Oliver Royale 400

The Oliver Royale 400 uses the proven Oliver Royale 4300 hull but, with a stylish new deck and flybridge and detailing designed to meet the international market, Geoff Green thinks it should be viewed as an all-new model.

Oliver Royale 400
Oliver Royale 400

The Oliver Royale 400 was designed to lead an expansion into overseas markets, as well as provide a mainstay for New Zealand sales, says George Oliver, managing director at Oliver Marine International.

"Our research showed that we were not only competing boat to boat against Riviera or Genesis, but also a family's aspiration to own a holiday home or apartment. In this respect, the ladies have a great deal of say in the final buying decision and the boat had to be attractive to them. We have achieved this through the use of more polished timber, high quality upholstery packages, vinyl linings and European-standard fittings," he says.

Oliver Marine's range includes the Oliver Royale 370 and Oliver Royale 400, plus the Corinthian 40 that is the hardtop sports boat version of the 400 (it has no flybridge). The factory is also lofting up a 15m Oliver Royale 500 to add to the range. Oliver Marine has hull, deck, flybridge and shower moulds for the Oliver Royale 400. George says: "The interior is timber joinery but we have our own cabinet shop and everything is patterned."

The hull is constructed with a balsa core in the bottom sections and foam core in the topsides. The exterior laminate uses vinyl-ester resin to eliminate osmosis and the lay-up is specified by High Modulus. All hulls are built to survey standard and independent surveyor Robin Williams inspects and signs off each hull as it is built.

George says the hull is a successful one and it was the obvious starting point for the 400. "It was designed to achieve a blend of performance, good fuel economy, soft ride and dryness. The hull has a moderate deadrise aft and it achieves excellent performance with moderate horsepower. This keeps the build and running costs down."

Gerry Gerrand, the managing director at Buccaneer Pleasure Craft, has owned a personally finished Oliver Royale 4300 for five years and he agrees with George. "It's a good hull and a lot drier than many others I've experienced," he says.

The Oliver Royale 400 is available in two versions. One has a vee-berth layout in the forward cabin and the other features an island berth. Lawai'a (Hawaiian for fisherman), the boat shown on these pages, is a vee-berth model and was the first 400 to be launched.

Owners Grant and Debbie Sowter set the boat up for corporate charter. Grant says it was good to work with a local company because he had some input and could view the construction process. "I could sum up the experience by saying I would gladly build with them again," Grant says.

Lawai'a is powered by twin 370hp Cummins driving through shafts and propellers.

Grant says Lawai'a's cruising speed is between 20-25 knots, depending on the sea state and how much weight is aboard (such as fuel, dive gear, passengers). New, it did 30 knots, but with full fuel and water tanks, a dive compressor, dive tanks and all the equipment required for chartering, the top speed has settled at 28 knots (measured on the Simrad GPS chart plotter/sounder).

There is dedicated day access to the engine room via a hatch in the cockpit floor and much of the ancillary equipment, including the battery isolating switches, emergency links and genset controls are located within reach of the hatch. It is a 30-second job to check in and out of the engine room. The saloon and galley floor panels remove for scheduled maintenance or access to the 8kva genset set against the forward bulkhead.

The cockpit is quite big (over 3m long) and George says this is a valuable selling point. "The men can see fishing and diving potential and the women can visualise outdoor dinner parties and champagne breakfasts," he says.

The cockpit has a built-in gas barbecue and a freezer under the flybridge ladder. It also has a cockpit shower, cold water sink and rubbish locker, which could be used as short term live bait tank to augment the dedicated bait tank in the boarding platform.

Access to the flying bridge is quick and easy thanks to the inclined stainless ladder. "During the research phase," George says, "many women told us they found going forward or up to the flying bridge difficult and so we worked hard to improve egress around the boat."

Compared with the 4300 and 4000 models, the 400's flybridge has been extended 500mm to provide seating across the rear while still retaining ample space forward and a comfortable, well-placed helm station. The helmsman has good vision forward and can see down into the rear portion of the cockpit.

While a soft-top is the starting specification for the 400, George says most owners select the hardtop-with-clears option (around $13,000 extra) as this transforms the flybridge into another social area. "Most people gravitate to the bridge when underway and there is comfortable seating for eight people," he says.

The upstairs helm is Lawai'a's only helm station because Grant wished to maximise seating room in the saloon and he decided not to fit a downstairs steering station. The opportunity to select or delete the lower helm station, or choose between a vee-berth or island-berth layout forward, provides scope to customise the boat within its production context. There is also flexibility in the interior timber selection, (Lawai'a is cherry wood but oak and teak are available), upholstery packages, bench tops and engines (Cummins are standard).

The interior features curved cabinets and doors and Trezzini tops are offered as standard (Corian is optional). The aft galley is fitted with an electric hot plate, microwave, bin storage in the corner, and a recessed round sink. A tall fridge/freezer is positioned opposite the galley immediately inside the companionway slider. The electric switch panel is positioned on the forward face of the timber-finished fridge/freezer.

If the vee-berth layout is selected, the port cabin becomes the master cabin (in the island berth layout the toilet is to port and the starboard cabin is fitted with two bunks). The fore and aft double berth extends aft under the saloon floor and saloon seats and there is ample clearance in the areas not blessed with full headroom. Full standing headroom is available in front of the bunk but the cabin floor is only level for a small area inside the bi-fold door before the hull starts to lift.

The shower and toilet area is moulded as a single fibreglass unit for ease of cleaning and water control in this wet area. There is 2m headroom in the shower and a curtain and partial bulkhead made of clear Perspex keeps the water from the vanity and floor areas. The Techma electric toilet is coupled to a Lectrasan sewage treatment plant and 240v power is supplied for a hair drier and shaver (the genset has to be running). A 12-volt extractor fan, plus an opening hull port and Lewmar hatch, keep the bathroom from getting steamed up.

George says an Oliver Royale 400 built for recreation rather than charter would cost around $470,000 including GST. "That's with a hardtop and twin 270hp Cummins, which would give a 21knot cruise and 24-knot top end." To replicate Lawai'a would cost around $630,000.

"I believe the performance, styling and finish is up there with the best, George says. "The boat really represents very good value and I am looking forward to an exciting few years building them."

Oliver Royale 400 - Lawai'a
LOA: 13.25m (43'6")
Beam: 4.01m (13'5")
Draft: 1.1m (3'7")
Weight: 11 tonnes
Fuel: 1200l
Water: 400l
Power: Twin 370hp Cummins
Cruise: 20-24 knots
Top Speed: 28-30 knots
For more information contact: Oliver Marine International
Ph: (07) 541 3411
Fax: (07) 541 34 22
Email: info@oliver.co.nz

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