Yacht Class n°14 (sept-oct-nov 2018)
Prestige Yachts Groupe Bénéteau
This new member of the Prestige Yachts family had not trouble fitting in considering her obvious qualities. Among them: her interior fittings and her seaworthiness.
Written by: Alain Brousse – Photos : Jérôme Kélagopian & Jean-François Romero
Beneteau Group, and more precisely Jeanneau’s Prestige department, can’t help reminding us how “large” is their family. It actually counts fifteen models: first the 420, 460, 500, 520 and 560 – open hard-tops or flybridges – and the 630, 630 S, 680 and 680 S (sportfly or flybridge)… plus the 750, the flagship. Clearly, Prestige are not only perfectly named, but they are also prompt to seduce shipowners. Hats off to the Italian Garroni Design who designed all the Prestige in collaboration with Jean-François de Premorel and the shipyard’s architects and engineers. Early spring, we took the helm of their last born, the 630 S, accompanied by Erik Stromberg, the Director of Product Marketing, who perfectly knows this model down to her smallest and sometimes most discrete details…
Light colours, contemporary decor
As we climbed aboard, we first noticed the tender on the hydraulic swim platform. In the absence of garage, this one is deep enough to accommodate a tender of a maximum length of 4m. Nearby, the stern features a crew cabin with two berths and a head area (as required in the specifications), which will be a substantial asset for a private use with skipper or for charter. Let’s continue our tour of the night section with the lower deck where are all the cabins. Like the 680, this unit features a central full-beam master with private access to the main deck lounge. Its other assets: a respectable headroom, a brightness coming from generous rectangular portholes (with a small round opening) plus a decoration in light tones. The owners will also enjoy two walk-in closets, including one in the bathroom where is a sink, an independent shower and a WC. The second cabin, a VIP, is located forward, in the bow. Equally bright, it enjoys a double bed and its own bathroom, as does the third cabin, a narrow yet pleasant twin.
Hats off to the interiors
Gathering all the cabins below decks has allowed the Prestige’s designers to dedicate the main deck to the daytime life. Prestige has opted for a smart layout with an open-plan galley placed at its entrance and open on both the cockpit and the interior saloon. Inside, the guests will take place on a U-shaped sofa for six, whose table rises and unfolds to create a dining area for eight (six in comfort). Facing this pleasant spot, we find a small sofa and a TV cabinet. Note that in addition to a generous sea view, the saloon also features a large sliding glass sunroof to let the outside in! Forward, the slightly elevated full helm station perfectly blends into this saloon mainly dedicated to relaxation. It has been designed to facilitate the steering of the 630 S with, first, a perfect visibility on 200-degree for the captain who can either stand at the helm or sit on the two-seater chair with footrest. If the control unit and the joystick are well positioned, the three-screen dashboard is massive and could have been more “design”. We would have also appreciated an access to the side decks from the wheelhouse. The central staircase leads to the VIP cabin and the twin.
A life in the open air
Prestige’s Yacht Division offers flybridge or sportfly models, like the 630 S, which feature smaller but pleasant sundeck. The positive counterpart is the sliding sunroof flooding with light the main deck saloon, in addition to a more attractive exterior design. On this upper level, we found a helm station and two chairs, plus a third seat on starboard. This fly was also fitted with an alfresco six-seater dining area, with a teak table and a U-shaped sofa, that can be protected by a retractable bimini top. Like on all liveaboard boat, the 630 S conceals on her foredeck a relaxation area that will be appreciated at anchor, but also during navigation on a calm sea. The deckhouse features a sunbed for four, with a settee at its foot. All that is needed now is a coffee table to “order” some snacks !
Good performance thanks to the IPS
Prestige had relied on Volvo Penta IPS shortly after their launch. Thanks to this propulsion method, the engines are positioned at the cockpit level. It is thus easy to forget them, especially considering that they only produce a relatively low noise level. The 630 S features thus two Volvo Penta IPS950 diesel engines, each developing 725 hp, plus of course the control system via the joystick. We must precise that we barely touched the helm to leave our berth and head for the open sea. Which means that this reasonable-sized boat can be operated by her owner. We conducted our first test, knowing beforehand it will be positive considering the propulsion: to attain 20 knots from a standing start. A speed this 33-ton boat managed to pass in only 7 seconds, before reaching her maximum speed of 29 knots. This pleads in her favor. Her behavior on a barely formed waterbody was most pleasant. She easily turned, her list remaining reasonable. She offered the same pleasure of piloting outside and inside, where we can speak without raising the voice, especially at the cruising speed of 22,2 knots (2 200 rpm).
With such obvious qualities, Prestige unsurprisingly rhymes with success. This 630 S, which has the assets of her big sister the 680, reinforces our idea that the shipyard had flair when launching Prestige. It has perfectly succeeded in designing a family of liveaboard units from 14 to 23 metres. Prestige’s reputation has long crossed borders. And Garroni, father and son, have definitely contributed to this.