Issue: January 2005
Most sports cruisers have sunpads on the bow, but the height of one-upmanship, must be the two fold down deck lounges on the bow of the exciting new Doral Prestancia 32. But then, everything about this new Canadian cruiser, with its European styling and elegant lines, is extremely different from the norm. The Doral name is not that well known in Australia, but over the past 30 years Doral has become one of Canada’s top sports cruiser manufacturers and is well known throughout North America, the UK and throughout Europe. Doral builds a range of 14 boats from a 5m (17ft) runabout to an 11m (36ft) sports cruiser. Gold Coast-based Hinterland Marine has imported two of the range the 9.8m Prestancia 32 and the 8.6m Monticello.
A feature of the Doral hulls is their Full Floatation Liner system (FFL). The system is similar to the uni-body construction used in the car industry and eliminates the need for stringers and floor panels. The hull and interior liner are bonded together and foamed under pressure to create one solid hull construction. The construction method results in a strong, quiet, hull that is substantially stiffer and makes a noticeable improvement to the performance and handing of the boat.
Doral claims that the sandwich construction has twice the floatation of other boats in its class and makes the hull virtually unsinkable. It also makes the hull very buoyant as I was to find out when the boat was put through its paces on the Broadwater. At first glance the Prestancia looks not much different to most other sports cruisers, but then it is. Take a look around and there are a lot of little innovative surprises that can only come from three decades of satisfying a demanding market.
The Doral’s designer, Christophe Lavigne, a young French Canadian who spent a fair very good use of the available space. A neat trick is the slide out aft leathercovered lounge that can be extended 400mm out over the swim platform if extra room is needed in the cockpit. The lounge extends into a full-length sun lounge with a padded back and headrest. He has even added a single seat in the space next to the cockpit sink and fridge that sits behind the helm station. The helm station seats two with the centre section of the seat lifting up to form a bolster.
The helm station is neat with a full set of Faria white-faced gauges mounted in three separate panels with a stylish leather-covered anti-glare shield over the centre panel. The main cabin is very different to what we have come to expect from a sports cruiser. It is very European with the lounge and dining table on the port side. A small feature not noticed at first is the simple pleat treatment on the lounge back cushions. This highlights the cushions and adds that little bit of style. The galley is small but practical with a granite bench top, the usual fridge and microwave and cupboard storage.
Although I think a better place for the flat screen TV, which sits on a bracket on the bench top, could have been found. Good use has been made of portholes and elongated windows that follow the lines of the cabin top to let plenty of air and light in the main cabin. The main bunk is very different to the norm. It sits right across the beam, but wait for this, the front section lifts up to form a backrest so you can sit up in bed and read. The dining lounge also converts to a double bunk and another double bunk is located under the cockpit sole. This is definitely a crawl in, but don’t sit up too quickly affair. The head is as big as practical on a boat this size. On the water the Doral Prestancia is a different boat to drive and takes a little getting used to.
Although, most people would have it well and truly squared away after a day on the water. Powered by twin 5lt 260hp V8 MPI MerCruisers, driving through Bravo III legs, the boat needs very little trim and gets up on the plane in around seven seconds. However, it needs the trim tabs adjusted initially to keep the hull running flat. Getting the settings right is not a problem once a driver has got used to the characteristics of the boat. Best cruising speed was at 3200rpm and around 29-30mph and at wide-open throttle at 4800rpm the Modern Boating GPS recorded 45.1mph.
The ride was soft and the lines of the hull left a clean wake behind it. Getting to the engine compartment for daily checks is just a matter of activating a switch on the dash and the whole aft cockpit floor lifts up electrically. Every centimetre of space has been used in here as well. A feature that could make the boat popular on the Gold Coast, or on canal estates, is the fold down Targa arch. It folds forward to meet the profile of the windscreen, making it easier to get under some of the Coast’s canal bridges. The bimini also easily folds forward to the Targa arch to open up the cockpit.
There has been some scuttlebutt around that because the boats are built in Canada they are only suitable for freshwater lakes and won’t handle Australian conditions. Doral is quick to point out that 35 per cent of its production goes to Europe for use in saltwater and the company’s best market for the past 10 years has been in Florida where conditions are just as tough as those the boats will face here in Australia.
The Doral Prestancia is a stylish boat that has an individual air about it. Test boat supplied by Hinterland Marine.
Words by Kevan Wolfe