Outboard-powered center console boats continue to grow in size, but a colossus now under construction is scheduled to best them all.
Boating gained an exclusive inside look at the mind-boggling, multifaceted effort underway to design, refine and build the HCB Center Console Yachts (formerly HydraSports Custom Boats) 6500 Estrella — which represents the world’s largest CC. With a test center in Islamorada, Florida, and manufacturing facilities in Venore, Tennessee, HCB is known for building big center console boats. Its 5300 Sueños set the record for the largest CC a couple of years ago. The Estrella will beat that in spades with a hull featuring the same exclusive Mil-Tough-rated Megaform composite grid construction technique used to build the Sueños. This dramatically reduces the weight versus conventional construction, says Alex Leva, president of HCB.
The Estella, like many other boats, began life in a computer-aided design program. The engineering team at Marine Concepts in Sarasota, Florida, focused for more than a year on the myriad intricacies of the design. This ranged from the immense running surface to a transom that will accommodate five 627 hp Seven Marine outboards.
Just as challenging was designing an interior that will include a massive cabin within the console, mezzanine seating overlooking the aft cockpit, second-row helm seating (aka sleigh seating) with a first row that swivels aft and a table that elevates from the deck for dining or to convert the area to a large berth.
A Seakeeper gyrostablizer will nestle under the mezzanine seating module.
Yet computers can only take you so far, says Leva. To ensure that the details and integration of the interior and rigging are just right, HCB built a full-scale mock-up of the Estrella, using the CAD program to machine massive blocks of Styrofoam with a five-axis router. Taking six months to build, the mock-up resides inside the boatbuilding facility at Marine Concepts.
Spending time aboard the mock-up provides a chance to evaluate the flow and ergonomics of the interior, something that’s difficult to achieve on a computer screen, says Leva.
The HCB team spent a month evaluating the deck, seating, freeboard, cabin access and comfort, stowage lockers, helm configuration and more, noting any changes that might be necessary. This has resulted in a number of refinements to improve various aspects of the interior of the 6500 Estrella. One change, for example, was an adjustment in the height and length of the hardtop. “It immediately became clear that we needed to make these changes,” Leva says. “That’s just one example of the beauty of a full-scale mock-up.”
By the time of our visit, the mock-up evaluation phase was complete and Hull No. 1 had already emerged from the mold, offering another glimpse into the immensity of the project. The hull and liner will ship to HCB’s Tennessee facility for assembly, with the first boat scheduled to debut by the summer of 2018.
HCB Center Console Yachts’ 6500 Estrella Projected Specifications
Dry Weight: 40,000 lb.
Transom Deadrise: 23 degrees
Max Horsepower: Unlimited
Available Power: Five Seven Marine 627 hp outboards
Fuel Capacity: 1,500 gal. (optional 1,800 gal.)
Price: Depending on a buyer’s custom requests. Starting in the $3 million range.