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If I Had My Choice of Flybridge Cruisers



We did a walkthrough of three European flybridge cruisers to find the perfect match for our needs.


Like me, I imagine most of you will, at some point, have played the ‘Fantasy Boat Purchase’ game. This is when you imagine that you have unlimited funds to go out and buy the boat you really deserve!


Now we are all sensible people who might not go far beyond reality. We might even see ourselves needing a certain size and type of boat without going as big or as extravagant as possible. In my case, I'm also one of the founders of The Marine Channel, which means I get to do walkthroughs of beautiful boats regularly.


So, today I am going to imagine that I am in the market for a large European flybridge cruiser that I can just about handle with only my family. We would also be keeping it in the Mediterranean where I can enjoy the guaranteed sunshine and without having to worry about tides. Naturally, all of the boats in my fantasy are very high quality, so none of them will disappoint. The choice will come down to personal tastes and what you must have on a yacht. So, what's on my theoretical list?


Riva Ribelle 66


Riva Ribelle 66
The Riva Ribelle 66

The Riva brand has become iconic over the years but was first forged by its beautifully crafted wooden Aquarama. It was so desirable that owners included Sean Connery, Richard Burton, Hugh Hefner, Brigitte Bardot, and Ferruccio Lamborghini! If we fast forward to today, the brand has kept its exclusive reputation for style and quality across its range. The model under consideration today is the Ribelle 66, which falls into the ‘sportfly’ category of yachts where you have the advantages of a flybridge however it is styled to look more like a sleeker sportscruiser.


When you step aboard the 66, you are immediately struck by stylish Italian design features alongside superb quality. The attention to detail in every part of the boat is truly outstanding and marks it as something quite exceptional. This is, of course, a big boat so we expect plenty of accommodation for socializing, which the Ribelle does with style. The full beam master cabin is something special, with opulent large hull windows that offer excellent views out over the water. The two other cabins are no less special, however smaller of course. The saloon again oozes quality and provides ample room and features to entertain your many guests. What strikes you most is the style of the different interiors -- the Riva is no less luxurious, however has slightly more stark feel to it than the others.


The flybridge on the Ribelle does not compare to the other two of course being a ‘sportsfly,' so in some ways we are being unfair in this comparison. But, it is still very comfortable with an excellent helm, a large sunpad, plus two single sunbeds. What you don’t get here is any sort of dining area or cooking facilities.


The accommodation of the boat, is however, only one reason buyers favour the brand. Another important factor is performance. From the early days, Rivas were always faster than the competition. In the 80s, when other yards were producing boats with a maximum speed of 25/26 knots, the Riva was achieving 32! The 66 is no exception and with its twin MAN V12 1550HP diesel engines it has a maximum speed of 37 knots and will cruise at 33.




Fairline Squadron 58


 Fairline Squadron 58
The Fairline Squadron 58

Fairline are a British yard who started life in 1963 when they built their first 19 feet boat. Over the years it has become one of the major brands in the large luxury yacht arena. The boat I am looking at here is the Squadron 58, which has large boots to fill as the original Squadron 58, launched in 2001, was a huge success. To this day, many in the industry consider it iconic.


The new Squadron has, once again, catapulted Fairline into a class leading position with a raft of innovative features. Let’s start with performance -- there are two engine options, both Volvo D13 diesels, twin 900HPs which will give 31 knots and twin 1,000HP which will give 32 knots. This boat while no slouch is firmly focused on enjoying your time aboard with huge socializing areas and sumptuous cabins. The cockpit itself is brilliantly designed, with fold-down balconies on each side that extends the floor area to 32 square metres -- giving it a feel comparable to an 80 foot yacht.


The cockpit seating actually faces aft out over the water unlike most boats, and a glass enclosure means that the view is totally unrestricted. Step down onto the bathing platform and the Squadron reveals its next party trick -- an extending platform that stretches to create a massive beach club-style area to enjoy the water. The area is so big you are likely to spend long periods of time there, so to cater for that Fairline added a very clever slide-out wet bar with grill and sink.


The traditional crew cabin, accessed from the stern, gives a convenient toilet and shower, so again no need to leave the beach club area. Moving inside the boat, the saloon is beautifully finished and offers huge space to live and socialize with a stunning galley and lounge. The cabins again are finished to a high standard, and the full bean master cabin will make you feel like you are in an expensive hotel. The flybridge is huge with ample seating, plus dining and sunbathing areas for multiple people. A comprehensive wet bar means that you can prepare meals there too without needing to negotiate the stairs with plated food. The boat was launched in September 2023 and has been a huge success, winning awards along the way. It’s easy to see why.




Pearl 72


Pearl 72 yacht
The Pearl 72

Pearl are a British low volume boutique yard producing high quality motor yachts that have something a little different about them.


The Pearl 72 was launched in 2023, and she carries a number of compelling features that set her apart from others in the class from larger British and European yards. An interesting design feature with Pearl yachts is that they use a renowned home interior designer, Kelly Hoppen, who brings another unique style to them.


As you board the boat on the generous platform, there is a wonderful fold down seat to relax at water level. The tender garage behind is bigger than the competition and can hold not just a RIB but also a jet ski and other water toys. The cockpit is superbly finished and has a clever system of seating and tables which can be configured into a variety of uses. Inside the boat are several style package options to choose from -- the one we filmed was the ‘Indulgence,’ which feels very high-end but is perhaps a little darker than others. Dropping down the cabins, we discover another unique feature: on this size boat normally there is a very clear master cabin, however on the Pearl there are two. It's a wonderful concept and something we have not seen before. The benefit being that if you were to share ownership with someone else, no one is felling hard done by. The quality of the cabins is outstanding and you will certainly enjoy your stay.


Moving up to the flybridge, there is a huge area to enjoy with dedicated separate areas for sunbathing, dining, lounging, cooking (with a comprehensive wet bar), and of course driving the boat. Again, the quality and finish up here is superb. If the sun is out, this is where you will spend all your time during the day. The hardtop over the flybridge has a very clever sliding roof which can not only be opened or closed but also is louvred so you can control the amount of sun you let in.


Performance-wise, the Pearl has twin MTU V12 1,400HP engines which will give a maximum speed of around 31 knots and cruise at 25 knots. There is an option to upgrade the engines to MTU V12 1,600 HP which will increase that maximum speed to around 33 knots.



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