Yacht Class n°34 (sept-oct-nov 2023)
The Tempest 44 was presented to us for this sea trial with many developments and an “upgraded” motorization, 3 x 450 hp outboards : the very latest Yamaha V8 XTO.
Written by Philippe Leblond – Photos Philippe Leblond et DR
Launched in 2012, the T44 is the second largest boat in the “Luxury Line” range, following the introduction of the T50 four years ago, a range that also includes two other maxi RIB: the T38 and T40. This longevity explains a number of changes and a slightly more powerful engine (+75hp) compared to the model we tested two years ago (Yacht Class n°24). In this case, the T44 gets an evolution of the famous XTO V8 425 hp, which has been increased to 450 hp. And as there can be no lack of power on a RIB of this size (a 13.10 m of almost 10 tonnes), three Yamaha XTO 450 have been fitted on the transom! As it is, with its generous dimensions (18-passenger homologation, two cabins and four berths) and top-level performance (55 knots during our sea trial!), this T44 has what it takes to be a chase boat for a superyacht. Even though it is still good-looking, the interior has undergone some minor design changes. Outside, there are slightly more visible modifications: a longer hard-top, higher U-shaped backrests for the aft settee, extended sundeck handrails, increased bathing platform, “tropicalised” upholstery, and a larger dashboard to accommodate larger screen handsets and the latest version of the Helm Master EX controls.
A more spacious swim platform
Among the developments of the T44, the most noticeable is without a doubt the enlargement of the swimming platform, which was rather cramped on the previous model. In fact, it serves as the motor-chair for the massive Japanese V8s, whose revised design makes them even more aggressive and qualitative. Sunbathers will enjoy the two vast sun pads, while epicureans will head for the large teak table in the U-shaped dining area adjoining the well-equipped kitchenette. A couple of steps lead down to the two cabins. There are two large double berths: the main one in the bow and the guest (or children) berth under the cockpit, with a less comfortable access and a headroom that makes it impossible to stand up. In between is a headroom that offers all the comfort you need on a cruise, and a shower cabin (headroom: 1.82 m). Air conditioning is available as an option.
Nearly 55 knots at top speed
In terms of behaviour and performance, it’s hard to see any real difference with the 3 x 425 hp configuration tested in 2021. With 3 x 300 hp, the T44 had a top speed of 45.5 knots, then with 3 x 425 hp it reached 52.1 knots… This time, with its three new Yamaha XTO 450 hp, the GPS of the T44 showed a speed of 54.9 knots… Over 100 km/h for this XXL RIB, that’s something! Equally impressive are the cruising speeds, which from 3 000 to 4 000 rpm (20.3 to 35.6 knots) are relatively economical (from 0.17 to 0.20 miles per litre) given the power on board (1 350 hp!). In case of emergency, the throttle can be pushed up to 5 000 rpm to cruise at 46.6 knots, without burning too much fuel. At maximum efficiency (3 500 rpm), it has an impressive range of 183 miles.
Despite the 25 hp increase (the displacement remains the same), the new XTO does not perform any better than its predecessor and has slightly slower acceleration times: 8’2 to lift off, 7’2 for 0-20 knots from a standing start. On the other hand, the noise level, which Yamaha claims to have reduced, does indeed seem to be more discreet, at all engine speeds. However, the most noticeable improvement is in maneuvering with the joystick, with very smooth reversals (forward-reverse/reverse-forward), less jerky than before, and therefore less noisy. Another technical achievement to make the skipper’s job easier is the Helm Master, which has a new function that links the joystick control to the bow thruster. In addition, a more powerful alternator also makes it possible to power a wide range of equipment simultaneously. Other improvements include better traction in reverse for easier manoeuvring in port and a semi-automatic engine tilt system at anchor: a double press of the button raises the engine to its highest position without the need to hold the button pressed. Extremely stable in trim and handling, the T44 is unaffected by this power increase and, as with the 425hp version, does not feel overpowered. With such a large horsepower and a deck layout combining lounging and cruising, this large Capelli has all the assets of a versatile chase boat.