We first told you about Hatteras Yachts’ new GT series in a Boats.com blog post a few months back, and now that we’ve had a chance to see the GT 60 up close and personal, we can tell you a whole lot more.
The Hatteras GT 60 is a tournament-edition version of the 60 Convertible, and you can expect the same will be true when the GT 54 and GT 63 are launched (which should happen in February 2011). Establishing this series is all about setting benchmarks. Check out a GT, and you know you’re looking at a tournament-designed convertible that breaks 40 knots when fully loaded, cruises at 36 knots or more, and has a range of over 400 miles. In other words, it makes you a contender on the billfish circuit.
When we had a chance to poke through the GT 60 at its introduction in Ft. Lauderdale, we noted plenty of touches that separate the GT 60 from other standard-issue convertibles. The cockpit’s redesign is the most obvious, and will have the greatest impact on serious anglers. For starters, at 153 square feet it’s big enough to park a Smart Car on the deck. There’s a built-in tackle station with three drawers and a cutting board for rigging baits, an eight cubic-foot bait freezer, a dedicated gaff locker, and a pair of macerated fishboxes that are a trophy-eating five feet long. Several insulated chill boxes and stowage boxes are integrated in, as are molded grab rails. And of course, a quartet of flush-mounted rodholders grace the gunwales.
But the huge mezzanine will be the favorite GT cockpit perk for your crew, since bait-watching can now be done in out-and-out luxury. I planted my butt on those deep mezzanine cushions and trust me, to any guy who’s used to digging ballyhoo poo out from under his fingernails, fishing from them will be nothing short of decadent.
More on the luxury theme: stereo speakers with their own dedicated cockpit controls are wired in, and LED lights are now molded into the flybridge overhang. The more lavish features, however, are found in the cabin. There’s a 42-inch flat-screen TV and a Bose Surround-sound system; buttery-smooth fabric headliners mounted on a track system with wood accents cap the six foot, six inches of headroom; and AC is piped in via wood valences.
You’ll get your choice of cherry or African mahogany woods in the interior, and when you inspect the quality of the woodwork, you’ll have a sudden and complete understanding of why eastern Carolina has a reputation for producing some of the finest craftsmanship afloat; cabinetry is bookmatched so the grain flows from cabinet to cabinet, and seams are virtually invisible. It almost looks and feels as if the boat grew from a seed, instead of being assembled by boatbuilders.
Other aspects of the boat’s construction may be hidden from the eye, but they’re no less impressive. Consider the hull itself: Hatteras vacuum-infuses the entire hull and the stringers of the GT 60. This process seals the mold with the fiberglass inside, and draws resin through it at an equal, steady rate, by means of suction. That means the strength and thickness of the structure is consistent from boat to boat, there are no air pockets left in the glass, and there’s no excess resin left behind. Net result: the GT 60’s hull is lighter yet stronger than it would otherwise be.
Just how much lighter? The boat tips the scales at 89,500 pounds. That’s still pretty hefty for a molded fiberglass boat of this size (which usually ranges from about 70,000 pounds to about 100,000 pounds) but it is around 6,000 pounds less than the Viking 60 Convertible, which the GT 60 is most likely to be compared with.
Other construction techniques speak to Hatteras’s reputation for building a boat that’s tough enough to dwell in its home waters, which are known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic”. Steel plates are laminated into the stringers in the engine room, where the big diesels are bolted down. The hull bottom has a blister-resistant layer of vinylester resin in the skin coat. Deck hardware is backed with pre-tapped aluminum plates. Above the waterline, hullsides and decks are cored with PVC foam. The UL-approved, fire-retardant, baffled fuel tanks are placed into the stringer grid, surrounded with foam, and glassed into place.
All of this stuff sounds great, but you need a real-world experience on the boat of get a feel for juts how well it’s built. Grab the rails and give ‘em a shake. Stomp on the decks and ladders. Slam the cabinet doors. Then put the pointy end toward the horizon, and feed those horses a steady diet of diesel. Yeah, you’ll crush those rollers like they were ripples on a lake.
I couldn’t pull the GT 60 off the dock at the Lauderdale show, but I’ve run the exact same 60 hull several times (once in five to seven footers) and between the stout construction, 89,500 pounds of mass, and Hatteras’s convex hull design, this is one Convertible that feels more like a ship than a boat.
But, wait a sec—since the 60 has so much mass, won’t it be a slowpoke? Nah, it’s merely a matter of overcoming mass with massive amounts of power. The minimum size engines Hatteras puts into the GT 60 are a pair of turbocharged, after-cooled, 1,600 horsepower CAT C32A V-12 brutes that are bigger than the Smart Cars sitting in the cockpit (and weigh literally four and a half times as much). If that’s not enough, you can upgrade to 1,900 horsepower CAT ACERTs.
The down side? Yup, you guessed it—feeding this herd of ponies ain’t cheap. You’re looking at a cruising fuel burn that’s just north of 100 gallons per hour, and a top-end burn in the neighborhood of 160 to 180 GPH. That means you could rip through the 1,500 gallon fuel capacity in a single weekend of offshore tournament fishing, and in a couple of tournaments, spend so much on fuel that you could have paid for that Smart Car in cash.
Then again, what use does a contender in a billfish tournament have with one of those little things? They’d just get in the way of fishing.
For more information, visit the Hatteras Yachts website.