The Marquis 500 Sport Bridge melds the best of European design and American craftsmanship...

The boat's sweeping curves, low radar arch and even the forward-bent stainless-steel stanchions of the bow rail were clearly European design traits, but it was the yacht's overall visual appeal that left little doubt in my mind of its origin. There was the slight break in the sheer line near the bridge, the angled cabin sides, the reverse transom and even the unusual engine vents. Looking at the new Marquis 500 Sport Bridge, my eyes never seemed to rest in one place. It seemed a stunning example of Italian yacht art. Yet this Marquis 500 Sport Bridge was built in Pulaski, Wisconsin.

Founded in 2003, Marquis Yachts represents a collaboration between Italian designers Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard and the vast production boatbuilding resources of Genmar Corp., Marquis' parent company. "Boats from the U.K., France and Italy are generally very nicely designed, but they build boats differently there," says Dick Nocenti , Marquis' marketing director. Citing broad use of subcontractors among European builders, Nocenti explains that systems, parts and sometimes standards vary from one hull to the next. "Our yard, here in Wisconsin, is the most vertically integrated in the world," he says. "We create all of the parts and install all of the systems so we have control over the quality."

Marquis 500 Sport Bridge Performance ReviewThe Marquis I tested is the flying bridge version of a nearly identical coupe, so I started my walk-through up top. The low-profile helm - designed to be sat at, not stood behind - punctuates this Marquis' European sensibility, although the large dash, with space for two 12- inch navigation displays, follows an American trend.

There's a long L-shaped settee and a huge sun pad that's surrounded by a stainless-steel handrail for safety. The flying bridge sides are barely above knee-height - much lower than those on most U.S.-built boats - yet this speaks to a feeling among European boat owners that an upper helm is for fair weather, and the proper place to be when seas kick up is in the cabin.

With that in mind , the lower helm offers fantastic visibility through two large windshield panels and two more large windows on the cabin sides. In fact, this station is identical to the helm aboard the 500 Sport Coupe, which is designed to be run only from below.

One key element of the Marquis' design is the cabin's aft bulkhead, which is essentially two big doors. They open and latch in place so guests can pass easily from the salon to the cockpit. As is expected in an upscale European design, the cockpit includes a wet bar with a refrigerator, ice maker and grill. The settee and table sit beneath the aftmost part of the bridge, just out of the sun , but the table slides aft about 10 inches at the touch of a switch. Two transom doors provide access to the stern platform, and wide steps and side decks with abundant handrails allow safe passage to the sun pad or ground tackle on the bow.

European galleys are often tiny and hide the cook out of sight. I was glad to see Marquis took the opposite approach, incorporating the galley into the social area at the front of the salon. The black granite countertops and polished stainless-steel fiddle rails are set against bold African zebrano veneer, a striking style carried throughout the interior.

The boat's three staterooms include a generous master suite in the bow with an island queen berth, a VIP stateroom to port, also with a queen berth, and a starboard stateroom with twin berths. Locker and drawer space is abundant in all three, and skylights bring in natural light.

While keeping the boat's profile low is an aesthetic consideration for many European designers, the Marquis team kept the center of gravity low. This was appreciated enormously during our sea trial, where 20-knot easterlies built the ocean off Fort Lauderdale, Florida, into a steep 4-foot sea. The boat was understandably uncomfortable at full throttle, where we were only able to record 33. 6 knots at 3,390 rpm. Comparatively, during Marquis' test of the same boat just weeks earlier, the boat reached 35.5 knots and the triple Volvo JPS 600s hit 3,600 rpm. On my test, when pulled back to a reasonable 26 knots, the boat handled the sea very well. In fact, I was surprised how little spray the flying bridge took, although a dryer ride is something we've come to expect from a hull designed specifically for IPS drives, as this one was. IPS drives shift the weight farther aft and flatten shaft angles, so the boat rides nearer its stern.

I've run several European yachts in my career as a captain, so I quickly recognized American influences in the machinery space on the Marquis, such as the adherence to more stringent electrical practices and equipment like Racor filters, as well as seawater pumps and strainers located with an eye toward future service. But I was also glad to see influences from across the ocean, such as European-style seawater plumbing with stainless-steel fittings.

A European-designed yacht built in the United States seems like a natural progression, when viewed against a similar move by European automakers. But with yachts, where a good production run is counted in the hundreds, engineering is much different. Fortunately, Marquis' 500 Sport Bridge seems to have captured the best of both worlds.

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This review/article originally appeared in Motorboating & Yachting Magazine, January 2009 and was written by Capt. Vincent Daniello. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.mby.com/subscriptions/motorboat-yachting-subscriptions

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