I met Fairline’s Head of Design Andrew Pope standing on the swim platform of the U.K. builder’s newest offering under bluebird skies at the Cannes boat show.
Pope and I had been at the same place the year before aboard the builder’s highly anticipated 63 GTO. That model marked the first time the design team partnered with Italian design star Alberto Mancini to reinvigorate the brand’s lineup. That model nailed the design brief; I was interested to see if lightning would strike twice.
It was like déjà vu stepping aboard the 43. The exterior lines are exceptionally sporty and the interior is as wide open and bright as they come.
“I can’t wrap my head around why you called this the 43 Targa Open,” I sarcastically mentioned to Pope as I looked up at the biggest sunroof I’ve seen on a boat this size.
“Yes. It fits, I think,” he said. “With all our boats it’s about creating as much volume as possible. This is a 46-foot boat but when you look at its competition it feels much bigger.”
The trend toward larger sunroofs has been prevalent at almost every major show, but opening this nearly 8-foot-wide by 11-foot-long sunroof made me feel as if I just pulled the ragtop back on a Corvette. It simply changed the experience.
“The amount of effort you need to put in to build an opening of this size is huge,” said Pope. “If you look down the side windows you actually see the only two structures are on the other side of where the windows are. We have to put a lot effort into the pillars to keep them strong and stable.”
Speaking of engineering that you can’t see, a lot of attention was paid to designing the hull specifically for its twin Volvo Penta IPS600 propulsion package. As the only power option for the builder’s entry-level model it had to perform, and perform well.
“Even though there’s a lot of volume, it’s still incredibly light and incredibly smooth and incredibly fast—we were getting 35 knots out of it yesterday,” said Pope. “She’s smooth and perfect in a turn.”
She didn’t carve turns quite as sharply as the 63, but she did surpass her top speed by a few knots; the 43 clocked a two-way average of 30.1 knots. The ride was smooth. She cut through what little chop we encountered and landed gently any time she found a steep wake from a passing yacht. The most impressive aspect of this boat’s performance was that she came onto plane at just 11 knots. This allows owners to run at a comfortable clip for long distances while not sweating the fuel burn.
There are two options for staterooms. “You can have the master amidships or the master forward,” explained Pope. “The master amidships gives you a little more storage and bigger hull windows in the sides, but you’re in the back of the boat so perhaps you won’t get as much light as you would with the master forward [which has ports overhead].”
Our test boat had the amidships master and VIP forward. And I have to say, I like the setup with the berth facing transversely. On land you usually go to bed and wake up facing a wall or TV; when you’re out on the hook somewhere, you can’t beat the feeling of looking straight out onto the water. It’s guaranteed to get your day started on the right foot. —Daniel Harding Jr.
Fuel: 343 gal.
Water: 115 gal.
Displ.: 27,500 lbs.
Power: 2/435-hp Volvo Penta IPS600 D6
Cruise Speed: 24 knots
Top Speed: 30 knots