A 53-foot one-off fast bluewater sailing yacht. The essence of 10 years search for the dream yacht!
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Design considerations - why custom?
The brief called for a high quality 50-52’ fast, modern and elegant medium displacement ocean going cruiser with a twin wheel aft cockpit and good outside views from the saloon, with an airy interior that offers something different than the typical “down below” feeling.
A room with a view
It turned out to be impossible to find a production boat on the market that fulfilled these key points on the owner’s wish list. Most boats in this size bracket are single wheel centre cockpit boats, from builders such as Oyster, Contest, Najad and Hallberg Rassy. Among twin wheel aft cockpit boats it was impossible to find something that offered good outside views from the saloon, not to mention having an airy interior that offers something different than the typical “down below” feeling. You have boats like X-Yachts, Solaris and Italia Yachts, but the interior layout is extremely conventional, basically with the typical aft galley and saloon with sofas on either side of a table just behind the mast, and little view outside. This was considerd too similar to the owner's previous boat for the last 13 years (a Comfortina 42), so much of the sensation of having a new boat would diminish. The Grand Soleil 50 has a more interesting interior layout with the galley forward of the saloon, but still not much light and views from down below.
To have variable draft was also on the wish list, although not a hard requirement. But it led to some initial thinking that having a raised saloon with a swing keel beneath could satisfy all wishes, and the only way to get this would be to go the one-off custom route. It was then soon realized that a semi-raised concept was preferable, since it allows utilizing the entire beam of the boat, offering a much more roomy interior including a spacious saloon with wide “laid back” soft cushion sofas. This prohibits a swing keel solution, so instead a drop keel was chosen, and to avoid that the keel box makes a massive intrusion into the interior, a moderate stroke of 70cm was accepted (chosen to be 1.95-2.65m). In fact, the result is that the keel box becomes a natural divider between the galley, located forward and one step down, and the rest of the interior, doubling as a perfect bar / serving surface. To ensure good outside views, triple vertical large hull portholes midships were incorporated in addition to the deck saloon style windows. Combined with the clean foredeck with no coachroof forward of the deckhouse, this also gives the exterior a hint of “superyacht” look!
In keeping with the low draft of the drop keel, twin rudders were chosen. This also gives superior grip when heeled, with the leeward rudder always deeply submerged. The balanced spade rudders driven by a state of the art Jefa transmission/rod steering ensure superlight and precise helming. To ensure manoeuvrability in close quarters, a docking system with retractable bow and stern thrusters with variable speed control is included.
The initial design had a rather plumb (vertical) stern, this was changed to be more angled, perfectly in line with the backstay, increasing the hull length slightly, thus the yacht ended up close to 53 foot long (excluding the bow platform).
A functional transom
The transom design has been given careful consideration, with the goal of combining three important functions:
Dinghy stowage is often a neglected subject on yachts of this size. A full dinghy garage would consume far too much of the interior space, instead a stern compartment with enough room to stow the dinghy in deflated state is incorporated. This is where the dinghy would be kept during an ocean crossing. For more benign island hopping, the ready to deploy inflated dinghy complete with an outboard engine can be carried by elegant curved davits. To aid the lifting or launching of the dinghy, the tackle can be easily run through the electric main sheet winches. The davits are easily removable in order to save space in tight marinas etc.
The stern compartment is accessed through a transom hatch which doubles as a swim platform, and a wide step can be lowered to give elegant access from deck level. Both the hatch and step are hydraulically operated (by means of a central hydraulic power pack also used for the lifting keel and in-mast furling rig).
The yacht will be used the first years in the Mediterranean where stern-to mooring is the norm, so a convenient way to board the boat in this situation is necessary. Initially a hydraulic passarelle was considered, but was abandoned due to excessive weight (130kg), instead a neat foldable carbon gangway was chosen (only 9kg!). This also freed up space in the starboard aft coaming for a large stowage compartment that can hold the outboard engine in addition to the stowed gangway.