Bertram Yachts 61: Boat Review

This model will redefine the brand

October 10, 2018
bertram yachts 61 running on the water
An instant classic: The Bertram 61 is set to revitalize the iconic brand. Courtesy Bertram Yachts

Paying homage to the company’s original 54-footer, Bertram Yachts has combined the latest in boatbuilding techniques and innovations with modern interiors that are not only bright and sophisticated but live-in comfortable. Along with a handful of industry executives and potential buyers, I was privy to see the new Bertram 61 — the model that will redefine the Bertram brand — in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Bertram Yachts has taken its share of punches over the past 60 years, but the brand has remained amazingly resilient, embracing what the company holds most dear: its iconic name. Chief executive officer Peter Truslow has been charged with the company’s rebirth by reverencing the models that got them where they are today. Part of that plan involved moving to a waterfront shipyard facility in Tampa, Florida, in 2016.

“I am incredibly proud of our class-leading 61 as well as the team that builds these boats,” says Truslow. “I feel the experience we have at our facility and service center in Tampa are unmatched in our industry, and our work with the Michael Peters design team has formed a great foundation for our long-term product growth.”

bertram yachts fighting chair
Release Marine’s Battle Saddle is the perfect compliment to the raw teak cockpit and mezzanine. Courtesy Bertram Yachts

Hull and Superstructure

Right from the start, you can’t help but notice the nods to the past: the fore-to-aft navy Bertram stripe, the stepped sheer and that classic Bertram logo. And for a brief moment, you are catapulted back to the past, reliving the good times at Walker’s Cay.

As you enter the cockpit, you find very little that screams ‘same old Bertram.’ There is a luster, an inescapable new look that is evident in the styling and construction. Using infused vinylester composites reinforced with Kevlar in the keel and strakes, the 61 is designed with durability in mind. Beefy and solid, this hull was built to withstand whatever the ocean can throw at it — a cornerstone of the Bertram reputation.

The new boat’s deck and house incorporate a composite material made of a polymer matrix reinforced with fiberglass for brute mechanical strength, unsurpassed corrosion resistance and insulation qualities.


Cockpit and Bridge

Hull No. 1 is outfitted with a large, self-draining teak cockpit sole, containing two removable fish boxes with macerator pumps. The teak deck carries itself up onto the mezzanine, where a four-person buckskin ultra-leather couch is oriented to port. The mezzanine steps contain three adjustable refrigeration compartments with lift-and-lock-style latches for easy opening, and under the covering board, in-gunwale storage keeps cleaning supplies, brush handles or gaffs out of sight but within easy reach on both sides.

Ascending to the bridge, a center-console helm design is matched with bench seating all around, and a large two person chaise in front of the helm offers a perfect spot for stretching out, reading or napping while underway.

The PipeWelders Marine hardtop provides plenty of shade and is outfitted with molded-in LED overhead lighting as well as a pod to accept electronic displays, such as autopilot, electronic compass and VHF radios.

bertram yachts 61 helm
The 61’s bridge has a no-nonsense approach: everything within easy reach. Courtesy Bertram Yachts

The helm station is clean and tightknit. Two large Garmin multifunction displays flank the Caterpillar engine display and OctoPlex ship control monitor, allowing the captain to manage virtually every system on the boat without leaving the helm.

A stainless steering wheel takes center stage on the teak helm pod, while the Palm Beach-style single lever controls with bow thruster buttons make maneuvering in tight quarters a no-brainer. On either side of the pod, a set of lidded boxes houses the electronics needed to get you from point A to point B safely, day or night.

bertram yachts 61 interior bedroom
The full-beam master stateroom is oriented port-to-starboard and allows for plenty of personal space. Courtesy Bertram Yachts


The first things you notice as you enter the salon are the windows. The near-military-grade lightly tinted glass wraps the space, drenching the salon in 360 degrees of natural light, something I don’t remember seeing on convertible boats since Rybovich, Merritt and, yes, Bertram, did away with their clear windshields many years ago — another modernized nod to the past.


The layout is open, and the entire perimeter of the salon contains cabinet storage that runs along the overhead. Satin teak veneers are oriented on the horizontal as opposed to the conventional vertical to accentuate the open feel. Two Release Marine ergonomic bar stools belly up to the galley counter and provide not only a place to eat, but also additional seating in the salon.

The soft white leather couch set to port contains storage underneath, and a cabinet console runs the starboard length of the salon, housing a pop-up TV and multiple storage cabinets. The U-shaped galley features Silestone countertops, a deep stainless-steel sink, a dishwasher, a cooktop and an oven.Plush white carpeting is present in the main area of the salon and in the staterooms, while wide-plank natural white ash matte flooring in the galley runs down the companionway and into the heads.

Down the stairs and to port, you enter the master suite, greeted by a large head with shower and substantial vanity, perched on which is a beautiful white bowl sink.Beyond the suite entryway lies a full-beam master stateroom — oriented port-to-starboard — with the bed on the port side, and a pop-up TV and full-length closets to starboard. Two optional hullside windows allow the natural light to funnel in below, while Dometic’s 96,000 Btu chilled-water air-conditioning system keeps the interior very cool.

Moving forward, there is a side-by-side twin stateroom with private access to the day head, and all the way forward is a large VIP berth with a full-size bed, en suite head and plenty of storage.

bertram yachts 61 turning on the water
The 61-footer easily eats up the South Florida chop. Courtesy Bertram Yachts

Engine Package and Performance

The Bertram 61 is equipped with twin Caterpillar C32 ACERTs, providing a whopping 1,900 hp each to the vessel. This gives her a cruising speed of almost 36 knots at 80 percent load — burning 160 gallons per hour at 2,000 rpm. Twin Disc gears make for fully automatic shifting when chasing down speedy blue marlin that make you spin on a dime.

Seakeeper gyrostabilizers are now standard in all Bertram models, and the 61 is equipped with an SK16, positioned at the aft bulkhead of the engine room. Twin Onan 21.5 kW gensets provide ample power to all the ship’s systems.

The big Cats pop her up on plane with little effort and are powerful enough to back around as fast as necessary to get that all-important tournament release.She is responsive, steers true and her auto-controlled Humphree trim tab system stations the boat perfectly in that annoying side-to or on-your-quarter sea. She is quiet inside and out, thanks in part to the sound-absorption system installed in the engine room.

There is no doubt the entire Bertram design team has put its blood, sweat and tears into this model, reinventing itself to stay on top of current trends and remain a relevant player in a highly competitive industry. “When you’re using the best materials, hardware, machinery and electronics, it’s easy to build a great boat. But when your number-one design criteria is that it has to be Bertram, you know it is going to be that much greater,” says Bertram’s vice president of sales, Tommy Thompson.

There has always been a cult following for Bertrams, and I believe this group will be especially happy to see this high-quality, American-made vessel coming out of Tampa. As for other potential owners, you just have to see it to believe it. The Bertram legacy continues.


LOA: 61′ 1″
BEAM: 18′ 3″
DRAFT: 4′ 10″
DISPL.: 92,450 lb.
FUEL: 1,720 gal.
WATER: 280 gal.
POWER: Twin 1,900 HP CAT 32 ACERT
bertram yachts 61 interior kitchen area
Light and visibility is the name of the game in this main salon. Courtesy Bertram Yachts
bertram yachts 61 mezzanine storage area
The tackle station is tucked under the bridge ladder for easy, out-of-the-way access. Courtesy Bertram Yachts
bertram yachts 61 floor plans and design
Hull No.1’s 3-stateroom/3-head layout is available for any new 61 build. Courtesy Bertram Yachts
bertram yachts 61 deck livewell
The aquarium-style baitwell allows you to keep an eye your bait’s health. Courtesy Bertram Yachts

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