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Wed 20 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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A new species

The new Oryx Flybridge lines takes over from Oryx leucoryx.

The new Oryx Flybridge lines takes over from Oryx leucoryx.

For a yacht builder that has a two-year waiting list on many of its models, a strong export and loyal local following, it could be speculated that there is no need to introduce a new line to its range.

With GC Marine and the Gulf Craft range of open leisure and fishing craft at the lower end, and the Majesty range of luxury yachts from 14 to 40 metres for the upper end of yachting, what was Ajman-based builder, Gulf Craft, thinking when it launched its new range, the Oryx?

"With the popularity of the whole Majesty range, and responding to customer tastes for larger models finished to a higher degree, we saw we needed to fill the gap appearing between our sports range, and the entry-level Majesty."

"So we adapted the Oryx to become it's own range, available as open or the new flybridge," explained Erwin Bamps, Gulf Craft's Executive Manager.

"Filling the gap with a fully-loaded production boat gives clients the choice: if you want a custom yacht, go for Majesty; if you want a less expensive, but fully kitted out yacht, then you go for Oryx."

Obviously aiming for the slightly younger and more outwardly image conscious yacht owner, it was important for Erwin that the Oryx came fully fitted as standard, all down to the instruments and interior furnishings, leaving the buyer no ability to customise anything involved in the fit-out, meaning the units could be turned out quicker and more cost effectively.

Gulf Craft has done a good job of blending the flybridge in on the the Oryx 40 Fly, so that it doesn't have a ‘stuck-on' look to it.

Narrow side decks run from the aft cockpit to the foredeck, with a bulbous coachroof rising off the deck to both elevate the double sunpad, and increase the headroom in the forepeak cabin below.

Running around the coachroof, the narrow side deck leads to an inset windlass that controls the prow-mounted anchor.

A half-metre wide teak bathing platform covers the twin sterndrives and offers a good step aboard.

Though there is no transom storage, a built-in shower demonstrates the sporty nature the boat has been designed for. The open aft cockpit is kept simple, with an L-shaped bench curving around to starboard.

Stepping inside, the interior immediately breaks away from other Gulf Craft ranges with a sea of light maple broken up by wenge and chocolate brown leather panels.

Light drops in through the large twin-paned windscreen and teardrop-shaped side windows, which, combined with the good head height, further opens up the space.

To starboard, an L-shaped cream leather banquette curves around a freestanding maple and wenge table, facing the view out of the double aft doors and the flatscreen LG television built into a maple entertainments console in the port quarter.

Moving forward, the helm station is positioned by two steps to starboard, providing a double bench seat to give the pilot an elevated view of the bow and side decks, though vision aft was somewhat obscured to port by the entertainments column.

Designed similar to a commercial truck outlay, the solid moulded dashboard worked very well - putting practicality over style.

In line with Erwin's statement about keeping costs down, the helm is a standard Volvo Penta unit that is slightly tight to squeeze behind as it is not adjustable.
Maximising the feeling of space, the galley to port is lowered down a floor so anyone preparing food does not interrupt any activity in the saloon, or the view through the windows.

A Corian counter is broken by a single sink and double induction hob, with a microwave placed above the counter and fridge below.

Draw and locker storage allow for plenty of supplies to be stored for longer trips, all built in with the standard maple wood finish.

Down another step, the accommodation is compacted through a small corridor without becoming claustrophobic.

While light comes in from the porthole to lighten the area, there were a few too many sharp corners and edges that could be caught by a guest in the dark, though fortunately they are covered by soft panelling.

Both the guest twins and forepeak double share the single head. Lacquered throughout so as to be easily cleaned, yet also provide a stylish finish, a separate shower with Italian faucet is joined by a WC and small moulded basin.

Entering the forepeak cabin, the door width is noticeably not too tight. With a centrally placed bed, the cabin offers a small hanging locker and plenty of head-high storage provided by curved maple cabinets on both sides leading in to the mirrored headboard.

However, though useful at night, during the day, it is the flybridge where most would spend their time. Climbing the teak steps to the top deck with a firm rail for support, a large L-shaped banquette to starboard dominates the area.

Deep and with a low backrest, it is a very inviting resting place for socialising and watching the world go by.

The aft area of the flybridge under the low flybridge offers space for a large sunpad and sunbathing, while the helm station is set forward to port and served by a single swivel seat.

Set a nice height off the water, the flybridge was certainly the place to ride when underway, with very little noise from the well-insulated engines.

While it was quite blustery on this first model, the windshield is being re-made by Opacmare to be more effective in protecting guests when speeding along, which the Oryx does very well.

Despite quickly getting up to speeds in the mid-30s with the sterndrives, the shallow hull meant at slower speeds she did tend to wander slightly and there was not a lot of feeling in the helm.

However, driving from the fly helm station was far more satisfying, particularly when flinging the Oryx into a tight curve.

Verdict

For the amateur yachtsman, a well-finished and specified boat.

Simple details have been excellently catered to- an exciting addition to the Gulf Craft family.

SpecificationsLOA: 12.2 metres

Beam: 3.81 metres

Draft: 0.7 metres

Deadrise: na

Fuel Capacity: 1136 litres

Top speed: 36 knots

Guide price: US$ 306,850

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