It’s almost 10 a.m. and the 12 Metres have headed out to the racecourse for the third day of the 2019 World Championships. Except for a lone tender, the docks at Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island, are empty. Then, MJM Yachts founder Bob Johnstone pulls up in Breeze, the builder’s first 53z and the company’s new flagship.
Breeze already has fenders over her starboard side. It looks like Bob’s going to back in and execute a reverse 90-degree turn in tight quarters. But instead, he enters bow first and noses the 53z right up to the black RIB at the inside corner. With about 5 feet of spare operating room, Bob jockeys Breeze’s 56-foot-long hull back and forth until her stern clears the tip of dock 7B. Then, he backs her into the slip. He brings her in close enough so the dockhand can grab the stern line without having to bend over, and then brings the bow in so I can grab the bow line.
The MJM 53z is the official boat of the international jury for the 12 Metre Worlds, and for the third of five days, Bob will take the judges and guests out to the racecourse. In all, 14 people board Breeze. The cockpit and cabin easily accommodate everyone. Using the joystick, Bob takes Breeze off the dock and heads for the Newport Bridge. The boat has air conditioning, but the wind is blowing about 12 knots, so Bob pushes a button to open the three powered windshields. Gobs of fresh air pour in as we head up Narragansett Bay.
The 53z is MJM’s third outboard-powered express cruiser model, and the largest to date. She is based on the Doug Zurn-designed, inboard-powered 50z hull released in 2014. But unlike the 50z, which has a great room below that converts to a second cabin, the 53z has a permanent dual-master stateroom layout. The engine room that housed the triple Volvo Pentas on the 50z is used for extra fuel storage and stowage on the 53z.
The master stateroom in the bow has two portlights, a hatch, a porthole, hanging lockers, a 78-by-60-inch island berth and a desk/dressing table with a comfy seat. The room is spacious and bright. The second stateroom, to starboard, has a 76-by-53-inch berth, a built-in seat and a large panoramic portlight. There are two heads, each with glass walls to separate the showers.
The moderately sized galley to port has a ceramic induction two-burner stovetop, sink, microwave, two-drawer fridge and top-loading freezer. The joints on the natural cherry cabinetry are tight. The seats are covered in off-white Brisa Ultraleather. It’s all simple, tasteful and classic.
We pass beneath the Newport Bridge, and Bob pushes the throttles forward. Despite the human cargo—there’s more than a metric ton of people on board—the optional quad 400-hp Mercury Verados quickly take Breeze to 40 knots. (With five people and full fuel, MJM reports a top speed over 44 knots.)
When all the Twelves have finished their second race, Bob points Breeze back toward Newport. “That was fun, wasn’t it?” he says. “We were right in the thick of it.”
Bob has to get himself and his guests back to land so they don’t miss the black-tie dinner. “Now,” he says, “it’s our turn to win the race.” He hits the throttles, Breeze takes off, and with an impish smile, he adds, “It’s time to win the hoist.” —Pim Van Hemmen
Displ.: (half load) 33,669 lbs.
Fuel: 910 gals.
Water: 120 gals.
Standard Power: 4/350-hp Mercury Verado outboards
Price: $1.93 million
Cruise Speed: 27 knots
Top Speed: 44 knots