Boat Review Date: February 2011
Author: Mike Brown
It’s curious that Fairline, building boats up to 85ft long, should choose to build them in the geographic centre of England. Perhaps the cost of oceanfront land outweighs the transport costs, and landlocked or not they certainly know what it takes to produce a luxury vessel. And the shrivelling of the pound against our dollar has turned British-built boats in general into relative bargains. The review Fairline, a 58 Gran Turismo, is an awful lot of boat for $2.1m, with clever design features and fitted-out to very high standards.
The layout is sports cruiser, a completely enclosed deck saloon convertible into something near completely open. The touch of a few buttons and a minimum of handwork open half the roof; lower most of the side glass and open up the entire rear of the saloon. There is, of course the option of using the powerful air-conditioning system on the really torrid days.
If you choose to sit in the useful-sized cockpit, or spill into it from the opened-up saloon, you have the choice of sun or shade: at the touch of another button a sunshade cantilevers from within the saloon roof over the entire length of cockpit.
The 58’s overall length is only 210mm longer than the hull length, and this is due to the rear platform being part of the buoyant length rather than an overhang. Part of the idea here is to prevent the stern dropping with the weight of the tender when it is loaded on the platform by the patented Fairline tender loading arrangement. Another button lifts, extends, and lowers a section of the platform into the water. The tender drives on and the process is reversed. The platform also contains power-deployed steps that can lower into the water, and a gangway that extends to a great length at an infinitely variable angle.
Just ahead of the platform and aft of the engine room is what in Europe is called the crew cabin, and in Australia is regarded as extra accommodation. It is small, but has all the amenities: a single bed, wardrobe and en suite bathroom. It also has large quantities of natural light through a huge, opening window and height due to the volume below the cockpit’s dinette being incorporated in the cabin.
The dinette converts into a sun bed, but this structure does not dominate the space. There is plenty of room in the cockpit for moving around, setting up chairs, or even dropping a line over the side. Moving-around space is a feature of the 58: the wide side decks, well protected by railings, give easy access to the foredeck sun bed.
The deck saloon is a far bigger space than it appears from outside. At its raised forward end to starboard a pair of sumptuous chairs face one of the most spectacular consoles afloat. The multiple adjustments of the driver’s seat and the wheel put the skipper in perfect position to control the pair of 900hp Volvo diesels. The 33 knots they deliver justify the special high-speed compass.
To port a fore and aft settee completes the raised area conversation cluster. Stepping down puts you in the main socialising and dining area. The whole of the starboard side consists of the galley, storage and entertainment arrangements; it faces a large dining area convertible to drinks and conversation.
The three-cabin lower deck accommodation has an unusual layout. Current practice puts the master stateroom amidships, but Fairline has located the 58’s forward. Not right forward – the huge en suite bathroom is there, making the sleeping cabin more nearly rectangular – but a little aft of it. Fairline’s opinion is that boats under about 60ft compromise on headroom and access with a location further aft. Certainly, the 58’s master cabin is something special: the coach roof ahead of the saloon structure gives a lot of extra air volume to the cabin, and more natural light too.
If it were any bigger the master cabin would be extravagant. A vast bed with side tables, wardrobes able to hold more clothes than most men buy in a lifetime, dressing table and lounge still leave luxurious quantities of clear deck. Access to the cabin is from a lobby at the foot of stairs that lift to reveal large volume storage. Outboard of the lobby at each side are the en suites of the two guest cabins.
These cabins, both generously sized, as are their bathrooms, can be configured as doubles or twins. Again, they have more than enough stowage for the longest trip.
European practice is to have vessels capable of long trips, but more commonly used for long periods of live aboard. It sounds like the boat for lengthy stays at Rottnest plus annual trips to Dunsborough and the Abrolhos.Lowdown
Price from AUD $2.1m
Hull length 17.70m
Length overall 17.81m
Dry weight 24.12T
Fuel capacity 2,500L
Fresh water 650L
Main engines 2 x D13-900 @ 900hp ea