Defining values

Palm Beach approaches the fundamental challenge to be had in motor yacht design in a refreshingly different way, writes Scott Alle.

11 January 2023


The company has carved a global reputation for exceptional performance and efficiency, coupled with superior craftsmanship, which results in a range that encapsulates speed, style and uncompromising seagoing confidence.

It’s always easy to recognise one of the nine models from 42 to 70-feet that make up the Palm Beach line. Their impeccable hulls are defined by flared bows, a distinctive low profile, and a graceful curving sheerline running aft to a slight tumblehome. The overall look evokes poise and power.

And you know when you’re on a Palm Beach because even at speeds topping 30 knots it’s an incredibly smooth, dry ride with minimal wake – a central tenet of the brand that was founded on Sydney’s boating mecca, Pittwater, over 25 years ago.

“The drive for maximum performance and economy has been our goal from day one,” says Mark Richards, Palm Beach CEO and Founder. “We wanted to build the most efficient powerboats we possibly could.”


Richards, or ‘Ricko’, is also an America’s Cup sailor and the skipper of Wild Oats XI, the most successful yacht in the history of the often-brutal Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Piloting the 100-foot supermaxi for hours through treacherous seas at over 25 knots has given him a highly refined appreciation of hull dynamics and integrity.

The result? Slippery, semi-warped planing-hull designs created by Richards and naval architect Andy Dovell keep the bow down without the need to apply any trim tabs at all, even with pod drives. That’s married to outstanding build quality, which right from the outset was a major focus for the Palm Beach brand.

Inspired by the lines of the Down-East style lobster boats he’d seen while racing in the US, Richards decided to build what he called a sailor’s powerboat – a highly efficient, high-speed cruising motor yacht. With this goal in mind, he founded Palm Beach Motor Yachts in 1995 and launched his first powerboat in 1998, the Palm Beach 38.

Selling four 38s immediately off the plans, Palm Beach was on a firm trajectory. Since then, the company has built over 180 powerboats ranging from 32 to 70 feet, with the production line in Malaysia currently at near-full capacity. “All of these boats are like family; I still get excited when I see the early ones,” says Richards.

“We recently had a 32 come through our service facility in Newport, NSW, and she’s a glamour. At nearing 20 years old, she looks and performs just like she rolled out of the factory,” he notes with obvious pride.

“Another new 32 owner reached out to us from Porto Cervo in Sardinia, and he loves that boat. At the end of the day, that’s all I care about,” he says, underlining the undeniably deep passion for what he does.

The Palm Beach 32 was for some time the brand’s most accessible model, but now the classic line-up starts with the PB42 and progresses to the PB45, the PB50 (of which the 50th hull will be delivered to its Australian owner later in the year), the PB52, the PB65 and the flagship PB70, released to critical acclaim in 2019.

“The Palm Beach 70 was born of customer demand for a larger Palm Beach Motor Yacht,” acknowledges Richards. “We had to build the yacht that we wanted too; one that can stand on her own and meet our high standards of performance, hull efficiency and aesthetics.”

Like all Palm Beach yachts, the 70 is built on a V-Warp™ hull design that has less resistance and therefore planes more easily. The hull shape is designed to keep the bow in the water, eliminating any hump in the speed curve that is typically associated with deep or modified-V hull shapes.

Instead, the Palm Beach 70 is designed to go through the water, rather than wasting energy getting on top of the water.

But the enigmatic CEO, who still manages to be on the factory floor every day without fail when in Malaysia, reveals there’s a new, bigger flagship on the way; one that will spectacularly stamp Palm Beach’s approach to the superyacht category.

The Palm Beach 85, for which 3D renders already exist, will be a true long-range ocean cruiser with two crew cabins, featuring a 1,000-nautical-mile range at 20 knots – a lock-step achievement for a boat of that size – and an impressive 3,000-mile range at 10 knots.

“It’s exciting for us; it’s half the weight of any other boat out there,” Richards enthuses. He describes the PB85 as a boat for cruising the Pacific and the islands and predicts it will be a phenomenal ride offshore.

The move into the superyacht space isn’t that surprising given the increased demand for larger motor yachts, already a trend pre-COVID, but one that has gathered even more momentum as the pandemic wears on.

“We recently had a 32 come through our service facility in Newport, NSW, and she’s a glamour. At nearing 20 years old, she looks and performs just like she rolled out of the factory.”

No doubt the 85 will utilise some of the formidable technical prowess around weight-saving technologies demonstrated in the GT range – Palm Beach’s sensational take on the sport boat, which was released on an unsuspecting boating world in 2019. The GT50, which comes in Express Hardtop and Open configurations, is seriously fun to drive.

The design philosophy behind the GTs was to create a visually elegant cruiser capable of sustained high-speed cruising comfort with an economical cruise speed in the mid-30-knot range. All in a boat that’s simple to operate and own. Since then, the company has also launched the highly acclaimed GT60, which debuted at the 2021 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.

In any Palm Beach, the advanced hull design is a stand-out. Warped sections keep the bow down, and there’s barely any bow rise throughout the speed curve. Apply more throttle, and a Palm Beach just goes faster with minimal change in the running attitude.

All the yachts in the current line-up are built as a semi-monocoque endoskeleton

for structural rigidity that fuses the hull and deck together to eliminate any creaks or rattling. This infused hull is then paired with a vinylester-infused, carbon-fibre deck and superstructure for improved performance and durability.

It’s an approach few of the marque’s competitors can claim to match. “Our boats are built to perform and built to last,” Richards says simply.

“The style is iconic, but it’s the quality of the engineering beneath the surface that continues to bring our customers back.”

All bulkheads and fixed furniture are structurally bonded to the hull and deck

for superior strength and rigidity, like a performance racing yacht. Each model is engineered with proprietary noise-silencing materials that make the boat noticeably quieter than comparable boats in the same category.

All these innovations are a product of Mark Richards’ tireless focus on excellence, which translates into a sublime boating experience for anyone fortunate to own a Palm Beach or even enjoy a short cruise.

Palm Beach owners do give the impression of being members of a select club. Among their ranks are world champion sailors and Rolex Sydney Hobart winners – tough markers of any boat, power or sail.

But the brand’s core traits of quality construction, advanced hull design, sleek styling and attention to detail are increasingly appreciated by a wider boating audience that also has the opportunity to take advantage of Palm Beach’s flexibility in terms of customisation.

Every Palm Beach model is built to order, so any potential owner has the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of options to ensure their boat will meet the specific and personal requirements of their onboard lifestyle.

A revealing insight into the company’s unwavering commitment to its customers is the Beach Baby, a Palm Beach 32 purchased by a PB65 owner. He wanted to make the petite PB a special gift for his daughter, and when the CEO found out, Richards offered a makeover to ensure the 32 would be in the same mint condition as the day she emerged from the shed.

Beach Baby was duly delivered to her ecstatic new young owner in December 2020. Other past requests, all happily accommodated by the factory, include attaching carbon diving boards to the hardtop, shortened flybridge overhangs to accommodate fishing rods, and extra storage space for diving tanks and pumps. They have even replaced the bowrider with a heated jacuzzi.

When you purchase a Palm Beach, there’s also the confidence that goes with dedicated customer service centres. The Australian headquarters at Newport on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is another investment designed to maintain value and enhance the customer experience.

By having a factory-direct sales model, there’s a 100-percent focus on the customer by company employees, who are equally focused on the Palm Beach product lines. The new facility includes a full-service marina with a company service and warranty team who can also be mobile for customers throughout the country.

“It’s fantastic to now have this location on Pittwater where it all began,” says Richards.

The US headquarters is located at the company’s 12,000-square-foot service facility in Stuart, Florida. The boatyard is staffed by a highly experienced team of technicians who work closely with the designers and engineers back at the factory.

No matter where you are, or where you plan to cruise to, any Palm Beach owner can feel secure in the knowledge their boat is an exceptional example of boatbuilding expertise that permeates every join in their vessel.



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