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Bill cruising to another winner

One of the nation's leading boat builders looks like he's done it again, writes David Lockwood.

One of the nation's leading boat builders looks like he's done it again, writes David Lockwood.

It was meant to be the boat builder's boat. Bill Barry-Cotter - founder of Mariner, Riviera and Maritimo - decided to launch his own luxury cruiser for kicking back on the Gold Coast with his wife. This is something he's no stranger to - building boats, that is - having created more than 4500 cruisers since striking out in Mona Vale in 1965.

Now in his late 60s but showing no signs of slowing, Barry-Cotter embodies the adage that time and tide wait for no man. In keeping with trends, he opted for a boat without a flying bridge to create a one-level living and cruising space. "I thought about going to Hammo but realised I'm not going to bother," he says. A low-profile boat makes it easier to slip under the bridges between his factory in Coomera, Queensland, and his home on the Nerang River.

Barry-Cotter wanted something special, and upgraded the engines, AV gear, bathroom fittings, the galley and soft furnishings, under the eye of industrial designer Dave Stewart. Bluestone-coloured leather trim and other enhancements such as heated towel rails, instant boiling water and Foxtel take the new boat to the next level.

But then the unthinkable happened. While he was in Monaco for the grand prix, his staff sold his boat. That first S50 was snapped up by a Sydney buyer after it made its debut in May at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. And it made a local boat-show appearance this month before we snagged a test drive on the way back to its berth.

As we saw it, the S50 is probably the most loaded Maritimo ever, boasting more than $250,000 worth of options and upgrades. But the new model shares the same platform as the M50 with flying bridge. Replacing the M48, which accounted for more than 109 builds, the M50 could well be Maritimo's best-seller again.

This Sedan iteration is no-less-serious a cruising motoryacht. With an enlarged fuel capacity of 4000 litres, 500 litres more than the M48, the S50 and M50 have a range of more than 500 nautical miles at 22 knots. Top speed with the Cummins fully-electronic 715hp engines was just more than 30 knots, and we're told the base model 670hp Volvo engines produce a similar speed while burning less fuel.

Unlike his competitors, Barry-Cotter isn't offering Volvo or Cummins pod drives on either 50, although the market is asking for it. The boat builder is sticking with time-proven shaft drives and adding aftermarket-supplied joystick docking devices, either hydraulic types such as that from Twin Disc or Xenta or the less costly models that use 24V bow and stern thrusters.

The latter was among the long list of options fitted on the test boat. There were joysticks at three different locations, including either flank in the cockpit. On a blustery day, they made leaving from the marina and berthing a bump-free affair. As pictured, the S50 had an upgraded custom-painted hull, hydraulic-lift swim platform for quick tender dispatch, and underwater lights for attracting marine life. The transom with integrated fridge-freezer and barbecue was the standard design.

The cockpit will accommodate a couple of families, while outdoor dining, aided by the aft galley with Miele stove, microwave oven, rangehood and big dishwasher.

While ours was a brief encounter, we did the Sydney thing and spent more time at champagne-sipping speeds than on the sticks. With its sunroof and opening side windows, the S50 would be a great entertainer on a summer's night, where driver and guests travel together. And while there isn't the separation you would get with a flying bridge boat, there's serious offshore performance to head away with at holiday time.

From a base price of $1.33 million, the new Maritimo S50 has a $1,585,000 sticker price, with upgraded expedition pack including aft rails, LED deck lights, an extra fridge and Miele appliances.

Now all Barry-Cotter needs to do is keep a boat for himself. More from SBM Maritimo at The Spit, or on

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