Nearly 14 metres long and four wide, with 1,200 horsepower on the transom: these are figures one can associate with sporty performance. But this is above all a rib that is comfortable and easy to handle
by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Andrea Muscatello
Over forty years have passed since I got on board an inflatable for the first time. That’s quite a while, but if I think about the changes that have taken place, it feels as if it had been much longer. Perhaps the same would hold for any kind of transport, and yet in the case of leisure boats, and inflatables, in particular, the differences seem even more marked to me.
At the time, my family had a car, a red Fiat 500 to be exact. To start it, you had to turn the key in the ignition switch, and then pull the two levers that were close to the hand brake. The windows were operated with handles, and for fresh air, one simply opened the roof. I remember that to change gear, my father did double-clutching: clutch, neutral, the clutch again and then you moved into the other gear. Cars today, whether electric or otherwise, are decidedly quieter and have touch-screen displays, air conditioning, sensors, video cameras, and they open automatically when you get close, and they turn on by pushing a button and as soon as you get going you say “ok Google….”. That was another world. But it is the same feeling that I felt on board the Prince 43 CC by Nuova Jolly. If I think of the Corsair Manta 420 from over forty years back, it seems to have been a vessel that provided the same level of comfort as a stagecoach in a western.
And comfort is the nicest feeling I got when trying out the Prince 43. It is a level of comfort from another world, which comes from the boat, the hull, from the two 12-cylinder Mercury 600 horsepower engines and how they were fitted on the stern. If we think back to the experiences that any of us had at sea even a few years back, it is surprising to reflect on the fact that we can do fifty knots, happily chatting while standing in the middle of the cockpit.
Below decks, you have a cabin with two berths and a separate bathroom. That is ideal for privacy during a day’s outing or short-range cruises.
I did the test on lake Garda and there weren’t any big waves it was completely flat, but the boat seemed to be fixed to the water, even when I went across bow waves from the ferry which links the shore on the Lombardy side to that in Veneto. It is the V-shaped bow that does this, but I think it is also because of having the two engines set far apart from one another because the set-up has a swimming platform between them. And added to this, in the final version, there will even be a walkway that works as a swimming ladder. That was a design option that I found convincing, because of how easy it was to get to the sea, as well as the feeling of stability and safety when underway.
The Mercury Verado 600s can be fitted just a few centimetres from one another, which is the advantage of having a fixed powerhead, with just the gearcase turning. That is a feature that is useful above all if you want to fit as many as four engines, but two were more than enough with the Prince 43 and the stern reminded me of racing boats which have the two outboards fitted a long way from one another to increase stability when underway. The combination of the windscreen and quiet engines does the rest. I had to look at the display on the bridge to realise that I was doing fifty knots. The comfort was absolute: tranquillity, stability and silence. The steering position is one of many things that have been done well on this boat. The three seats for the helm and assistants are enveloping and comfortable at the same time. The ergonomics are excellent, everything is at the right distance and the visibility is perfect.
The deck is embellished with so many details like the electro-hydraulic table, which comes out of the deck surface in the cockpit. It is a walkaround with the steering position in the centre, which mean that you can get around easily, and have a lot of space available.
Amongst the additions in the new Mercurys are the electronic throttles which are available in a version with a display on the lever box so that you don’t have to have the VesselView display on the bridge. This means a reduction in the amount of clutter on the bridge so that all of it can be put over to a single large plotter, without getting rid of the screen with engine data. Furthermore, the organisation of the console of the Prince 43 CC has been especially well designed, given that the joystick handle is comfortable to use. To get an idea of just how manoeuvrable this boat is, I tried to turn right round without using the joystick, just with the two levers and forward and reverse gears. The boat is thirteen-and-a-half metres long and I managed to do a full turn at low revs in – at most – 18 metres. So, it turns on itself, even if you don’t use the joystick.
With the two 600-horsepower Mercurys working independently of one another you get a very notable turning capacity. The exterior one has a different angle to the internal one, so the turn can be completed in very little space.
But on the other hand, you do have to pay attention when you do a tight turn at high speed. The angle is so tight that you get the feeling that you are about to capsize, but then there are the tubes, which rest on the water and stop you from flipping over. The advice is always to not try to turn as hard as possible at fifty knots. At top speed, the GPS showed as much as 53.5 knots, and the feeling it gives is that the superstructure is very solid. I didn’t feel any vibrations, not even when I went across the wake left by the ferry. Indeed, the T-Top rests on four poles, two of which – the ones in the bow – separate into two. So, the T-Top rests on six supports, and that is why it is solid and doesn’t vibrate even at over fifty knots.
A pair of 600 horsepower engines means it is very close to the maximum the boat will take. The good thing about these outboards is that in addition to performance, they also provide a very comfortable experience at the helm.
LOA 13.45m • Maximum beam 4.00m • Displacement 4,500 kg • Tube’s diameter 0.5/0.7m • 8 compartments • Fuel tank volume 1,100 l • Water tank volume 150 l
2 Mercury V12 Verado 600 • Outlet mechanical power 441 kW (600 hp) • Swept volume 7.6 l • 12 V-shaped cylinders • Gear ratio 2.50:1 • Maximal rotational speed 5600-6400/min • Weight with propeller 572 kg
€ 235,000 Excl.VAT – Bareboat and accessories as standard • About 448,000 € Excl.VAT – Model as tested including engines and accessories (March 2022)
(Nuova Jolly Prince 43 CC, princely comfort – Barchemagazine.com – March 2022)