Written by Arnie Hammerman
The Palm Beach GT50 definitely stands out from the crowd, with her curved black windshield and sparkling metallic blue hull. The sleek and purposeful styling make her look fast, but she also is fast, achieving speeds in excess of 42 knots according to the manufacturer.
Propelled by a pair of 7.7-litre 600HP Volvo Penta D8 IPS 800, she is powerful and efficient, burning 151 litres per hour at 35 knots during preliminary testing. All Palm Beach yachts are built using modern construction methods, such as vinylester and epoxy resins, and high-tech materials like E-glass, Corcell, and Airex foam.
The GT50 uses these advanced materials and goes a step further: carbon fibre is used extensively in all major structural areas, and the entire deck is constructed of vacuum infused carbon fibre.
All this reduces weight while maintaining the stiffness and strength needed to handle choppy seas at high speed. Bulkheads and stringers including a watertight collision bulkhead forward and the bonding of furniture to the hull and deck transfer shock loads across the entire structure, reducing vibration and noise.
Palm Beach is known for their generous use of timber, with teak toe rails stretching bow to stern, teak cockpit, interior soles and abundant use of varnished cabinetry and trim. However, this is one area where the GT50 departs from her Palm Beach sisters, as her styling is distinctively more contemporary, with lacquered surfaces, carbon fibre accents, and Esthec synthetic flooring, which gives her a lighter look and feel.
On the first GT50 hull, attractive two-tone ultra-leather seating contrasts a deep blue cross-checked central pattern with a soft white exterior and edges. Matte finished dark walnut cabinets and trim stand out against gloss white surfaces, stainless steel fixtures, Corian counters and fabric panels. She combines sophisticated European luxury hotel aesthetics with the purposeful look of a fast car.
Think Ferrari meets Four Seasons and you get the idea.
The GT50 appeals to a young, trendy clientele, but a lot of seasoned boaters will also be impressed. As well as a more contemporary look, the lack of extensive varnished timbers has practical applications as well, making her easier to maintain.
Palm Beach CEO Mark Richards told me that he created the GT50 to be “fast, sexy, and easy to own.”
The GT50 may have her roots in a sports car, and Richards says she handles like one too, but in addition to being fast and fun to drive she brings along considerable accommodation. Seating is abundant throughout, which is great for dockside parties, but equally important for when going out for a ride with friends. Twin forward facing double bolstered seats, one set to starboard at the helm and the other to port, provide great visibility for both the driver and passengers. The two-tone fabric, separate back and head rests and embroidered GT logo on the chair backs hint at the speed she is capable of.
This first GT50 hull is the express version with a hardtop, LED overhead light and additional air conditioning, but she is also available in an open configuration with a forward raked radar arch that looks intriguing. A large opening Webasto 80 series sunroof and retractable side windows provide plenty of light and ventilation.
Aft of the helm, mirror-facing sofas provide additional seating for both dining and lounging. In the cockpit, twin L-shaped corner seating creates another gathering area and is also a great place to feel the breeze when underway. All these seating areas combine to provide seating for 10 or more in style and comfort. The cockpit includes a wet bar, fridge and icemaker to keep the party going.
There is a galley forward and a few steps down from the main salon and helm area. Wide Corian counters allow for food prep and serving, and thoughtful amenities include a deep sink with disposal, a microwave-convection oven, a fridge-freezer and plenty of storage with built in plate racks and cup-holders. A rectangular open hatch in the aft facing bulkhead of the galley provides access to an athwartships cabin below the main salon. The queen bed is ample and the room feels cosy and private.
The master cabin is placed forward, with an opening hatch above and storage on both sides of the bed, a hanging locker and drawers below. This cabin will easily satisfy couples while cruising, and benefits from a large head with separate shower compartment. The level of detail on board extends to this area too, with both the head and sink made of carbon fibre. This might seem a bit over the top, but it really looks cool with the distinctive grey-black colouring, and fits in with the feel of the rest of the yacht. Carbon fibre is expensive by its nature and this is a complex part that combines art with function and comes as standard equipment, demonstrating the flair and detail that Palm Beach puts into the GT.
The Palm Beach GT50 debut in the US proves the point of her concept: she was designed to turn heads and she certainly does. Her striking lines, bright hull and modern décor help differentiate her from her competitors. The combination of advanced lightweight composite construction and IPS pod technology provide performance that is both entertaining and, dare I say it, practical?
She cruises effortlessly at 32 knots, corners like a sports car and is finished like a Bentley.
Joystick control makes docking effortless and Dynamic Positioning holds the boat in place, allowing the driver to pause for bridge openings, wait for vessel traffic to clear and prepare for docking. Helm controls are easy to reach from the driver’s seat and visibility is excellent both fore and aft.
The carbon fibre-clad helm features a Garmin glass bridge that is easy to read and provides access to navigation, radar, fish-finding, the depth sounder, digital engine gauges, an engine room camera and monitoring. Advanced systems like Zipwake automatic trim tabs with roll control keep her ride smooth and efficient.
Ample side decks with steps along the gunnels aft and stylish stainless rails lead from the cockpit to the bow, where a flip open compartment gives access to a Muir winch and fold out anchoring platform. Fold down stainless cleats that sit flush in the deck when not in use streamline the look and feel.
The Palm Beach GT50’s modern design, fast performance and easy handling make for a sporty and stylish addition to their celebrated line. If, as Mark Richards says, you are looking for a boat that “handles like a motorcar, and is sleek and sexy,” then the all new Palm Beach GT50 is worth serious consideration, and you can bet that wherever this boat goes, people will be looking.