Sportboat sensibilities meet luxury design and stout seakeeping ability.
One thing became clear as we neared the mouth of Newport Harbor: The six-foot swell the marine forecast called for was spot on. Minutes later, traveling at about 25 knots, another thing became clear, as the wall of water approached us on the flybridge: The rest of the sea trial would be conducted from the lower helm, in wet clothes. It was that kind of day. Six-footers at about seven seconds with some wind-blown waves added for good measure. We — myself, Ben Masonheimer and Scott Bruce from Silver Seas Yachts, and a husband and wife interested in the yacht — were going to see what the Princess S60 could handle.
Manufacturer testing of the sleek S60 had yielded a top speed just shy of 44 mph for the nearly 63-footer, at which point the MAN V8-1200 diesels were burning a combined 122 gph. We stopped shy of that on test day, due to the conditions, but we still managed to reach 36.5 mph before deciding to back down after cresting a 6-foot swell and finding the next one waiting just off the bow. A few minutes later at a speed around 30 mph, we took a wave in such a way that we were weightless for just a second — rear ends lifted off seats — and while the landing was hard, the rigid resin-infused hull handled it well: shuddering slightly, recovering quickly and moving on to the next wave.
Princess tests found that the range from 28.7 mph to top speed was essentially the same, 206 to 207 miles, with a fuel burn of 81 gph at 28.7 mph and 97.7 gph at 34.5 mph. Slowed down to 23 mph, the twin MAN diesels burned 60 gph, for a range of 226 miles. Range jumped to 301 miles at 17.2 mph. At roughly trawler speed, 11 mph, the S60 stretches its range to 638 miles.
I’ve tested several boats equipped with a Seakeeper gyro stabilizer and have always been impressed by the gyro’s performance, even though we often had to use the boat’s own wake or the wake from a passing boat to give it a challenge. This test day was different. Silver Seas’ Bruce put the S60 beam-to the big swell and disengaged the gyro, at which point the occupants held on a little tighter. I sat on the port side with my back to the swell, and suddenly I was looking down into the water out of the starboard windows, and then up toward the clouds. This went on for a minute or so while Masonheimer, up on the flybridge, took video of the yacht’s roll. Then, Bruce reengaged the gyro, and suddenly the roll was nearly eliminated. The Seakeeper fought hard to keep the boat level, and on the couple of occasions the ocean managed to roll us to starboard, the gyro had things leveled out before the boat could roll to port.
While I doubt many S60 owners would venture out on such a day — the boat is meant for sportier, recreational pursuits — they can rest easy knowing stabilization is available, if they opt for it. The Seakeeper 9 isn’t an inexpensive option, at a retail price of just more than $73,000, but if a member of the family has a propensity toward seasickness or an owner wants to fish all day in sloppy water and not feel beat up that night, the gyro will seem like a bargain.
At the stern, this three-stateroom, two-head flybridge (Sportbridge, in Princess parlance) yacht shows one of its true missions: to facilitate watersports. The 4-and-a-half-foot deep swim platform is a hydraulically capable teak stage for a tender or a PWC. It lowers into the water for launch and retrieval or to create a submerged beach.
Several builders have implemented similar swim platforms, which buyers have welcomed, but Princess took the arrangement a step further. Built into a big transom console, the top of which hosts a three- or four-person sun lounge, is a garage for an additional tender or PWC. Princess is offering Williams jet tenders to owners, which will fit nicely in the garage without an outboard, but buyers can choose any tender. They can put an outboard tender on the swim platform and house a PWC in the garage, which includes an electric winch for easy launch and retrieval.
Up steps to either side of the garage console is the main deck. The cockpit includes a C-shaped settee with a table at the transom, which backs up to the sun lounge. An optional cockpit joystick docking station is available. All the way forward is another sun lounge and a forward-facing settee. It’s one of four outdoor social spaces on the yacht.
In the main cabin, 10 people can comfortably sit and converse, on an L-shaped settee aft opposite the galley, a C-shaped settee to port forward of the galley and in twin captain’s chairs at the starboard- side helm. Both settees feature contrasting hand-stitched detailing and have a table; the folding one aft is more suited for dining. Opposite the C-settee, just aft of the captain’s chairs, is a cabinet unit with three doors; it houses a refrigerator, an ice-maker, entertainment center electronics and more, and in a sideboard unit outboard of the cabinet is a high-low LED TV.
The galley is in the aft port corner of the cabin, and it includes a full-height refrigerator/freezer, a four-burner cooktop, a microwave/ convection oven, a sink, countertop space fore and aft, and storage above and below. A window swings out and up to open the galley to the cockpit and a countertop out there.
At the ergonomic helm, black fiberglass and hand-stitched leather combine with stainless steel and American walnut (a lighter oak is an option) to create a contemporary and fully functioning nerve center. A leather and stainless steering wheel emanates from its own pod at the center, and forward of it are twin Garmin multifunction displays. (Other electronics manufacturers’ products are an option.) A Raymarine screen is to starboard as an engine display. Switches, thruster controls, tab controls and more flank the wheel on a flattish section of dash. The engine throttles are on a flat dash extension, so they are easier to reach for a seated captain.
Overhead, a 6-foot-deep sunroof spans the cabin and opens electronically. Windows flanking the helm and the C-settee also open, bringing in fresh air.
Belowdecks, three staterooms are accessed from a landing at the bottom of centerline steps from the main cabin. Immediately to starboard is a room with twin berths, a hanging locker and a hull window with two opening portholes. Forward is the VIP stateroom. Its island queen berth rests between two bed-length hull windows, each with an opening porthole. Other features include a hanging locker and direct access to the second head. The master stateroom spans the beam amidships. Its en suite head — basin sink, stone vanity, marine toilet, standup glass-enclosed shower stall — is in the companionway that goes from the landing to the room itself. An optional stacked washer/dryer can be housed in a closet opposite the head.
The berth resides on the centerline, against a room-spanning headboard that is upholstered at head level, with a two-foot strip of mirror atop that and upholstered above that. A sofa and a built-in end table share the port side, beneath a long hull window, while a bureau shares the starboard side with a hanging locker and an identical hull window. A TV is mounted flush to the room’s forward wall, but given the size of the hull windows, the better show will often be outside the boat.
Up top, the Sportbridge is an outdoor social zone with seating for at least eight people on an aft settee with a teak table, twin captain’s chairs to port and a companion settee that converts to a sunpad opposite the helm, which mirrors the lower helm in terms of MFDs, steering wheel and engine controls. A wet bar resides between the settees and houses a sink, a top-loading built-in cooler, storage and an optional grill. Who wouldn’t get the grill? Our test boat had an optional hardtop.
Overall, the Princess S60 feels like a sportboat that has been stretched, widened, made taller and given a luxury interior. Its aggressive lines are enhanced by trapezoidal hull windows — knife-shaped ones forward point onward and imply motion — and a cabin roof that slopes aft until it meets the flybridge windscreen. Those lines are matched by a top speed north of 40 mph.
As I found out on test day, the S60 does more than just look good. It deals with 6-foot seas with aplomb, and its resin-infused hull handles hard landings nicely.
For a family or retired folks who like to invite friends aboard for island weekends, the S60 will provide the social areas for together time and the personal space for alone time.