Bruce King has taken the practical necessities of a planing powerboat...and built upon this a topside shape that redefines the aesthetic limits.

Bruce King has designed the Hinckley Talaria 44 as a big sister to his charming and highly successful 36' Hinckley Picnic Boat. Both yachts are beautiful full planing designs for the yachtsman who can afford the ultimate. The profile of these two boats is very much the same, though the Picnic Boat, staying true to its name, puts the emphasis upon outdoor spaces and is considerably narrower of beam. Many of the details, such as the softly rounded teak toerail, sailboat style half-round trim and handrails, and sensuously swept cockpit coamings, are found together only on these two yachts.

What a beautiful object a yacht can be when it is sculpted by a true artist. King has taken the practical necessities of a planing powerboat - a veed bottom flaring to spray deflecting chine flats - and built upon this a topside shape that redefines the aesthetic limits, I admit that the bow might almost be called conventional, with pronounced but not unreasonable flare, but its shape can be viewed as merely a practical response to the necessity of returning spray rapidly into the ocean whence it came. But how well I can picture King at his drafting board laboriously reversing flare into flam as he works aft, thence to exaggerated, almost arc-like tumblehome at the transom, pursuing an indefinable voluptuousness of form with the intensity of Rodin rounding a breast.

If the sheer beauty of this yacht requires superlatives, so also does its draft. This luxuriously appointed 44-footer draws a mere 27" of water. This is accomplished through the use of twin jet drives, which eliminate the need for rudders and pull the propellers (turbines in actual fact) up into the bowels of the boat. The low point of the hull is the tip of the vee on centerline, although there are also small fins outboard of the jets to enhance low speed directional control. The yacht also comes equipped as standard with a bow thruster for assistance in docking. Experienced jet pilots can make these boats go absolutely sideways.

One of the bigger differences between this and the smaller Picnic Boat will be the twin engines and jet drives, instead of one each. The Hinckley Talaria 44 is fitted out with a far more luxurious - and therefore heavier - interior than the Picnic Boat. It is beamier for its length (B/L of.296 vs .275) and has a steeper deadrise (18 degrees) for a more comfortable ride offshore. With two engines it is possible to break the psychologically important 30 knot barrier despite the additional weight and deeper vee. Twin engines will also make her easier to steer in close quarters than would a single engine. Hinckley has specified 420 hp Yanmar diesels mated to Hamilton 321 waterjets. These in-line six-cylinder engines are inherently smooth and quiet, which befits a yacht of this level of luxury.

Two interiors are available for starters — one to sleep two couples belowdecks, and the other just me and my mate on an island double forward. The former houses guests in a small stateroom opposite the galley. Both staterooms share a single head to port and shower opposite. I prefer the latter; when I have guests aboard, I'll stick them back in the pilothouse where they won't hear me snore. And this way there are three social areas to choose from. The cockpit, which is fitted with curved, upholstered aft-facing banquettes, makes the perfect perch from which to watch the twin white streams of the jets sizzle away. The pilothouse is enclosed so it's nicely sheltered when the boat is running at 32 knots, her top speed. Huge windows all around offer a view to all occupants, whether they are seated or standing.

Three steps down is the galley and dining area. The galley looks like something off an honest to goodness yacht, lacking most notably an upright refrigerator. If you need one of these you might as well stay ashore. Across the way on the port side is the cozy dinette, to which four to six fortunate mariners can retire in the evening to soak up the glow of a kerosene lamp and a fine claret.