We recently asked a top-level (and we mean top) boatbuilding executive about the fate of the once-mighty cruiser segment. The luminary proffered off-the-record remarks to the effect that new designs were needed and, in particular, new cruisers that ran well with outboard power.
Following our test of Intrepid’s 410 Evolution, we can say that this new express may require our CEO friend to seek a remedy for heartburn. This sport yacht delivers the time-honored cruiser promise of tons of amenities but does so with fewer sacrifices in speed, handling and overall ease of ownership compared to cruisers of the old guard.
We were impressed the minute we stepped aboard. A hull-side door, an innovation Intrepid popularized, allows boarding from a float (or from the water for that matter) in a gentlemanly manner. Under the hardtop complete with sunroof, Intrepid managed to create a space that’s eminently sociable while retaining all the seagoing functionality a seasoned skipper would expect. In fact, we’re hard-pressed to deem this area either the salon or the helm deck. It’s both.
This space is indoors and protected from the weather, yet it provides outstanding views and the tang of the sea thanks to the huge windshield, venting side windows, the sunroof and the open aft end (which can be closed off, just ask). There’s a single-level sole that allows free passage forward to the companionway and aft to the cockpit. Real cows gave their all so that a select few real boaters could enjoy settees and lounges upholstered in genuine leather. But the seating is remarkable for several more reasons.
Not only does the helm seat adjust electrically — no fumbling with levers — but its double-wide backrests slide forward to create an aft-facing lounge. To port, the companion lounge’s forward section rotates out and forward — yes, electronically — to create a co-pilot’s seat for use when lounging in wrap-around comfort isn’t needed. And while the leather-trimmed helm station itself boasts a huge Garmin 8215 MFD, there is a slightly smaller Garmin 8212 in front of the companion co-pilot’s seat. We’d relish this as sometimes it’s unnerving to have shipmates peer over the shoulder while on a cruise. And, of course, a big advantage is that with the networked system, the crew can control the audio system from this MFD. A removable table deploys and stows as needed, and a fancy but removable covering graces the nonskid sole.
As for being a functional helm, this bridge deck delivered outstanding visibility for us during our test. Sightlines forward are completely unobstructed. But visibility aft and over the shoulder — close aboard where the hardtop supports or other structures of many cruisers can impede the view — also proved excellent. The armrest, footrest, tilt wheel and seat adjustability ensured a variety of positions could be assumed, which ensures comfort. Our hands fell naturally to all controls; our gaze fell naturally upon all displays. We did have want for a drink holder at the helm.
Belowdecks, we were floored. We have run every new Intrepid model since 1995, and the company has always done a “nice” cabin. But this one blows all the stops. The glossy wood bulkhead and cabinetry complement the lustrous, cream-colored countertop and the overhead, the latter further accented by the upholstered inset above the forward queen island berth. To starboard, a table rises electronically; to port, the galley is huge; and the tile-bedecked head resides beside the teak companionway steps. Sunlight flows like a river through hull-side windows, deck hatches and skylights.
No materials list can do this interior justice. It’s the combination of colors and textures, of hard and soft, of light and shadow that create a space people want to populate. It is at once invigorating and relaxing.
You can close a drawer in a piece of fine-built furniture by pushing on just one side of its face; the fits and joints are so precise that the air escaping as the drawer closes obviates the need for rollers, glides or other add-on aids to make it work properly. Similarly, you can run a stepped hull designed and built by Intrepid simply by setting your speed and setting your course; there are no special trimming, throttling or steering techniques necessary to benefit from its inherent efficiency and ride. With triple F350 Yamahas, we exceeded 53 mph and were able to whip this big boat around while hurtling along without any ill effect. Below 4,000 rpm, the boat rides with a bow-up attitude — you’ll use the tabs for sure. But, once the tachs crest four grand, the 410 Evolution shoots like a slingshot across the water with a great attitude and a light fun-but-in-control feel. Top economy was 0.70 mpg, achieved at 5,000 rpm for 46.8 mph. Inboard, pod and sterndrive cruisers are hard-pressed to match that efficiency. Another outboard-powered sport yacht, Pursuit’s 41-foot SC 365 ($445,790 powered by twin F350 Yamahas) achieved identical economy at the same speed when we tested it, though at a wide-open 6,000 rpm. Both boats come standard with just about every conceivable convenience and nicety.
In addition to efficiency, outboards provide shallower draft, the best corrosion resistance, and take up no space inside the boat. That’s why industry pundits are banking on them. Want to see the future? Sea trial Intrepid’s 410 Evolution.
Comparable Model: Pursuit SC 365