Elite 60 Flybridge Cruiser Review

This Kiwi leads the push across the ditch.

Boat builders from across ‘the ditch’ have been looking long and hard at the Australian market for sometime. And if the number of NZ-designed and built boats that appeared on the Aussie boat show circuit this year is any indication, the Kiwis are making a move.

One of the standout brands that made its debut this year was an Elite 60 designed by Bill Upfold and custom-built by Lloyd Stevenson in Auckland.

The boat named Coastal Cowboy was built for resort developer Warren Burgess. The Gold Coast resident and former commercial fisherman is in the process of setting up a resort at Tutukaka in Northland about two and a half hours from Auckland, and Coastal Cowboy will spend much of her time doing charter work operating from the resort.

Something Different
The Elite 60 is a very livable, mid-pilot house design with an interior layout that is very different to most recreational cruisers. 

The hull has a fine entry that flattens out at the stern in what is described as a ‘warped planing’ design. This allows the engines to be mounted well forward in the hull and reduces the shaft angles. Lift is generated by single strakes down each side just below the waterline. The hull feels solid; there was not the hint of a creak or groan as we went out through the Seaway at 20 knots to be put through its paces. 

The boat was brought over from New Zealand for the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show on its own bottom and, although it took six days and 45 minutes at an average speed of 9.28 knots to conserve fuel, there was not a hint that the boat had made a 1337 nautical mile track across the Tasman. It’s going back the same way too. I guess it’s an indication of just how serious the Kiwis are about breaking into the Aussie market.

Top Layout
The whole design of the Elite 60 lends itself to charter work. As well as the three sleeping cabins there are three entertainment levels, four if you count the cockpit. 

A characteristic that is finding favour with NZ designers is the big sliding doors that lead off the boarding platform into the cockpit. They open the cockpit right up and wide enough to drive an inflatable through if you were that way inclined. Even so there is room either side for a live-bait tank and a kill tank.

There is plenty of room to mount a game chair or just set up a folding table and a few deck chairs. The gunwales are unusually wide. They have rod holders mounted in the middle, but are 600mm wide, the widest I have seen on a boat of this style. It means that tagging a fish brought along side would be difficult, and if an angry billfish found its way through the sliding doors and into the cockpit, it would be very interesting. Perhaps that’s why the gunwales are so wide, so the crew can sit on them when the fish takes over the cockpit. 

All jokes aside, the cockpit is well set-up with a barbecue, freezer, icemaker, sink and a bin for dead stubbies. As Warren was quick to point out, although Coastal Cowboy comes with a couple of serious Long Reach outriggers, it’s a multi-purpose boat. 

An aft helm station is mounted on the starboard side under a cover. This is necessary for docking stern first, since the dinghy, when it’s in position behind the pilothouse, hides the corners of the boat. This also makes it easy for one person to handle the boat. Warren often goes out by himself and, as he demonstrated, he has no trouble handling the 60-footer one-up.

Just inside the cabin is an oak dinette with a big window that slides down to open. All the woodwork throughout the galley is an attractive oak with teak in the main cabin. Opposite the galley is a cabinet for light-rod storage. The serious rods are kept under the lounge seat in the pilothouse, and a crew cabin and day head are located aft as well.

The U-shaped galley is also on the same level and there is a place for everything: plates, cups, and glasses, eight of each. The galley has everything that opens and shuts as well: four-burner gas stove, microwave, dishwasher, wastemaster, two fridges, a chiller/freezer and a slide-out rack for cleaning items and dishcloths There’s also a double-door pantry that contains everything that you might need on an up-market charter for a week or so. 

Up a few steps and we find ourselves in the main cabin. It feels more like a lounge room, with surround lounges and carpet on the floor, and the entertainment centre complete with a cabinet for glasses and bar next to the five steps that lead up to the pilothouse. Even on the move the main cabin is probably where most of the guests would congregate. It’s almost apartment-style living with a good view of the outside world through the surround windows. 

It’s a matter of sitting back with your feet up on a pouffe and enjoying life, or if you need somewhere to rest a plate of nibblies or a drink, turn one of the pouffes over and you have a small coffee table.

The pilothouse has a raised double seat in front of the console with the usual array of instruments. Most helm stations have a place for a drink holder. This one has two moulded holders designed to fit the handles of coffee cups. There are always one or two guests who want to help drive or see what’s going on, so there are lounges on one side of the pilothouse where guests can enjoy the sun under the opening roof. The Elite 60’s fit-out can be tailored to an individual owner’s requirements and specifications.

Performance & handling
Twin Cummins QSM11, 715hp diesels powered the Elite 60 and she cruises along at 2000rpm. At these revs the turbos kick in and the speed settles down to a comfortable 20 knots with a fuel usage of 82lt per hour per side.
At this speed she will run on autopilot all day in a moderate sea, so it’s a matter of sitting back and enjoying the ride. Top speed is around 28 knots at a rated 2500rpm.

Warren Burgess didn’t waste any time after the Sanctuary Cove bash, he had charter guests to look after, so Coastal Cowboy went straight back to Tutukaka the same way it came over.