Elite – Lady Alison

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Lady Alison

Author : Barry Thompson


When you hear the designer is Bill Upfold your immediate thoughts are of another stunning example of a pilothouse motor yacht. In the case of Lady Alison that could not be further from the truth.

Lady Alison is a 19.8m custom built sportfisher. “The owners, Rolf and Peter Masfen, asked me to draw them a hard out, no-holds-barred serious sportfisher with no concessions and capable of ocean passagemaking”, says Upfold. “Both the owners’ passion is chasing trophy fish and with several world records already, they were keen to add a few more”. On the shakedown cruise to the Bay of Islands the boat landed two marlin which bodes well for its future success.

Upfold, who has an enviable reputation as an iconic designer of mid-pilothouse motor yachts, was pleased to receive the commission for Lady Alison as it allowed him to extend his design thinking into a new area. “This wasn’t my first sportfisher, but it certainly was the first for me to such a serious extent and it was an interesting challenge.”

Right from the start, the owners realised that to get what they wanted they had to get something custom built and that’s where Bill Upfold came into the picture. Although the initial plans and drawings were approved, the signing of the contract so that builder Lloyd Stevenson could start didn’t happen until the hull was thoroughly tank tested at the Maritime College at Launceston, Hobart.

“We built a scale model of the boat and after a lot of testing, we came away totally vindicated as far as the design was concerned, the owners were confident and in January 2005 building commenced. Thirteen months later we had a boat in the water”, added Upfold.

The fact that the boat is all-composite in construction is nothing extraordinary, but the fact that it has a 2.5g impact factor is remarkable. A normal timber boat of a similar size is around 1.5g – 1.8g and that is considered well above the safe tolerances for most harbour and coastal cruising. However when you plan to take the boat offshore with trips to Cairns, Tonga or Vanuatu on the scope, you have to build it tough, even overkill! Lady Alison is one tough sportfisher, engineered by High Modulus (HM) and built to cope with extreme conditions.

To meet the tough parameters set by the owners, HM engineers specified R63 linear foam for the main slamming areas of the hull. Originally they decided on a 30mm core, but due to the fact that HM only had 40mm core in stock, and there was a time frame to start construction, they opted to use 40mm. This raised the impact factor to 2.5g, which is over 1.0g higher than required if Lady Alison had been built to ABS classification. The increased weight was minimal.

HM also chose the non-rotting polypropylene plastic honeycomb Nydacore, sandwiched between ply and sheathed with E-glass for the soles and cabin tops to maintain strength but minimise weight.

Minimalistic & Practical

The interior design for Lady Alison was collaboration between the owners and specialist marine designer Kim Lilly. While the owners had some very specific ideas on how the layout would function, Lilly added the stylish touch. There are a lot of painted surfaces as opposed to high gloss timber and the soft furnishings have been minimised to wearable, quality fabrics.

Being a sportfisher the flybridge area was naturally always going to be a semi-closed in area and the focal point for most of the functions on the boat. A full set of clears across the rear of the bridge allows for easy access and viewing – an important consideration on a sportfisher. The layout has been planned right from the start to be not only the working office for the skipper but also as an entertainment area. Lounges circulate around the perimeter of the area forward of the helm with a small dinette table to port, that drops down to form another berth. Fully air-conditioned it also doubles as a captain’s cabin when necessary.

Electronically, it would be difficult to add any more to Lady Alison, from the forward facing sonar with retractable dome to a complete Navnet system. The boat is fully rigged with hydraulic systems running the bowthruster and tender davit crane.

The helm features three display screens surrounded by a plethora of gauges, switches and controls, all linked into the pair of 1200hp diesels. Lady Alison is powered by two MTU 2000/93 series diesel engines which gives a top speed of a shade under 33 knots and has a comfortable cruise of 26 knots @ 2100 rpm.

Aft of the twin Navigator seats is a small upper deck area complete with an external set of controls. There is also a third set in the marlin tower above and another in the cockpit. The elevated tower station is used when spotting for fish or whilst cruising in the Islands and avoiding the coral bombers.

Interestingly, the owners chose a stainless ladder rather than a full staircase to the flybridge, to allow quick and easy access to the cockpit.

Lady Alison is a three-cabin boat with the accommodation areas divided by two en-suites.

The forward cabin has four berths, one that converts to a double, with the other guest cabin having two singles. Both have ample storage space, good ventilation, and independent air conditioning and are finished with suede style wall coverings. While there are some drawers under the berths, they predominantly lift on gas struts for access to massive storage areas. This was done to eliminate as much as possible the danger of drawers sliding open in a seaway. “This is a boat that will be used for some very serious bluewater boating so little things like this really matter”, says Upfold. All side ports also have internal storm shutters.

The guest’s en-suite serves both cabins, while the owners’ en-suite has a double entry from the companionway. When an owner is aboard with his family and friends the en-suite can be kept private. However, when on a serious fishing trip this allows guests easy access to the large shower. Corian is used for the vanity tops with varnished oak soles, stainless steel and mirrored glass doors, with easy to clean surfaces. There’s also a separate locker for wet weather gear.

While the portside master cabin is, like the rest of the boat reasonably simplistic in its presentation, there is the added touch of a deep brown leather headboard to offset the light tones of the light grey fabrics and white high gloss trim of the lockers and bed base. Interestingly the height of all the cabins and interior areas was an important equation in the design as the owners are exceedingly tall.

There’s something special about the dedicated tackle room and when you visit this area you know you are aboard a serious sportfishing battlewagon. Over a dozen Shimano rods are secured in bulkhead rod racks, with tackle bins and lockers, plenty of bench space and the right tools on hand to repair or re-rig reels, rods and tackle. Even the bench is all stainless steel. There’s even a dedicated storage bin under the sole for the bent-butts for the rods.

Tasteful Decor

Whilst with most sportfishers it is customary to have no forward facing windows, Lady Alison has a signature single window in the centre, which gives extra light in the companionway as well as providing a natural break to what is otherwise a very closed-in area. As a precaution against bad weather when offshore passagemaking every window below the bridge has storm shutters.

Being a totally customised vessel, Lady Alison has an interior that reflects the wishes and interests of the owners. The interior has a functional and tasteful décor with a practical separation between the entertainment and accommodation areas. The white gloss finish and Corian vanities of the galley and bar/entertainment area forward of the saloon breaks the darker ambience of the brown leather lounges and dinette area.

The galley is a study on style and function. Visually appealing and practical in its design, it is an area where it would be a pleasure to prepare a gourmet meal for guests or a late lunch for a team of hungry fishermen. The elevated convection oven and microwave are recessed into the forward oak timber bulkhead at a convenient height, with an F&P dishdrawer and trash compactor under the Corian bench. The hob has a stainless fiddle to retain pots whilst in a seaway.

While Lady Alison may well be a dedicated sportfisher, the social spaces are plentiful from the flybridge to the saloon. The interior is modern and warm with an inviting ambience. One of Upfold’s design briefs was for a large dining area to get plenty of people around and he has certainly achieved it. With the addition of a couple of occasional chairs around the oak table, nine people can dine in a comfortable relaxed atmosphere. Opposite is another large U-shaped lounger that like the dinette area incorporates large storage areas beneath.

There is a stainless steel grabrail down the centreline of the cabin top and in fact there are handholds placed strategically throughout the boat for safe passage aboard while cruising in a heavy sea.

As found on most Bill Upfold designed boats, the rear window drops electrically to open out into the cockpit where the business end of Lady Alison is found. The mezzanine’s alfresco dining area is destined to be one of the prime spots on the boat, out of the wind and totally focused on all the cockpit action. Plus the fact that the table drops to convert to an external berth is going to make it sought aft when Lady Alison is in the tropics.

Opposite is the day head/shower and rod stowage for bottom fishing and the stainless steel flybridge ladder with teak treads. The remainder of the cockpit caters for every need for sportfishing from the four tuna tubes to the bait station, two live bait tanks and tag pole stowage. There’s also a large freezer in the sole to chill down the catch quickly and a cockpit helm. The teak decks all have recessed cleats and rod holders and naturally, being a sportfisher in the true sense there’s no boarding platform. There is even a cockpit winch for hauling the record gamefish aboard. Lady Alison is fitted with an Elite Marine/Chatfield game chair.

Any water that floods onto the cambered cockpit sole when backing-up is quickly removed via huge wastewater drains that are venturied out through the bottom of the hull, as well as deck scuppers. In addition, to cope with an extreme amount of water in the cockpit, the centre of the transom door also has a blowout panel.

While traditionally Upfold’s hulls feature warped underwater planing sections, Lady Alison is more of a conventional monohedron, with an 18-degree deadrise at the transom and a fine forward entry. The propellers are running in pockets. This was done to reduce the draft and enabled the shaft angle to be kept to a low 10 degrees.

Lady Alison has set the standard for a new range of Upfold designed sportfishers and is an outstanding example of builder Lloyd Stephenson’s skills as one of New Zealand’s leading custom boatbuilders. It is also a testament to both designer and builder that another client has signed for a slightly smaller version of Lady Alison.


  • Boat Name: Lady Alison
  • Boat Design Name: Elite Sportfisher
  • Year Launched: 2006
  • Designer: Bill Upfold
  • Builder: Lloyd Stevenson
  • Interior Designer:  Kim Lilley
  • LOA: 19.80m
  • Beam: 5.75m
  • Draft: 1.36m
  • Displacement: 35000kgs (heavy ship)
  • Max Speed: 33 knots
  • Cruise Speed: 25 knots
  • Construction: FRP Composite
  • Fuel Capacity: 8500 litres
  • Water Capacity: 900 litres
  • Engines: 2 x MTU Series 2000/1200hp

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