When I first laid eyes on the F&S 72 Bandolera tied up at the Sailfish Marina fuel dock in Stuart, Florida, what impressed me most was its looks - big and beautiful, with an impressive bow and a graceful sheer. It not only looked fast, it lived up to my expectations. On my trial runs, Bandolera exceeded 40 knots at wide-open throttle.
Bandolera's expansive mezzanine accents the boat's lines with gracefully sweeping curves. To starboard, a reclining lounge seat allows the owner to fish, watch the baits and relax in total comfort. Each of the four large refrigerated boxes concealed under the teak and cushioned seating doubles as a deep freezer or chill box.
A well-known boatbuilding friend of mine marveled at the close tolerances of the teak-covered deck hatches, which have both camber and cant. It is just too hard to do this in mass production, he said. True, the stylish curves are complicated and expensive to build, but they sure look great. I especially liked the bridge layout: a Palm Beach-style helm on a lovely and functional, centrally located console that provides access on either side to the bridge's forward lounge seating.
The owner requested three luxurious, oversize, side-by-side helm seats, positioning the seats slightly farther forward and, consequently, reducing the ability of a short or average-height skipper to see the fighting chair while fighting a fish. (But, of course, being a custom boat, the owner can have whatever he wants and put the chairs where he likes.)
Builder Jimmy Floyd credits Steve French's Applied Concepts Unleashed design group with the modern, stylish appearance of the boat. French and Floyd have worked together on several boats, and French says: "Bandolera is the prettiest boat we have helped create so far. It takes a team - a good designer, a good builder and a good owner - all working together."
With boats as well as with people, real beauty requires more than just a pretty outside. On this sport-fisher, the combination of performance and functionality make it shine from within. The perfectly finished engine room is a maintenance dream, with systems redundancy reigning supreme and an almost excessive amount of stand-up headroom throughout the entire compartment. Fuel transfer, oil top-up or change, AC cooling pumps, power-assist steering - they all boast backup pumps in case of failure. A pair of 27.5 kW Onan gensets along the aft bulkhead generates enough reliable 110-volt AC current to power every appliance known to man - or woman, for that matter.
True to the goal of long-range fishing travel, the freshwater tanks hold 400 gallons of water, filled constantly to the brim by the 1,800-gallon-per-day Sea Recovery reverse-osmosis watermaker.
Floyd is especially proud of Bandolera's quiet, vibration-free ride at all speeds. He achieved this ultra-smooth ride by utilizing large prop shafts, roller bearings that are fully enclosed in an oil bath and a shaft seal system featuring twin universal joints. Theoretically, this configuration ensures the shafts will never lose alignment. The shafts run so true with so little friction that I could easily turn the entire 600-pound shaft and prop assembly with one hand!
For serious fishing, the ZF Marine gears provide trolling speeds from nearly nothing to way too fast. I saw very little white water in the chine wake at trolling speed, and I would expect to have marlin chase a teaser past the transom and abeam of the cockpit. I fully expect Bandolera to raise fish like a champion.
With its wide beam and ample horsepower, Bandolera maneuvered easily in simulated fish-fighting maneuvers at idle speed. Unfortunately, the software in the MTUs focuses so much on zero emissions that it causes quite a long shift delay and took a little while to generate the instant acceleration you need when moving out of the way of a greyhounding marlin. However, the boat did very well with what little hole shot it could muster.
Fuel obtained from third-world pumps usually comes with a little bit of water, dirt or other contaminants. Bandolera's fuel-polishing system virtually eliminates such problems. "Polishing" can be accomplished automatically, directed by a timer, or initiated by manual switches on the bridge or in the engine room. A large Racor centrifugal separator with a range of filter elements (your choice, measured in microns) keeps the fuel clean.
Belowdecks, forward of the engine room, lies a comfortable and practical crew's quarters, accessible from either a watertight dogging door in the engine room or down steps from the salon. This area sports a clever overhead tackle-storage system with reels and rod butts snapped into a secure, upside-down set of drawers. You can also store rod tips in a large butler's pantry just forward of the dinette, which, by the way, comfortably seats four adults. Under the dinette table you'll find a special pedestal which doubles as a storage space for all the silverware, utensils and linens needed for gracious dining.
Bandolera's gorgeous interior offers more room for storing clothing and personal possessions than most homes. For all practical purposes, storage for essentials like paper towels, soft drinks, detergents, etc. is unlimited. Plus, all cupboards, hanging lockers, pantries and cabinets (even the ones with cedar linings) come with removable panels that afford access to all the hidden switches, relays and pumps.
Bandolera is fast and nimble. I found it easy to control on a single engine, and its captain made docking look like child's play, using both engines and a bow thruster with shifter-mounted control buttons.
Some of Bandolera's other special touches down below include an enormous king-size berth (with loads of storage underneath) in the master stateroom, a three-berth guest cabin with one of the twin beds capable of sliding over to make a queen-size lower bed and a single upper berth against the hull outboard. A couple, or three men, could share this cabin as needs dictate.
If you have a vision of the perfect sport-fisher dancing in your head, I suggest you contact F&S and discuss what it will take to make your dreams come true.
WEIGHT......92,000 pounds (dry)
POWER......T 2,000 hp MTU
F&S Boatworks / Bear, Delaware / 302-838-5500 / www.fsboatworks.com