Cruisers' new 50-foot motoryacht - combining American ingenuity and European styling - has brains as well as beauty.  

The Cruisers 5000 Sport Sedan is a best-of-both-continents boat. Its styling speaks Italian, but its living space, amenities, innovative design and lifestyle-oriented interior were all born in the USA. It has the looks that Americans love, and the features that Americans crave. This new flagship of the Wisconsin firm's extensive cruiser lineup reflects a design philosophy that focuses as much on real-world functionality and on real people's needs as on the swoop of the sheer or the angle of the windshield. The aesthetics of the new 5000 were no more important in its development than was its livability - an approach that often seems to have eluded many foreign builders. In contrast to these yards, Cruisers concentrates on the total package.

The dramatic influence of European, especially Italian, styling on American yacht design is a fait accompli. The complete absence of the merest hint of a vertical line or sharp corner no longer makes news. Cruisers has long been incorporating this popular continental flair and sensuality into the styling of its highly successful mini-yachts - and the new 5000, its first true yacht, s a showcase for how well Cruisers does it. Beyond that, however, the 5000 is a testament to how closely the company listens to advice from dealers and customers who attend meeting and focus groups around the country. The bottom line is that this largest-ever Cruisers will really appeal to people who spend a lot of time on their boats and who know what contributes to comfortable cruising and what doesn't. 

VISIBILITY AND LIVABILITY: Both are optimized by the inclusion of helm, lounge and galley in a single area. Second stateroom houses washer/dryer. 

The 5000 looks like it would be right at home off Sardinia, but a closer inspection reveals that the narrow beam, limited interior space and lack of flexibility endemic to many Mediterranean sport yacht have all been eliminated. Instead, you'll find generous headroom and excellent visibility from the lower as well as the upper helm; stairs, rather than ladders to the bridge from both the cockpit and the pilothouse; private, comfortable quarters for owners and guest alike, and flexible furniture and bridge arrangements that allow owners to customize the boat to their liking. 

With the optional extended platform and dinghy lift, to carry a craft that provides easy access to shore and to shallow-water destinations, the 5000 Sport Sedan becomes a luxurious getaway boat that you can take virtually anywhere and anchor out on for extended periods. A ton of watersports equipment can be stored in the gasketed lockers and cabinets that are built into the cockpit and swim platform sections. A freshwater hot-and-cold shower and washdown are neatly tucked away in the transom, as are a retractable shore cord (optional) and TV and phone inputs. No need to rough it aboard this sport yacht - a fact that becomes immediately apparent when you slide open the overbuilt glass doors and enter the bright, spacious salon. 

The 5000's entire salon deck is one big, open area, incorporating lounge space, entertainment center, galley, dinette and lower helm station. There's a lot going on here, but it all works. Tastefully coordinated materials - namely, Avonite (countertops), cherry wood (galley sole, fridge face and cabinetry), beige vinyl (headliner), beige carpeting and gleaming beige gel coat blend handsomely so that the various parts coexist as a pleasing whole. The only element that intrudes on the unobstructed fore-and-aft field of vision is the staircase from the helm/dinette level (two steps higher than the salon/galley) to the bridge.

The long-standing design decree that food preparation (and the food preparer) should be relegated to some hole behind a partition has, thankfully, been supplanted in most modern cruisers by the inclusion of the galley as an integral part of the salon - making for much brighter, much more open and airy interiors that are easier to move around in. The 5000's generous beam (15'6"), only a bit of which is robbed by the side decks, allows its attractive cherry-paneled galley to find a convenient home opposite the port-side sofa and chairs, just forward of the entertainment center - where you'll find a standard built-in TV/VCR (that pulls out and swivels) and an integrated Bose Lifestyle Music System with 10 cube speakers (plus more in the staterooms), a woofer behind the sofa and a non-pointing remote (that you can use from the dock) that allows two separate programs to be played simultaneously in different parts of the boat. Cutting-edge stuff!

The 5000 Sport Sedan is built to offer choices. While it's a production yacht, an owner can customize it by choosing different combinations of sofas, sleepers, recliners and chairs - all high-quality Flex-Steel products. On the bridge, there's a choice of a davit and dinghy storage (if you don't opt for the TNT hydraulic platform) or a sunpad. To accommodate these options, the radar arch can be either forward- or aft-facing. Other options include washer/dryer, TVs in the staterooms, central vacuum system, bow thruster, oil exchange system, bridge icemaker/fridge and cell/intercom phone.

But how does it drive, you ask. In short, it's superbly maneuverable. Leaving the slip, I was prepared to perform the usual starboard-forward, port-reverse maneuver with the controls to turn sharply to port in the tight space. But, by simply turning the wheel once, I swung the boat into the wind from due north to due west almost in its own length - as if it were about half its actual size. A stiff breeze blew as I idled down the channel, but the 5000's shallow keel kept it dead on course. Heading out Miami;s Government Cut inlet, there was no response hesitation from the DDEC throttle controls, and the 5000's prop pockets all but eliminated any bow rise. Perhaps most impressive of all was the boat's quietness. Its stepped-in exhausts reduce noise, fumes and back pressure (which is close to zero).

ENGINE OPTIONS

The prop pockets, plus the use of V-drives, afford 10-degree shaft angles, which wring greater speed out of the 625-hp Detroit Diesel DDEC 6V-92TIA engines (smaller Cats, Volvos and Detroits are also available). Top end is 34 mph (2350 rpm, 37 gph/side) and a good cruising speed is 30.5 mph (2100 rpm, 30 gph/side). The position of the rudders, with the trailing edges set inside the pockets, is another factor that accounts for the 5000's accurate tracking.

The excellent visibility aft from the salon level facilitates docking from the lower station, where the six-way power helm chair is fit for a megayacht. At the bridge helm, the driving position is comfortable whether you're seated or standing. The center section of the three-person helm bench is adjustable. Particularly thoughtful is the access to this helm bench from the starboard as well as the port side. Down below, a door from the helm station leads to the starboard side deck. These are both features that help make moving around the 5000 so effortless.

Circular stairs lead down from the salon to the three staterooms. Cherry paneling and cabinetry give the cabins a rich, attractive hue. Inner-spring mattresses, cedar-lined hanging lockers, 6'6" headroom, discreet AC controls, opening ports, clever storage arrangements, built-in TVs (opcional), excellent lighting and well-made drawers contribute to the comfort and livability of the accommodations.

The forward guest stateroom bas its own head, which also serves as the day head and can be accessed from the companionway. The circular shower stall's sliding door attests to the virtues of simplicity - you can tell it will work forever. The gel coat finish - even overhead - is both appealing and practical. This head and the master head have Avonite vanities and ceramic tile floors. The master head boasts a big shower with bench, grabrail, storage cabinet, overhead light and opening port.

USING EVERY INCH

An ingenious use of space defines both the master and the second guest stateroom. The former utilizes an angled queen-size berth with a dropped ceiling overhead (to afford good headroom in the dinette above) but retains sufficient height so you can walk around the bed. A double hanging locker and a bank of drawers and cabinets provide ample storage space. The starboard guest stateroom, which can also be set up as an office, offers twin berths or a single king-size bed, at the head of which is the optional washer and dryer - separate units that are large enough to be truly useful.

There's a long list of additional userfriendly features to recommend this new family yacht. The cockpit overhang provides outdoor shade. A huge hatch allows access to the engine room, where filters, strainers, batterries and genset (13 1/2-kW soundshielded Kohler) are all easily accessible, and where fiberglass diamond plate, srorage shelves and a garbage bag holder make life more tolerable. A standard Lewmar windlass and anchor washdown make anchoring more civilized. A wet bar and 110/12V outlets on the bridge make relaxation more complete. Even with the base 430-hp Volvo 73Ps, the 5000 will cruise in the mid-20-mph range. Cruisers has distilled years of successful innovations and hundreds of hours of owner and dealer feedback into the new queen of its fleet - and it shows.