Pershing 52

A unique combination of yacht-like accommodations and raw speed.

I often judge a boat by the sounds she makes coming off waves. Blasting through the Adriatic at 40 knots, I heard no sound as the Pershing 52's deep-V met the water softly. A few bigger seas stirred up by a circling Pershing 88 left me bracing for an impact that never came. There was no creaking, no banging, no hard pounding-only a few fellow guests leaning into the breeze and shouting, "Yippee!

Sure, some other yachts offer a similar experience, but none combine such performance with the yacht-like accommodations this 20-year-old builder produces. Pershing is a production builder, but a fair amount of handwork still goes into each of its eight models, ranging from 37 to 88 feet LOA (and a new 115 in the works). Pershing yachts are fun to drive, but they're also meant to host family and friends for many hours, until it's time to head home.

"If you want to cruise around the coast, the other boats are fine, said Nada Serafini, Pershing's sales manager, standing on Italy's eastern coastline. "But if you want to head to Croatia for pasta, and then back, you buy a Pershing.

The 52's hull, designed by Fulvio di Simoni, has a set of chines flowing from the bow, just above the waterline. A second set begins aft at the lower edge of the swim platform and runs forward. These provided lift and shot her out of the hole quickly during my visit and test, which were courtesy of Pershing.

Our test boat's twin 10-cylinder 1,050 hp MAN diesels coupled with a pair of Arneson surface drives pushed her to a top speed of 47 knots, even in a messy sea state. Pershing also offers twin 800 hp MAN diesels that provide a top speed of 42 knots, according to the builder. The way I look at it, though, if you're going to play, you might as well go all the way.

I've had some misconceptions about surface drives in the past, specifically regarding handling ability at low speeds. But Pershing, one of the largest purchasers of Arnesons, has refined the combination. Because of the 52's high horsepower, skippers may find it easier to engage one engine while maneuvering in tight quarters. I would also use the optional trolling valve, which reduces the idle speed to a manageable level. The standard 7 hp bow thruster certainly makes things easier, as well.

The accommodations and finish on our test boat lived up to Pershing's promise of an entertaining platform, whether it's pasta in Croatia, conch in the Bahamas or steaks on Catalina Island. The 52's helm deck has a U-shape settee surrounding a table. A sunpad is abaft the settee. The walkway between the table and opposite wet bar is wide, even with the table fully extended. Guests sitting in this area, below the windshield, won't be able to see forward while under way, but the sculpted side windows afford great views.

Two helm seats grab the captain and mate. I felt secure sitting in them, even when banking into turns at full speed. The engine gauges are in the line of sight, which is important at these high speeds because it eliminates the skipper's need to look down. There is good space at the helm for electronics, including radar and a large chart plotter screen. The vertical wheel and throttles are positioned for comfortable use at all speeds.

The line of sight forward is superb thanks to the one-piece windshield. There is no frame to obstruct the view in front, and two large wipers keep things clear. A rollaway ragtop is affixed to the rigid arch. This area will certainly see more use, even at dockside, than the saloon. It's tough to beat.

Because the 52's engines are well aft, her interior space allows for three staterooms and a nice saloon. The two after staterooms flank the companionway and are mirror images of each other. Two hull ports, a light cherry finish and neutral soft goods keep each of these staterooms light. Each has twin berths and enough space for two people to change their clothes. The portside head with separate shower stall serves both staterooms, and its proximity to the companionway makes it a perfect day head.

Amidships, the U-shape leather settee and stools can host at least six pudgy diners, all of whom will have a nice view through the surrounding portlights. The galley, to port, is a single piece of furniture that masks the microwave, cooktop, refrigerator and freezer.

The master stateroom is forward. There is a little less wood in this area, and I found it a bit more sterile than the rest of the tasteful interior. Still, light streams through its two ports, and a large circular hatch provides more light and ventilation. The master head has a separate shower stall.

Pershing offers an optional crew stateroom, tucked behind the engines. The space includes a single berth and a head. It might be a little tight for this side of the Atlantic, but it should work if you have crew willing to climb into a hole every night. The other option is to make this area a garage for a PWC stowed athwartships. A tender could easily stow on the teak-decked swim platform.

At first glance, the $1.2 million price tag may seem a little higher than that affixed to some boats in the same category, but no other yacht really offers the same combination of quickness and accommodations. It's a tough combination, but Pershing pulls it off with the 52 and has truly carved its own niche in the marketplace.

Contact: Pershing, (305) 637-8885; www.pershing-yacht.com.