There is no Hamlet-style doubt. The Princess S78 is a yacht that doesn’t compromise on anything. It brings together a lot of features that people consider to be contradictory, but which in this case are brought together in harmony in a single model
by Niccolò Volpati – photo by Andrea Muscatello
WHETHER TO BE A SHIP OR A BOAT FOR LEISURE? SPORTY OR ELEGANT? FAST OR COMFORTABLE? The S78 is all of these things together. It is the yacht for somebody who says they want it all. Let’s start with the size. Without the pulpit, it stays within the crucial 24-metre mark, and can thus be classed as a sports yacht. But the feeling you get as you go onboard is of being on a ship, and that is not just because of a large amount of room available, but also because of the fittings done by the yard’s technical department in partnership with Pininfarina.
The elegance can be seen in the design and from a lot of details. The balance between the areas available is excellent. It’s got everything, but you never get the feeling of getting overburdened by the spaces.
The lounge, for example, has a lot of seats, three living areas, a table, kitchen, the helm position with two seats for the helm and an assistant, and delivers the same feeling that you get when you enter an open space apartment. The windows also add to this feeling. There are so many of them and they are so large that it seems that the fibreglass is only there as support between one piece of glass and another. And then there are the open-and-close ones so that you can see even further. The glass door that opens towards the cockpit raises, as does the glass that separates the kitchen from the rest of the lounge (which is electronically controlled). So, talking about “as far as the eye can see” is appropriate. The view is unobstructed with the windows lowered, and even less so with them up. There is also a lot of space on the lower bridge. The guest area is located in the bow, with three cabins – a stateroom, a twin and a double room. All three have a private bathroom with a separate shower cubicle.
At cruising speed, there are only 64 decibels in the master cabin.
The lower deck has three guest cabins – two VIP and one twin – all with en-suite bathrooms. The full-beam master suite is at the centre of the boat.
The master cabin is midships, and you get to it with a separate staircase that also starts in the lounge. It is full beam, and so is a full five metres wide. The division between the guest and owner areas has also been done excellently, especially since they are close to one another. So, there is privacy, but without ignoring functionality. If we go down to the master cabin, you notice some of those details that make you realise that Princess is an English yard, in the good sense of the word. They build boats to be sailed, and not just to look good at a show. What am I referring to? Natural light filters through to the staircase from a special window. That means you can safely walk down it without having to turn the light on. And finally, the LED lights are the last thing that struck me favourably about this area. Several LED strips run along with the lounge ceiling and provide soft, pleasant lighting. A second Hamletian doubt involves the style. Sporty or elegant? And once again the answer is both! The lines, including the external ones, are faithful to the sport bridge classification. There is a flybridge, but the superstructure and the design are certainly not weighed down by it. The lines are sporty and tapered. The boat is elegant throughout. Inside, in the cockpit, in the bows and on the flybridge. The areas are well balanced.
The design by Pininfarina and the yard contributes to a feeling of large spaces, but without neglecting anything in the set-up.
There are living areas in the bows, in the cockpit and on the flybridge. You always get around completely safely, both because the floor area is substantial, and also because the ladder giving access to the flybridge isn’t too steep, and finally because there are strong grab handles easily within reach throughout. The flybridge is also a demonstration of British style. It is not excessive and doesn’t cover the whole cockpit. It has a lot of room entire, without being over the top. When a flybridge gets too large, there is a danger that it becomes a weak spot. There is vibration and stress when sailing in rough seas, and then there is the weight which has an impact on the water lines and performance. But Princess has found a balance that won’t disappoint anybody. There aren’t any hard T-Tops that make boats look like skyscrapers.
The deck is practical, functional and comfortable. Bollards, warping winch and windlass are all larger than they need to be. You get the feeling that you are on board a strong yacht, one that can handle tough conditions. A yacht that is Made in England.
And if you want some shade there is a mechanical awning, although when underway the flybridge is left uncovered. The seafaring experience of the yard can also be seen right in the bows. The mooring area is excellent because it is so functional. The anchor benefits from a kind of embrasure that means it can be dipped into the water. That means that there aren’t pulpits that stick out too much, and which could become weak points. That is a solution that looks for maximum strength. Additionally, the windlass is outside the locker and that means it is always visible and easy to reach for maintenance. Only the chain falls within the chain locker. It is simple and functional, but also elegant. And finally, there is the last Hamletian doubt, as to whether a boat should be fast or comfortable. And once again the answer is: “I want everything without missing out on anything”. The engine room houses two 1,900 horsepower MAN V12s. The thrust they produce is exceptional. It has got such powerful acceleration that as soon as the turbines kick in, they glue your back to the chair. And the top speed is in line with that. How many 24-metre yachts do you know of that can do 37 knots?
It is really easy to use, to such an extent that owners genuinely can think about handling it themselves. It is smooth in turning, but agile and reactive, and feels good in waves.
The waterlines designed by Olesinski behave extremely well, even at low revs. At 12.7 knots at 1050 rpm the S78 will keep planning. And to get the boat back down on the water, you have to cut out a lot of gas. But if you handle the throttle with a little bit of skill, it feels as if you will never stop planing.
At medium and high revs, fuel consumption picks up, but if you are happy not doing more than twenty knots, it is kept in an acceptable range.
And how easy does it feel? Just like steering a dinghy. The helm is incredibly docile and turning is so soft that you never get the feeling of being onboard a 78-footer. It is simple to handle like a much smaller boat. The comfort also comes from a really wide range of cruising speeds. There are 25 speeds between 12 and 37 knots. This means that you can always opt for having the speed you want. During our test, we had waves of between fifty and sixty centimetres and wind of around twelve knots. Conditions that didn’t concern or trouble us in the least. The hull cuts through the waves well and, at least in those types of conditions, doesn’t suffer in the least, not even when you do well over thirty knots. But if you follow the logic of I want everything without compromise you shouldn’t be too startled by the fuel consumption figures. Three thousand eight hundred horsepower get the boat moving, but fuel consumption is certainly not restrained, both in terms of litres per hour and litres per mile. There is no Hamletian doubt, not even when it comes to filling up.
The engine room has been really well soundproofed. At the helm the noise rises from sixty to seventy decibels at higher speeds.
With two inboard MANs each developing 1,900 horsepower, the boat has a top speed of 37 knots. At the economy cruising speed of 24 knots, it burns 15.8 litres of fuel per nautical mile and the range is 379 miles. The less powerful version has a pair of 1,800 hp engines.
PRINCESS YACHTS INTERNATIONAL
Newport Street, Plymouth
Devon, UK PL1 3QG
PROJECT: Olesinski Studio (hull) • Pininfarina and Princess Design Studio (interiors and superstructure)
HULL: LOA 24.66m • LOA without the pulpit 24.03m • Maximum beam 5.76m • Draft 1.77m • Displacement 53,726 kg • Fuel tanks volume 6,000 l • Water tanks volume 1,350 l
MAIN PROPULSION: 2xMAN V12-1900 • Outlet mechanical power 1,397 kW (1,900 hp) • Bore&Stroke 128mm x 157mm • Swept volume 24.2 l• 12 V-shaped cylinders • Maximal rotational speed 2300/min • Dry weight 2,365 kg
EC CERTIFICATION: CAT B
(Princess S78, to be or not to be – Barchemagazine.com – September 2021)