Boat Test: 2023 Intrepid 51 Panacea

This fast, elegant sport yacht provides performance and panache.
Intrepid 51 Panacea on the ocean
The 51 Panacea offers a smooth ride no matter the speed or conditions. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats


At 70 mph, I knew I should be watching the seas ahead in the potholed Gulf Stream, but the numbers painting green on the big Garmin monitor in front of me were as hypnotic as the eyes of a swaying cobra.

They read 70.1, 70.0, 72.3, 69 (woops, hit a swell), 70.2.

The entire dashboard of the new Intrepid 51 Panacea is laid out for someone with a penchant for speed. The three big Garmin monitors give the skipper’s “office” the feel of a CIA special ops center, and the push buttons for systems are clearly marked and curve across the dash like those on a new C-8 Corvette. Coincidentally, that’s the car owned by Intrepid president Ken Clinton. (You are so busted, Ken.)

Intrepid 51 Panacea helm
The helm can accommodate multiple screens. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats

But the real Intrepid story is several feet below where I stand, with the legendary transverse-stepped Intrepid hull. The 21-degree deadrise is sharp enough to shave with, slicing the waves cleanly before they meet legions of softening strakes, followed by a transverse step that aerates the after sections, reducing drag and increasing speed and efficiency. The short version? Intrepid’s 51 Panacea takes no notice of swells that would rattle your fillings on other boats.

Because everyone wants to see those speed numbers and look through the amazingly huge one-piece curved windshield, the 51 has a second row of four seats on a raised platform, so guests have ­mezzanine seating to overlook the action.

Full disclosure: As a boat reviewer, one thing I look for is wasted space. But the 51 Panacea foiled me. Every teensy inch has been used. As Clinton says, “Everything deserves a home,” so you’ll never have to throw fenders into the cabin (there are hinged fender or dive-tank holders in the coamings) or stash dock lines in an empty baitwell (more lockers). With outboard power, there is an immense lazarette under the cockpit large enough to ­become a mother-in-law suite, which provides easy ­access to the 11 kW Kohler genset and the Seakeeper 6 gyro.

Intrepid 51 Panacea systems
There’s easy ­access to the 11 kW Kohler genset and the Seakeeper 6 gyro. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats


Speaking of power, there is one particularly cool feature on the 51: an unassuming lid just left of the wheel. Lift the lid and there are four perfectly aligned keys to bring the four Mercury 600 hp V-12 outboards to life. For car junkies like Clinton and me, the mention of V-12 brings to mind the sound of canvas ripping loudly, but these V-12 Verados were surprisingly quiet. Granted, I was in the front-row seating, but my decibel meter barely hit 80 dB(A) with the hammer down at 6,000 rpm.

Intrepid 51 Panacea cabin
The cabin is equipped with a wider-than-queen (86 inches) berth. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats

Interior and Accessories

But the 51 is more than a go-fast boat; it’s a high-speed luxury vessel. The cabin might look lean and low, but it has all the opulence of a weekend getaway, with a convertible table that becomes a wider-than-queen (86 inches) berth, and a comfortable head with an electric toilet and a 31-by-44-inch shower stall (impressive) behind a Lucite door. Save water and shower with a friend.

The galley is minimalist, with a pair of Isotherm drawer fridges, a one-burner Kenyon stove and an eye-level microwave, all of which take care of morning coffee. For more cuisine, a full outdoor kitchen is behind the cockpit seating, with a big grill, an ice maker and a roll-out ice chest. You can enjoy those steaks and burgers forward, past the trio of tilt-up sun lounges on the cabin roof and over to the bow seating that wraps around a table. Getting there is secure too, with 38-inch padded coamings right to the bow locker, with its hidden Maxwell anchor windlass. You can also dine in the cockpit on the fold-down seat, which creates another alfresco entertainment area but disappears when anglers are present.

Intrepid 51 Panacea galley
A one-burner Kenyon stove makes meal prep easy. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats

That cockpit also has two exits: through a solid door to the transom platform by the kickers, and another bigger one through the port coaming. There is a back story on the pioneering design of that fold-down dive door through the hullside. The Hillsborough County sheriffs in Florida used Intrepids for marine patrol and, in 1994, were having trouble retrieving divers from the water. Intrepid cut a big hole in one coaming and engineered a door that became a sturdy platform, and the dive door was created. Intrepid just acquired that landmark Intrepid for restoration after 25 years and 30 sets of motors.

It is simply impossible to fault the construction of the 51 Panacea. Intrepid was an early pioneer of fully infused resin hulls with carbon fiber for strength and lightness. So, even when those numerals are painting 70-plus, there are no creaks or groans.

Intrepid 51 Panacea head
There’s a comfortable head with an electric toilet and a 31-by-44-inch shower stall. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats

Underway, the 51 is just a delight. Putting the hammer down from idle doesn’t produce the expected bow rise and loss of vision forward. Instead, the 51 Panacea seems to levitate straight up onto plane. That’s clearly the result of perfect fore-and-aft balance and the lift characteristics of the hull form. We didn’t need to use tabs or outboard trim to “push over” the bow wave and get onto plane; it ­occurred seamlessly.

For those who slept through ancient history classes, Panacea was the goddess of universal remedy, and this 51-foot Intrepid lives up to her name. Whether you want to go fast, weekend in comfort, or entertain (and amaze) friends, this one is for you.

Read Next: Boat Test: 2023 Intrepid 41 Valor

Intrepid 51 Panacea cockpit console
A full outdoor kitchen is behind the cockpit seating. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats

How We Tested

  • Engines: Quad 600 hp Mercury V-12 Verado
  • Drives/Props: Outboard/Verado 12 16.75″ x 33″ (front); 15.25″ x 33″ (back)
  • Gear Ratio: Two-speed, 2.50:1 Fuel Load: 840 gal. Water on Board: 0 gal. Crew Weight: 1,100 lb.
Intrepid 51 Panacea bow seating
Bow seating is spacious and luxurious. Courtesy Intrepid Powerboats

High Points

  • Electrical panel at eye level just inside the cabin means no scrunching to find the right switch. 
  • Hatch gutters are deep enough to handle biblical rainstorms or energetic washdowns.
  • Bow seating transforms into backrests, sun pads with armrests, and a host of other seating and lounging choices.

Low Points

  • Give me an extra burner in the cabin galley.
  • Stronger backrests for the seats; I found myself slowly reclining.
  • More sissy grab bars for the troops in both rows of seating because the armrests don’t lock down.

Pricing and Specs

Price:$2,307,512 (as tested)
Draft (max):3’11”
Displacement (approx.):30,500 lb.
Transom Deadrise:21 degrees
Bridge Clearance:10’2″
Max Cabin Headroom:6’1″
Fuel Capacity:900 gal.
Max Horsepower:2,400
Available Power:Mercury, Suzuki or Yamaha outboards to 2,400 hp

Speed, Efficiency, Operation

Intrepid 51 Panacea performance data
Intrepid 51 Panacea Certified Test Results Boating Magazine

Intrepid Powerboats – Dania, Florida;