Reinventing the wheel is a sure way to get yourself noticed, but it does pose risks – one being the forfeiting of practicality in the pursuit of attention-grabbing novelty, the other being stylistic alienation, i.e. designing a product that doesn’t have the family look that repeat customers are often buying into. Fortunately, Fairline have avoided these pitfalls. Their new Targa 43 Open is very much a scaled-down Targa 48 in almost every regard, and all the better for it.
Mind you, there is one notable stylistic change. The gentleman responsible for the T43’s styling, Italian designer Alberto Mancini, has reimagined the hardtop, conjuring a new and hitherto unseen shape that swoops gracefully around the folding fabric sunroof, enveloping the usually exposed edges. Up close, it’s striking and beautiful – far more so than our pictures show (and for those of you with a fondness for Borat and a shocking sense of humour, Alberto’s surname is pronounced ‘man-chee-nee’, not ‘mankini’).
Fairline even used the underpinnings of the Targa 48’s hull for the T43 (hence its identical beam) and the same 435hp Volvo IPS600 pod drives, so it’s no surprise that the T43 has the same easy-going handling, backed up by excellent helm ergonomics. Fairline have retained the wide walkway access around both sides of the sunbed, which makes the crew’s job easier and safer. The optional passarelle pops out from the starboard side of the tender garage, leaving the port-side passageway free for the engine access hatch. Just like its bigger sibling, immediate engine access is significantly compromised by the intrusive tender garage, but an unobstructed joy once the garage floor and the tender have been jettisoned.
Mix ’n’ match interior
I could give you a guided tour of the inside, but scrutinising Fairline’s excellent photos will tell you most of what you need to know. What you cannot see is Fairline’s mix ’n’ match heads options, courtesy of alternative door arrangements. Accordingly, the aft heads compartment can be used as the day heads, or exclusively as an en suite to the midships cabin. Likewise, the forward heads can be wholly en suite or have a second door leading off the saloon, so it too could be used as the day heads. In both cabins, berths can either be singles or a double, with optional scissor action berths in the forecabin offering the best of both worlds.
I’m a big fan of transverse berths like the one in the midships cabin. In a roly-poly anchorage, I find it far easier to stay in bed without having to spreadeagle the mattress like some desperate starfish. However, if the ultimate bedtime stability is your wish, for an extra £64,112 Fairline will fit Seakeeper’s NG3 gyro stabiliser. I’d think carefully before you swap the standard-issue drawers in the midships cabin for the alluring optional sofa that you see in our pictures. I found it far easier to sit on the bed to pull my socks and shoes on, and although there’s a reasonably sized wardrobe and locker unit running across the cabin’s front end, drawer space with the sofa in residence would be limited.
One of the most impressive aspects of Fairline’s design process is that, for as long as I can remember, the team has employed a notional yardstick for each and every boat. So many boats I test have headroom that varies throughout the boat, and disparate berth lengths in different cabins, as though humans suddenly shrink or expand as they wander through the boat. There is a teeny downturn under the lowest point of the fixed section of the hardtop, but otherwise everything of a critical nature hovers around Fairline’s benchmark for the Targa 43, which is 6ft 7in (2.01m).
Cold hard cash
We can’t avoid talking about the vulgar subject of money, as aspects of the Targa 43’s prices need clarifying. As with almost every extras list I’ve ever seen, there are optional extras that seem cheeky, but gratifyingly I could only find three. Personally, on a boat with a tender garage at its beating heart, I’d object to paying £6,806 for the winch and rollers that transform it from a simple giant store into a functioning tender garage. And an extra £7,256 for the screen-demisting system – isn’t that an essential safety feature? Even if the boat goes to climes that render it unnecessary, its next owner might just need such a thing. Fairline are far from alone in charging extra (£16,188 for the T43) for commissioning and handover, but I just don’t get it, and never will. Imagine the same scene playing out at the local Mercedes garage: ‘Well, sir, the £225,000 for your new V12 S65 AMG Coupé went through on your gold Amex, so if you could just hand over the final £5,000. Really, sir, I don’t know why you’re so taken aback – we did have to take it off the lorry, to launch it so to speak, and we do have demanding checks to make to ensure that everything … err … actually works.’
In this instance, I feel we should ignore the ‘as-tested’ price that magazines like ours always print in order to give an idea of the price of a real boat, rather than the mythical no-extras boat that nobody ever buys. This is because Fairline cram every single extra they possibly can into the first boat, to make sure that it can cope with the ‘worst-case scenario’ weight and weight distribution – even their hefty lead crystal tumblers are included in that circa £864,000! It’s a rare and very laudable approach to testing, but it has inflated the prototype T43’s as-tested price to a meaningless level.
Talking of inflation, Fairline are not the only boatbuilding company that seems to be experiencing price inflation that is out of step with more generalised UK inflation. Back in September 2013, the 15.4m (50.4ft)-long Fairline Targa 48 I tested kicked off at £492,000. With exactly the same IPS600 engines, the Targa 43 now starts at £642,000 – a 30% increase during a period when UK inflation was circa 13%. Also, this comparison ignores the fact that the 14.2m (46.5ft)-long T43 is also 8% smaller. Of course, the UK RPI’s principal constituent does not comprise a pair of Volvo IPS600 Swedish engines that now have to be bought with a weaker pound. But far from everything of significance that goes into a T43 comes from abroad – labour, for example, and factory costs. Whatever the reasons for this boat inflation, the weak pound may mask the cost of the T43 for overseas buyers, but not for those of us with British pounds to spend.
Performance and conclusions
If you look at our performance data, you’ll see that there are two sets of figures: ours and Fairline’s. That’s because our test figures were notably down on Fairline’s own figures. Normally, the discrepancy is not significant, and it can usually be explained by differences in load or temperature or levels of fouling. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here, and a loss of almost 4 knots from Fairline’s own recorded 33.3-knot (two-way average) top-speed test figure is significant, especially given their impressive cram-every-extra-on-board approach, which saw their ‘100% fuel and water’ test boat even more heavily loaded than ours.
Fairline are fairly sure that a tank full of dodgy Italian fuel is the explanation. Our test boat and a Targa 48 that also fully refuelled at the Genoa Boat Show apparently suffered a similar performance loss. It’s worth noting that the heavier Targa 48 I tested achieved 32.3 knots with exactly the same 435hp IPS600, and another UK boating magazine achieved 30.8 knots on test with this same T43. Plus, I can vouch for the thorough nature of Fairline’s trials. So in practice, whatever this boat’s true real-world top speed, it’s unlikely to be less than the magic 30 knots.
As for the ride quality in the rough stuff, it’s OK – just don’t go expecting miracles of the sort that the late 1990s Targa 48 could dish up. Fairline’s latest Targa 43 has a corpulent 4.32m (14ft 2in) girth; two decades ago, the prevailing Targa 43 was a comparatively slender 3.80m (12ft 6in). However deep the vee of the hull shape, boats cannot keep on getting ever wider and drive through the water with the same elan as they did when their form more closely resembled Kate Moss than Monty Python’s Mr Creosote. Of course, the payback is astonishing accommodation, the like of which designers and owners hadn’t even dreamt of two decades ago. Back then, if anybody had suggested a voluminous, full-beam midships cabin with full standing headroom on a 43ft sports cruiser, they would have been sent away for psychiatric evaluation. In the accommodation stakes, the new Targa 43 doesn’t so much outdo the old T43, it trounces it.
- Length overall: 14.20m (46ft 6in)
- Beam: 4.32m (14ft 2in)
- Fuel capacity: 1300 litres (286 imp. gal)
- Water capacity: 400 litres (88 imp. gal)
- Draught: 1.17m (3ft 10in)
- Air draught: 5.55m (18ft 2in)
- RCD category: B (for 12 people)
- Displacement: 12.5 tonnes (empty)
- Smallest engines: Twin 435hp IPS600
- Biggest engines: Twin 435hp IPS600
- Test engines: Twin Volvo IPS600; 435hp @ 3500rpm, 6-cylinder 5.5L diesel
Slow cruise Fast cruise Flat out
RPM 2800 3200 3470 (3630)
Speed (knots) 19.9 (19.9) 24.9 (26.6) 29.4 (33.3)
Fuel (Lph) 112 (103) 140 (133) 165 (170)
Consumption 0.81 (0.88) mpg 0.81 (0.91) mpg 0.81 (0.89) mpg
Range (nm) 185 (201) 185 (208) 185 (204)
Helm d(BA) 73 (75) 74 (78) 75 (75)
NB: Figures in parenthesis are Fairline’s test figures.
Speed in knots. Range in nautical miles and allows for 20% reserve. Calculated figures based on readings from on-board fuel gauge; your figures may vary considerably. 40% (100%) fuel, 100% (100%) water, 5 crew + 350kg JetRib, 26°C + 2/3ft swell + F3 for speed trials.
Notable extras (inc. 20% UK VAT)
- Commissioning & handover: £16,188
- High-low bathing platform: £25,673
- 2.9m passarelle: £25,063
- Screen-demisting system: £7,256
- Tender garage winch & rollers: £6,806
- 26,000 BTU air con: £24,570
- Seakeeper NG3 gyro: £64,112
Prices (inc. 20% UK VAT)
- From: £642,000 (twin 435hp)
- As tested: Approx. £864,000 (twin 435hp)
- (As-tested price adjusted to reflect £28,100 price increase in base boat since October 2018 test)
- Beautifully styled hardtop
- Easy-going handling
- Good helm ergonomics
- Min ’n’ match heads arrangements
- Engine access
Tel: +44 (0)1832 273661