A Rolls-Royce Phantom sedan accelerates with a surge of stealthy, near-silent V-12 power, cosseting those inside with hedonistic, bespoke luxury. With the new Phantom 65 from Britain’s Fairline Yachts, the experience is replicated, as much as it can be, on the water.
Pushing the throttles on this new $4.6 million sportbridge cruiser, with 3,300 hp from its twin V-12 Caterpillar C32s, the Fairline feels every bit as powerful as the Rolls, which I’ve driven multiple times.
How rapid? Out in the Atlantic off Fort Lauderdale, where we’re putting this Phantom 65 through its paces, at full throttle, the speedo is showing an impressive 37 knots, or 42.6 mph. Impressive when you consider the Fairline tips the scales at a non-trivial 38 tons.
Unveiled at last fall’s Cannes boat show, this new 65-footer brings back the revered Phantom name to the Fairline model lineup and, for the first time, there’s a sport-bridge layout in the brand.
It also signals a product renaissance for the U.K. builder. At next month’s Southampton Boat Show, it will debut an all-new Squadron 58 with fold-down side terraces. Then at next January’s Dusseldorf Boot show, a new Targa 40 sport boat gets unwrapped.
If the bold lines of this 65-footer look slightly familiar, it may be because the hull and lower deck were evolved from Fairline’s popular Targa 65 sports coupe, penned back in 2016 by Italian designer Alberto Mancini with naval architecture by Holland’s Vripack.
For the Phantom, Fairline’s own in-house design team evolved the shape of the glass-filled superstructure, added a compact flybridge with an upper helm, and completely redesigned the interior.
“This sportbridge sector is key for us right now, especially here in the U.S., where owners tend to look for more outdoor space,” says Steve Leeson, President of Fairline Yachts Americas, who is on-hand for our test drive.
There’s certainly no shortage of competition for the new Phantom. Rivals include other British sportbridge offerings, the Sunseeker 65 and Princess S66, plus Italy’s Azimut’s S7 and France’s Prestige 590 and 690.
What sets the Fairline apart is the smart use of space that includes a new, oversized tender garage at the stern that’s big enough for an 11-foot Williams Sportjet 345 RIB. The boat also manages to squeeze a crew cabin beside the garage, plus a separate compartment for water toys like Seabobs.
Then there are features like the sportbridge (a more compact version of the traditional flybridge) with seating space for a dozen or so guests and a wet bar for alfresco dining. There’s plenty of space, too, in the aft, teak-decked cockpit, which flows into the galley and salon through disappearing sliding glass doors. One of the highlights of the salon is the sunroof above the lower helm that opens for fresh air and a great view of the sky.
The accommodations include three cabins and three en suites. Up front is a VIP that is large enough to be the main, while the full-beam primary stateroom is amidships, with an unusually large full-beam bathroom.
The main impression I got from the yacht was the quality of materials and design flourishes that have gone into its construction. Look no farther than many of the lower-deck doors, which are made of hand-finished walnut with a lovely wide, contrasting inlaid strip of maple. There are also are walls of striking channeled walnut that add visual texture. It’s without doubt some of the best cabinetry and woodwork we’ve seen on a sub-100-foot yacht.
In the Atlantic, the C32s’ big turbos start spooling up at around 1,650 rpm, punching the Phantom up onto plane. The boat’s cruising sweet spot is around 28 knots and 1,800 rpm, with a fuel burn of 110 gallons an hour. But it’s impossible to resist that 37-knot top-end thrust, so I punch the throttles forward.
The Fairline leans nicely, and predictably, into hard turns, though the steering itself feels too light—and with 10 turns lock-to-lock, it requires too much wheel-twirling for a boat in the open ocean. But even punching through three-to-four-foot Atlantic swells, the big Fairline is unflinching.
With this new Phantom 65, Fairline has created a luxury sportbridge cruiser that’s big on style, generous with space, and boasts impressive performance.
Click here for more images of the Fairline 65 Phantom.