Watch a cruising newbie the first time he's checking out a 40' to 45' boat. He's wide eyed as he gawks at the controls and electronics at the helm. Then he heads belowdecks and as he eyeballs all the switches and gizmos on the main distribution panel, his enthusiasm turns to terror.
After he's done trembling, have him check out the Fairline Targa 44 Gran Turismo, which has a significantly reduced number of switches on its panel. The primary breakers are there. The rest are easily accessed behind a hinged panel. Fairline wanted to simplify the customer's interface with the Targa 44 Gran Turismo's onboard systems. When the boat is delivered, the dealer outlines which individual accessories should be left on so when the owner is ready to board, all he has to do is handle the master switches.
The simplified breakers are just one example of the boat's ease of use. At the helm, there are gloveboxes in the port dash and a smaller one just abaft the controls, giving drivers plenty of stowage space for car keys, cell phones, and so forth. You may think this is trivial. But think about next time you're on a boat that doesn't have 'em. Head belowdecks and check out the facilities. The day and master heads have showers that are actually large enough for an adult to move around in without banging into the sides.
Joy to the Water
One thing that newcomers will enjoy about the Targa 44 Gran Turismo is its performance with twin Volvo Penta IPS 600s. You won't find an easier docking control than the IPS joystick, which lets you pull into a slip as if you were playing a videogame.
Out in the Atlantic, I ran a top speed of 38.5 mph, and the boat showed impressive agility in a variety of maneuvers. The IPS drives give it a tighter turning radius than a boat with conventional inboards. Fairline designed the boat for the pod drives with a hook in the aft section of the running surface to keep the bow rise to a minimum when you're getting on plane. Many boats of this size and style run at 4 or 5 degrees of bow inclination once they achieve plane (and as much as 7 degrees getting there), but the Targa 44 Gran Turismo rode at 3 degrees from 2700 rpm to wide open.
Fairline builds the boat to last with a solid-fiberglass bottom and foam coring in the deck. Stringers and bulkheads are foam-filled and encapsulated in fiberglass. The hull bonds to the deck with a through-bolted flange and methacrylate adhesive.
As the popularity of pod drive grows, so does the number of comparison models. From the States, Sea Ray's 43 Sundancer is powered by twin 473-bhp MerCruiser QSB Zeus 350s at a price of $849,586. If you prefer imports, check out the Italian-built Azimut 43S, which comes with twin IPS 600s and sports a retail price of $820,000.
At the Targa 44 Gran Turismo's helm, visibility was fine whether I sat down and looked through the windshield or stood on the folding footrest and looked over the top. If I stood on the cockpit sole, however, I looked right at the windshield frame. Not the best sightline.
As stated, I loved the gloveboxes at the dash, but I'd like to see a gas strut to hold up the hatch on the portside locker. On the plus side, the black finish at the helm effectively eliminates glare on a sunny day. Of course if that doesn't do the trick, you can always close the massive three-panel sunroof, which is held in place with a unique inflatable bladder, similar to an aircraft door. The mix of conventional gauges, Volvo Penta multifunction tachometers and Raymarine electronics is smartly laid out. A chart table with stowage for the electronics covers underneath.
Adjacent to the helm, a few people can relax on the portside lounge, but most daughters and wives would rather take it all for themselves and stretch out facing aft. On the aft side of this lounge area is a small wetbar with a Corian fiddled countertop, icemaker, and refrigerator. To starboard, the cockpit table swings out to accommodate a various number of diners.
For more convenience when you're on the Targa 44 Gran Turismo's foredeck, the backrest for the two-person sunpad raises electronically and on each side there are lockers dedicated to dockline stowage. Each one has cleats so you can wind on the ropes figure-eight-style. On the bow, the anchor locker hatch closes down over the top of the windlass to eliminate the chance of tangles.
Thanks to the IPS system, the open feeling continues in the Targa 44 Gran Turismo's engine compartment. I could kneel down between the motors, and there was easy access to the Onan genset, which was forward.
Because the IPS units take up less space in the engine compartment, Fairline could design outstanding stowage into the Targa 44 Gran Turismo's transom. Double hatches open on stainless-steel gas struts to access stowage large enough for fenders you'd want to use for a boat this size.
When I headed belowdecks, I liked the approach Fairline took. There are two staterooms, one aft with twin berths and direct access to the day head and the forward master quarters.
To starboard, the galley has plenty of counter space for meal preparation, but I'd prefer to see a fiddle rail on it. Fairline fiddled the wetbar counter, so we know it can be done. Just ahead, a flat-screen TV will entertain folks seated on the large wraparound lounge to port.
As mentioned both the day and master heads have adult-sized shower stalls and faux-granite hinged lids that close over the commode, making the areas more useful and tasteful.
Both staterooms had adequately sized hanging lockers, and for more stowage, there's space in the base of the queen-sized master berth. The mattress has a seam down the middle and raises on a gas strut -- to make it easy for newcomers, of course.
MSRP: Standard power - $885,500 Test power - $939,000
Contact: 954.525.7430 www.fairline.com