.1m)
Displacement: 16 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,820 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D12 715 715hp diesel