Pershing 72

Party with the royals.

At 45 mph, I put the Pershing 72 into a hardover turn to port and the boat was as smooth as butter. I did the same to starboard and got the same result. No surprise, considering how well boats from the crème de la crème of Italian performance manufacturers always handle, but there was one surprise. I performed both maneuvers without touching the steering wheel.

When I first looked at the helm on the 72, I was perplexed. There were two sweet black leather bucket seats, but the steering wheel was positioned dead smack between them on the dash ahead, not in front of one or the other. What's more, it was out of reach when I was seated. I soon figured out why. The control was between the bucket seats -- just abaft was a joystick labeled "tiller."

Except maybe for docking or running at slow speeds in tight quarters, you don't drive the 72 with the steering wheel. Sit back, set the rpm and trim levels, and push the joystick to port or starboard to point the boat in the right direction. The learning curve is short, and the Arneson drives respond as if you had turned them with a steering wheel. In no time I was running 50.2 mph and the new 20-degree V-bottom, which is sharper than what most boats in this size range offer, sliced cleanly through the waves.

With the salon doors and the sunroof closed, the 72 is also incredibly quiet. Twin 1,797-bhp 12-cylinder diesels running at 2400 rpm produced only 78 decibels at the helm. It adds to the boat's stealthy feel. Solid construction includes molded stringers and bulkheads and a hull-to-deck joint sealed around the perimeter. The centrally positioned helm pod has a fighter-jet-like feel and is finished in brown upholstery and carbon-fiber panels, which should kill glare nicely. Flat-screen LED panels monitor engine functions and drive and tab trim position. The only thing missing is a cupholder.

You'll get more speed out of the Baia 70 Italia ($4,036,644 with twin 1,800-bhp CAT C32 Acerts and Arneson ASD14s), which runs 57 mph, but it weighs 15,000 pounds less than the Pershing. If you like the styling and layout and can live without the Arnesons, the new Sunseeker Predator 74 ($3,262,000 with twin 1,800-bhp MANs) is worth a look, too.

**Big Winner
**

If you're like me, you won't let anyone else drive the Pershing 72, and if you have $5.5 million to buy this boat, you won't spend your time doing maintenance. But crewmembers lucky enough to get the job on this boat will appreciate their accommodations. You enter from the port side of the cockpit on the aft end of an adequately equipped wetbar. The crew gets its own galley, a flat-screen TV, navigation desk, two single berths, and a hanging locker.

Off the crew quarters is a control room, and I liked that all the air-conditioner chillers, battery chargers, and blackwater pumps were located here for easy maintenance. A sea door opens to provide standup access to the twin 12-cylinder diesels. Separators are conveniently located on the forward bulkhead with the genset aft in the center. Panels you can remove with screws provide access to the Arneson drives. Hydraulic blocks for the steering, trim, garage, and gangway facilitate service on these items as well. Batteries are outboard to port.

From the swim platform, stainless-steel gates close off the port and starboard passages to the cockpit, and there's a fuel fill in the starboard side stair, which I like for spill retention.

Sunbathers will adore the large aft lounge, which has a rail across the stern and a raised, angled headrest. Should you want some shade, the overhead extends 8' aft. The sun worshipping continues on the 72's foredeck, where there's a large lounge that secures with a track and bead system, but Pershing was smart to also strap down the front of the pad on a 50-mph boat.

Up on the bow, the anchor locker is so big that it has a molded step to make it easier for crew to get down inside. Pershing's patented inflatable bladder cushions the ride for the rode.

You enter the salon from either the aft sliding doors or the power side hatches adjacent to the helm. Lighter upholstery color makes the boat feel bigger, not always easy with an express-style hardtop. The wood underfoot is Wenge.

Aft, the extra-large flat-screen TV is in a console to port with an icemaker nearby. A lounge to starboard wraps around a convertible table. A small L-shaped lounge to port is a great place for kids to hang out.

In the Grand Manner

Pershing compartmentalizes the 72's belowdecks with stairs to port that lead to the staterooms and another set to starboard that put you in the galley. I liked the blue-tinted glassine countertop, but it should have been fiddled. All the appliances you'd want are there and there's plenty of stowage space. One hatch, however, opened with a snap spring, which feels dated on such a modern boat.

As you descend the portside stairs, the master stateroom is aft and features a large Sony flat-screen TV, small vanity area, and reclining lounge. The island queen berth raises on gas struts to reveal cavernous stowage. In the master head, there's a nicely tiled shower with room for two. A portside cabin with twin single berths has entry to the day head, and forward in the bow, the spacious VIP stateroom will pamper guests. But no one onboard the 72 will be more spoiled than the skipper. Drive this boat and you'll see why it's called a joystick.

MSRP: Standard power - $5,500,000 Test power - $5,500,000 ****

Contact: 305.871.2440 www.pershing-yacht.com