There are few builders with the pedigree of Bertram Yachts. During its heyday, founder Dick Bertram was a household name thanks to ads in national magazines for Rolex and a massive billboard in Times Square. The C. Raymond Hunt-designed, deep-V, 31-foot Moppie would launch the then Miami-based builder into the stratosphere.
After times of feast and famine, Bertram was sold to Italy’s Gavio Group in 2015. New ownership recognized Bertram not just as an esteemed name but as an American icon. They subsequently destroyed the old molds and started from scratch, relaunching the business with the 35, a successful interpretation of Moppie, and followed that with the 61.
I was aboard hull number one during its slow-burn tour of tournaments and boat shows that put hundreds of hours on her keel. Vice President of Sales Tommy Thompson echoed the builder’s dedication to preserving the name while striving for the best results. “At every single step in the build process, we considered the legacy of Bertram.”
Seven of us gathered on the flybridge for a day of wreck fishing; our septet fit, with room to spare. “There used to be two or three comfortable spots [on the flybridge],” said Thompson. “There’s six forward-facing spots here.” Captain and mate occupied the plush helm chairs, with two more flanking the well-organized Palm Beach-style helm on settees with adjustable chair backs allowing them to lounge. I reclined on the settee forward of the helm next to photographer Billy Black. “I fell asleep coming down, right here,” Black told me.
The voluminous theme continued once we hit the first wreck and began to fish in earnest. The 188-square-foot cockpit was up to the task, allowing four anglers plenty of elbow room. A bulkhead-mounted Garmin chartplotter—a welcome trend—at the mezzanine seating allowed us to keep an eye on bottom structure and toggle through all the other features available at the glass bridge.
With a breeze kicking up to 10 knots or so, the captain put the stern right over a wreck and hit the position fix button on the joystick of the optional ($89,500) CAT Three60 Precision Control system. Immediately the mains and thruster worked in unison with GPS to hold our position without lurching. We caught some grouper and a handful of other wreckfish. When a wreck seemed to be fished out, we made our way to another.
After a night at the botanical paradise that is Ussepa Island, I was at the helm by 0800 running south, slaloming around crab pots at a comfortable 37-knot cruise, the big deep-V carving up the light chop. The Sea Star Optimus dual-ram hydraulic steering and Humphree auto tabs were an ideal match—she was responsive and handled like a smaller vessel at all speeds. When I buried the throttles, she maintained an average top hop of 43.3 knots and according to the builder will probably be a few knots quicker once some adjustments are made to her five-blade Veem wheels.
There’s an aura about the old Bertram that’s been captured with the 61 as she breaks new ground in design and performance. The current team is determined to run the heck out of her, looking to improve on what is already a fine vessel. —Jeff Moser
Displ.: 88,000 lbs.
Cruise Speed: 37 knots
Top Speed: 43 knots
Fuel: 1,720 gal.
Water: 280 gal.
Test Power: 2/1,925-hp Caterpillar C32Acert
Price: $3.4 million