It’s one heck of a tender, and that’s originally how the Invictus TT 280 was conceived — as a luxury tender to superyachts and a high-end dayboat for zipping between glamorous anchorages in the Mediterranean.
It’s fitting, then, that this particular vessel spends part of its life running crew to and from the owner’s racing yacht down at Sorrento on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Here, the enviable beachside properties of Melbourne’s jetsetters form an appropriate backdrop for this Italian-built style icon whose striking metallic bronze and cream hull colours turn heads along the coast.
Those glittering bronze topsides look incredible as the subtly curved hull refracts the sun off the water and if this delicate interplay of light doesn’t catch your eye, the profile sure will.
Drawn by renowned Italian designer Christian Grande, the TT 280 is both unorthodox and unique. Most noticeable is the half-reverse bow, a variant of the ultra-modern plumb bow presented on vessels such as the Wally Tender and Van Dutch 40.
This exceptional profile complements the elegant, modern appearance of a genuine standout vessel and provides greater volume in the bow to both aid performance and offer increased space for guests. But more on that later.
Offered exclusively in Australia through Sundance Marine (home to Beneteau, Monte Carlo, Prestige and others) the TT 280 is just one variant in wide range of sharp-looking powerboats produced by Italian brand Invictus.
T Series vessels all feature the same distinctive bow shape and flared hull. Running right up to the 11.4-metre GT 370, the TT 280 is the smallest in the range at 8.9 metres overall.
The X Series by Invictus offers more traditional hull shapes and a range of propulsion units from outboards to sterndrives. These are also smaller boats overall, the FX 190 coming in at 6.1 metres.
But it’s the arresting T Series boats that seem likely to make the biggest splash in the competitive Aussie market, where the dayboat sector is slowly growing, particularly in areas suited to leisurely cruising such as Sydney Harbour and the Gold Coast.
That’s not to say Melbourne doesn’t have its share of hidden gems to explore by boat in Port Philip Bay, the Bellarine Peninsula and this vessel’s home turf, Mornington Peninsula.
It’s just that the window for pleasant boating weather is a bit shorter down here in Victoria, so you need to be ready for action when a nice day comes along.
That’s why this TT 280 spends summer swinging on a mooring outside her owner’s Sorrento property — ready to cast off whenever mood strikes and conditions align.
Winter months see this Invictus tied up safely at a marina in St Kilda, patiently awaiting the next bout of on-water fun, come summer.
A FINE DAY OUT
Many of the boats we are sent to test these days are highly specialised vessels, be they hardcore fishing boats, powerful tow sports boats, weekenders or dayboats. There are few true ‘do-everything’ boats — most know their niche and stick to it.
It should come as no surprise then to hear this Italian-built dayboat is supremely effective at delivering a relaxing day on the water. After all, that’s its job.
For a start, moving between the various seating zones at bow, stern and the helm is made easy via the centre-console layout.
The generous 2.8-metre beam includes wide side decks laid in teak and a solid elliptical handrail running the length of the boat which feels secure underhand as you make your way around the Invictus.
Climbing aboard, your first stop is the spacious swim platform (also clad in teak) which makes a great spot to dangle your toes in the water or to set up for water sports if you’re planning on using the supplied tow-hook.
A walkway on port ensures there’s no need to climb over that lovely cream sunpad at the stern, where sun worshippers can comfortably lay two-across while relaxing at anchor.
The aft seating area comprises an L-shaped lounge in attractive textured fabric and a highlight is the picnic buckles added to the upright cushions, creating a bespoke sportscar feel.
A removable table adds extra amenity to this area but can quickly be stowed under the helm console when not required.
Behind the helm chairs is a compact ‘kitchenette’, with a sink and chopping board hidden beneath a gas-lift cover. There are even leather-wrapped grab rails either side if you need a steadying hand while preparing canapes or popping the champagne.
Beneath is a small Isotherm bar fridge, plus a handy storage nook. This central food preparation area is accessed by electronically tilting the twin helm chairs forward to provide more space amidships.
Also below the floor on the port side is a cavernous ski locker — deep enough to swallow up all your water sports toys, snorkelling gear, or even a few fishing rods if required.
Another comfortable U-shaped lounge beckons in the bow, featuring the same attractive cream-on-brown colour scheme that shouldn’t really work in a boat, but in this case fits beautifully alongside the rich bronze tones of the hull. Those Italians sure know a thing or two about design!
There is seating for up to seven guests in this forward entertaining zone, plus a wealth of drink holders and speakers — the essentials really, for a top afternoon on the water.
There is additional storage beneath the seats here too, in the form of separate wet and dry lockers.
It is up forward that you begin to appreciate the extra on-deck space delivered by the TT 280’s unusual bow shape. Where a more traditional hull shape would begin to rake back sharply beneath the bow, the Invictus instead pushes out from the bowsprit, resulting in added depth to the seating area.
This same form also provides clever storage for the anchor locker and Lofran windlass, with the anchor protruding subtly from its fairlead halfway down the bow.
Given this Invictus is designed as a vessel to spend extended periods on the water, it’s also comforting to know there’s a toilet on board.
Tucked beneath the helm console and accessed by a portside door, there’s a small but perfectly formed loo hidden inside its own timber cabinet and the space is not as tight as you might imagine.
It’s also possible to get changed in here when it’s time for a dip. Clever thinking.
ON THE WATER
A locally-made bimini was added by the owner and this sun-smart addition shades the helm and part of the aft seating — essential for Aussie boating, even if the Europeans don’t seem to think so.
Twin helm chairs in white leather feature flip-up bolsters and further add to that sportscar vibe with tasteful Invictus embroidery on the headrests.
The upright dash is a study in minimalism with a central Raymarine Axiom nav screen set within a metallic surround that reflects the
Compass binnacle on top and automotive-style gauges below; there’s everything you need and nothing you don’t.
There is of course, power on tap.
Steering is light as you unwind the 350-horse power Volvo Penta petrol inboard, but there is a pleasantly reassuring howl as the big V8 builds speed through the rev range, where we topped out at an eye-watering 40 knots on a calm sea.
She’s quick onto the plane and the wide bow tracks well through turns, although the lake-like conditions of Port Philip Bay never presented much challenge to this vessel.
The heft of the 2,800 kilogram displacement weight easily surged through some wake of our own creation and there’s no reason to suggest the TT 280 wouldn’t handle the rougher stuff, although dayboats are hardly designed for heading way offshore in a swell.
Boasting movie star looks, sports car performance and enough on-board space to fit a film crew, there’s little doubt the Invictus range will prove a hit in European waters where they’re quite fond of mucking about in dayboats. But what about Australia?
Well there’s good reason these boats are being imported and more dayboats are now being produced by Australian brands, too.
Turns out there are plenty of boating enthusiasts who just aren’t that into fishing or diving or bluewater cruising. Nope, they just want to explore a few local bays with their friends, jump in for a swim and enjoy a cold drink at sunset.
The TT 280 can certainly do all of this and more, as well as turning heads at the marina by offering something different from the usual deep-vee hull shape.
Even better, those glittering bronze topsides seen on this vessel are just one option in a huge range of customisable colour options offered by Invictus, so owners can really personalise their pride and joy.
While they’re not the cheapest boat at the dock, you can see where the dollars have been invested in fit and finish and for discerning buyers, that high price does brings with it a certain exclusivity. Sounds like a winner.
PRICED FROM $280,000 (new, landed in Melbourne)
PRICE AS TESTED $198,000 (2017 model, used)
OPTIONS FITTED Raymarine Axiom electronics suite, Boss stereo, 49L Isotherm fridge, full covers, locally made bimini.
TYPE Monohull dayboat
ENGINE Volvo Penta V8 350hp
TYPE Petrol V8 with sterndrive
Pyrmont, NSW; Melbourne, VIC; Hobart, TAS.
PHONE 1300 55 00 89