Boat Review Date: Febraury 2012
Author: Mike Brown
It takes courage to introduce a $2 million-plus boat into today’s marine market, but this entrant looks the part. And having once overcome all those zeros, it is easy to see value for money here.
The Formula Icon 54 is an import from New Zealand, produced by a small-volume builder who is happy to do the maximum amount of customizing. The basic structure is set, of course, and it is high grade stuff: all vessels are built to survey standards, so they could be eligible to become charter boats. The bottoms are solid, the sides foam cored, the resin is vinylester, and it all goes together using resin infusion-vacuum bag technology.
In profile, the Icon looks in the mainstream of Anzac hardtop flybridge cruisers, but from practically any other angle it is on its own. The main feature is the broad beam for a 16.4m boat of 5.65m being carried so far forward: the boat’s shoulders are immense. Where most big cruisers are more or less parallel sided from the point of maximum beam to the transom, the Icon’s taper considerably. That’s not to say the bows are blunt – far from it. Below a sort of knuckle beneath the foredeck edge the hull fines off to give a sharp entry with massive flare above it.
The result is a boat that has had rave reviews for its dryness and its ability to keep going at speed in poor conditions – the kind of conditions Kiwis get lots of. But luxury boats seldom get called on for such bravery, so the Icon will get judged more on its abilities as a people pamperer. It should get a high score.
Internal layout is the three-cabin, two-bathroom arrangement of most boats around this size, with a single control station. The two major cabins have queen size, inner spring beds, and extravagant quantities of clothing storage (extravagant only compared to yours and mine; big boat owners obviously change clothes a lot), and the twin is no poor relation. The big feature is headroom throughout of a smidge under two metres. The designers did well to get this in and retain a stylish profile.
The daytime space is done well. A buyer can ask for it laid out in any way, but the standard external stairway arrangement is hard to beat. A key component is the galley immediately inside the saloon, midway between the cockpit and saloon eating areas: no separation of cook from guests, and recognition that outside eating will always be king. Indoors feels close to outside with a near 100 percent glazing band.
Internal layout is close to minimalist: a dinette with a facing settee. This eliminates any possibility of clutter and makes for a good party boat. A lot of guests can be fitted in here and all the expected electronic entertainment, as well as the likes of cocktail arrangements, are on tap.
The enclosed flybridge is almost a duplication of the main deck space plus the driver’s console. Fit-out is in leather of course, entertainment provisions cater for the hungry and thirsty, and the powerful air conditioning system has the space thoroughly under control despite the vast glass area. The twin helm seats face the space capsule-style console and the controls for the twin 825hp MTU diesels. These have the serious fuel provision of 4,000L, giving real cruising range even when using a big percentage of the maximum speed of 32 knots. Naturally, manoeuvring is assisted by a significant 160kg bow thruster.
Unlike many northern hemisphere cruisers, the Icon caters well for people who like the outdoors; the cockpit for those who like it tempered with shade, and the foredeck for those with leather skins. The cockpit has decent area, all civilized amenities, and a timber deck on the same level as the swim platform. The foredeck, with enormous area barely intruded on by the tender and davit, has easy access via wide side decks. A spacious boat.
The Formula Icon 54 is a worthy contender in the top stratum of cruising boats.
Length overall 17.7m
Hull length 16.4m
Fuel capacity 4,000L
Fresh water 1,000L
Main engines 2 x MTU Series 60 @ 825hp ea