It takes something very special to impress the jilted residents of the exclusive French town of St. Tropez. Years ago we brought this depot for the rich and famous to a standstill arriving with Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, but we had just set a record across the Atlantic. Sprinting into the port with the striking new, 40-knot Pershing 115 did not quite have the same impact, but this beautiful yacht did stop onlookers in their tracks as they stood and stared.
With the 115, Pershing joins a select band of boatbuilders who are going over the 100-foot mark, taking a quantum leap from the 88-foot former flagship design. This yacht has twice the volume of anything Pershing has ever built. Moreover I was on the first hull and for a prototype design they have done a really superb job of meeting their design and perfomance goals.
Pershing boss Till Antonelli is justifiably proud of the 115. “We knew there was a market out there for a larger Pershing and I think we took a bold step in making the jump straight from 88 to 115 feet. The result is there for all to see and it is a tribute to our new factory and the people who work there, Antonelli says.
The power behind this monster is a pair of 16 cylinder MTU diesels from the 4000 range that produce 3,700 hp each. These engines are huge and they seem to stretch forever along the engine compartment. They are coupled to ZF gearboxes and then the drive goes to KaMeWa water jets in what proved to be a very smooth power train. The water jets are unique in that the inlet ducts of the jets are an integral part of the hull molding which gives a better water flow to the impellers and improves their efficiency.
The two diesels have ample space between them and you see the reason for this when you look aft and see the molding in place for a third water jet. This gives the option to install a centerline TF50 gas turbine to bring the total power up to 13,000 hp. Now you are talking real excitement, and this installation is planned for the next unit that is already under construction. Look for speeds of over 55 knots from this second yacht, speeds that are squarely situated in the Pershing performance territory.
Access to the engine compartment is via a door in the cockpit which leads first to an auxiliary room with the switchboard, watermaker and air conditioning. Forward of this are the crew’s quarters and galley. Stairs lead up from the galley directly into the saloon, close by the dining table, and there is also a dumbwaiter for larger trays. The galley is fitted with all you need for sophisticated meal preparation and the styling, even in these working areas of the yacht, is a close match to the stunning guest areas.
Back aft, the swim platform that protects the water jets is bigger than the average sportsboat. Stairs lead up on both sides to the cockpit, and between them is the garage for the Zodiac tender together with its launching crane. You don’t need to skimp on the water toys on this yacht because there is a second garage that is revealed by raising part of the forward coach roof, housing two jet skis with another launching crane.
The 115 is full of more surprises and one of them comes from opening the door on the right of the saloon entrance. Here there is a stairway winding up to a very private sun deck sitting above the pilothouse. I was trying to determine why there was no sunroof on this yacht similar to those found on other Pershings-this sun deck was the reason. There is another, more public sunpad in the cockpit together with settees and a table, but the upper area is going to be everybody’s favorite.
The sliding saloon doors make an impressive entrance and walking into the saloon takes your breath away. There is none of the rich wood panelling so often found on superyachts, but here the designers have created a beautiful and light, almost minimalistic area with only the dining chairs and the blue leather locker fronts providing color. The settees are white leather, the woodwork a very pale gray-tinted ash, and the sides and overhead a very pale cream.
Quality is enhanced by integral modern artwork above the entrance door and on two of the side window pillars. The relaxing lounge area is aft and a dining table for 10 is forward in a open plan arrangement. Forward at the helm there are three imposing adjustable seats that create what looks like an altar to high performance.
The captain sits in the center chair, which is flanked by the engine and jet controls fitted into the armrests. Here he is master of all he surveys and he really can play tunes with the sensitive machinery controls. In front of him there are seven screens that provide all the information needed for high speed navigation and control, plus sophisticated monitoring systems. The latter have been specially developed by Pershing to control and monitor everything on board except the main engines. The engines have their own MTU dedicated displays and there is a separate display for monitoring the water jet. Large Simrad radar and chart displays provide a full picture of the navigation scene.
A couple of steps down from saloon level takes you into what is virtually a private cinema. Wide lounging settees and chairs face a big flat screen that can be fed from video, DVD or cable or satellite TV. This will be a popular evening relaxing area. Another stairway takes you to the staterooms where the layout is about the only conventional thing on this yacht: a master, a VIP and two twin cabins.
These are all decorated in a similar minimalistic style but with strong colors added through the leather bed bases, the mirror trims and the bright silk bed covers. The result is both modern and restful, with the spacious master stateroom occupying the full beam and featuring an angled bed and deep side windows to give natural light. The VIP stateroom in the bow is almost semi-circular in shape and large enough to have its own settee.
The heads have the same pale gray wood and modern fittings, including hemispherical glass basins. The soles here are wood but have metal strip inserts to give good grip when wet. The extravagant quality of the master stateroom can be seen in the fitting of his-and-her heads for the use of the owners.
The interior of this yacht may be stunning but it is the exterior styling that really sets the scene. The hull has the navy blue and silver combination that was pioneered by Pershing and has since been copied by many. This color scheme complements the series of rising curves that forms the superstructure and, like so much about this design, everything looks well integrated. The practical aspects of the design have been well thought out in most areas, but you only really appreciate the true quality of this yacht out on the water at speed.
We ran the 115 from Cannes to St.Tropez, which is a well-worn path for fast motoryachts. You appreciate one of the qualities of water jet drive with the very delicate maneuvering that is possible with this big yacht. Despite her size you can inch her forward or sideways delicately close to the dock, yet she will spin like a top when you need a quick response. It takes some skill and familiarity with the controls to get to this level of control but the effort is well worthwhile.
Out at sea the response is immediate and thrilling. The thrust from the jets powers the yacht onto plane and keeps it accelerating right up to its terminal velocity. The lack of vibration is impressive, and steering control is delicate and precise when you switch from the steerable joystick controls to the wheel steering. For trim adjustment, the 115 uses the latest interceptor system rather than trim tabs and these give an immediate response that reduces the adjustment period.
On our run down to St.Tropez we had a race with the TGV high-speed train along the coast. The train won that one, but there was no doubt we were fastest on the water that day. Pershing has found just the right balance in this yacht. This design has all the style you want to impress others, both inside and out, yet this is combined with very comfortable living on board. As for performance, 40 knots will meet most requirements but if you want to outrun everything on the water then you can always invest in the gas turbine option. Then maybe, you might even beat that train.
Contact: Marine Max, (888) 71-YACHT; www.marinemax.com.
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