While fully enclosed cockpits are the norm in the higher classes of offshore powerboat racing, hardtops are rare in the pleasure side of the United States go-fast boat market. Sure, you’ll find a few exotic canopied V-bottoms and catamarans on the poker run circuit, but for the most part domestic performance-boat owners like their cockpits open to the breeze.
Some of that is tradition, some is practicality. Go-fast boat owners—at least on the male side—have always liked the wind in their hair, so to speak. The tactile and auditory sensations of the onrushing breeze at high speed are part of the experience. On the practical side, it’s simply too hot in most parts of the country during the summer, prime boating season, for an enclosed cockpit.
The people at Revolver Powerboats, an Italian company targeting the U.S. sportboat market, are hoping to change that with their new 42-foot stepped-hull V-bottom. Designed by renowned powerboat and yacht visionary Michael Peters in Sarasota, Fla., the hardtop 42-footer boasts not just an air-conditioning system, which is something you’d expect in an enclosed-cockpit boat, but something you wouldn’t: With the push of a few buttons, the cockpit’s rear window lowers into a bulkhead, its side windows slide into the gunwales, and a sunroof slides forward to create a mostly open cockpit. (The forward roof section over the two-person helm station is permanent.)
All clever stuff, right? That’s what I thought, too, but I had concerns when I went for a test spin on the Revolver 42 with John Tomlinson, the owner of TNT Custom Marine in Miami and a former Powerboat magazine test driver, at the helm. My worries were centered not around the boat’s performance, which included a 74-mph top speed on twin Mercury Racing 662 SCi engines, great handling manners, and good ride quality -- but on interior sound.
The 42-footer is a tall, high-ceiling boat a with deep cockpit and cabin area, and an 11-foot beam. My guess was that echoing sound in the cockpit, especially in rough water, with the windows up would be deafening. I imagined it would be like riding in a 55-gallon drum as it rolled down a hillside. But thanks to carbon fiber reinforcement in the solid hardtop and expert construction of all of the tempered-glass windows in aluminum frames, the noise in the cockpit was not at all excessive—even running 35 to 40 mph in the confused 2- to 4-footers off Miami Beach.
Running in the smooth waters of Biscayne Bay at 60 mph, we found the engine noise in the cockpit to be significant. But it was certainly no worse than it would have been in an open cockpit, and we had none of the wind noise that comes with the open-boat territory. Raising the rear window substantially muted the engine noise.
While Tomlinson had run the 42-footer’s air-conditioning system in previous sea trials (he helped Revolver with the boat’s drive and propeller setup) and vouched for its cooling efficiency throughout the interior, we had no need for it during our tests. That’s because it rained hard the entire time. If we wanted for anything it was a windshield wiper, but in truth, thanks to the angle of the windshield, we didn’t need that, either.
From a layout perspective, the easiest way to envision the Revolver 42 is to picture a center-console boat without a forward cabin. Now, put an enclosure on it that starts from the bow and ends about eight feet from the transom. To create the enclosure, you build a full-time hardtop structure, with the previously noted side and rear power windows and sunroof. You leave the last eight feet or so of the rear deck open. Accessible via twin power hatches, the engines are mounted below the rear deck. With the push of a button, the aft wall of a stowage locker built into the transom flips down to become a swim platform with a ladder.
To enter the cockpit, you lower the rear window and take four steps down. On each side of the steps there is a two-person bench seat. Directly ahead is the helm station, with a pair of shock-absorbing Ullman seats for the driver and copilot, SmartCraft instruments for both engines, a VesselView monitor, a Simrad GPS unit and autopilot system, controls for the bow thruster and power anchor windlass, a VHF radio, and a stereo system. Between the seats, Livorsi Marine throttles and shifters are mounted in a molded extension from the center console.
|Weight||16,000 lbs. (dry)|
|Engines||(2) Mercury Racing 662 SCI|
|Propellers||Hering 5-blade, 18.5” x 26”|
|Fuel capacity||600 gal.|
|Furling genoa (106%)||46.5 sq. m|
|Time to plane||7.5 sec.|
|Top speed||74 mph.|
Taking an “enclosed center-console” approach to the interior of the Revolver 42 enabled the builder to provide dining/berth area access on both sides of the console. The console itself housed a head locker with seven feet of headroom and a light-welcoming acrylic section in its ceiling. Ahead of the console, a large dining table converted to an open berth with filler cushions. Simple as they were, the overnighting accommodations were completely functional. (Galley appliances included a two-burner electric cooktop, a microwave oven, a sink, and multiple refrigerators and refrigerated drawers.)
One of the biggest knocks on enclosed sportboats has been their tendency to feel claustrophobic, and that gripe has proven valid in my experience over the years. I probably differ from the hardcore go-fast boat guy in that I don’t like the sensation of onrushing wind trying to tear off my face, but I like feeling penned in even less. Thanks to all the opening windows and hatches—four over the dining/berth area—and acrylic panels, the Revolver 42 does not feel at all confining. In fact, it feels like an open cockpit boat whether it’s running hard, minus the wind in your mug, or sitting still.
With a list price in the high six figures, the Revolver 42 doesn’t come cheap, but its pricing is not out of line with other custom high-performance powerboats of similar size. Plus, the 42-foot sportboat offers something most others do not—uncommon versatility in all weather conditions thanks to clever design and innovation, and excellent execution.
For more information, visit Revolver Powerboats.