There’s No Script
The Intrepid 475 Sport Yacht is completely customizable and runs like an Olympic bobsled.
A funny thing happened on the way back to the docks after testing Intrepid’s flagship, the 475 Sport Yacht, just off the west coast of Florida recently. When I glanced at my test numbers, I noticed my handwriting looked exactly the same at 1000 rpm as it did at wide open throttle (6000 rpm). And uh, it wasn’t exactly like we were puttering around out there.
The Intrepid’s four 350-horsepower Yamaha V-8s had us screaming across the water at upwards of 52 knots. Not that you could tell. The boat’s modified-V stepped hull is so expertly designed and her acceleration is so sublimely smooth that 52 knots felt closer to a more pedestrian 35. Suffice to say: This boat goes. And at speeds like that, and with an LOA approaching 50 feet, watching her run flat-out from shore should rightfully be considered a spectator sport.
But this boat doesn’t just excel at straight-line speed. Her S-turns were fluid and totally controlled even with the hammer all the way down. And at a cruise speed of 44 knots, she turned hardover in just under two boat lengths. At 30 knots, she did it in one.
Ken Clinton, president of Intrepid, proudly maintains that his boats have no competitors, and during a tour of his plant in Largo, Florida, he set out to substantiate his bold claim to Capt. Bill Pike (Power & Motoryacht’s executive editor) and me. It soon became clear to us just why Clinton feels this way about his vessels. For one, they are completely customizable. Are you a serious fisherman? Opt for the aluminum half-tower and outriggers. Into scuba? Get Intrepid’s rock-solid dive door installed in the side of the boat. Then decide if you want it hinged down or in.
My test boat was tricked out with, among other things, an electrically controlled dual-pedestal helm seat, a fiberglass arch with a hardtop and six lights, a hot-and-cold box transom shower, bulletproof (yes, bulletproof) hull-side windows, one of those dive doors to port (fold-out), a transom door to starboard, enough fire-extinguishing equipment to douse a bonfire, and a partridge in an exquisitely manicured, Nepalese-grown pear tree. Let’s just say you can get your 475 with whatever amenities you like.
Furthermore, the attention to detail in the Intrepid factory borders on fetishistic. In particular, the company has always staked its reputation on having outstanding fit and finish. However Intrepid doesn’t build its boats just to win beauty pageants. If you’re banging around out on the water at 40 or 50 knots, you’re going to want something sturdy underneath you. To that point, two things struck me about Intrepid’s building process. First, Intrepid hulls are inlaid with Kevlar, a nice complement to the bulletproof hull windows, I suppose. And second, unlike some builders who view vertical structures on boats—cabinets for example—as added-on compartments, Intrepid integrates them into the hull in effect creating vertical stringers. The payoff for this technique comes in the boat’s ride, which is smooth and imbued with an exceptionally solid feel. “This all may sound like overkill,” Clinton offers, driving home his point, “but I don’t get phone calls [from unhappy owners] later. My boats don’t break.”