Captain's Report by Capt. Steve--
The first of the two new aspects of the 440S for 2011 is two separate seating areas -- one outside and one inside. The second change is an optional glass bulkhead between the two venues that powers up and down at the flip of a switch.
I love this layout. In fair weather, simply power the glass partition down and there are two venues for friends -- as many as 8 to 10 of them -- to gather and be part of the conversation. If one group happens to be kids, perhaps you'll want to raise the glass, and now you can have two separate conversations going at once.If the weather is rainy or a bit chilly, simply go inside with the glass bulkhead up and warm up in the cozy upper salon. If the sun is out and you have sun worshipers aboard, simply drop the table on the aft deck, insert a cushion, and you have a huge sun pad. If you are doing a sunset cocktail cruise around the harbor, raise the table and stow the pad. You get the idea...
Before I even stepped aboard the 440S, I found her topside design riveting. Her exterior and interior were designed by V. Garroni Designers. My BoatTEST.com cap is off to this talented team. One measurement we think is important in this size and class is side deck width. At 13'8" (4.16 m) the 440S is beamy enough to keep the upper salon roomy while still accommodating adequate side decks. Prestige kept safety in mind by adhering to ABYC as well as CE standards as far as rail height is concerned. The rails on our test boat measured 24” (61 cm) in height and as I moved forward to the working end of the bow, the height increased to 28” (71 cm). The tinted windows add a touch of privacy while also adding a beautiful reflection to the boat’s exterior.I was also happy to see grab rails on the side of the hardtop. They add an additional safety feature to line handling and going forward while under way. The curves in the topsides are graceful and not overdone to my nautical eye. The shape of the hull, the portlights, and the high freeboard all signal that this boat is a real yacht.
The swim platform measures nearly 12’ (3.66 m) across by roughly 3’ (.91 m) fore-and-aft. A concealed four-step reboarding ladder is to port, and Prestige thoughtfully added additional grab handles next to the reboarding ladder; it is never safe to swim or scuba dive alone, and these handles provide the second person something to hang onto while the first is climbing aboard. The wide, four-step ladder also makes it easier for scuba divers to come back aboard. The 36 sq. ft. (3.4 sq. m.) swim platform makes a good diving staging area. To starboard on the platform is a storage area convenient for storing fenders, lines, and hoses. We'd probably add optional pop-up cleats in the port and starboard quarters of the platform for dinghy tie-up.
The push of a button lifts the aft seating to reveal a boat garage designed to hold an 8’ (2.44 m) dinghy. You will, however, have to remove the outboard motor. Most people I know have a pad for the motor and secure it inside the dinghy so long as it doesn't contain fuel. One of the two hatches to the engine room is located here.
The Aft Deck
The aft deck is a 10” (25.4 cm) step up from the swim platform. Prestige not only managed to accommodate a wraparound settee but a high-low teak table as well. Sun worshipers will have little concern as the table will lower to form a sunpad with the addition of filler cushions. This aft area makes a wonderful location for al fresco dining as well as simply relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. The seating area is elevated another 9” (22.8 cm) from the deck, providing height to see better and more clearance for the dinghy below.
The upper salon is separated from the aft deck by an optional glass door and glass bulkhead. The door is quite thick and beefy with stainless steel hardware. It is held in the open position by a spring-loaded latch. Once inside, a wet bar/entertainment center is to starboard and another wraparound settee to port. For ventilation, side windows slide down manually. But if you really want to bring the outside in, the push of a button will lower the aft glass partition. Not only does this make the entire upper deck area one continuous entertainment center, but for hosting large groups it’s a layout that can’t be beat. If that isn’t enough open space for you, the standard hardtop sunroof powers open to reveal 36 square feet (11 m) of sky above.I was worried that the hardtop was going to leak. This is a problem I’ve seen in some boats with hardtops with sliding sunroofs. However, Prestige has come up with a very unique method of closing the sunroof: when it reaches the forwardmost position it is actually pulled down making a positive seal against the rubber gasket, eliminating any concern of leakage. Essentially, this is how sunroofs seal on well-made automobiles. Viola!Not only do we have an open and airy space in the upper salon, but your guests will appreciate the roughly 6’6” (1.98 m) of headroom. The base of the windows is low enough so you can have a clear view of the horizon even when seated. This goes a long way towards adding to the comfort level of your more land-based guests.
Even with the hardtop closed I was still able to stand up comfortably behind the wheel and see out. This is an important design detail for people who occasionally like to stand at the helm. It is also one of the things that sets the Prestige 440S apart from many other Euro-styled express hardtops and coupes. To me it’s a noteworthy design point -- you can have a sleek, beautifully styled hardtop express AND have a stand-up helm at the same time! Now, if you want to pop your head out into the breeze, there is a flip-down footrest that will allow you to raise yourself up and have your head above the open hardtop. This design is the best of both worlds.
I was concerned about the port and starboard mullions for the windshield. They are rather wide, and because the starboard one is so close to the helmsman's eyes it blocks a considerable amount of visibility in precisely the quadrant where you are required to give way. Once you are aware of this problem it’s a simple matter of leaning forward or to the right from time to time to see to around it. Prestige has installed standard defoggers for the windshield which are unusual in this class.The helm instrument console is laid out expertly with a Raymarine E120 wide screen display front and center, and analog gauges split to either side for the port and starboard engines. Our test boat was equipped with the Volvo Penta digital engine controls, as well as the IPS joystick. My first impression of the joystick’s location was that would be hampered by the proximity to the steering wheel. This turned out to be unfounded, and the stick was totally functional whether I was facing astern to back into a slip or leaning out the window to dock side to.
As we step below into the lower salon, we find more evidence of the carful balance between good taste and extravagant luxury. The large U-shaped settee was covered in optional leather which looked rich and durable. The portlight treatments are standard. The overhead is a combination of fabric, textured fiberglass, and skylights that make a world of difference below. The cabin sole is carpeted.
Not only is there ample headroom in the lower salon, but overhead skylights flood the room with natural light. Forward is access to the day head, shared with the forward VIP stateroom, as well as the swinging door to the forward stateroom.
The interior woods used by Prestige are Alpi wood products from the Alpilignum Collection. This third-generation Italian wood fabricator is located northeast of Florence, Italy. Alpi is a world leader in high-quality reconstructed semi-finished woods made for the furniture industry. The company's credo is "To use the most advanced technologies to innovate the oldest material in the world." The company is careful to use only wood from renewable forests and their wood is environmentally documented.
The standard double-burner electric stovetop is recessed into the counter, eliminating the need for sea rails. The microwave oven is just below. Instead of a small, below-the-counter refrigerator, the 440S has a large, high model behind a wooden cabinet door. Portlights to either side provide ventilation as well as natural light. A flat screen TV is housed in a small credenza that separates the galley from the salon area.
The master stateroom is kept private by way of a swinging door, not a pocket door as we often see. The stateroom features an island berth that is offset to provide a little more room on either side as well as full headroom at the foot of the bed. Overhead space is 31” (78.7cm) above the berth itself toward the head. There is over 6' (1.84 m) of headroom at the foot of the bed. The combination of overhead upholstery and textured fiberglass continues in this stateroom. On the port side is a nicely finished vanity or desk, with a flip-up lid concealing a mirror underneath. Just abaft is a large wet head.
Forward VIP Staterooom
The forward stateroom features another island berth. Again privacy is supplied by a solid swinging door as opposed a pocket door that you find in some boats this size. Headroom over the berth measures 32’’ (.82 m). Portlights to either side provide natural light and ventilation in addition to the overhead hatch. This cabin also has an en suite head, one that doubles as a day head through a door to the lower salon.The 440S has a hanging locker to port and another storage space to starboard. Abaft that is the only walk-in closet that we know of on a 44' boat of any type! That should make any guest here feel like a real VIP. Two deep cabinets forward use the bow flare to provide much-need storage. Behind the headboard are two doors that open into the chain locker. This is an absolutely essential access to the compartment where the anchor rode is stowed. No matter what boat you buy, make sure you have ample access to your rope and chain through the forward bulkhead.
The Engine Room
Our test boat was powered by two Volvo Penta IPS500 diesel engines with pod drives and joystick. By now, no one is a stranger to the convenience that these IPS installations provide in the way of room in the engine compartment, as well as creating additional interior space. Such was the case in our 440S, as we had ample room all around the engines for doing regular maintenance and daily engine checks. There was plenty of room behind the engines for the generator, and a hookah dive system. Two fuel tanks to either side of the engine compartment hold a combined 243 gallons (920 L). One area that is usually a concern is the engine hatch not lifting far enough to provide ample access. This was not an issue on our 440S from either of the two hatches leading to the engine room.
Our test 440S had a 43’9” (13.36 m) LOA and a beam of 13’8” (4.16 m), and with two people on board we had a test weight of just under 21,000 lbs (9,525 kg). With the standard twin 370-hp Volvo Penta IPS500s we reached a top speed at 3500 rpm of 39.3 miles per hour. At that speed we were burning 41 gallons per hour and getting 0.96 miles per gallon for a range of 210 statute miles.Cruise performance is another matter entirely as there was little change in range or mpg between 2000 and 2750 rpm. At 2750 rpm we were running at 28.4 miles per hour and burning 23 gallons per hour for 1.23 mpg and 270 statute miles in range. The fact that the boat's best fuel economy was obtainable over such a broad rpm spectrum is highly unusual. Of course this is a great advantage to the operator, allowing him/her to select the most appropriate speed for the conditions and situation, and not have to worry about wasting fuel. This speaks well for the techs both at Prestige and Volvo Penta who set up the boat, as well as for the designer of the boat's bottom, Michael Peters.We reached planing speed in only 5.1 seconds, 20 miles an hour in 7.5 seconds, and accelerated through 30 miles per hour in 12.8 seconds. These are good times for such a large boat.
The Prestige 440S handled exceptionally well. I did notice that while we were testing the boat tended to lean into the crosswind a bit, which is normal, and that had to be corrected with trim tabs. As with any hardtop, in a port turn you have a considerable blind spot, so you'll want to make sure you clear the area before entering your turns or have the hardtop sunroof open for increased visibility.When accelerating, the bow rise was roughly 10 degrees, meaning no loss of forward visibility. Once on plane we settled into a 5 degree bow high attitude.Of course once you're coming into the dock, handling is a dream with the IPS joystick. The 440S is exceptionally maneuverable because the Volvo Penta joystick gives you the option of selecting either a "High" or a "Low" power setting. After my test, when I was coming into the dock a strong tide and a 15 mph wind were both pushing me off the dock. With the joystick setting on "High" I had little trouble countering the tide and wind as I approached the dock. When I got close to the dock I switched to "Low" power and eased the boat the last few inches so that our three fenders just kissed the dock.
Pricing and Value
For the last four years -- the period for which I have been monitoring Prestige pricing in the U.S. -- Prestige yachts have been consistently very competitive with other brands in class no matter what the Euro and US dollar were doing. Naturally, I asked myself where the builder was taking money out of the boat? I could come up with only two areas: 1) the weight, which is obvious since the 440S is about the lightest boat in class, and 2) not wasting money on what I call "eyewash." Because of its experience building offshore racing sailboats, Prestige's parent company -- Jeanneau -- knows how to build tough, seaworthy hulls that are also very light. One of the methods is to use balsa core in combination with a barrier coat of vinylester resin. This has proved to be quite successful over the years for both sailboat and powerboat builders around the world. It also saves the builder money in materials which seems to have been passed along to the consumer.
When I say "eyewash" I mean the "bling" that some builders put on boats because they think it will raise the perceived value in the eyes of consumers. For example, Prestige does not use granite or Corian on its countertops, preferring instead to use its own resin formulation. The tables supplied are natural teak instead, for example, of highly polished wood with an inlaid compass rose pattern. Prestige does not have electrically powered seats and TVs popping out of credenzas and other devices spotted around the boat to increase the "wow" factor, but which don't add much to utility. Interestingly, a lot of the things that I like about this boat actually don't cost any more money. I'm talking about styling, the ability to use one thing cleverly designed for several purposes, and a killer layout -- all of these things add real value to the boat for the owner, but really don't cost the builder any more money. The cost of designing an ordinary boat is about the same as designing a spectacular one.
If you have been thinking about an express cruiser with a hardtop in the 40-something range -- even if it is a completely different style such as a Downeaster -- I think you should take a look at this boat. If you do, you may come away as I did, which was thoroughly impressed. If nothing else, it may help you re-calibrate your ideas on what a good boat in this size can offer as well as what it all can cost.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Prestige Yachts 440S (2011-) is 39.3 mph (63.2 kph), burning 41.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 155.18 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Prestige Yachts 440S (2011-) is 24.3 mph (39.1 kph), and the boat gets 1.25 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.53 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 273 miles (439.35 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 370-hp Volvo Penta IPS500.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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