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Late to the party, or bang on time? (Part II)

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 9 Nov 2022 12:00 PST
The new M48 powercat © Prestige Yachts

So Part I of the Prestige M48 story covered off a lot of ground, and we now have the same mission parameters once again. Accordingly, you'd have to think it is simply time to get a wiggle on, so here we go...

Where are you going with this?

By definition, a family called M-Line means there are others on the way. Recently, the cat came out of the bag (pun intended) with the announcement that the next model will be revealed at Boot Düsseldorf 2023. If you look around the Beneteau Group, Prestige is unlikely to go down from the 48 for a couple of reasons. One, Four Winns is there with their new 36, and you also get into the outboard zone pretty smartly, which is not Prestige type stuff. Two, Prestige stands for 40-80 feet, and predominantly owner/driver.

Now the considerations are that if you go too big, you end up in semi-custom land, and the desire to be the one footing the bills, and also have all the responsibility of command wanes somewhat. However, more LOA does mean more ability to offer crew accommodations.

Prestige's Vice president, Erwin Bamps said, "The 60 to 80 foot segment will remain our world of Prestige for a long, long time. The new model in the Prestige M-Line is a whole different world for most people already coming from Prestige, because it represents the volume of a 95-foot monohull. When you look at that, then of course you know you're going to run into the clientele that's looking at 90-foot monohulls."

"So they'll find that they can have that equivalent living space and comfort on board, and maybe a little bit more, but it is also much more stable, requires less power, and with less consumption it is also a more sustainable model as well. We know we are going to run into the clients of entry level superyachts who will come to the world of Prestige, and that means that we will need to live up to their expectation in terms of service, build, quality, fit, and finish detailing."

"We do have a lot of Prestige cruising the world with crew on board as well. But the new model remains a less intimidating ownership than if you step into a 95-foot monohull, I can tell you. The future of the M-Line will lie in that extended offering, but not at the cost of existing base, for reasons like not being able to find your necessary harbour space for such a vessel in say, Cannes, for instance.

"Then there is the trade-off between space and top speed, but with this segment the prevailing trend is that we see people prefer comfort and a slower pace of life, as well as an enhanced living area on board, both indoor and outdoor," said Bamps.

Of course the lower nacelle in the centre, in conjunction with the higher freeboard, is so utterly essential to the M-Line concept. Namely (and solely) space.

The new model is currently expected to be splashed at the end of 2023, and some may get a preview in late Spring.

"Why we're following up with a second model and the third model very soon is important, because we want to show this is not about one experiment. We are committed to this, and we believe that we have the ability to cater to a new demand that is forming out there, but we also want to help shape it."

Naturally, that makes you wonder where the third model will land, but if you take in all of the above, plus what we have written in Big Cats I, Big Cats II, and Big Cats III, then I am tipping something like M80 is the answer.

Obviously you were not there when Erwin and I were talking, but the smile and laughter were hard to miss. On record, Erwin offered this, "I believe what I just shared with you will remain very visible and true in everything we release in the next few years." Nod is as good as a wink...

It is always a question of pace

Mass, horsepower, and hull form all come into it. You can overcome mass with more horsepower, just as you can be more efficient with less; it is just that you are going to need to deploy more exotic materials and construction methods to get there. Flat is always fast, but if it spends time out of the water, it is certainly going to bang when it lands once more, and it jars everything on board.

Prestige's M48 cruises with the same relative efficiency from 8-16 knots, and consumes just 80lph at 17 knots, combined BTW, which is really noteworthy. She'll make 20 at WOT. Importantly, you have 600nm on offer at 8 knots and some 250nm at 18 off her total bunkering of 1200l. A pair of Volvo-Penta D4-320hp powerplants in V-drive configuration provides the thrust.

Some buyers do still want to get on to the high 20s, even low 30s with their powercats. They seem to be keen to have the space and the pace. Indeed, the first year's production of M48s are limited to just the one engine option, albeit that there are some already asking for more, so as to get to their favourite cruising grounds faster.

As Erwin says, "We have a number of different engine options on the drawing board right now for the different models."

The main thing to stress here is that the moderate paces were selected on purpose, to match the consumer requirement to take the pace out of life. Now if your whole brand is built on art de vivre, then that makes a heap of sense. Also, a multihull like this has a linear progression to all of her speeds, and the very low running angle remains just about constant.

Now the uptake of all that right there on tap you have the inherently more stable and enhanced efficiency afforded by the multihull format. Once you go past 15 knots in anything, spray comes into the discussion, and dare we say it, the drinks get spilled. Unhappy customers follow swiftly. So if you are trying to back the pace of life off, and you want to have maximum conviviality, a powercat doing 12-16 knots is exactly where you want to be.

"This is a very different feeling for anyone used to the planing monohull world. It usually takes a sea trial for them to understand what we are talking about, rather than technical presentation on hull shapes and behaviour. They just start realising that this boat runs flat. It doesn't incline, and only pitches with the waves, then they turn in, and also feel that it does not bank, just remains flat.

"All of those coming out of the monohull world find this to be a new experience", said Bamps reflecting on the numerous sea trials that have taken place in France and Spain in the last few weeks.

"What they're most surprised about at the beginning, is how the wave rolls at an angle onto the hull, and that makes you think a little differently about how you stand on the deck. It's a whole different concept, and for some people there is a little bit of getting used to it. It's not hard to sell, because you give them the steering wheel and 15 minutes later they understand very clearly what are the different behaviours."

There are four distinct families inside the Prestige clan (S, F, X, and now M), and three of them have flying bridges (F, X, and M). The delineation is clear. The traditional, streamlined F-Line are monohulls, and there for the pace. The X-Line is a kind of Navetta concept, also a monohull so it can be brisk, but offer the added space of the full beam main deck interior. Then of course there is the M-Line, which is high on space and stability, and lower on pace.

"So, we offer three worlds (Ed: by interpreting pace and space in different ways). What others have done is try to cater with just the one product offering to a market that really has conflicting needs. It means that we are not trying to have the wish list of all people combined into one, because when that happens you still have to make it compromises in your design anyway. Having the three concepts next to one another is a buffet."

"The M-Line is for boaters who know they do not do more than 10 or 12 knots most of the time. To them it's about island hopping, and having a meal on board. When they go 24 knots, other important guests say that there is no need to impress anybody, and it's not comfortable at all to cruise like that. So today we find that it's easy to sell these three distinct concepts next to one another, and be very logical and clear in the value offering that exists in the three families we have.

"If we need to come up with the other power option, then we are ready to do it tomorrow, but it is something that we would like the people to explore first, and then we will determine later if we need to do it. Because if you are trying to offer that speed, there will be compromise on something else, like range or the cost of the boat. I see that people prefer us to enhance further the interior comfort, rather than the engine power.

"It's where they want to spend their money. So, we'll see how it develops."

The other interesting aspect of the buffet, if you will, is that it highlights Prestige's commitment to their core, 40-80 monohull flying bridge, for as Bamps says, "It's not our intention to try and convert everybody into multihulls. I don't think it's for everybody, and I don't think we would be able to do so. The M-Line is for those people who are very happy to reduce their pace of life on the water versus what they have on land, and are not seeking to do 25 knots when they are on a floating loft concept, as you might call it.

"What we are offering is a different thinking process, and saying 'have a look, explore your thoughts and ideas, and then tell us what you think about it'. Thus far, everyone has enjoyed that process."

Fill me in!

Whether it is to reduce the impact of the elements outside, or control the one inside, there are many who like an Enclosed Bridge. So is this something that has been accounted for with the M-Line? "Yes. We have done this even on the X-Line as well. It's not going to be a requirement for the majority of the market, however. I know it is something that people like to do in Sydney as much as in Upstate New York, dealing with a cold breeze that comes in very often.

"So it is something that for other models we've already had as a question in our first conversations with clients that were interested in the new concept. We've seen it appearing less so in our discussions with M48, but it's something that we will definitely be able to cater for, not with glass, but with clears on this model."

One (not so small) step...

The swim platform on the M48 might appear to be singular, but indeed has many a string to its bow. It can form an extended terrace off the aft deck, carry the tender, be a beach club just above the waterline, or be in the water for easy access to swimming and snorkelling, and tender retrieval.

Best of all, it does not have actuators under the water, with all the corrosion, leakage, and alignment issues inherent with those, but rather slides down on near-vertical tracks that are fixed to the transom outboard of the garage/lazarette. Additionally, it also means you can travel with the tender stowed very high at main deck level, well out of the way of anything coming through the tunnel, or onto the boarding platforms.

Because there is a lot going on at the main deck level, it does mean that the BBQ with fridge and sink is moved to the bridge deck, immediately behind the helmer, but it is a small price to pay. At any rate, the galley is front and centre, or actually when you look at it, back and centre, to the primary entertaining area, and opposing the formal indoor dining settee.

Another benefit of the nacelle-based design is that the lazarette sits between the two engine rooms, with in-deck access so you can descend into the front section, as well as the garage door at the rear. It is well over 3m in length, and can house all manner of boards, DPVs and so forth. It also houses the genset.

The final edict

I respectfully submit that the M48 appears to be neither bang on time, nor late to the party. Prestige appears to have skipped all that. Ask any seasoned soul, and they'll tell you that the real fun begins later, at the after party. Ah huh, and it is odds on that you'll find the M48 is actually the host of said soirée...

OK. Today you will find that the website has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo. If you cannot find what you want or wish to want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Finally. Please look after yourselves,

John Curnow
Editor, Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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