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The Prestige 590 has many of the features that represent the modern flybridge cruiser – spacious living on three levels, dual joystick controls (from saloon and flybridge), and the ability to host a large amount of day visitors across its fore and aft decks.
The three-cabin, three-bathroom 590 is part of the French builder’s Flybridge line, which is penned by regular collaborators Garroni of Italy to cleverly disguise a fairly large motor yacht at 61ft.
Since its 1989 inception, initially within the Jeanneau brand, the Prestige range has grown steadily to have 13 models between 40-75ft and become a separate division of the company, although still part of the enormous Beneteau Group.
As the years passed, the Prestige aesthetics have smoothed while retaining the signature large windows to soften the tall hulls, but inside much has changed from their earlier models. The Pod drive revolution allows these boats to be handled easily by the family man who may have kids running about, but thanks to smart systems, one eye can be kept on them as well.
“Modern family boats are our core business, which we liken to having their own private island at sea,” Product Manager Erik Stromberg told me.
So, moving with the times is another reason for Prestige’s prominence in the mid-range motor cruiser segment, despite an increasingly competitive global market. To find out more, I spent a day on and off the water at Cannes with the design team that included Camillo Garroni.
The sleek yet understated lines of the Prestige 590 sat alongside the dock may not have caught my eye like some of the other more ostentatious and of course larger craft that surrounded me, yet the Garroni team has created a stylish and I’d say pretty boat that is about the right proportion in terms of length-to-height ratio.
“The 590 is a very important boat because it is the middle of our range, so a transition model for both the smaller and larger Prestige yachts,” explained Garroni as we talked in the saloon.
Clean aesthetics combined with a streamlined profile make this Prestige 590 Flybridge a sleek 61-footer, largely due to the low-slung flybridge. I’ve experienced this design on other models in the range because it has the advantages of reduced windage and under-bridge height, but the cost is lower-than-comfortable bulwarks in a rocky seaway. However, that’s a small minus in what is a well measured evolution of this range.
The flybridge is reached via solid teak steps with guardrail and a gentle incline guiding me safely aloft to this spacious area where a snug corner bench with table awaits at the back and wetbar/grill opposite.
The flybridge helm to portside is a functional space for steering and has the wheel, throttles, Zeus joystick and two Raymarine plotters. Its location well behind the forward visor – to create sunbed space – prevents clear views of the bow, so some steerers may have to stand when manoeuvring, although it’s a fairly sheltered perch to deflect the wind at speed, as I found off Cannes.
The helm seat is not quite a double so an extra 12 inches more would create a comfy space for two while the surrounding sunpads can cope with two tall adults and a child easily; just swing over the canvas bimini when the sun strengthens or choose the GRP version.
Looking down on the decks from the flybridge showed a fairly practical layout including midships cleats, tall lifelines and handrails alongside the triple elevating sunpads on the wide bow area.
These pads are set on a raised bulkhead which is a continuation of the saloon, allowing more space below decks but also a comfy bracing position for bow riding. Anchoring was well taken care of with a large Lewmar vertical windlass/capstan with substantial Plough anchor housed in a sturdy bow roller. Side decks are about a foot wide, so sufficient for moving around between bow and transom.
At the transom gunwale, the optional capstans are welcome, given this is a 20-tonne hull. Water access is via a single portside gate to the wide teak swim platform, which can house a dinghy on chocks, while at sea level there’s a hand rail with ladder for bathers. The teak platform and similar cladding on the aft cockpit enhances the barefoot enjoyment of these two areas.
The aft cockpit layout has L-shaped bench seating around the transom on starboard side, with a large teak table alongside, shaded by the overhanging flybridge. The transom bench also contains the hatch to the crew quarters, which has a bunk and ablutions with wide aft window. Alternatively, a dinghy garage can be optioned on the 590, which is a good choice for cruising. Underfoot, a teak-clad hatch in the centre of the cockpit leads to the twin Cummins engines.
GORGEOUS GALLEY AND SALOON
The single-level cockpit gives easy access to the saloon via sturdy sliding doors with teak scuppers to prevent water ingress. Inside, the saloon has the favoured aft galley which has a large window elevating outwards for maximum airflow.
Natural light abounds from the tall side windows that sensibly are vertically inclined to avoid direct rays, and to starboard is a side-deck door for the skipper. The open-plan layout has the U-shaped dinette central, behind the starboard main console. The adjustable table can also turn the area into a berth.
Six can comfortably sit around the table while opposite, several more guests can relax on the L-shaped sofa and enjoy the panoramic views at eye level. Despite the tall step between galley and saloon, forward headroom remains nearly 2.0m.
The galley has a spacious yet seagoing layout, with the surrounding galley bench reducing the number of cooks, but ensuring everyone has a handhold when they need one. Apartment-like layouts are lovely in port, but at sea when you’re bobbing about at the cooker, the ability to lean against a rounded bulkhead is welcome. There’s also ample room for appliances and storage. Pity about the lack of fiddles, though, around the ceramic cooktop with oven and deep sink.
Perishables are kept in a tall household style fridge-freezer and there’s a microwave. Ample overhead locker space is another plus, with stylish lacquered white doors contrasting nicely with the dark Alpi laminate.
MIDSHIPS OWNER’S CABIN
There are three cabins and the widest part of the vessel – midships – is devoted to the owner’s ensuite that has its own stairway at the back of the saloon. Underway, this has the kindest motion but most noise due to the engines just behind the bed bulkhead.
However, it’s a lovely berth with queen-sized island bed surrounded by large portlights with opening portholes, affording sea views and tall headroom. Our review boat had a lounge with table on port, but an alternative here is storage space.
Yet another smart and unique feature on the 590 is the owner’s bathroom that uses the entire 15ft beam, with head starboard, shower central and clothes closet on port. This dual-access facility is a major selling point and certainly gets my vote as best in category. Unusual use of roughened Corian as flooring here is yet another notable point.
Guests aren’t quite so pampered in the bow area, but nevertheless enjoy a spacious ensuite cabin in the forepeak which even has a walk-in closet. The wide, deep bows create an airy berth, helped by large rectangular windows. On port is a smaller cabin with two single beds, so ideal for teenagers, and this shares access to the bathroom of the main guest cabin. Throughout the 590, customisation can be done via multiple different carpets, linings and wood finishes to personalise your vessel.
The main console seat has just enough room for a small co-skipper who will enjoy the spectacular views through the large front window, angled back to create the sleek profile of the 590 which sensibly also enlightens the below-decks corridor. The windows are supported by slim struts to maximise the skipper’s visibility.
Two 12-inch Raymarine Axiom screens dominate the console, with electronic twin throttles for the Cummins 600hps and Zeus Pod joystick alongside, plus the autopilot (with a third joystick optional in the aft cockpit) as well as Skyhook dynamic positioning to hold off at marinas, while our review boat also had a bow thruster.
The 590 is the first to offer the company’s own digital bus system named Ship Control. Like established brands such as CZone and EmpirBus, these digital systems give easy menu controls and fast error checking for all household applications such as air-conditioning, lighting, navigation lights and complement some of the engine controls.
This all goes to make the Prestige 590 a smart as well as a stylish cruiser. This is further enhanced with the launch of the company’s assisted docking system, Dock Sense, included as part of Raymarine’s latest Lighthouse operating system.
I tested the prototype of Dock Sense on a Prestige 460 and was duly impressed by the system – a series of smart cameras with sensors fitted to the guardrails that assists the skipper when coming alongside. Yet another smart feature is Raymarine’s new Augmented Reality navigation system, which overlays the chart with features.
NEWLY DESIGNED HULL
The Prestige 590 is no mere extension of the 560 model, but rather a redesigned hull, specifically to optimise the performance of the Cummins/ Zeus 600hp motors. Construction is infused GRP, which ensures a consistent foam/resin mix while optimising the hull weight, with structure created by infusing stringers longitudinally. It’s a stringent process I’ve personally witnessed in the Jeanneau yard in Vendee.
The classic hull shape increases the foredeck space with the raked bow and sculpted outside longitudinals to give directional stability, while a wide keel section and flat aft quarter promote planing. The wide keel carried aft is intended for better directional stability while also partly shielding the aft- facing Cummins/Zeus pod drives.
Access to the engine room is in the aft deck where the hatch revealed the two Cummins motors. The centralised alloy ladder guides you down easily, but space is fairly tight between the engines.
Just ahead of them and below the Cummins 13.5kW generator – so ideally placed to balance the trim – came a steady humming sound which alerted me to the Seakeeper Six, a €65,000 option to ward off mal de mer. Having tested stabilisers like this, I find they definitely work, so are ideal for sailors with a fragile disposition or those simply wanting some peace at anchor.
Elsewhere, wall-mounted filters and electrical boxes are at hand along with most service points. Gearbox oil changes are done further aft as a bulkhead separates the Zeus pod drives from the motors.
At over 60ft, the Prestige 590 looks imposing for the amateur skipper, so a major reason why joystick pod drives are popular. Using the joystick involves simply turning it towards your desired direction of travel.
The precise feel of the Cummins/Zeus combination – apart from the more seaworthy rear-facing propeller layout – is another boon to the amateur skipper who might only put to sea once a month, so needs all the help he or she can get when negotiating a windy marina surrounded by gleaming multi-million dollar boats. Our boat also had a bow thruster, which combats the windage created by these tall motorboats.
This was our scenario in the Vieux Port of Cannes, a place well known to me but hardly less demanding as vessels of every sort zoomed by. So, with hardly a murmur from the Cummins we eased our we seaward towards my favourite anchorage on the Lerins Islands.
Seated inside, due to the rainy day, the view from the console gave me confidence to accelerate past a fleet of race yachts and watch as the Zeus pods evened our trim automatically. Noise levels allowed normal conversation even as I pushed the throttles down hard, and no groans or other complaints came from the furnishings as we hit some wake.
The Raymarine GPS showed nearly 28 knots at maximum revolutions, with a lumpy sea and a full complement of eight people. Prestige’s own measures show the boat’s optimal cruising speed to be 22 or 23 knots, but one of the advantages of pod propulsion is that efficiency is quite linear, so through the 18-24 knots range, you can adjust your speed to the sea conditions and not worry too much about fuel economy.
Banking into turns showed predictable handling from the 590 and the decks remained dry. More importantly, the ride felt smooth and that aforementioned precise feel to the hydraulic steering made helming an enjoyable experience. My notes stated ‘family friendly yet fun’, which is a fair summary of the accomplished Prestige 590.
And for those interested, keep an eye out for the S version with a sunroof and smaller flybridge, with its world premiere at this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival.
The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 49. Email [email protected] for print subscription enquiries or subscribe to the Magzter version at: www.magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/