When you take a high-performance yacht for a sea trial, you get a sense of the shipyard’s confidence by the behavior of the captain when he hands over the controls. Some need a bit of persuading to give it up. Others hover, ready, you suspect, to grab the wheel or the throttles. Some mention, apologetically, a minor technical issue that might be a good reason not to wring the boat out too much.

Pershing’s captains just hand over the wheel and leave you to it. Either the company doctor doses them with beta-blockers before every trial, or they have total confidence in the boat. In my experience, that confidence has never been misplaced. The shipyard’s attitude toward performance has always been uncompromising.

Freestanding furniture, huge windows, generous headroom and an abundance of space in the Pershing 8X’s deck salon do not seem 
to quite belong to a 48-knot performance yacht. 

Freestanding furniture, huge windows, generous headroom and an abundance of space in the Pershing 8X’s deck salon do not seem to quite belong to a 48-knot performance yacht. 

But is that enough? Perhaps not, if the new Pershing 8X is any guide. A brand dedicated to high-performance luxury occupies a niche within a niche, which can’t make it easy to sell boats in today’s fractured market. Maybe it’s time for a more sensible, practical type of Pershing, with broader appeal. Maybe it’s time to compromise. But where? And does this shipyard even know how?

Outwardly, there is nothing about this gorgeous new yacht to suggest that anything has changed. Inside, it’s the same story, until you get a hunch that it feels a little bigger than its predecessor, the Pershing 82, and reach for the tape measure. It’s wider—significantly so, by a full 14 inches. It’s as wide as a Ferretti 780, wider than a Princess Y75, and these are sensible, practical flybridge boats. One can only guess at the discussions in the naval architect’s office: Would the 8X be fast enough? How would it handle?

Leaving aside the potential performance drawbacks of that extra beam, the benefits are plain to see, from the expansive deck furnishings on the bow to the broad, comfortable cockpit. The deck salon, with its huge windows and one-piece windscreen, is bright and spacious and fitted out with high-end, freestanding furniture. Cockpit and salon are on a single level, with a long, straight walkway leading all the way forward to the main companionway.

Curved ‘wings’ swoop protectively over each side deck.

Curved ‘wings’ swoop protectively over each side deck.

Down below you could almost be in one of those flybridge cruising yachts. Headroom is 6 feet 6 inches or more, there is plenty of floor area, and the beds are all a good size, with perhaps only the height of the one in the VIP stateroom hinting at the Pershing’s finer bow sections.

You can choose between three- and four-stateroom layouts. With three you get an extra seating area on the port side, at the foot of the main companionway. In either case, there are three heads, a spare drop-down Pullman berth in the starboard stateroom, and the galley aft in the crew quarters.

Uppermost in the naval architects’ minds in dealing with this new, wider hull would have been weight. It cannot be allowed to compromise performance—not too much, anyway. As well as vacuum-infusion molding techniques, the builder has made generous use of carbon fiber—the whole of the superstructure, plus areas of reinforcement in the hull—so although the 8X has significantly more volume than the old 82, the weight difference between them is negligible. Power options are the same: twin MTU V16s producing either 4,870 or 5,276 horsepower.

Carbon is not just a weight-saving material. Its strength makes it more versatile than fiberglass when it comes to intricate, load-bearing shapes. Designer Fulvio De Simoni has taken full advantage of this with the tunnel coamings at the after end of the superstructure. On previous Pershings, starting with the 70 in 2014, these curvaceous moldings have added nothing but style and their unforeseen ability to keep spray off the aft cushions. But on the 8X, the one on the port side is put to practical use supporting the concealed flybridge companionway.

The master stateroom is an exercise in cool, modernist interior design. Pershing offers three- and four-stateroom layouts.

The master stateroom is an exercise in cool, modernist interior design. Pershing offers three- and four-stateroom layouts.

Above the waterline, the additional beam of the 8X shows itself in accommodations, more suggestive of a cruising yacht than a high-speed day boat. Below the waterline, the extra beam is invested in wider chine flats. Like the older 82, the 8X hull is a 20-degree deep-V. According to Pershing, along with tweaks to the Top System surface-drive software, the extra lift in the chines allowed the naval architects to refine the hull’s transitional planing characteristics, to modulate acceleration as the hull rises and the props start to thrash in thinner water, as they are designed to do.

Which is not to say the yacht doesn’t get up and go. Our measured speed nearly doubled between 1500 rpm and 1750 rpm, but it does seem less of a white-knuckle ride than most surface-drive boats, and more controllable. At high planing speeds, the 8X provided the sort of intense, rewarding helming experience for which the shipyard is renowned. The fully automated trim software takes the guesswork out of positioning the drives effectively, allowing the driver to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Side-on, the 8X is every inch the uncompromising, high-performance Pershing. The trick is to have made it significantly wider, and therefore much bigger inside, without compromising the brand’s sacred speed capability or handling qualities.

Side-on, the 8X is every inch the uncompromising, high-performance Pershing. The trick is to have made it significantly wider, and therefore much bigger inside, without compromising the brand’s sacred speed capability or handling qualities.

The only hint that there was anything different about this sensible, practical, beamier hull was the occasional firm impact in a head sea, as the chines slapped the water at 40 knots or more. The turning circle was tight, and the angle of heel as dramatic as any Pershing aficionado could wish for.

From the helm, with the throttles just off the stops and that sharp snout lunging at the horizon, there was very little to suggest that the 8X was any different in concept or execution from any of its illustrious stablemates. It didn’t feel sensible, or practical. It felt edgy. Exciting. Slightly insane. It felt great.

It turns out that the shipyard, which never knew how to compromise, is pretty good at it. 

Specifications

LOA: 83ft. 10in. (25.55m)

BEAM : 19ft. 3in. (5.86m)

DRAFT: 4ft. 7in. (1.4m)

DISPLACEMENT (light load): 62.8 tons

SPEED (max./cruise): 48.3/40 knots

CONSTRUCTION: Carbon/GRP

NAVAL ARCHITECTURE: Ferretti Group

EXTERIOR STYLING: Fulvio De Simoni/Ferretti Group

INTERIOR DESIGN: Fulvio De Simoni/Ferretti Group

BUILDER: Pershing Yachts

Photos | Have a closer look at Pershing’s 8X in the gallery below:

For more information: pershing-yacht.com

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