Designing a new model for a production builder, particularly a legendary marque such as Bertram, is tricky business. If it is too close to the brand's existing boats, the designer will be criticized for lack of originality. If is differs too much, the brand's loyalists will cry foul.
Bertram, the sole American yard among Italian boatbuilding giant Ferretti Group's 17 shipyards, faced that dilemma when they decided to extend the lower end of their line with a boat in the mid-30-foot range. The solution was the new Bertram 360, which is being offered in two versions, open and express. Both are the work of the Bertram and Ferretti in-house engineering groups in collaboration with Ferretti's stylist of choice, Zuccon International.
Led by Bertram's sales and product manager Kim Bradley, the team settled on a design that retains much of the essence of Bertram, but with some differences that will be apparent to Bertram afficionados. The company has long staked its reputation and its image on the advantages of its deep-V-hull design, while owners were nevertheless obliged to live with a few quirks now and then. The 360's hull is still a deep-V close to the Bertram classic, but with a couple of modifications.
The chines have been widened a bit, according to Bertram, in order to reduce time-to-plane and to take fuller advantage of increased power. The hull's lines have also been tweaked to avoid the bow-high running attitude that is not unknown in many boats of this size and type.
It is in the styling that Bertram ventures farther from its roots, and I'm of mixed emotions on the point. Even during the years that I served as chief architect for arch-rival Hatteras Yachts, I could not help but admire the wonderful styling of longtime Bertram designer David Napier, now in private practice and no longer affiliated with the company. I loved the look of the previous generation of Bertrams, but Zuccon's present efforts are quite attractive in a different way while still retaining the powerful, aggressive profile that has always marked a Bertram. I suspect that the new look will be a bull's-eye with younger buyers who will form the bulk of the market for the Bertram 360.
The two models, open and express, share hull design and superstructure styling, as well as cabin arrangement, but differ in deck layout and hardtop choices. The open will find fans among both teams of hardcore fishing buddies and families out for a day of casual fishing and fun. Preliminary drawings show a spacious cockpit with plenty of room for a fighting chair just forward of the standard transom fishbox and three deck boxes. There's a transom door to starboard, and forward, lockers and a bait-prep station lie at the cockpit steps.
The express model of the 360 retains the transom door. Here it serves not to board fish, but swimmers from the stern platform that has been added to this version. In place of the fighting chair and row of lockers, there are three seats for seven guests. When not in use, the transom seat can be folded away for extra cockpit space, and is also available as an option on the open version in place of the fishbox.
Forward of the cockpit steps, the two versions of the 360 have identical deck and cabin layouts. To starboard is a small sink and counter for preparing snacks, and just forward, the helm with a seat for two. To port are two bench seats for five, with a table between them. The forward seat features a movable backrest, to allow use facing either forward or aft. The helm and companion seats are protected by a substantial windshield, high enough to be truly effective but still in keeping with the profile.
A centerline ladder leads down five steps to the cabin, where a head with shower is tucked to port of the ladder. Forward of it is the compact galley and opposite is an L-shaped dinette, convertible for sleeping. Forward is a private cabin with an island queen berth on centerline and a small hanging locker in the aft starboard corner. Zuccon's styling includes a narrow line of windows that will bring light into the cabin without disrupting the sleek lines of the profile.
A couple of options are available for sun shading. The 360 express is available with an attractive hardtop, supported at the after end by the wings of the radar arch. The open model depends on tower legs to support a simpler hardtop, more in keeping with her fisherman pedigree. In either case, the layout lends itself easily to enclosure by side and rear curtains for an extended season.
Contact: Bertram Yacht, (305) 633-8011; www.bertram.com.