2010 52' Sport Bridge

LOA: 55 0
Beam: 164
Draft: 40
Weight: 52,000 Ibs.
Fuel: 610 gallons
Water: 200 gallons
Black water: 80 gallons
Power: 3 Volvo D6 with IPS drives
3 stateroom, 2 head Luxury Motor-yacht

2010 52' Sport Bridge by

Its the Monday after the big Northern California Fall Boat Show at Jack London Square in Oakland and boats are still packed into the small slips like sardines in a can. As these boats all need to go back to their normal homes, this is a good opportunity to take one out for a test ride.

Our suspect today is the new 2010 52-foot Sport Bridge from Ovation Yachts. This is the first 52 on the West Coast and it made its debut here in Oakland. Orange Coast Yachts is the exclusive West Coast dealer for Ovation and Rick Peterson has been kind enough to let us take this beauty out for a spin on San Francisco Bay.

Our boat is sterned in to the dock with boats on either side, so I can only get a good look from the stern but several things jump out immediately. For a 52, this boat looks beamy, and indeed it is with a 16 4 beam and a 52 LOA.

I also notice the large cockpit with teak decking, a built-in settee at the transom and a cockpit table that lifts up/down at the touch of a button. Looking forward, molded in steps lead to the flybridge to starboard and a very large double stainless steel slider opens into the saloon. Engine room access is from the cockpit via a huge piston-assist deck hatch. This particular boat also has a hydraulic swim step that increases the LOA to 55 feet. A very nice first impression.


Think Toyota/Lexus

As I move throughout this boat, I keep noticing details usually found on luxury yachts. This is to be expected as Ovation is the luxury yacht division of Silverton and currently has two models: our 52 Sport Bridge and the slightly larger 55 Sport Yacht.

Stepping into the cockpit, you notice a large bench seat, and then you immediately notice that the hard cover stretches all the way aft and provides rain and sun protection to the entire cockpit.

Moving forward through those shiny stainless steel double doors and into the saloon, to starboard there is a three-person settee with storage underneath and to port we have dual recliners on either side of an entertainment cabinet. A large flat-panel TV lifts from its hiding place at the touch of a button, the Bose lifestyle surround sound system sits on the cabinet top, and below is a wine cooler. Now thats entertainment!

Moving along the cherrywood veneer cabinets and up a few steps we find the galley to port and the dinette to starboard. I take note that there is no lower helm, but instead a dinette large enough to seat eight. The dinette is raised and the visibility, even while seated, is terrific.

The galley has upgraded appliances such as the separate, two-drawer refrigerator and freezer, solid surface countertops, and a large stainless sink. Push another button and a microwave lifts up from behind the sink. There is a lot of storage and good visibility in this U-shaped galley up design. This is definitely a chefs galley.

Continue on forward and down five steps and we find a bunkroom to port with separate washer/dryer, a shower just forward that is shared with the VIP stateroom and on the starboard is the head that is shared with the forward stateroom.

To enter the full beam VIP stateroom, you walk through double doors and find a centerline, walk-around queen with ports on both sides and an overhead hatch. Found in the overhead secured with a locking latch is a flat-screen TV that lowers from the overhead when the latch is released. On many boats in this size class this would be the master stateroom, but not on our Ovation

Turn around to the right and down two steps and we enter an amazingly large mid-ship master stateroom. It has a centerline queen berth with large dressers on both sides, a makeup dresser forward, and several hanging lockers. On the starboard, we enter into a large head with separate shower with many designer touches. This is a very well laid out boat, but I keep thinking that there is a lot of room for a 52.


One Is Good, Two Is Better And Three Is Best

Now that I have seen the pretty stuff, its time to get down to the business end. I open up that giant engine room hatch and climb down the ladder into a cavernous engine room.

Looking aft I see the first surprise: not two but three engines! Upon close inspection these are the Volvo D6s with IPS drives. I do the quick calculation: 435 hp each times three is nearly 1300 total horsepower in a 52-foot boat. All of a sudden Im in a hurry to get this boat out of the slip.

Although these engines are rated at 435 hp each, Volvo rates them as direct-drive horsepower equivalent of 600 hp. In marketing speak, Volvo calculates that a boat would require 600-hp engines driving a traditional transmission and shaft to get the same performance of a 435-hp IPS with pods. OK, so now we are up to 1800 hp in a 52-foot boat. Thats a lot of horsepower.

So three pods? Consider most cruise ships have three engines driving forward-facing propellers in pods with the pod drive in the middle being fixed while the port and starboard pods rotate 360 degrees independently. Due to its maneuverability, an 800-foot cruise ship with this power arrangement makes its way around the harbor and on/off the dock without the need for tugs. Our Ovation 52 has a similar power arrangement. Volvo IPS systems have forward-facing, duo-prop drives, the port and starboard drives rotate independently, and the center drive is fixed. Good enough for a cruise ship, good enough for me.

Now I understand how Ovation managed an amidships master stateroom. This engine room is half the length that would be required for a standard power configuration another big advantage of the Volvo IPS system.


Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Visualize standing in front of three large engines sitting side-by-side in an engine room that is over 16 feet wide. One might think that it would be crowded in here, but surprisingly its not. Basic checks and maintenance of all three engines is easy thanks to the Volvo engineers. Oil filters, dipstick, fuel filters, fuel primer pump, and raw water impellers are mounted high and on the port side of each engine easy to get to so no excuses for lack of routine maintenance.

A walk around either side will get you behind the engines and access to the drive oil check and fill. Access back here would be a bit easier if the boat wasnt equipped with power cord cablemasters, but, hey, a cablemaster is cool and surprise number 2: this boat has two of them, one on each side to make shorepower connections easier.

Turning around and looking forward I see a large 610-gallon fuel tank all the way forward against the bulkhead, a 15.5-KW Kohler generator in a sound shield to starboard, a 20-gallon hot water heater and Racor primary fuel filters to port. And something big, white and round bolted to a separate stringer system in the middle of the main stringers. Surprise number 3: the Seakeeper Gyro Stabilizer.

Active gyro stabilizers are relatively new in recreational boats. This particular unit is designed for recreational vessels of this size and is expected to reduce roll by more than 80 percent. The Seakeeper unit is approximately the size of a large beach ball and fits nicely across and between the stringers. Unlike fin stabilizers, the Seakeeper does not have protrusions through the hull so there is nothing that will create drag, snag aquatic plants, or be damaged if bumped on the bottom.

In very simple terms, a gyro stabilizer works on a principle similar to that of a spinning top. In this case, a large flywheel resists a change of direction and applies a force opposite to the input. With a large flywheel rotating at 10,000 rpm, if the boat rolls to port, then the gyro will exert a downward force to starboard to counteract the roll movement. Another advantage the gyro has over the fin stabilizer is that the gyro provides effective stabilization from dead stop to full speed.


View From The Top

We only have an upper helm on the 52 sport yacht and it is a great view from up here. At the top of the steps we enter a very large, fully enclosed flybridge. A hardtop with three hatches covers the entire bridge and we are surrounded with crystal clear isinglass. In case you are concerned with it getting too warm or too cold up here, no problem as there are two reverse-cycle heat/air systems to keep the climate just as you want. If it is fresh air you are after, then open the overhead hatches and side vents.

The top of the stairs is in the center and to starboard of the flybridge with the helm forward, a lounge area with table aft, and a wet bar to port. The U-shaped aft settee has room for six to sit around a table, with enough room for another 10 standing throughout the bridge. The wet bar has a refrigerator/ice maker, sink, and an electric grill.

All the way forward is the centerline helm with a skippers chair and a matching navigators chair to starboard. There is also guest seating to port that could accommodate four.

The helms design is very clean and well thought out. Bookending the centerline Volvo IPS control/information system display are Raymarine E12 Multifunction Displays. To the right of the skipper are the electronic throttle controls and the joystick, which are an easy reach for either the skipper or navigator. Just in front of the joystick is a very unassuming panel that controls the Seakeeper stabilizer. The small display shows system diagnostics and the flywheel speed in rpm.


No Bow Thruster Required

Remember this is the day after the boat show and boats are still packed in tightly. This will be a good test of the IPS drives and joystick docking system. Now if we only had 15 knots of wind we could really get a feel for her close-quarter maneuvering capabilities. Oh, did I mention that we dont have a bow thruster?

With the joystick one simply pushes in the direction you want the boat to go, push harder to go faster and twist the stick either left or right to twist the boat left or right. Sounds simple, and it really is. Making our way through the marina and passing the bowsprits of several boats was as stress free as it gets.

Once into the fairway we quit using the joystick and switched over to the traditional electronic throttle controls and steering. I had a short mental disconnect as there are only two engine throttle controls. Turns out that thrust from the center drive is slaved to the port engine, making operation of the three engines the same as operation of any other twin-engine-powered boat.


The Yerba Buena Lighthouse

Now that we are out of the marina and no longer require the maneuverability of the joystick, we idle down the estuary and head over to Yerba Buena Island and do a few high-speed runs around the Bay Bridge.

It is unfortunate that today we have a sunny clear day, 75 degrees, and flat calm water. Not a ripple in sight. We are in luck, though, as just up ahead is the Alameda Ferry making his way to the Alameda Ferry dock at high speed. Cool, a nice big wake for us to play with. Another lucky break, the Seakeeper has just alerted that it is ready to engage.

Using a gyro stabilizer is another first for me and a bit of learning is required. The Seakeeper system operates in three modes: standby, run and reduced speed. In standby the flywheel spins at 1000 rpm and in this mode you can run the system diagnostics. Press run and the flywheel starts spinning up to its operating speed of 9700 rpm. It takes up to 60 minutes to reach full operating speed, but the system will engage once the flywheel reaches 7500 rpm. This takes approximately 45 minutes. The reduced speed mode is used while at anchor and slows the flywheel to 8000 rpm to reduce power consumption and noise while providing near full performance.

The run button has stopped flashing, which indicates we can engage the system just in time to take the ferry Peraltas wake on the beam. Now normally one would turn into the wake and take it just off the bow, but I want to see the impact of the stabilizer, and what a surprise, nary a roll. If we had done this without the stabilizer engaged, Im sure we would find ourselves down below picking loose items off the deck. Although we do roll with the wake, the stabilizer slows the roll considerably and gives the feel of a slow gentle roll instead of a snap action.

When it is finally time to power up and get going, this boat is quick to plane and has very little vibration. I can appreciate the deep throaty sound of a big diesel engine as it revs up and the faint smell of diesel exhaust is comforting. But not today Thanks to the underwater exhaust there is no deep exhaust noise and virtually no smoke or diesel exhaust smell.

With 1300 hp, performance is exactly what you would expect sporty. Must be why Ovation calls this a Sport Bridge! At wide open throttle the D6s climb quickly to 3550 rpm. A quick check of the GPS and I see that we have topped out at a very respectable 26.7 knots.

Curious as to how much of Ricks fuel we are burning, a check of the Volvo IPS information display shows that the port and starboard engines are consuming 22 gph while the center engine is slightly less at 21 gph for a total of 65 gph. This works out to approximately 0.4 nautical miles per gallon.

As we slow to a more conservative 3100 rpm, which Volvo rates as the continuous duty speed, our GPS speed drops to 21 knots and a fuel burn of 11 gph per engine for an economy of .65 nautical miles per gallon. From my experience in boats of this size and with much less total horsepower, this is a good 15 percent better fuel economy than expected.

We make several high speed turns and churn up as big a wake as we can, but the Sport Bridge takes it all in stride. With the stabilizer engaged, it feels as if we are cruising around the Bay on a calm afternoon but, as we plow through our wake, the spray tells a different story.

After playing around, I mean testing, we make our way back to Jack London Square. As we approach the Alameda Estuary, there is that ferry again, on his way out and leaving a wake. So this time we disengage the stabilizer and the results are predictable: we take a pretty good roll even though we backed off the power and turned into the wake. Im convinced the effectiveness of the Seakeeper.

At the end of the day when sun is setting over the transom and you are looking for a spot to enjoy that glass of port and a fine cigar, look no further than the soft and comfortable cockpit bench seat. This is the perfect spot to enjoy the days end. But with all the luxury features that Ovation has included, they forgot the cigar lighter.

Luxury, performance and loaded with 21st century technology, Ovation has a winner with their new 52 Sport Bridge. For more information or to schedule your own personal Ovation experience, contact Rick Peterson of Orange Coast Yachts, 1070 Marina Village Pkwy, #100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510/523-2628. You can access the Ovation website by going to www.orangecoastyachts.com.


Is It Saloon Or Salon?

Several people have questioned my use of the term saloon. Well, we can thank the French for the confusion. According to The Word Detective, saloon and salon are two forms of the same word with salon being the French form, derived from a Germanic root meaning large room and adopted into English in the 17th century with the meaning of large parlor or reception room.

The use of salon to mean a gathering of artists (broadly defined) comes from Salon, the name of an annual art exhibition at the Louvre in Paris originally held in one of the salons of that museum. The use of salon to lend an air of class to a haircutting shop dates to 1913.

Saloon is simply an Anglicized spelling of salon, with which it was originally used interchangeably. Use of saloon to mean a bar is an American invention dating to the 19th century, but saloon is also used, as is salon, to mean any public lounge room on a ship or railway train.

Half right or half wrong is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?



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