Pardo GT52

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Wild Water: Putting the Pardo GT52 to the test in Saint Tropez

3 March 2023• Written by Simon de Burton

On an uncharacteristically blustery day on the Riviera, Simon de Burton finds Pardo’s GT52 brings its own sunshine.

Think Saint Tropez and what comes to mind? Along with Brigitte Bardot in her heyday, most people visualise scorching sun, bronzed bodies, hot sand and an endless expanse of blue water.

So why are 13 of us making the most of the warmth in the main deck living area of Cantiere del Pardo’s recently launched GT52, the Italian yard’s new “gran turismo”? The answer is that Saint Tropez is having an off day; it’s wet, windy, grey and miserable. I could almost believe I am back in England.

But while conditions might not seem ideal for the sea trial of Pardo’s latest model, the foul weather serves to highlight its capabilities. For a start, being able to accommodate 13 guests in reasonable comfort in the lounge of a 16.6-metre motor yacht is impressive in itself.

Massimo Gino, founder of Nauta Design, directed the project which sought to produce a crossover model positioned somewhere in between Pardo's Walkaround and Endurance ranges. "The Pardo GT52 should be appealing for owners looking for more comfortable volumes than the Pardo T-top Walkarounds, without giving up on performance and high-quality onboard lifestyle," said Gino.

The living space on the first hull is laid out in the “galley-down” configuration that is generally preferred by Europeans – although US buyers are said to favour “galley up”, which, while more convenient for on-deck serving, also sacrifices some of that relaxation space. 

“We expect around half of GT52’s sales will be in the US, especially Florida, where buyers often want air-conditioning 24/7 and will therefore appreciate being able to completely close the cabin area,” says Pardo brand president Gigi Servidati.

“Equally, we see buyers from other markets, such as the Côte d’Azur, the Balearics and Italy, being drawn to the continuity between the interior and exterior that is the result of the semi-open roof, fully opening stern doors and electric stern windows,” he adds.

Although based on the same hull as the Pardo 50, the GT52 has an extra 60 centimetres added to its aft deck, which – especially in this galley-down model – combines with the generous amount of glass to create an open, airy space. "The view from the saloon to the forward sunbed is a continuous horizontal line with no interruption: a beautiful glimpse of the infinite," says Gino. And with the doors fully open, the deck flows to the big, convertible sunpad/dinette at the stern. 

The new 52 certainly deserves its gran turismo moniker: while it’s sufficiently small to be used as an easy-going dayboat, its accommodation encourages longer trips and extended overnight stays with friends and family.

Below, passing through the galley – with fitted dishwasher, microwave and full-sized sink – gives access to the light and spacious owner’s cabin, offering a super-king bed, sofa seating, an enclosed shower and a good-sized en suite.

There’s a separate main head and shower for use by occupants of the rather grandiosely named VIP cabin – which houses two wider-than-usual single beds – while a third small cabin can be optioned (on galley-up models) beneath the port seating in the wheelhouse. It’s officially for crew but is more likely to be used for children or last-minute guests.

With neutral-coloured fabrics by Italian specialist textile maker Dino Zoli and furniture and panelling in grey oak, our GT52 feels both fresh and inviting.  Buyers may specify alternative materials such as “pickled” and “timeless” oak or interior teak which matches that on deck.

Back up top, the GT52 takes the form of what Pardo calls a “semi-Walkaround”, in that the stern half of the hull features high bulwarks and a low deck with steps up to a flush bow area, to give more headroom to cabins below.

Pardo employs specialists in each area of a boat’s development to ensure everything is optimised. But you won’t find a single feature of a Pardo that hasn’t been studied, checked and signed off by one man: Gigi Servidati.

“One of the main things for us is to keep our boats as low as possible in the water in order to maintain the elegant lines that have become synonymous with the Pardo name,” he says. “The GT52 is intended to be the first of a new range that sits between our Walkarounds and the 60, so it combines the aesthetic of the former with features from the Endurance range.”

What is most striking on seeing the boat side-on, however, is how the low-to-high deck arrangement, forward-leaning wheelhouse and trapezoid cabin windows give the GT52 a forward-thrusting stance even at rest – with an elegantly sporty demeanour when moving. "The reverse windshield provides the yacht with a powerful look, besides being functional for navigation, especially in night mode," adds Gino.

With a steering wheel designed and positioned in a way to suggest a sports car, there is a real sense of “driving” the GT52 and, while it’s not a true sport boat, the ultra-responsive joystick control encourages the pilot to take advantage of the “flickability” that Pardo designed into the hull.

Carrying 13 guests on tricky seas feels like a good test of the hull and Volvo IPS combination and – despite running the standard 650 engines rather than the optional 700 or 800 alternatives – it passes with flying colours.

The boat soon reaches its advertised 30-knot top speed and feels like it would stay there for as long as required. But losing a few knots is considerably more pleasant and makes for an almost unfeasibly smooth cruise, given the state of the water.

The fact that we choose to hang around on board, drinking and chatting in that comfortable saloon, suggests that the GT52 is a lovely place to be. It’s a shame we are left to imagine how much nicer it would be to lounge around on board on one of those famously sunny Saint Tropez days.

Cantiere del Pardo GT52

LOA 16.58m
Exterior and interior design Nauta Design
Maximum beam
Fuel capacity
2,000 litres
Water capacity
600 litres
Top speed
33 knots
Twin Volvo IPS 650 (as tested); IPS 700 and IPS 800 optional
from €1,214,340

First published in the March 2023 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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