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Squadron 68: World-first exclusive test of Fairline’s new flagship yacht

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In a world exclusive we get on board Fairline’s all-new Alberto Mancini designed flagship before its global launch at the Cannes Boat Show

When the covers come off the Squadron 68 at the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival it will take its place at the summit of the Fairline range – a position occupied for so long by the evergreen Squadron 78. This new 68 now inherits that top spot, at least until the rumoured 82 comes along at some point in 2021. No pressure then.

The Squadron 68 may be 10ft shorter than the former flagship but the exterior styling, penned in conjunction by Alberto Mancini and Andrew Pope, who heads up Fairline’s in-house design team, demonstrates just how much boat design has changed since the 78 first hit the water.

Glass dominates the boat’s profile, the saloon windows only broken by the GRP spears, which thrust into their front end providing a visual link with the previous generations of Squadrons.

The designers were conscious of the boat appearing top heavy so note the use of dark vinyl wrapping around the windscreen, along the flybridge supports and over the sculpted struts that support the main culprit for this potential top heaviness, the hardtop. Demand for protection over the flybridge is too high for Fairline to leave a hardtop off the options list but it has kept the proportions attractive.

Mancini offers so many clever details, like the gates that close off the walkway across the bow, not for safety reasons but to ensure the line leading along the coachroof to the aforementioned spears remains unbroken.

The bulwarks subtly drop down to improve the view out for those sitting in the saloon and, at the bow, the deck gear is hidden beneath a hatch leaving the deck completely flat and without obstructions to catch bare toes on.

It’s a clean design but it’s also practical; the fairleads on the stern quarters are beautifully sculpted stainless steel and wouldn’t look out of place mounted on a wall in the saloon.

It’s no secret that the hull and main deck are shared with the Targa 65 sportscruiser so it’s the top deck that sets the Squadron apart. This is a fabulous area, which feels huge even for a boat nudging 70ft and very well protected by the substantial hardtop and its peculiar rotating slats. They look cool but the effect of having them open isn’t as impressive as a canvas roof, which opens all the way back.

There is scope to customise the flybridge layout to an extent but the configuration on our America-bound test boat struck a great balance. There is ample room for guests to dine and there’s an option to have a pop-up TV in the mini wetbar opposite so you can watch sport or a film on the top deck. The actual wetbar is further aft and separates the dinette from my favourite spot on the boat.

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There is an option to leave the aft end of the flybridge clear for sun loungers but the pair of L-shaped low-slung seats will be a natural spot for guests to congregate with a drink in their hand.

Free of the shade of the hardtop, it’s a great place to sit with uninterrupted views over the water thanks to the attractive glass and wood windbreak that runs around the aft end of the deck.

Read our full review of the Fairline Squadron 68 in the October edition of MBY, out September 5.