Alex Smith gets behind the wheel of one of 2023’s most hotly anticipated cruisers and delivers his verdict on the Marex 440 Gourmet Cruiser...
When Espen Aalrud took the reins from his dad in 1999, Marex was a small family firm, employing just 14 people at its Norway HQ. Today, it employs 400 people at its own 22,000m2 factory in Lithuania and there are plans in place to expand that by an extra 10,000m2.
That will apparently enable it to forge ahead with the construction of a new fleet-topping 50-footer, while also providing some much needed breathing space for its bulging trophy cabinet.
But while the fleet has historically contained all manner of weird and wonderful creations from aft cabin platforms to cabriolet cruisers and swell-cleaving GTs, Espen is keen to clarify what Marex is all about.
The mission, he says with trademark candour, is “to build the world’s best family cruisers from 30 to 50ft” – and the new Marex 440 is designed to play a very important part in that.
Even by Marex standards, the good things come thick and fast. The swim platform, for instance, has integrated teak steps that fold out as it lowers, so it can be used as a watersports platform and a tender lift.
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On either side of this are low-profile extensions running fore-and-aft on the outside of the bulwarks. Described as “cigars” by the team at Marex, these enable you to plant your foot and grab a cleat or a line, without having to over-reach or go to the trouble of accessing the internal deck.
The hatches along the leading edge of the swim platform also provide plenty of volume for boat fenders and lines and in addition to separate transom and deck showers, it’s pleasing to see that the shore power cable is housed on a retractable coil, tucked neatly out of sight with a simple push-button switch to return it to its housing.
Move forward along the symmetrical side decks toward the bow and although it might look pretty simple, there are plenty of vivid little sparks of design intelligence up here too.
The central sunbed, for instance, is built from closed-cell foam, which means you can disconnect it from the deck, lob it overboard and use it as a lilo with sufficient buoyancy for an adult and a couple of kids.
Up at the step-through forepeak, the anchor locker hides a fold-out bowsprit with integrated ladder so you can achieve 2ft of forward extension without the extra marina and storage costs that a permanent fitting would incur.
To keep everything neat and tidy, the anchor itself is thrust out through an automated hatch on the stem, and the fact that it’s monitored by an overhead camera means you can chart the progress on your MFD when deploying or retrieving your anchor, without having to leave the comfort of the helm.
Read Alex’s full review of the Marex 440 Gourmet Cruiser in the January 2024 issue of MBY, which is out now.
Marex 440 Gourmet Cruiser specifications
LOA: 44ft 11in (13.70m)
Beam: 14ft 0in (4.27m)
Draft: 3ft 3in (1.00m)
Displacement: 13 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,190 litres
Water capacity: 780 litres
Test engines: Twin 5.5L six-cylinder Volvo Penta D6 480hp diesels on IPS drives
Top speed on test: 35.5 knots
Fuel consumption: 95lph @ 20 knots
Cruising range: 200nm @ 20 knots
Noise: 71.1 d(B)A @ 20 knots
Starting price: £885,240 (inc. VAT)
Price as tested: £1,130,000 (inc. VAT)