My Hooniverse Overlords have let me off the leash this morning, on probation I assume, to take the reins and steer us through a big old slab of Motorboat Monday, with this year’s London Boat Show providing the fuel.
To try and pander at least a tiny bit to those of you whose tastes don’t run to the marine, I thought we’d take a look at a new boat which not only shares a name with a legendary wedge-shaped sports car, but also shares at least one feature with the 1985 Buick Wildcat concept car. Read on if you’re even slightly intrigued.
Firstly, a word from our sponsors. Fairline’s first series production boat looked like this:
The Fairline 19 was a hand-built all-fibreglass cabin cruiser which was variously used on rivers and coastal waters and, if you were absolutely insane, could be bounced off of waves for press photo-shoots. This was in 1967, but pretty soon the word got around that Fairline boats were pretty damn good and the range began to expand. Over time Fairline would nurture designers whose names would go on to become household names. John Bennett was one, Bernard Olesinski was another.
Currently Fairline build yachts like these:
They’ve built over 10,000 yachts since starting out, a goodly percentage of which are exported to far sunnier climes than Oundle, Norfolk where the company started out in a disused gravel pit. One thing that has been a common thread throughout Fairline’s existence has been a need to innovate. From the raised helm position on the Fury 25 of the early ’70s through to the space-efficiency of the ’81 36 Turbo. Which brings us to the Esprit concept.
And at the moment it is just that, a concept, but exists as a statement that Fairline want to be seen as sitting at the cutting edge of the powerboat industry, employing the kind of free thinking that doesn’t just come naturally. Among the radical features that they’re toying with is one shared with the time-capsule concept car I mentioned at the beginning. I’m talking about having displays, readouts and gauges in the middle of the steering wheel.
Fairline’s own publicity blurb reckons that: “The concept boat showcases an ergonomically optimised interior and includes a Multifunctional Steering Position with paddle throttles and integral LED control display. This allows chartplotter, radar and system information to be displayed in the optimum viewing position.”
Really? Optimum viewing position? Now I might not be the world’s foremost expert in martime ergonomics, but surely the very point of the ships wheel or tiller is that you shouldn’t have to look at it the whole time? The sea, although big, is full of stuff that you need to avoid hitting, and therefore looking out through the windscreen is advisable wherever possible. You should only need look at the wheel once, at the beginning of your journey, to confirm that it exists.
Amirite? Feel free to use the comments space below to
disagree agree strongly with me that this is a stupid idea.
Eminently more sensible seems the choice to employ a hybrid power system, and this is where we realise that the name Esprit is supposed to be oddly capitalised.
“Power options for the Fairline eSprit consist of a 400hp diesel engine, capable of 30 knots in diesel mode, coupled to an electric motor. Silent running or sustained low speed cruising is possible at 5 knots in electric mode.”
Yes, that definitely makes more sense. A built in trolling motor is nothing new in fishing circles, but a potentiometer-controlled, completely variable throttle for low speed running is not a bad idea at all, albeit I can see it being more relevant in a cruiser than what is, ostensibly, a dayboat.
But anything that helps the fuel economy of powerboats has to be a good thing. In fact, the very existence of the Esprit, eSprit, whatever, would make a lot of sense. Although the styling would tend to indicate a leaning towards the Italiante-flashy expensive plaything end of the market, it’s refreshing to see Fairline dabbling with smaller boats again; although I’d imagine that an old 19, Holiday or 21 Sprint might be rather more within my price range.
[Images: Copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Chris Haining except 19, Squadron and Steering Wheel; stolen from the internet. Thanks, internet]