The owner-operator tag is a trendy one, frequently bandied about at boat shows when a potential buyer hesitates because a boat’s length feels just a little above his comfort level. In fact, most of us are probably skeptics when faced with similar circumstances. And we should be. A confident captain at the helm is key to the safety and enjoyment of owner and guests alike, especially when the owner also happens to be the captain.
That owner-operator narrative was running through my mind before I took the helm of the newest Hampton Endurance 720 off Seattle. My trepidations quickly subsided, however, as I put her to work on Puget Sound, under the watch of Robert Fiala, managing partner of Hampton Yacht Group.
Powered by twin 1,136-horsepower Caterpillar C18s, the Endurance 720 burned around a gallon per mile at 8 knots, though she could reach about 20 knots when needed. The girthy 720 with her 20-foot beam—14 inches wider than that of her predecessors—handled like a thoroughbred, her highly responsive helm conveying ease of handling and a stable cruising platform. She landed softly every time on the 3-foot chop, with minimal if any rolling on a beam sea, thanks in part to the 12-square-foot ABT-Trac stabilizers (with at-rest stabilization included).
While the 720’s performance ticked several boxes on my owner-operator checklist, it was her forward wing stations that sealed the deal, making easy work of the Ballard Locks on our way out of Lake Union. (Hull No. 24 is the first to employ forward wing stations.) With four added operator positions—two forward, two aft—in addition to the helm, the skipper’s visibility is virtually unobstructed. That’s a big deal for a midsize owner-operator with 70-foot-plus size envy.
According to Fiala, the Endurance 720 was conceived to be a coastal cruiser for family entertaining with serious volume and long-range capability, yet manageable for an owner--operator. That mission was contingent on fundamentals of design and construction, in which Hampton Yachts has become proficient after nearly 55 years of building boats. (story continues below gallery)
First off, all Endurance yachts are designed and evaluated to meet the U.S. Coast Guard Weather Criterion, a stability standard for licensed passenger vessels in exposed waters, proven for decades to ensure passenger safety. And Hampton controls every aspect of the manufacturing process so that each hull meets that standard.
No shortcuts are taken on the hull construction side either. The first five layers of the hull’s lamination utilize vinylester resin and E-glass. The next two layers are Kevlar from chine to chine with vinylester resin, plus an additional layer of Kevlar with vinylester resin in the forward collision zone. The stringers are foam-cored and then laid up with seven layers of Knytex or Cymax. The hull sides are solid construction with five layers of Knytex or Cymax up to the toerail. The superstructures are cored with Corecell foam to reduce weight and maintain a low center of gravity. The interior soles are cored with Corecell foam too, with an additional 6 inches of thickness given to the salon sole over the engine room, to accommodate a sandwich construction of fiberglass and sound-deadening insulation.
The result is a seaworthy hull with an efficient running surface. The split-chine, semi-displacement Hampton Hybrid Hull has upper and lower chines meant to combine the advantages of a planing hull with those of a displacement hull, including stability.
For all her rugged good looks and feel, the 720 was also designed for family cruising. To that end, she doesn’t disappoint either, sporting a four-stateroom, six-head layout with spaces for socializing and entertaining. The salon has an open galley forward with formal dining and a striking bar area. There’s comfortable seating on the foredeck, and a high level of fit and finish carries throughout the 720 with raised panel cabinetry including in the crew area, which for owner-operators serves as a fourth stateroom and is accessible via a dedicated interior staircase for convenience.
For me, the pièce de résistance was the sky lounge abaft the helm, with sweeping views, a dining table, seating, a day head, an outdoor grilling and bar area on the aft deck and, starting with Hull No. 24, a factory-installed sunroof. I could see myself enjoying this space, which essentially doubles as a second salon, whether cruising through a chilly drizzle in the Pacific Northwest or running down to the Caribbean with the luxury of air conditioning.
The newest Hampton Endurance 720 is defined by performance, onboard comfort and owner-operator capability. If you’re looking for durability and livability with room to breathe while cruising for months at a time, then this boat is worth a look at the next boat show—no matter what size boat you’re used to running.
Have a closer look at the Hampton Endurance 720 in our exclusive video HERE.
LOA: 74ft. 4in.
Draft: 5ft. 2in.
Displacement (dry): 116,600 lbs.
Engines (standard): 2 x 1,136-hp Caterpillar C18
Fuel: 2,000 gal.
Water: 400 gal.