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Palm Beach’s GT50 is Off to the Races…

Palm Beach has made a name for itself building smooth-riding, efficiently designed, Downeast-style cruisers that can tackle a seaway. But until now, the company had skewed toward tradition, with classic lines and speeds that, while running in the jaunty 30-knot range, were not necessarily making eyeballs pop.

That changed this month at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where Palm Beach debuted its GT50 Express, the first in its sport-boat-inspired GT series (a GT50 Open is scheduled to debut this winter in Germany).

The GT50, with a fluid, flowing profile, reportedly tops out at 42 knots thanks, in part, to twin 600 hp Volvo Penta IPS800s. The yacht is said to cruise at a none-too-shabby 35 knots while the engines burn 40 gallons per hour. Ease the throttle back to 25 knots, and those Volvo Pentas consume 24 gallons per hour, according to the builder’s test data.

The vessel’s speed and efficiency can be attributed largely to two factors: First, Palm Beach focused on reducing the GT50’s weight. The hull is fully infused vinylester and cored E-glass in construction. This model (and future ones) also has a carbon-fiber superstructure that places her securely in the bantamweight division at 28,660 pounds dry while enhancing the structure’s rigidity. The lightweight material up top also helps lower the yacht’s center of gravity, aiding in stability.

The second factor in the GT50’s performance numbers is her hull form. Palm Beach CEO Marc Richards believes in racing-sailboat-inspired hull designs. With a super-fine entry and a series of deadrise variances, the GT50’s hull form is built for the yacht to get on plane with an even attitude (see: no bow rise). The boat is designed not to climb or porpoise in a seaway. She’s made to slice it.

The yacht also has a carbon-fiber helm station, an accommodations level with woodwork options including wenge, teak and oak, and a ­cockpit with twin L-shaped settees, a refrigerator and an ice maker.

Palm Beach has additional plans for the GT series, with a 60 slated for next fall that’s projected to top 50 knots, and a 70-footer on the drawing boards to premiere after that.

Perhaps no one would have predicted that Palm Beach would have gone down the sport-boat road, but then again, this is a company that has always blazed its own trail. And predictions may be best left to those mired in tradition.  

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