‘Little’ Princess packs a big punch
PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 July 2014
Duncan Abel tests the entry level boat from Princess Yachts and finds that size really doesn’t matter when a boat is this good.
As featured in the July 2014 issue of Anglia Afloat.
Since first being launched at the London Boat Show in 2012, the V39 has been a hugely successful model for the British company. Since taking the eastern region dealership in August of the same year, Burton Waters has sold six V39s, with the latest boat to be handed over in July. This explains why it has taken so long for us to be able to test one when they have been flying out of the factory in these numbers.
Entry models to a manufacturer’s range have become increasingly more important over recent years, as they seek to gain new buyers and build new relationships, all to encourage potential future purchases. These new buyers have, at the same time, become evermore particular when it comes to style, build quality, economy, and performance. It had been virtually 10 years since Princess had produced a boat of less than 40ft; the previous V38 ceased production back in 2003. So to meet the marketplace demands, Princess enlisted the services of Bernard Olesinski and his son Justin – designers of the Fairline Targa 38 boats – together with graduates from the Royal College of Art, and it’s not difficult to see what they have helped Princess achieve.
I first saw our test boat at the East Coast New Boat Show at Shotley Marina. With her dark blue hull and gleaming white upperworks she made an immediate impression as I walked down the pontoon. Long gone are the days of hard lines, slim beams with needle like bows; Princess has given buyers exactly what they are asking for. The V39 has strong sweeping lines from her screen aft through her enormous side windows and then downwards through her side decks and to her stern section. There’s no hint of portly, round tubbiness or slab-sided flatness. The gentle yet firm curvature has given the boat lots of internal volume together with an underwater profile that encourages early transition up onto the plane.
Our test day came shortly after the show on a slightly hazy spring morning in April. I was joined for the test by Neil Genn-Bromley, Senior Broker at Burton Waters Ipswich, who has been with the company for over five years. We decided to head out from Shotley past Felixstowe docks to an area just beyond the shipping channel offshore. The conditions were hardly boisterous but with a gentle easterly wind combined with an ebbing tide the swell was short and sharp at times. It made no difference to the V39 whose deep V hull made light of the waves, happily holding her line through the swell with minimal effort required on the wheel.
With the flatter aft section to her underwater line, her ability to get up onto the plane was quite simply astonishing. We managed to reach a top speed of 37kn, which isn’t necessarily remarkable, but it was the speed at which we got there that took me aback. When it came to putting her through her paces, changing direction at speed, no matter how tight the turns, she answered without hesitation or undue effort. The amount of grip she held was extraordinary, happily carving her way through the troughs and peaks, the twin stern drives not needing any assistance from the trim tabs to keep the handling sweet. The twin Volvo D6 330hp engines may be the only engine choice, but Princess has gone out of its way to ensure that the combination works perfectly together.
At the helm
I have a tendency to prefer standing whilst at the helm, but the V39 had me relaxing back into the skipper’s seat as the sun shone down into the cockpit through the electric sunroof. However, when I did choose to stand I made good use of the additional support given by the seat’s flip-up bolster. The dash has been well thought out with all standard controls immediately close to hand. The navigator’s seat is independent and is situated inboard of the wheel position affording easy access to the full size chart-plotter. I have to say that I fell in love with the driving position; the proximity of wheel to throttles to trim tabs to bow thruster controls couldn’t be any better.
From the stern bathing platform access into the cockpit area is via a stylish transom gate. Too often the access to a boat’s sidedecks isn’t always that easy, but on the V39 Princess has ensured that crew members don’t put their necks at risk when exiting the cockpit by placing wide steps to both port and starboard. A very large transom storage locker, with double doors, is ideal for fenders and ropes, or even a deflated tender and its outboard. There is an additional access through the stern seat allowing the safe stowage of kit whilst underway without the need to head out onto the bathing platform. Situated on the starboard side the wet bar and electric grill is very impressive. With lots of locker space, as well as a rubbish bin, it’s clear to see the level of thought that has been given to practicalities in the design and build. The dining table can be lowered to offer an additional sun-pad area benefitting from the shelter of the cockpit. Moving forward on the port side you find a large curved guests’ seat with a chaise style cushion to allow for lounging whether underway or alongside. Set at the ideal height for gazing out of the large side windows, it isn’t until you head below that you realise that the extra height of this seat gives big benefits to the aft cabin.
Wide shallow steps with practical stylish metal treads combine with a leather bound handrail to give access below decks. Princess has continued its attention to detail in the galley; although slightly small, small, the best use has been made of the space. Dual use sink cover/chopping boards aren’t uncommon, but suitable stowage for them is. The V39’s is in a locker just below the microwave. Overhead lockers with easy access latches hidden from view, beautiful work surfaces with mirror finished splashbacks, soft closing drawers – all practical, all well designed, all well built. For those who love to entertain, a drinks cabinet with built in lighting will certainly be a talking point with your guests. It has plenty of room for bottles of spirits and wine plus the necessary receptacles from which to indulge. The whole galley and dining area is flooded with light from a large skylight.
The master cabin feels almost palatial with its headroom, amount of natural light from the skylights (one fixed) and portholes, and with the use of tactile materials. If the master doesn’t feel large enough for you then I guarantee that the heads will. Once again the standard of finish is superb, with elegant mirrored lockers providing lots of storage for toiletries, Perrin & Rowe wash basin, the separate shower has a full height door plus seat and mirrored splashbacks. The overall effect is amazing.
When you enter the midships cabin you immediately notice how much difference the height of the portside cockpit seat makes. The berths can slide together to form a double, plus you have the ability to swap the settee and locker for an additional berth.
Style and quality
With a base price of under £300k including VAT it’s incredible how Princess has managed to build such a boat for such a figure. That ability comes down to cost savings now possible during the manufacturing that were not feasible until recently. Like the Fairline Squadron I tested in the June issue of Anglia Afloat, the V39 benefits from vacuumed resin infusion moulding – making the hull both lighter and stronger. The team at Princess Yachts has laid down a very clear marker that their entry level boat is the one to be beaten with regards to style, quality, build and price. Undoubtedly Princess will achieve the task it has set itself – of attracting and engaging with new boaters at the earliest stages of their boating careers.
Having experienced many different Princess models at the London and Southampton shows, I was always keen to get to grips with one on the water. I certainly wasn’t disappointed either when it happened. In my book the new V39 may be the smallest Princess in the range, but she delivers big punches on all levels.
Length overall (incl. pulpit) 42ft 6in (12.98m)
Length overall (excl. pulpit) 41ft 6in (12.65m)
Hull length (excluding swimming platform) 39ft 3in (11.99m)
Beam 12ft 5in (3.81m)
Draught (Drives Raised) 1ft 10in (0.56m)
Draught (Drives Lowered) 3ft 4in (1.02m)
Displacement approx. 9,100 kg* (20,062 lbs)
Fuel capacity 154 gal/185 US gal/700l
Water capacity (incl. calorifier) 73 gal/88 US gal/332l
ENGINES – DIESEL
Twin Volvo D6-330 DP (2 x 330mhp)
Price – £258,500 + VAT
As tested £353,091.60 inc VAT
Available from Burton Waters Ipswich – 01473 225710
Email - Ipswich@burtonwaters.co.uk