Mention the name Horizon and immediately one’s mind turns to glamorous motor yachts from the Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based company, Horizon Yachts. But there is another string to the company’s bow we haven’t heard too much about down-under – until the recent Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show provided us with a teaser in the form of the Horizon 52 Tournament.
It is a long-winded, clouded and certainly mysterious story as to how the Horizon 52 Tournament actually evolved. Legend has it that a Japanese consortium acquired the design, someone built some moulds and then all of a sudden these entrepreneurs realised that building a boat was outside their experience parameters. Undaunted, they opted for plan B, where they duly toddled off around the world in search of a company that would build this particular boat they were so sure would find a massive audience in Japan.
They started with a short list of quality boatbuilders (the Japanese demand high quality) and high up on that list was Horizon Yachts. Being as astute as the directors of Horizon were, however, the only way they would get involved was if they owned and had control of all the tooling. The rest is history, for the deal was done, Horizon built the first prototype designed specifically for the Japanese market, then sent the boat off on a world tour of appropriate Boat shows – ostensibly to test the ‘perceived’ markets in those countries.
As far as the actual design goes, no-one (for whatever reason) I spoke to can tell me for sure exactly who it was that designed this boat but I have to say it bears an uncanny resemblance to the work of the world-renowned American game-fishing design guru, one Buddy Davis. For the purposes of our review though, this magnificent example of game-fishing prowess will here and after be known as a Horizon Yachts design.
Interestingly, when approaching this appraisal it was for me very much an expedition into the unknown, for already well familiar with what Horizon had designed and built thus far, it was hard to predict/visualise just how Horizon would attack a blatantly focused vessel such as a gamefisher. How close to a game boat would it be; for that matter how akin to a motor yacht would it be? Where do you stop and start, between the two totally diverse configurations and disciplines?
Walking down the marina to the Horizon 52 Tournament, I was left in no doubt as regards the exterior – the boat certainly stands out in a crowd. The huge flared bow, the raised foredeck all unashamedly designed for punching into big seas at speed. What I couldn’t see was the underhull shape which went with these bluewater attributes, the 12-degree transom deadrise, the substantial keel which would ensure it remained straight and true whatever the conditions; and the tunnels each side which partially housed the 33”D x 36.6”P Hung Shen propellers.
Even more impacting than this hull profile though was the huge ‘tuna tower’ atop the cabin structure. It made the average harbour bridge look meagre in construction, with its two levels of platform (complete with remote engine controls on both levels, and even a Trac-Vision satellite dome) above the flybridge, and its general approach to the mechanics of sound engineering. It was designed to go up and stay up, as were the game poles alongside which looked more like mast remnants from a bygone America’s Cup campaign. With shrouds, stays and cross-trees this was surely a good indication this tower and these poles, which I later learned cost the thick end of $US135,000 – were as resolute as you would ever find on a game boat.
Serious Game Features
Stepping aboard the Tournament and looking around, I began to appreciate more and more just how ‘serious’ this boat was; in typical Horizon Yachts fashion every aspect appeared to have been addressed systematically and appropriately. If this cockpit wasn’t designed by Buddy Davis then it must surely have been designed by someone who knew every bit as much as he, for there were some very nice touches.
Pride of place in the low-slung cockpit which was three steps down from the saloon level (no water in this saloon, when you back up), undeniably belonged to the awe-inspiring Aritex game chair. Complementing this were special must-have fishing features like the solid teak capping on the coamings, the well-sealed transom door, the lack of a boarding platform to get in the road (one is available though, if you require it), the significant-volume eutectic fridge/freezer units and sink modules either side of the saloon door, the Sanchin remote search light, the tackle locker cupboard, the live-well, the in-floor fish bins, the Opacmere removable gangway and the 240V cockpit (and foredeck) flood-lighting.
Beside the bulkhead refrigeration and the saloon door was an entry ‘module’ which provided access to the engine room in under the saloon sole. It was quite tight to get down into, but once inside I discovered what was a very big engine room that while ‘busy’, was nonetheless most accessible for maintenance purposes. The room of course was dominated by the two in-line 6-cylinder, 18.1L, 1000hp Caterpillar C18 diesel engines coupled to ZF 550A gearboxes with a reduction ratio of 1.971:1.
Also housed in this engine room were the 4000L fuel tanks, the 600L water tanks, the desalinator, the Onan 17kVA genset, the Mastervolt Combi 2kW/60A Inverter/Charger and the Marine Air 14.9kW air conditioning. To power the 24V onboard power system, also within this engine room were the battery banks of four 200Ah house and four 200Ah Mastervolt MVG engine batteries, plus the one 120Ah genset battery. As I said, busy, but everything was still very accessible!
Different Things to Different People
All these above features were all part of the ‘rich tapestry’ of the Horizon 52 Tournament and while these were all arguably mandatory features in a thoroughbred game-boat, there were a few niggly aspects which from an Australian perspective would need a bit of a tickle up. My first ‘reservation’ was the very upright ladder to the flybridge, which was about as easy to climb up as it would be to climb up to the top level of the tower itself. Having the agility of a monkey would surely help!
Bearing in mind this was in this instance a prototype built specifically for the Japanese market, arguably the rationale behind this would be to prevent the guests ever climbing up to converse with or ride with the (paid) skipper who was seated up on the compact typical game-boat style of functional helm station. An albeit very well set up helm station it was though, complete with Glendinning remote controls, SeaStar steering, Raymarine ST6002 Autopilot, Ray230 VHF and the Raymarine E120 GPS/ sounder package integrated with the 4kW, 48NM radar.
However, the team from Horizon Boats International pointed out that whatever you wanted in your game boat could be incorporated into this or any future hulls built – they give owners exactly what they want. I guess the same scenario applied with the lack of step(s) up from the cockpit and onto the side walkways, and the lack of hand rails along the side of the cabin. When you sit down to analyse it in the cold hard light of day however, these were really very small and insignificant items in the context of the boat in general; and certainly acceptable when you consider that trends and expectations vary so dramatically from country to country. It’s all cosmetic – and it can all be changed to suit!
Welcome to….. Another World
The magnificent solid cherrywood door gave a very good hint of what we were about to experience as we climbed the steps to enter the saloon; we were moving from a game-fishing world into a completely incongruous world of unadulterated opulence. That was the reality that was so hard to digest, that a preconceived image could transform so quickly, from business to pleasure. Considering the size of the cockpit, the saloon was a lot bigger in area than I had expected, which led me to conclude that this boat was designed with a definite purpose in mind; either gamefisher ownership or indeed corporate gamefisher charter – for those from the top end of town!
It was no ordinary layout, and no ordinary presentation, with right from the start the warm and inviting portside L-shaped six-person lounge and coffee table setting inviting you to come on in and take a seat. When it was time to eat guests moved further forward and to starboard to be seated at the five-person dining setting which consisted of a semi U-shaped lounge and magnificent solid cherrywood table.
Opposite this was the galley, very definitely designed with a crowd in mind. U-shaped and with generous Corian bench space, features included drawer style upper and lower refrigerator and freezer, a dishwasher, the Bauknecht four-burner cook-top, microwave convection oven and range-hood and heaps of cupboard and drawer provision. This aspect of the 52 was definitely conducive to catering for a crowd, with the least possible fuss and intrusion.
The saloon décor of cherrywood, plush vinyl roof panels, leather lounges, totally privatising drop-down concertina curtains, halogen down-lights, teak and holly flooring and double-framed side and rear windows (including the rather eye-catching starboard aft feature window) were further complemented by the starboard side entertainment and bar unit and a huge 37-inch television recessed into the forward starboard wall adjacent to the dining setting.
So far we had a large cockpit and a large saloon so the trade-off had to be in the accommodation area further forward and three steps down. How wrong I was, for even down there innovative design work saw space allocated for three bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a laundry behind a cupboard in the companionway wall. To starboard at the base of the companionway steps was the third ‘optional’ room. In this instance it was an office but it would just as easy accommodate a single or two Pullman-style bunks. Forward of this room was the house bathroom, consisting of the usual Horizon superyacht-style separate head and (curved) shower, vanity, mirrors and yet again, superbly crafted woodwork.
Opposite these two was the guest accommodation, with innovation very much playing a part in intricately fitting a queen-size berth athwartships into this room, so as to maximise space. With vanity, air conditioning (as is the case throughout the boat), television, halogen lights and reading lamps, feature head-board and heaps of drawer, cupboard and wardrobe storage – this room was a sight to behold.
It was more of the same in the master stateroom in the bow, with again innovation playing a major part in that this bed was also placed athwartships. Really a duplication of the guest room other than it had slightly more floor space and of course had the slightly larger ensuite bathroom singularly attached, this room again was the perfect example of the building prowess and expertise of the builder, Horizon Yachts.
Quite honestly, words aren’t enough. Here we had a seemingly agricultural (sorry to all you game-fisher men and women) boat that handled the wild seas with ease and sprinted like an eager athlete to a top speed of just on 35 knots. But upon entering the front door so to speak, that machismo immediately transformed into such an amazingly luxurious, warm and inviting interior. The ‘woodwork’ was that of absolute craftsmen, quality fittings prevailed throughout, the innovation was everywhere, and there was every sensible creature comfort you could ever ask for – whether it be used in a gamefishing or luxury cruising mode! Appointments and specification were designed specifically for the top end of town, you have the best of both worlds, yet it still had the most attractive price tag, with all the toys including the ‘tower’ and game-poles, of under $A2-million!
- Design Name: Horizon 52 Tournament
- Year Launched: 2010
- Designer: Horizon Motor Yachts
- Interior Designer: Horizon Motor Yachts
- Builder: Horizon Motor Yachts
- LOA: 16.18 m
- LWL: 13.9 m
- Beam: 5.23 m
- Draft: 1.65 m
- Displacement: 29 tonnes (Lightship)
- Max Speed: 35 knots
- Cruise Speed: 25 knots
- Construction: GRP
- Fuel Cap: 4000 litres
- Water Cap: 600 litres
- Engines Make: 2 x Caterpillar C18 1000hp
- Gearboxes: ZF 550A
- Drive Train: Conventional shaft drive
- Propellers: Hung Shen 33”D x 36.6”P
- Generator: Onan 17 kVA
- Base Price of Boat: $A1,800,000
- Price As Tested: $A1,990,000