The new 55 Cockpit Motor Yacht from Novatec is one of the quicker boats in its class, topping out at 29.6 mph at 2400 rpm and netting a brisk 26.8 mph cruise at 2100. It compares well with Bayliner's 5788 ($926,995 with twin 602-bhp MAN diesel inboards), which posted 29.2 mph at WOT and cruised at 26.2 mph. Most other competitive models claim slower speeds, such as Ocean Alexander's 548 ($1,093,561 with twin 660-hp CATs), which reportedly hits 25.3 mph wide open and cruises at 23 mph. Since the 548 displaces five more tons than either the Novatec or the Bayliner, I'm not surprised.
But top-end performance confuses many boat buyers. Yes, speed is important, but not because an extra 3 mph might help you beat out a storm. Rather, speed is important because it may indicate a much more fundamental priority: midrange acceleration. If a boat is responsive and powerful at midrange, you can handle it in big seas with confidence. It was during this phase of the test, while I used BOATING Magazine's computer-driven radar gun and software from Stalker, that the 55 CMY's speed shined as a useful attribute.
HOME, HOME ON THE MIDRANGE. Push the throttles forward from 16 mph and you'll make 25 mph in just 7.11 seconds, which is 1.4 seconds (or 16 percent) faster than the Bayliner. That's the kind of response you need to stay ahead of things running downsea or through the inlets.
Now throttle back. When you reach 1640 rpm (16 mph), hand off the helm, walk aft, and check out your wake. See that V-shaped whitewater wash just aft of the transom? That's your chine wash - and you're still on plane! Unless conditions are extraordinarily rough, you won't have to drop into displacement mode and slug it out when running upsea. Credit the 55 CMY's ability to carry its full beam aft to the transom for creating the lift that makes this possible. The 10-degree chine reversal keeps the optional windshield ($9,500) dry. My advice about the windshield? Although I wish it were standard, buy it. A windshield sure beats canvas on a rainy day. Running in a crosswind, we took some spray aft, but the aft deck's standard Strataglass enclosure and wing doors didn't let in a drop. You'll be able to tell your guests to keep their seats.