When boatbuilders start talking about headroom, I start falling asleep. Cabin headroom is one of those features everybody likes to boast about despite differences of just an inch or two. However, when the designers at Cruisers Yachts talk about headroom, I wake up. You see, the headroom inside the 420 Sports Coupe is more than just a lot of space above me. It also helps explain this new boatís excellent style, comfort, maintenance, and performance. How? Hereís one example: It allows for a hard-sided hardtop that encloses the helm and much of the cockpit, and it does so without making the boat look as if it will flip over after you release the dock lines.
The 420 Sports Coupe also offers access to the bow via a sidedeck or split windshield. It includes two heads and has a great cockpit for entertaining. Concerns include the engine room access ladder, which needs nonslip treads. Also, the split windshield rests on the portside wiper when opened. Itís not perfect, but if you want to learn how a great express is built, class is in session.
RUNNING IT. An express cruiser should deliver crisp handling, brisk speed, and acceleration you can feel. The 420 Sports Coupe comes through, featuring a slippery hull bottom that provides the right compromise of lift, stability, and a soft ride. These, Iíve learned over the years, are trademark qualities of Cruisers Yachts.
When the 420 Sports Coupe is equipped with V-drives, Cruisers Yachts pays special attention to the prop pockets, forming them to 'nozzle' water to the wheels for better thrust. The pockets are also relatively deep; put another way, the shaft angle is flatter than most, which directs more of the propellersí thrust aft rather than down. This increases efficiency and enhances the boatís sporty feel at the helm. However, none of this pocket-and-shaft business applies to the 420 Sports Coupe I tested because my baby was powered by two 370-bhp Volvo Penta IPS 500 tractor drives. Mate the directional thrust, horizontal shaft angle, and big blade area of IPS twin-prop propsets to a fine-tuned running bottom and you get a cruiser worthy of being called an express.
You give up 3" of draft on a 420 Sports Coupe with IPS, but thatís your only sacrifice. Grab the levers of the fly-by-wire controls, ease them forward, and the 420 Sports Coupe hurries onto plane. You never lose visibility over the bow. At 30 mph, you hush along. Combine the huge clearance between the hull and propsets, underwater exhaust, and soft mounts that practically keep the engines afloat, and you reduce noise and vibration to nil. Now spin the wheel and as you do, your 10-ton, 37-mph weekend getaway leans onto its chine like a runabout, carving heeled turns that will delight your crew. (Such crisp helm response is also great for avoiding the floating debris weíve all experienced that appears out of nowhere.)
The 420 Sports Coupe felt confident in 3' test seas. It refused to be slowed running into the waves, and it didnít slip and slide as it climbed the gray-backed swells running down sea. While bridging waves, it felt good and stiff, a result of its robust overall construction. Take, for instance, the fiberglass cabin pan, which runs 3' up the hullsides and is bonded there and to the stringers below. Which gets us back to the issue of headroom. Cruisers Yachts couldnít run a pan that high and get such a solid feel from this boat unless it has lots of headroom.
Range? Figure 10 hours running at any speed between 22 and 34 mph. Conventionally powered boats canít touch that, but Tiaraís 4300 Sovran ($635,200, also with IPS 500s) comes close. Note that the Tiaraís pricing is for 2009; only 2008 pricing was available for the 420 Sports Coupe at press time. Docking? Iíve become self-conscious extolling the virtues of IPS with joystick. But truth is truth: Itís a no-brainer bringing her in when the windís blowing, the currentís running, or when the slip is tighter than a half-hitch. One complaint while running the 420 Sports Coupe on plane: While looking aft I was forced to scrunch down to see what was coming up my wake because of the long hardtop.
FAIR CURVES. Despite that inconvenience, I like the 420 Sports Coupeís top, which includes a 4'-by-4' sunroof. When you want to access the bow, the sunroof makes the split windshield easier to use than those aboard other coupe boats because youíre less likely to bonk your head.
Now look at the profile. The line of the 420 Sports Coupeís foredeck flows into the windshield and across the top without humps or hitches. The tops of some coupe expresses protrude and make the boats appear too tall. Cruisers Yachts achieved a fluid, stretched-out look by incorporating cabin headroom that maxes at over 7' and averages 6'5" overall.
Belowdecks, thereís 6'3" of walk-in access to the aft stateroom and more than 3' of sitting headroom above the berths. Like me, Iím sure many of you habitually duck when entering a boat cabin. Aboard the 420 Sports Coupe that reflex goes dormant. Two complete heads, tiled backsplashes, and the explosion of light through the hull windows are more reasons to cheer. Oh, that hull-stiffening cabin pan flange I noted earlier? The one that makes all this headroom possible? It also provides a finished back and bottom to cabinets and stowage lockers.
The 420 Sports Coupeís wetbar bears deserves mention. Arrayed abaft the companion bench, this L-shaped entertainment center includes a solid-surface corner shelf, refrigerator, LCD TV ($4,540), and 110-volt receptacle. There are handholds as well as integrated bottle- and cupholders. And even with the grill ($1,620) installed, this wetbar has more counter space than its competitors.
No surprise there. Exceeding expectations is what the 420 Sports Coupe does best.