Author : Capt. Steve
Luxury Meets Affordability
One thing Prestige Yachts knows how to do is combine luxury with affordability. A perfect example of that is this 500S. Prestige 500S is a boat with a luxurious layout, boat garage, and three private staterooms, including a full-beam owner’s suite
Visitors to recent Australian boat shows could not miss the stunningly modern line-up of Prestige motor yachts and now thanks to the new NZ agent, Orakei Yacht Sales, the very latest in the Prestige range will be on display at the Auckland On-The-Water-Boat-Show in late September.
Jason Snashall, sales manager at Auckland-based Orakei Yacht Sales says, “From the minute we took on the agency earlier this year we knew we had a brand that would appeal to Kiwi clients and the 500S is such a boat.”
He adds that interest in other models, including the flybridge version of the 500, is strong and hopes that the September Auckland show will generate sales right across the range.
Australia’s Queensland dealer, Brett Thurley is another that is excited about the brand and reported plenty of interest and corresponding sales from the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show earlier this year.
The Prestige line of boats has a distinct mission in the Jeanneau family of yachts: to provide superior performance in a coastal cruising powerboat that has an enduring nautical style, maximum living spaces, and incorporating virtually all of the amenities available that a real cruising couple or family could want. Prestige Yachts’ mission is to do all of the above, and much more, at a price point significantly below its primary competition. The result is that the Prestige 500S is a boat that can be appreciated by veteran yachtsmen who know a price-worthy boat when they see one.
Our test boat was powered by twin 435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600 propulsion systems. The 500S’s maximum speed on test day was 29.8 knots. At this speed the engines were burning 161.5L/h, which is 5.42L/NM, giving a range of 217 nautical miles. Best cruise was found at 2250 rpm where the boat was just over the hump on plane and going 14.6 knots, burning 54.9L/h, which is 3.76 L/NM, giving a range of 311 nautical miles. I suspect most boaters will want to cruise her a bit faster, say, at 2750rpm, where we found her going 20.0 knots and getting 4.23L/NM, for a range of 276 nautical miles.
As if simply being on and in the 500S wasn’t pleasing enough, wait till you get the boat away from the dock. Not only was this one of the easiest handling boats I’ve been on, but she was also one of the quietest. At full throttle, the sound level maxed out at only 79 dBa. As a comparison, normal conversation is 75 dBa. That means as you power along at 29.8 knots max speed, you’ll be able continue a conversation with the occupants of the saloon at the same time.
Stability has to be the key word as any wakes or chop we encountered didn’t even cause me to spill my soda while still taking a sip at any time. Visibility was great, with just a 10 degree bow rise during acceleration, and a 5-degree bow high attitude during cruise. Turning performance was consistent with IPS drives that limit their travel at cruise speeds. There are no power turns when cruising, nor should there be. If you want to turn hard, slow down and let the drives increase their throw, and your guests will also be more appreciative.
Perhaps the biggest difference in handling is the fact that with IPS you have no rudder, which is an ancient piece of technology if there ever was one. Instead you have four props on two drives that articulate to take you where you want to go with the authority never before experienced with conventional steering.
Starting at the swim platform, we find ample room for sitting, sunning, or even adding deck chairs. It measures 4.42m by 0.91m with teak decking as standard both on the platform and the cockpit. To starboard is a four-step boarding ladder, and a grab handle is provided for hauling yourself over that last step aboard. There’s even a lower handle, and a handle over to port, for additional persons in the water to hang onto while the preceding ones come aboard.
At the starboard aft bulkhead is a small hatch housing a quick-connect fresh water washdown, and a shelf for storage and controls for a Glendenning cable reel. A convenient safety item is a stainless steel grab rail running across the back of the cockpit seat.
You can access the cockpit from either the port or starboard side of the platform. A retractable passerelle is tucked into the riser of the second step on the port side. The auxiliary controls are on the port bulkhead in the cockpit. A retractable handrail is included as well.
A touch of a button at the side of the cockpit actuates the garage door lift. No changes to the cockpit seating are necessary to open the garage, short of asking your guests to get up for a moment. Inside, there is room for a 3.05m tender with an outboard attached. Rollers flip down to allow for launching and retrieval without marring the tender or the 500S. Fully forward is an electric winch that is remotely operated.
To the starboard side of the cockpit in the pylon is a recessed optional control station with an IPS joystick and a bow thruster control.
There are three hatches in the cockpit deck. The outboard hatches give you access to the engine room; the centre hatch gives you access to the tender, so you can go ahead and load supplies before you launch it. The port side has a warping winch as standard, an option for a starboard side winch is available. In addition to the beefy cleats, there are stainless steel chocks with integrated rollers at the bow and stern.
I’m always happy to see side decks integrated into a design. It makes the task of line handling so much easier. On the 500S there is 394mm of walk space between the rails and the cabin sides. That’s enough to manoeuvre without having to turn sideways. I was also pleased to see that Prestige more than exceeds minimum standards with 711mm of rail height. An additional rail runs along the top of the cabin, and yes, there is another grab handle for remaining safe while stepping into the cockpit.
There is a large sun pad in the bow that will lie flat, or if desired, with the head elevated in chaise lounge style. If you are enjoying the view but desire shade, a fold-away cabana will pop up and provide you with just what you need.
Luxury Meets Affordability
All through our tour of the 500S you see signs of how Prestige managed a nice balance of luxury mixed with affordability from the cockpit to the main saloon. Prestige went with a theme of days above deck and the nights below. To that end, an aft galley is included in the main saloon layout, something that Kiwi boatbuilders have been doing for years.
Here, affordability comes into play mainly in the counters which are not granite or Corian, but resin. Not only does this save a lot of money for the buyer, but these counters won’t crack under pressure, nor stain as easily. The artificial ‘wood’ is all grain matched and made from a remanufactured material called Alpi that looks elegant while, again, keeping the price down.
Opposing seating in the saloon keeps everyone in the conversational zone. The table has flip-out leaves to facilitate impromptu dining. All the windows are low enough to be able to see the horizon from the seated position, which does a surprisingly good job of keeping your more land-based guests comfortable. Affordability comes into play again, with the leather seats that are durable, but not as butter soft to the touch as Ultraleather… another fair compromise. A flat-screen TV is in a retractable lift on the forward dash.
The helm is just a step up from the saloon deck. A modern layout features twin Raymarine E120 widescreen displays with an autopilot in between. Analog tachometers above lie to either side of my favourite gauge, a rudder angle indicator, which I find useful even with IPS. A selectable EVC display to the right of the helm gives you readouts of the operating parameters, and you can customise this screen to show exactly what you’d like to see to maximize your operational economy and range.
A surprising feature was the rubberised paint that Prestige uses on the dash panel that does an outstanding job of keeping glare off the panel. Four rows of rocker switches allow you to control everything easily, including the opening side windows which were a godsend when docking. And of course I have to complain about something, so here it’s the position of the climate controls, and the bow spotlight remote control. They are both to the right of the helm below the engine controls. More than once, I managed to hit the climate control and move it from cool to heat. Having the spotlight remote moved over to the port side of the helm allows the observer to have a hand in the night time navigation.
A centre mounted companionway will allow access to the forward accommodations. The steps feature courtesy lighting, and they lift to access a combination washer/dryer. To port is a guest stateroom with twin berths, with 1.98m of headroom at the foot of the berths dropping down to 1.6 m. A large side window in the hull allows natural light in and an opening portlight is embedded in it for ventilation. A separate climate control is offered for each stateroom. Another nice trade-off between luxury and affordability is the overhead that is a combination of upholstery and textured fibreglass.
The forward VIP stateroom features 1.75m of headroom and twin berths again. Of course this will be fine for children, but for married couples, not so good. That’s why the two twin berths pivot at the head to form a single queen sized berth. Natural light comes from dual portlights in addition to an overhead hatch.
The forward VIP has private access to the shared head. Another entrance is in the companionway for the guest stateroom access and for use from the saloon. The head features ample storage in overhead cabinets with mirrored doors. Prestige added significant space by eliminating a separate shower stall, but added fold-away shower doors instead. An opening portlight adds ventilation. The sink is a basin on top of the counter, with modular fixtures.
The Prestige 500S was designed specifically around the Volvo Penta IPS600 engines and as such it was possible to not only design in two private staterooms forward, but also a huge, full-beam master suite aft. The companionway to the master is directly across from the aft galley. A privacy door is at the bottom of the stairs. A queen sized island berth is not only in the centre of the stateroom, but it is situated at the boat’s centre of mass, which will provide maximum comfort when sleeping at anchor. There is 1.07m of headroom over the berth, dropping down to 600mm over the pillows. Large hull side windows have opening portlights integrally mounted. To port is booth-style seating, with a vanity concealed in the desktop. A flat screen TV is mounted on the forward bulkhead and it’s connected to a Bose Premier sound system.
Overall, this boat was a joy to test. I’ve been a long-time fan of Prestige Yachts, and my time spent on-board the 500S just reminded me why. If I had to come up with a single theme of the boat, if not the whole line in general, it would have to be a balance of luxury and affordability. Small wonder then that Prestige has more and more people taking a good look at its whole line.
- Boat Design Name: Prestige 500S
- Year Launched: 2012
- Builder: Jeanneau
- LOA: 15.2m
- Beam: 4.50m
- Draft: 1.02m
- Displacement (dry): 12,827kg
- Max Speed: 29.8 knots
- Cruise Speed: 20 knots
- Construction: GRP
- Fuel Cap: 1300L
- Water Cap: 636L
- Engines Make: 2 x Volvo Penta IPS600 @ 435hp
- Gearboxes: IPS
- Drive Train: Pods
- Propellers: IPS
- Base Price of Boat: $NZ950,000
- Price As Tested: $NZ1,200,000