When Mark Ali, who runs Allied Marine at Marina Mirage on the Gold Coast, first saw the Prestige 50S at the Jeanneau factory in France he knew the boat was a must for the Gold Coast. This Italian-designed 50S, the newest and largest of the Prestige range, lends itself very nicely to the Gold Coast lifestyle on the Broadwater. It would be equally at home in the Whitsundays operating out of Mackay or Hamilton Island.
And let's not forget Sydney. Just the thing for a day trip on the Harbour, or for slipping around the coast to Pittwater, or one of the myriad of sheltered anchorages on the Hawkesbury for the weekend. It would certainly make short work of the trip from the Heads to Barrenjoey.
On the water the smooth lines and styling, especially the hip at the stern that cleverly hides the engine room air intakes, turn heads as it motors past.
FOR SUN LOVERS
The giveaway to the boat's European heritage is the big sunlounge at the back that lifts up electronically to reveal a garage big enough to house a 3.25m Williams jet-powered tender. In front of this, under the hardtop, is an entertainment area with a foldout circular table and semi-circular lounges either side, and as expected, it comes complete with a barbeque, fridge and room for an icemaker. There's another sunlounge on the bow as well.
Up front, next to the helm, is a full-length lounge with a backrest that can be used as a seat for a couple of people or a full-length sunlounge. All the upholstery is finished in a PVC developed by Jeanneau that looks as good as leather but is apparently more durable in a marine environment.
"How can you have a sunlounge under the hardtop?" I hear you cry. Just press a button on the dash and all will be revealed, literally. The whole roof slides smoothly back to let the sun in, to an accompanying 'beep, beep' to let you know it's opening.
The helm station is neat and all the instruments are housed in a console in the same finish as the seats and lounges. A smaller binnacle with the basic engine instruments enclosed sits in front of the driver. There is room for a couple of good-size plotters or sounders, depending on the owner's choice, and the sporty steering wheel finishes it off. A neat addition is the teak shelf by the driver's side with a drink holder and spot for keys, wallets and the ubiquitous mobile phone.
There are not many boats of this style where the driver can stand up at the helm comfortably. With the roof open an average size driver can stand at the helm and see over the windscreen. That's if you are into wind in the face driving.
The deck area is very practical for days in the sun, and at night the cockpit lights can be switched to a sexy blue.
It's down below where the Prestige shows its class and its Italian styling, however. Descend the wide companionway steps, through a wide hatch, and it's a different world.
The main saloon is just the right size. It has gloss-wood panelling all round and a big dinette with a fold out table. The galley is down the opposite side and features a bar with a glass shelf on top. An innovation is the cover on the cooktop with a lift up splash back and another cover, that when it's turned over, becomes a serving tray. And yet another innovation is the rubbish bin hidden in a cupboard under the sink. When the door is opened the bin slides out and the lid pops up. The upright fridge/freezer is also hidden behind an integrated door.
Although there are two oblong portholes in the cabin, once you're down there, there is not much to see outside. The Prestige 50S is a completely different boat below and you will find yourself in your own exclusive world.
The owner's stateroom is aft under the helm station. It, too, is stylish with gloss wood panelling and four oblong portholes, two opening to let in the breeze. The double bed is set at an angle across the cabin and an unusual feature is the slatted springs under the mattress, beats the old innerspring, and for the ladies there is a vanity table with a mirror and stool.
Because of the volume of the boat the designers have managed to add a big walk-in wardrobe in the stateroom. A full-length mirror hides the electrical cabinet and has a lock so that inquisitive young fingers can't find their way in.
The ensuite is also stylish with a glass top on the basin, a wrap around shower screen and wood highlights.
The guest cabin is up front and it, too, has a walk-in wardrobe, although on some craft this space can be used for a washer/dryer.
It was when I went to go up the companionway steps back to the cockpit that I noticed it. The designers have added stainless steel mirrors with blue lights between the companionway steps, another unusual highlight that makes this boat just that much different.
The Prestige 50S is powered by twin Volvo Penta D9, 575hp, engines as standard "that's what you get, there are no other options for this boat. The D9s do the job" the boat gets along at 14.6 knots at 1500rpm, while the most comfortable cruising speed, where the chardonnay won't spill, was 20 knots at an easy 1800rpm. Flat out at 2500rpm the GPS recorded 32 knots.
The handling is very predictable and the boat is not going to do anything to embarrass the driver. It comes up on the plane smoothly and the ride in a 1.5m chop off Surfers Paradise was soft.
Trim tabs are fitted, but on the day they were not working. Even so, the boat didn't seem to be worried by the chop.
Perhaps the bow could have been brought down a little more in the chop, if the tabs had been operational.
It also has a bowthruster, and again, this was not needed, coming into the berth at Marina Mirage. Manoeuvrability is another plus, the Prestige 50S walked in easily, just by centring the wheel and using the controls.
The Prestige 50S is a stylish, big volume boat without giving the impression that it's overwhelming. Two people could handle it without any dramas, but then it's designed for entertaining and having fun in the sun with friends and family, so there will always be some willing helpers along. And why not ? The Prestige 50S is built to Bureau Veritas standards and is rated for 12 people offshore and 14 inshore. Bring on the party.