Yacht Class n°26 (sept-oct-nov 2021)
PRESTIGE YACHTS – GROUPE BENETEAU
Prestige’s flybridge family now has ten units after the arrival of the largest of all: the 690, which we tested right after the launch of the “grand sunbridge” version. The alliance between Garroni Design and Prestige Yachts has once again resulted in an interesting novelty in many respects.
Written by Alain Brousse – Photos: All rights reserved
The Prestige Yachts range is expanding with the regularity of a metronome. And even despite the ongoing pandemic, the in-house design studio, with Garroni Design as its historical partner, continues to work on expanding the F-Line family, F standing for Flybridge. The fruit of that work, the 690 we presented in our last issue, was entrusted to us for a sea trial on a dynamic Mediterranean, with sufficiently large waves to assess the behaviour of this 21-metre unit replacing the 680. In Saint-Raphaël, a cloudy sky, a few showers and a wind capable of stirring the bay were enough to make us want to assess her behaviour. Of course, her hull has been designed to suit her propulsion system: D13 diesel engines coupled with IPS transmissions from the Swedish manufacturer Volvo Penta. Let’s remember, if necessary, the strengths of the IPS: space saving on the lower deck thanks to the backward position of the engine room, outstanding manoeuvrability in port, low noise level, rather reasonable engine consumption… Which gives good yields, particularly at high speeds.
Piloting is a true pleasure…
Given the wet weather conditions, we did not take control on the flybridge. If this place is of course protected by a roof, on the test day, the Prestige did not have the side canvas and the front plastic, which is an almost indispensable option in some areas… Yet, piloting is almost as delightful inside, in the wheelhouse, well-integrated in the vast reception space. Located on starboard, it offers a highly satisfactory view on 180-degree and even more, thanks to the glassed-in perimeter of this single-space, which also accommodates the lounge, dining area and galley. Three screens provide all the necessary navigation aid while the joystick and bow thruster are located on the right side of the steering wheel. Let’s use the joystick to get underway! Actually, crabbing, pivoting, going forward or backward is almost a piece of cake, thanks to the IPS. And for those who are not so keen on berth manoeuvring, Volvo Penta has developed a system called “Assisted Docking”. As the name implies, the pilot becomes inoperative thanks to the automatic mode… The boat, relying on precise data, slips into its berth autonomously. This equipment is optional. Comfortably settled on the double steering seat, equipped with individual backrests, we headed to the open sea with the wish to time the “standing start-20 knots”: 11 seconds, which is more than correct, just like the 28 seconds recorded from 0 to 31.5 knots, her maximum speed. We only maintained this speed long enough to see that the hull smoothly absorbs impacts. She will be more comfortable at the cruising speed of 1800 rpm, which corresponds to 18 knots and a 300 miles range. The Prestige is a pleasure to pilot and will be appreciated both at anchor and during a short or long cruise.
Natural light and panoramic view
The cockpit is the first thing you discover when boarding a boat like this Prestige. This well-designed place hosts a settee and a table that can seat six. But its 12 m2 obviously cannot compete with the 27 m2 flybridge, protected on two-thirds by an opening roof. This place offers all the expected comfort: a saloon for six, a kitchenette with grill, refrigerator, storage and space to create an outside lounge (sofa and coffee table) or fit two or three deckchairs. The front part of the flybridge is dedicated to a helm station with two armchairs (you can pilot standing up) and a console as complete as the one of the main internal wheelhouse. The latter is integrated into the volume of the 30 m2 main deck, which first accommodates the dining area, comprising a complete and open-plan galley facing a table ready for six guests. Portside is also comfortable with a lounge (a L-shaped sofa and a table). This space, which gathers four functions, is abundantly bathed in natural light and offers a generous outside view.
The master: all the way forward !
Garroni Design had us used to the main cabin located in the centre of the lower deck, regardless of the Prestige model. Surprise on the 690, it was fitted all the way forward, in the bow, and is accessible via a staircase to the left of the wheelhouse. The second surprise is its headroom, of over two metres, and it is easy to understand why there could be only a simple solarium on the foredeck deckhouse, as priority was given to the habitability of the master, one of the 690’s assets. Of course, this cabin comes with a bathroom with a separate shower and a dressing room. Guests are also spoiled… The central cabin belowdecks, worthy of a VIP, is only slightly smaller than the master, and its counterpart can be turned into two twins. The Prestige 690 thus has three or four cabins, plus the twin crew cabin in the stern.
It seems obvious that the Prestige 690 will occupy a place of choice in the 20-metre flybridge category. Her qualities in terms of performance, handling, habitability and comfort should make her successful at the forthcoming autumn boat shows.