When you can leave a takeout coffee on the galley counter, then put a high-speed yacht through its paces in choppy seas and sharp, high-speed turns without it sliding off and spilling, that says something—and that’s exactly what happened aboard the Tiara 44 Coupe during recent sea trials in Vancouver.
Michigan-based Tiara is a family-owned company that’s been around for more than 60 years, so they know a thing or two about building boats. Operating under the banner of S2 Yachts, the brand includes both the Tiara and Pursuit lines of powerboats. The Tiara line is made up of day boats, open express cruisers, convertibles and coupes from 31 to 50 feet. The company is currently riding high on the success of its new IPS-powered Coupe series: the 50, introduced in 2013, and the 44, introduced in late 2014. The order books for these two models are full and the 44 recently won the AIM award for best powerboat in the 40 to 50-foot category—with good reason.
On Deck The 44, like many recent coupes/express cruisers, was designed to have an almost seamless transition between the saloon and cockpit, divided only by a wall of glass with wide sliding doors. In good weather, the 44 becomes one expansive entertaining space; enough for almost a dozen guests. A huge swim platform offers even more room, with a built-in grill (and massive trunk for water toys and gear) that extends the cockpit entertaining area even more. Up on the bow area, there’s also the requisite sunpad for guests who want to stretch out and catch some rays.
The cockpit in the 44 is cozier than most. It has a long settee with a fixed table and two aft-facing settees that combine to make an inviting space with a sole covered by woven synthetic sisal. The seat cushions are made of a fabric and foam combination that is said to let rain flow right through it so that they don’t remain wet for long. Another feature that is becoming more and more popular on this type of yacht is an optional electric awning that fits into the aft end of the overhead and covers the entire cockpit when extended.
Moving from the cockpit to the foredeck is made safe and easy by well-placed handrails and sturdy guardrails, while the side decks are nice and wide. Up at the bow, the windlass and anchor are hidden under the large anchor hatch. The anchor and roller are tucked into a stainless hawsehole in the bow and a large stainless plate protects the hull from damage. The bow roller is hinged so that the anchor always comes in right-side up. This is a really slick system and eliminates the need for a bowsprit. It also gives the bow of the 44 a very clean look. Another smart idea is that the hatch rests on adjustable rubber feet so there is no give when the hatch is stepped on and none of that irritating hatch rattle. The engine access hatch in the cockpit has the same type of feet.
We did not get the chance to see the 44 at night, but it is fitted with blue LED lights in the cockpit overhead, the walkways, drink holders, under the handrails and even in the exterior engine air intakes. Optional blue underwater lighting would make this an impressive sight in the dark.
Interior The saloon doors are innovative, with the sliding glass doors connected so that both doors slide open when one side is opened. Inside, the styling has a somewhat European flair, with squared-off trim and cabinetry, brushed aluminum highlights and frosted glass. There is solid teak flooring throughout with beige ultraleather settees, and highlights in an impressive colour known as fog gray, which matches the hull colour. The colour is interesting in that depending on the light, it can appear to have a greenish or black tint.
The portside settee is raised which allows for good views out the expansive windows. To starboard is a linear galley with two burner cooktop, convection microwave underneath, drawer-type fridge and freezer and deep stainless sink. A vertical drawer has a handy built-in garbage receptacle and recycling storage area. Above the cooktop is a storage cabinet that also houses the entertainment system. It is protected from the cooktop below by a thick glass plate. A door behind the forward end of the cabinet opens to reveal a pullout flat screen TV.
The helm station, a step up from the settee/galley area, is surprisingly clean, with dual Garmin glass cockpit screens that do the usual multi-function tasks and monitor and control many of the ship’s systems. A double helm seat incorporates an electric motor that lifts it up and forward. Adjacent is a sliding glass window, great for docking, though visibility from the inside is good all round. A massive pneumatic sunroof extends almost full width, allowing for plenty more light and ventilation. Throughout the saloon and accommodation area there are well-placed square chrome handrails. These are always welcome, but we noticed that the bottom surface of the formed rails had some sharp edges, which could potentially cut one’s hands.
Down below are two staterooms and two heads. The master is in the bow, with an island queen berth, overhead hatch and opening portholes to either side. The hanging locker is ample and there’s plenty of storage. The master has a dedicated head with a raised sink, Vacuflush toilet and separate shower with glass door.
The guest stateroom is aft, partially under the saloon, with good headroom at its entrance (with a skylight to the saloon above), then about four feet of headroom elsewhere. It has a small, comfortable seating/changing area and twin athwartship bunks that can be filled in to create a queen-size, or better, berth. There is a great deal of storage in drawers and a hanging locker in this stateroom, which is always welcome on any yacht. Lastly, there’s also a day head/guest head at the bottom of the companionway stairs with a raised sink and separate shower stall that incorporates the toilet under a teak-grate that serves as a shower seat.
Overall, the accommodation spaces are cozy and welcoming, The only issue this reviewer had was that it was almost impossible for him to squeeze into the guest head shower/toilet area due to the placement of the glass shower door. A little more space here would be welcome.
The fit and finish throughout the 44 was excellent and we could see no flaws whatsoever (except the handrails as noted above). The hardware and fixtures were all top quality and the flooring was solid without any squeaks or give. It is obvious that Tiara takes great pride in their workmanship.
Design and Construction According to David Glenn, marketing director for S2 Yachts, the 44 is based on Tiara’s successful 39 Open hull, which was designed to provide a confident ride in all conditions. The hull of the 44 has a sharp entry and traditional strakes with chines modified slightly to adapt to the Volvo-Penta pod drives.
Construction of the 44 is of hand-laid fibreglass, with a solid hull bottom and balsa cored hull sides, deck and house. The stringers are built with foam cores with a wood skin, then glassed over and into the hull bottom. The interior is built outside the hull assembly as a single unit, then installed as one piece. This is a better system than traditional stick-built interiors in that it is much easier to install all the wiring and plumbing accurately and neatly without having to crawl around inside the hull.
Underway Despite the broker admitting he had little experience with joysticks, he made it look easy to maneuver out of the impossibly tight space at the dealers dock at Mosquito Creek Marina in North Vancouver.
The 44, with its twin 435 horsepower Volvo-Penta diesels with IPS 600 pods, proved to have plenty of get-up-and-go. Acceleration was impressive and there was only minimal bow rise as we jumped onto the plane. Visibility over the bow was excellent, which was great as there were plenty of logs in English Bay that day. The 44 sliced through the two-foot chop nicely. There was no slamming, just a very comfortable ride. The 44 leaned nicely into tight turns at speed and there was no slipping or cavitation. Interior noise levels were very low and there was virtually no vibration.
Top speed was 29 knots at 3,490 rpm while burning 43 US gallons per hour. At more fuel-efficient speeds, between 11.4 knots to 24.2 knots, fuel burn equated to between 0.9 and 0.8 miles per gallon (12 to 30 gph), which is quite reasonable for a high-speed express cruiser. Optimum cruising speed is said to be between 22 and 26 knots. And as noted in the beginning of this piece, that coffee cup, which we’d all forgotten about, stayed put on the counter through all our testing.
Concluding Remarks We’ve seen a lot of express cruisers/coupes coming onto the market in recent years, yet the Tiara is a definite standout. We were impressed with everything from its transom barbecue and comfy cockpit to its innovative anchor setup in the bow. The accommodation, with two decent-size staterooms and two heads and the saloon give the feel of a much larger vessel, and there’s ample storage throughout to allow for extended cruising. Add to that top quality fit and finish in and out and the 44 is likely to be a good seller in the Pacific Northwest. As an added bonus, owners can choose any hull colour they like. One customer even ordered a Maserati blue hull to match his car. Price as tested is US$910,000.