October 20th 2010. By Diane Byrne.

Palmer Johnson 150 Sport Yacht, Vantage

The American yard that pioneered the sleek and sexy Sport Yacht delivers another head-turner.

The year was 2004 when Palmer Johnson, the Wisconsin-based boatbuilder known for traditional custom yachts, launched a 120-footer that was anything but that. Cover Drive’s composite superstructure was as sleek as a racecar body, and the aluminum hull was engineered for speed. Indeed, she was more like a mega-day cruiser, meant for shooting over to the islands for lunch and then setting off to another port for sundowners and dinner. When Palmer Johnson’s management proudly announced plans to build more megayachts like Cover Drive, few yachting industry insiders held out much hope, given how different the style was.

Vantage, hull number seven of its 150-foot Sport Yacht series, has a decidedly masculine edge but still emphasizes laid-back fun in the sun.

Turns out, Palmer Johnson was onto something. There was an untapped pool of buyers out there who had a more youthful spirit and who wanted a more fun, casual party platform. Not only that, but they agreed with Palmer Johnson’s vision of having a variety of sizes from which to choose. The builder now counts six more 120’s plus twelve larger Sport Yachts, as the style is called, among its fleet. Vantage, hull number seven of its 150-foot Sport Yacht series, is the latest, with a decidedly masculine edge but no less emphasis on laid-back fun in the sun.

Take a look at Vantage’s profile. The mostly cream paint job on her aluminum frame is a little lower-key than some of the bold, even brash, colors of previous Sport Yachts (think gold and various other metallic tones). But the contrast struck between it and the dark anthracite of her composite trim and arch, even the accompanying domes, leaves no doubt about the family relation. Neither does the overall styling, just as smooth and sleek as the smaller 120’s and the larger 170 Sport Yachts.

Vantage's saloon and dining area

The moment you step inside Vantage, you know you’re aboard a yacht intended for making the most of the casual cruising lifestyle. There’s bleached teak underfoot and adorning bulkheads on the main deck, with carpeting in the guest staterooms below. Even with accents of zebrano and wenge, which are both rich woods, plus impressive stonework atop the saloon bar and in the staterooms’ en suite heads, the yacht is anything but fussy. Further nice touches are the fold-down, teak-laid balconies to each side. Floor-to-ceiling windows opposite the dining area yield views out over the balconies and entice everyone to head outside, via the aft doors and the side decks. According to Palmer Johnson, its compliance with Lloyd’s classification prohibits these windows from opening. (The yacht is also MCA compliant.)

The master bedroom, with walk-in wardrobe

Come bedtime, none of the guests will feel the need to compete for the best room, as all four staterooms are similarly fashioned in creams and browns. Two double cabins cater to couples, while two twin staterooms, each with Pullmans, can take single guests or kids. Each stateroom further benefits from the fashionable round ports that so prominently mark the 150’s profile.

Of course, the owner gets one of the best locations onboard: forward on the main deck. There’s the customary office area at the entrance to starboard and the his-and-her baths fully forward. A surprise comes in the form of the walk-in wardrobe, opposite the office. No walk-in closet here; rather, it runs the full length of the area behind the bed and has so much space that the owners could live aboard for weeks at a time. It rivals the space aboard far larger megayachts.

Palmer Johnson has effectively transformed the flying bridge into an extra alfresco saloon.

Also rivaling an element of bigger boats: the flying bridge. Most yachts in the 150-foot-and-up range feature a pretty standard layout here. There’s a Jacuzzi with seating and/or a bar area forward, followed by a shaded seating/dining area, then more seating and sunning space aft. Palmer Johnson has effectively transformed the flying bridge aboard Vantage (indeed, that of all of its Sport Yachts) into an extra saloon, alfresco-style. There’s comfy seating aplenty, split between the TV area forward and the sunbed and Jacuzzi aft. The anthracite trim so striking from afar forms sidewalls and a roof, the latter fitted with several square skylights for an airy, open feel. Further keeping the feel open are full-height windows and a sliding glass door forward, providing access to a grill area. This way, the owner can entertain guests uninterrupted “inside” while crew come and go via the steps leading from the grill down to the raised pilothouse.

The captain has the choice of standing at a wheel or sitting next to the jogstick.

Speaking of the pilothouse, there’s another good setup. Twin pedestal seats flank a console fitted with throttles and a jog stick, easily reachable from either position. Should the captain wish to stand instead a wheel is mounted on the front of the console, again keeping controls within easy grasp. Vantage’s cruising speed is 24 knots and she tops out at 28 knots, given twin MTU 16V 4000 M90 diesel engines.

What’s next for Palmer Johnson? More Sport Yachts, of course, with two 170s and even two 210 “Mega” ones under construction. In other words, more ways to keep heads turning.

Diane Byrne

Diane M. Byrne is the founder and editor of the daily updated website Megayacht News. A longtime yachting writer, she also contributes to Yachts International, Boat Exclusive, and other magazines. She is additionally a member of the International Superyacht Society Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association.