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Schaefer Yachts displays model with Volvo Penta joystick steering at Rio show

The Schaefer 580 is powered by twin Volvo Penta IPS800s.

The Schaefer 580 is powered by twin Volvo Penta IPS800s.

When visitors to the Rio Boat Show stepped aboard the Schaefer 580 motoryacht, they noticed that something was missing — a steering wheel. The boat is powered by twin Volvo Penta IPS800s and has only a joystick at the helm.

“At Schaefer Yachts, we have had a long-standing relationship with Volvo Penta for over a decade,” Márcio Schaefer, president of Schaefer Yachts, said in a statement. “When we designed the Schaefer 580 with Volvo Penta IPS, we decided to go with a joystick-only steering control system. Our team worked very closely with Volvo Penta engineers, and in roughly two months, we developed this joystick-only steering system, eliminating the wheel altogether.”

The boat is controlled exclusively by a joystick.

The boat is controlled exclusively by a joystick.

Added Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas: “We pride ourselves on being innovators at Volvo Penta. We were the first to introduce IPS and the first to offer joystick for docking and driving. Wheel-free, joystick-only steering with IPS is the next logical step in our Easy Boating strategy to harness new technical solutions that make it easier for owners to operate their boats and enjoy the experience of being on the water.”

Soundings Trade Only couldn’t make it to Rio, but senior editor Eric Colby drove a Tiara 43 powered by twin Volvo Penta D11-725 inboards equipped with the engine manufacturer’s Inboard Joystick. He picked up the joystick’s nuances quickly and said the controls were intuitive.

To change speeds, he still had to use the digital throttle controls. He could also turn over control to the autopilot for long-distance cruising. Around the docks, the joystick let him control the boat with one hand.

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