HCB 65 Estrella
Courtesy HCB Yachts

Sea Trial: HCB 65 Estrella

We take the world's largest center-console, the HCB 65 Estrella, for a sea trial in the Keys.

This had to happen. Ever since the Great Recession shook the world some 10 years back, and many yacht owners felt pressure to tamp down ostentatious displays of wealth, center-consoles have replaced convertibles and larger vessels on the waterways. In a way, the 25- and 30-footers represented a degree of humility that fit the zeitgeist.

But then the creep set in.

What used to be expressly runabout-type boats became 35- and 40-footers with berths and full heads. The nearly unavoidable summation of this trend — to this point — is the HCB 65 Estrella, the largest boat ever in its class and perhaps one of the most talked about models in recent memory. She's a literal showstopper. I've witnessed multiple people halt in their tracks to gawk when they see her on the boat-show docks.

When I got on board the Estrella early one morning off Islamorada in the Florida Keys, the sky was torn-denim blue, the seas were flat calm and the engines were freaking ridiculous. This monster sportboat is powered by a cadre of equally monstrous 627 hp Seven Marine outboards — five of them. The all-­aluminum powerplants with 1.9-liter TVS supercharged and intercooled induction systems have had outboard enthusiasts gaga since they were introduced in 2015, with good reason. At slower speeds, they rumble and roar like lions. Drop the hammer, and they morph into a whining swarm of mosquitoes the size of eagles chasing you at upwards of 56 knots.

HCB 65 Estrella
During our time on board, the Estrella showed solid maneuverability, going hard over in a boat length.Courtesy HCB Yachts

But the Estrella is not simply a linear athlete. At 36 knots, I took her hard over in a single boat length, briefly creating a miniature maelstrom in the flats. Sightlines from the helm were quite good, even coming out of the hole, and the high-gloss teak helm pod and steering wheel added more than a dash of panache. The ZF controls and joystick allowed for smooth and ­confidence-inducing handling.

There is helm seating for five, and when the boat is not underway, the seats can rotate to face the five-person sleigh seating aft (with a table) to create an alfresco dining area for 10, all beneath the overhead hardtop.

HCB 65 Estrella
With 3,135 horses behind it, the 65 Estrella makes for an impressive sight on the water.Courtesy HCB Yachts

In fact, the 65 Estrella has lots of exterior space that allows her to be a first-class cruiser — in agreeable climes — and a serious fish boat. Her bow has U-shaped seating with a hydraulic table that lowers, making the settee a sun pad for at least two people. Abaft that are two forward-facing lounges that are sublime places to sit when the boat is running at full force. If I’m not driving, that’s where you’ll find me, every time.

Handrails on the gunwales at amidships help facilitate passage to the boat’s (yacht’s? At 65 feet, I guess we have to call this center-­console a yacht, which feels strange but is nonetheless accurate) cockpit. That’s where the sporting accessories are found. Inward-opening dive doors are to port and starboard. Twin 80-gallon livewells in the transom accompany three in-sole fish boxes and a fighting chair for serious angling. Mezzanine seating with sinks on either side are the best place to watch the fishing action.

HCB 65 Estrella
That’s not just a mirror above the sink. Flip a switch, and it turns into a TV.Courtesy HCB Yachts

Down below, the 65 Estrella has an honest-to-goodness salon with a U-shaped dining settee to port that converts into a berth. A Pullman berth above that means the common area can sleep three. That setup is across from a wet bar and Insignia television. A $10,000 option, that TV transforms into a mirror when turned off, as with similar TVs on superyachts.

Forward of the common area, the 65 Estrella has a master stateroom with a double berth. The head is abaft the salon with a shower that’s 3 feet by 3 feet, 6 inches, and that has 7 feet of headroom.

And that headroom shouldn’t be a surprise. Most everything about this boat feels oversize and right for the moment. She may become the beginning of a new trend. One day soon, we may look back at the 65 Estrella as a stepping stone — perhaps even a reasonable one — to something even wilder.

Take the next step: hcbyachts.com