HCB Center Console Yachts 65 Estrella Review

Biggest-yet, boldest-ever center console with motors to match

HCB Center Console Yachts 65 Estrella Review
Masterfully designed and crafted, this 65-foot center-console impresses on every level for fishing and family boating.Courtesy HCB Center Console Yachts

Colossal center-consoles have trickled into the marine market over the past few years, but this 65-footer is the first of such commanding size, and the only one powered by more than 3,000 outboard horsepower. Its length and beam can intimidate, but its all-electronic/hydraulic helm controls have made it a sweet baby to handle in any conditions.

HCB Yachts calls the Estrella a production model, but the company will customize it any way you want. My test boat came seriously outfitted as a fish boat, but it was filled with cruising comfort too. Ready to fish well offshore, the 65 can race across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas in an hour and provide luxurious accommodations once you get there.

Run, Baby, Run!
On the docks in the Florida Keys this past December, I approached the Estrella from the stern quarter. The row of five Seven Marine 627 outboards seized my attention. While I ogled the motors, I realized it took several more paces to draw up even with the vessel's ­sumptuous, crowd-pleasing foredeck.

The size of that deck is the only thing that can overshadow the massive horsepower. Don’t worry about grabbing a workout when you visit the Bahamas — 40 laps around the center console equals a mile, and you’ll enjoy a better view than in a stinky gym.

The outboards come with ZF ­transmissions and electronic throttle and shift. With that and the integral power steering, controlling these wooly mammoths seems simple. The double-lever ZF controls feature a short stroke but firm feedback, making it easy to make minute throttle adjustments. HCB positioned the trim controls overhead in a five-button panel so the helmsman can fine-tune trim for each engine at any throttle speed.

In my test, once the 65 came up on plane and I trimmed it for 40 mph, I found little need for adjustment unless I chose to drop the power and spin the helm into a hard turn. I did that too, carving crisp circles, and ­tightening them up by adding more throttle.

But here’s what was ­astonishing in my test: This beauty weighed 65,000 pounds with five engines. So when I pressed the throttle levers forward and the boat launched to plane in 8.9 seconds, I was impressed. I clocked the boat to 30 mph in just 13.4 seconds.

The Estrella settled down quickly, giving me a commanding view forward from my standing position at the helm.

I could’ve sat at the helm and still enjoyed a panoramic on-plane view over the bow, and sometimes I did. The five-across custom helm seats felt firm but forgiving, absorbing the landings as the hull cleaved and crushed our ­doubled-up wakes.

These seats will not easily ­bottom out in seas because the foam is ­injection-molded to a specific shape. The foam will resist water absorption too, keeping the seats in top condition for decades with reasonable care. The 65 also comes with a sleigh seat aft of the helm row for five additional ­forward‑facing riders.

HCB Center Console Yachts 65 Estrella Review
The Estrella’s teak mezzanine step hides a pair of refrigerated drawers and a hatch for stowing tackle boxes.Courtesy HCB Center Console Yachts

That Ahhhhhh Moment
When you design a 65-foot sport-­fishing center-console yacht, the platform can do far more than provide competitive fishability. And when you sink into one of the dual forward lounges or snuggle into the queen-size air-conditioned berth belowdecks, an inevitable, audible "ahhhhhh" says everything about the luxury wrapped around the fish-battling features.

Take the fine mahogany wood­working in the ladder-back trim on the helm seats, the custom polished-teak helm pod and the hand-carved teak fighting chair. The finish on these parts is so tough, deep and lustrous, you have to look hard to ­convince ­yourself they’re wood. They are, though. So is the teak sole — smoothly sanded, tightly laid and comfortable underfoot. A matching covering board surrounds the boat atop the gunwales. At the transom, the covering board thickens and widens to protect the dual 80-gallon livewells beneath.

I found more teak at the step to the mezzanine seating. Beneath the step, HCB installed hatches for tackle boxes and a pair of refrigerated drawers.

Besides the mezzanine seating and the enormous luxury lounge ahead of the console, large lounges rim the bow. The teak sole between these lounges features an electric jack that raises the flooring to either complete a sun pad or create a table.

If you’re into outdoor cuisine, the helm-station sole can electrically rise to form a table between the sleigh seating and reversed helm-station bucket seats. The factory can even convert the mezzanine to a full outdoor kitchen with an electric grill, sink and fridge.

The cabin below offers a large shower in the roomy head compartment. There’s an abbreviated galley, but plenty of room to make coffee or even breakfast. A mirrored one-way glass backing the counter reveals a TV, but only when the appliance is switched on.

Custom Layouts
My tester could've come equipped with an aft lounge instead of the dual livewells, flanked by Frigid Rigid coolers with jump-seat cushions nested on either side. If an owner opts for the lounge, HCB would plumb the forward coolers as livewells.

Shotgun, gunwale and hardtop rod holders seem so numerous that it takes less than a glance to holster a stick in a hurry. On my test boat, that hardtop also featured outriggers, controllable from below.

Cockpit side doors port and ­starboard allow anglers to boat a big fish, and in-floor boxes — 150 gallons each — boast freezer plates to chill fish without carrying weighty ice. The coup de grâce, for me, was the standard Seakeeper gyro stabilizer, ensuring a stable deck to keep any outing pleasurable.

Standout Options

  • Teak sole: $135,000
  • Pullman bunk over stateroom lounge: $14,000
  • Satellite TV: $5,000
  • FLIR M625XP thermal camera: $16,700

Performance
Power: Five Seven Marine 627 outboards
Load: 460 gal. fuel, 100 gal. water, four crew
Top Speed: 55.5 mph @ 6,100 rpm
Time to 30 MPH: 13.4 sec.
Best MPG: 0.3 mpg @ 40.4 mph (4,000 rpm)

Hull
LOA: 65 ft.
Beam: 16 ft.
Deadrise: 18 deg.
Dry Weight: 65,000 lb. w/ power
Draft: 3 ft.
Fuel: 1,500 gal.
Max Power: 3,135 hp
MSRP: $3.9 million (w/ five Seven Marine 627s)

HCB Center-Console Yachts
Vonore, Tennessee
800-635-3186
hcbyachts.com