Nudging the joystick controls, I tweaked the drive trim and watched the rpm climb by a couple hundred as the boat picked up speed. A tap of the trim tab controls settled the bow and we were cruising oh-so smoothly across the tops of the three-foot waves capped by wind-blown froth at 50 mph. Just for kicks, I tried raising the drives a little more. The rpm climbed but we lost speed. I knew that would happen, but playing with the trim and fiddling with the throttles is part of the fun of taking the helm of a performance boat, especially one like the Pershing 76. With a pair of 2,000-bhp MTU V-16 diesels mated to Arneson by Twin Disc ASD15 surface drives, this Italian hot rod hit a top speed of 54.7 mph.
The Arnesons add to the 76's versatility because they're trimmable. At 1800 rpm, this boat does 44.6 mph. I lowered the trim tabs to drop the bow and settle the ride. If you have some wimps onboard, pull back to 1250 rpm and trim down the drives and tabs-the 76 will still run 25 mph and no one onboard will worry about spilling a drop of espresso.
Want to have some more fun? Crank the wheel. The 76's deep-V bottom measures 22 degrees at the stern and banks like a classic offshore go-fast-it completes the maneuver easier and tighter than any inboard.
Other fun-to-drive yachts include the Mangusta 80 Open ($5,580,000, estimate based on a Euro price of 4.5 million at press time, with the same power as our test boat). It runs nearly as fast as the 76. Or check out the Baia Atlantica 78 Cruiser ($3,700,000, with twin MTU 2000, which runs 58.5 mph).
TOTAL CONTROL. The 76's helm is set up to facilitate making trim adjustments. The joystick controls for the drives and tabs are on a flat ahead of the steering wheel. Between the twin Besenzoni power seats is a small module that holds the engine controls and a tiller joystick with which you can steer the boat when the engines are below 1200 rpm. This control module slides fore and aft electronically with the push of a button.
On many low-profile yachts, I would expect to find some blind spots when I check aft before turning or docking, but not on the 76. The 12'-plus-long teardrop-shaped windows on each side provide outstanding visibility and their installation is superb.
As tough as it is attractive, the 76 is built with scrimp resin infusion technology, and the bulwarks and sidedecks are part of the hull, not a slip-on deck, which gives the boat a stronger feel. Instead of just running straight ahead, the fiberglass stringers fan out at the bow, following the flare shape of the hull. Think of them as a hand laid flat with the fingers spread out. According to the company, this improves hull strength because more of the solid fiberglass bottom is supported.
SPREAD OUT. Another reason the boat feels so solid is that a full bulkhead in the middle of the boat separates the belowdecks areas. Stairs forward of the helm take you to the staterooms.
Aft to starboard is a day head that you also access from a small cabin with twin berths. As you move forward, you go through a hatch and make a 180-degree turn that takes you into the aft master stateroom. When you first enter the area, there's a head aft to port that has the usual accoutrements, plus one of those large-diameter rain-style showers affixed in the overhead. For anyone taller than 6'2", there's also a pull-up shower faucet.
The stateroom features an innerspring queen mattress. A walk-in closet provides plenty of space for your clothes and has a fold-down ironing board. There's a large L-shaped sofa and a vanity area that could double as a spot to plug in the laptop. There's even a refrigerator.
The forward VIP stateroom and head are equally posh, but be forewarned. Don't try to take a nap in this area while the boat is docking-when the bow thruster is in use, the sound level in this cabin reaches 85 dB-A. For more peaceful surroundings with enough room to swing dance, check out the salon. The console abaft the helm houses a retractable flat-screen TV and stereo. Love the drop-in wine chiller at the leading edge of the starboard lounge. Hate that its hatch opens on a snap spring instead of a gas strut.
Aft in the salon to port, a circular stairway takes you down to the galley and an L-shaped dinette lounge and table. The galley has plenty of space to create a meal, including a large countertop, three sinks, and a great gooseneck faucet that's perfect for spraying pasta that you whip up on the four-burner stove. The microwave/convection oven is large enough to hold a lasagna and the Bosch refrigerator is a full-size stainless-steel model. For cleanups, there's a dishwasher. Push a button next to the stove and out slides a stainless-steel pantry with six adjustable shelves.
FULL-SERVICE GARAGE. To starboard off the galley are the crew's quarters, which feature a full private head, one cabin with twin berths, and another with a single mattress on top of a bank of lockers, one of which contains the combination washer/dryer. If Pershing could make the space, I'd rather see separate laundry appliances because the combination units are notorious for underdrying.
A companionway hatch opens the engine compartment and I could walk right back between the engines standing to my full 5'8". Pershing installs the engines with bolts driven through the mounts into tapped plates fiberglassed to the bearer tops. Twin fuel/water separators are located between the engines and the seacocks, and oversize strainers are also easily accessed beneath removable sections of the deck. In case of emergency, you can shut off the intakes and leave the crash pumps open to drain the bilge using the engines.
The Arnesons are mounted to the 7"-thick transom with stout aluminum backing plates. All the hydraulics are plumbed with Aeroquip-style fittings. My lone gripe is the location of the batteries, which are outboard of the motors. Those forward on the starboard side will be difficult to haul.
Should an engine ever need to come out, you can remove the hatch and decking for the garage, which is large enough to hold the standard RIB or a waterbike. With the garage closed, there's space for a bevy of sunbathers on the lounge and the cockpit has a large table. Open a locker to starboard and you have access to the fuel shutoffs, battery switches, and a hub where you can mount a backup steering wheel if there are problems with the helm.
The helm is definitely where you'd find me aboard the 76. A yacht that goes fast and takes some driver ability to get the most out of it is my kind of boat.
EXTRA POINT: Look at the base of the deck superstructure and the swim platform and you'll see a bunch of small circular lights that illuminate these areas at night. The best part, though, is that you never need to change a bulb. They're all fiber-optic.