One can’t help but admire Palm Beach Motor Yachts. The Australia-born, Florida-based company unleashed a world-beater at the 2019 Cannes Boat Show with the debut of its highly acclaimed GT50 motor yacht. Then the company turned things up a notch in early 2020 when it revealed an all-new GT60—first at the Dusseldorf Boat Show for the European market, then three weeks later in North America at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show. But no sooner had the company packed up its display in Miami than the global volcano called COVID blew its top, bringing the GT60’s worldwide launch party to an abrupt halt.
But not even a global pandemic could keep a yacht as brilliant as the GT60 out of the spotlight for long. As testament to its truly remarkable design, the GT60 defied the odds and continued to find new buyers organically, in spite of countless boat show closures and travel restrictions that make it nearly impossible for buyers to even see the boat up close. In spite of every obstacle thrown at it, the GT60 remains coveted, and credit for that lies squarely at the feet of Palm Beach CEO and yacht designer Mark Richards.
The GT60 is every bit what we have come to expect from Richards, along with a few new eye-openers. Like all Palm Beach yachts, the GT60 comes with the power, operating efficiency, and smooth-running characteristics that have identified the marque from the very beginning. But it also brings some pleasant surprises, particularly in its fresh, contemporary styling cues and inspiring performance.
Preferred power in the GT60 is twin Volvo Penta IPS 1350 diesels, giving the athletic, 21,500-kilogram yacht a total of 2,000 spirited and agile ponies under the hood just waiting to go for a run. That smile-inducing power-to-weight ratio explains the GT60’s stunning top speed of 40 knots at wide-open throttle (more than 74 km/hr).
But what’s truly impressive is that the yacht achieves this spirited performance while using just under 284 litres of fuel per hour. That may sound like a lot, but remember, we’re talking about a 20-metre yacht here, not a Honda Civic. Where luxury yachts are concerned, the GT60 drives like a Porsche while sipping fuel like a Prius.
Part of that comes from the exceptional efficiency of the Volvo Penta propulsion system, but credit must also go to Richards’ warped, semi-displacement hull design and the careful attention paid to weight management. That includes the full use of carbon fibre for the deck and superstructure, keeping displacement to a minimum while maintaining a low centre of gravity for a smooth ride, sure handling, and propulsion efficiency.
The Devil Is in the Details
But enough of the techno-babble—Palm Beach’s exception attention to detail is even more clearly evident in its passenger spaces, where the yacht’s compelling design delivers a fresh take on a timeless platform, merging the familiar with the new. The layout of GT60 is designed around maximizing entertaining spaces. These luxury areas flow seamlessly from the large teak swim platform into the expansive cockpit clear through to the inviting salon. It functions as a single, uninterrupted space. From a design and engineering perspective, it’s a remarkable feat; from a human standpoint, the yacht comes across as engaging and homey all at once.
Because enjoying the water is also all about enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, Palm Beach has paid extra attention to the cockpit space, with a sumptuous L-shaped lounge extending near full-beam across the transom and extending forward along the port side. This plush perch is fully served by a beautiful teak table, creating the ultimate spot for dinner under the stars. A neatly designed wet bar serves both the cockpit and the interior salon with equal convenience, contributing to the sense of uninterrupted continuity between the exterior and interior spaces.
Step inside and one finds plenty of comfortable seating on a large L-shaped settee to port, facing a full sofa to starboard. Large, electrically actuated windows aft and to each side open at the touch of a button to flood the salon with fresh air and sunshine, while an enormous moonroof overhead can also open fully to make the most of beautiful summer weather.
It’s not often one calls out the windshield on a yacht as deserving special mention, but that’s very much the case in the GT60. For starters, it’s absolutely enormous. Then you realize, with awe, that it’s one single piece of curved glass. Apart from providing exceptional visibility when underway, the wall of window really helps open up the main space and contributes to the GT60’s open feel.
Forward of the salon is the walk-around, carbon fibre helm station, dressed in the same hand-sewn, diamond-stitched quilting that graces the seating throughout. Ergonomically designed to put every control within easy reach, the centrally mounted helm is substantial enough to make driving a joy yet designed in such a way that it never intrudes or blocks the view of guests enjoying the salon. That’s quite a trick, and it speaks again to the clever engineering throughout the GT60.
Step below, and the standard layout offers a spacious VIP suite up front, a large and opulent master with ensuite and plenty of storage space amidships, and a spacious galley that would please even the most serious chef. Aft of the engines and accessed from the swim platform, a tender garage thoughtfully keeps a small dinghy always ready yet discreetly out of sight.
It is very easy to become completely enchanted by the Palm Beach GT60. With its luxurious appointments, engineering excellence and fresh yet familiar design, one can understand how not even a global pandemic managed to dim interest in this remarkable yacht.