Author : Barry Thompson
The sixth Formula Icon 54 to be launched shows how a design can mature with age when the right thought and commonsense approach is considered by the builders.
With a 5.65m beam, the Formula Icon 54 can genuinely lay claim to being a wide bodied boat. Since its release in late 2006, this popular model from Formula Cruisers in Auckland has undergone quite significant layout changes, although the basic parameters of the hull and superstructure have not been altered.
When designer Grant Senior first conceived the Icon 54 he wanted a high performance cruiser that could easily handle the transition from serious sportfisher to family cruiser. One of the most important considerations was to design a full bodied boat that would have the size to allow head heights to be raised.
The generous beam (the widest of any sportfisher of a similar size – and many a lot bigger) – has meant internally there is simply loads of space. Nothing is cramped when it comes to important areas such as the accommodation, the galley, saloon and even the en-suites. There is plenty of space everywhere, right through to an 11.2sqm cockpit and a huge enclosed flybridge. The Icon 54 has in fact more volume than the Icon 56 that it replaced.
The latest Icon 54 is the sixth to be launched and it is quite different internally from what has gone before. The first thing I noticed when I stepped aboard was that there is no external staircase to the flybridge. It wasn’t so many years ago that stainless ladders were the norm for sportfishing boats. These were gradually replaced by external stairways and in recent times internal flybridge stairways have become more popular, especially in boats over 16m. Temptress (PMY Mar 07), the third of the Icon 54s, had an external stairway.
According to Troy Woods, Formula Cruisers’ sales & marketing manager, the trend is 95% to internal access. “People realise that the benefits greatly outweigh the negative aspect of losing some internal space, but even that is negated with a well thought out design”, said Woods.
This was the first internal staircase in an Icon 54 and it shapes a whole new layout concept. Firstly, there is now the addition of a cockpit day head, complete with a small laundry with LG washer/dryer. Surprisingly, this has in fact opened the cockpit up even more with a little more working space on the starboard side.
There is now a small work-station on the outer bulkhead and a locker for the shore power cable. It is also the second Icon 54 with a large stainless steel rear door. Formula can design the cockpit to suit the cruising owner to the serious gamefisher, with tuna tubes, barbecues, live bait tanks, trash lockers, and rod storage or bait stations wherever you want them. The newest Icon 54 has a small alfresco seating area to port with a barbecue in the transom, trash locker, live bait tank and a single opening door onto a full-with boarding platform. All the Formula Icon 54s have the teak cockpit sole strengthened for a game chair, so retrofitting one is not an issue.
The next Icon 54, which is a serious all-out sportfisher, has the aft coaming reduced, toe-kicks under the coamings, a large live-bait tank with clear facing, tuna tubes installed, plugs for the recessed stainless cleats, the boarding platform removed and the port side day head reduced in size and changed to a rod locker with another small outside settee to match the one on the port side.
Internally, the starboard settee in the saloon is now shorter by 300mm and the three waist height under-bench fridge/freezers have been replaced with a full size fridge/freezer with built-in icemaker and chilled water dispenser.
Like all previous Icon 54s, the U-shaped galley is to port and aft, with an electrically operated glass drop-down window in the aft bulkhead. The galley incorporates a Corian benchtop, soft-shut drawers and lockers, F&P dish drawer, an electric oven, hob and fridge/freezer. The only change in the new model is an improvement in the storage space below the bench.
Another big change in the boat is that the dinette has not been raised with a step up to the seating area. In this boat the floor level has been maintained which provides a more socially balanced area with the starboard settee now on the same level. This has also enabled the inclusion of an electrically operated multi height adjustable table. It can be used as a low level coffee table or a full size dinette and even to make an extra double berth. This has certainly opened the appearance of the forward area of the saloon.
It is also hard not to notice that there is no forward windscreen, a first for Formula on an Icon 54. In a serious sportfishing boat the argument for the solid screen is usually one of strength in a heavy sea, but Formula’s reasoning for a cruising boat is one of much greater storage capacity.
With a ‘conventional’ glass forward screen you are left with a large flat eyebrow, which becomes an area to toss a bit of gear but essentially is wasted space. Formula has now integrated the entertainment locker, an art alcove and flat screen TV.
Another advantage is the saloon is more heat controlled as with the large glass screen forward the internal space is harder to air-condition, something that is probably more important in the climes of North Queensland than Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.
“Although we are currently building a full-on game boat version of the Icon 54, with an external staircase, the general enquiries now are for this new style with the internal staircase, one level dinette and solid forward screen”, said Woods.
When you order an Icon 54 you have two layout choices in the flybridge area – a forward or an aft helm. To date the most popular has been the aft helm, which for anyone thinking about game fishing is the only serious option. According to Woods there is a lot more interest now in the forward helm option, especially from cruising clients.
This is a great area on the boat and Formula has made good use of the space, incorporating a large forward wrap around settee (in the aft helm option) with a port side helm station and twin Navigator helm chairs. In the forward helm layout there is an L shape settee to port. There is storage under the squabs, a separate drinks fridge hidden in a timber locker and although there is air conditioning, there is also opening side windows plus deck hatches with black out and insect screens. Rear drop down clears can encase the whole area. There is also the cruising package option, which has a larger flybridge, with forward helm with a solid aft bulkhead, drop down window and door
The standard electronics package is a pair of Raymarine E120 screens, 15” computer screen, VHF, autopilot, 24nm radar, sounder and CCTV camera on the pulpit for viewing the anchor as well as the engine room. Being a semi custom boat, Formula can alter the helm to suit an owner’s electronic requirements and make the area to suit the size and complexity of the electronics package.
The flybridge has also come in for a subtle change, with the rear teak bench seat moved aft to provide a lot more space behind the twin helm chairs.
Formula has left the forward accommodation areas virtually unchanged from the previous Icon 54s, although there is a new shape in the door details and styling. Gone are the curved moulded doors, replaced with square corners and a new trim of dark stained walnut and gloss beech with 4mm stainless inserts. Beech is the predominant timber throughout the boat, although there are a variety of timber options available. The new look has certainly modernised the styling of the detail, shapes and upholstery of the Icon 54 giving it a contemporary look that blends well with the overall design.
The layout has a port-side master with a walk around queen size berth and the half-height hanging locker and vanity has been replaced with a full height hanging locker. There are also storage drawers under berth plus overhead and nights stands either side.
The owners’ cabin en-suite is generous in size and features a large glass surround shower cubicle, Tecma head, Corian bench top with raised glass bowl and a solid polished beech timber floor with white epoxy inlay. Paffoni fittings are used throughout the ensuites and also the galley.
The forward guest cabin and starboard bunk cabin share the same bathroom, which features all the same fittings as the owners’ ensuite. The guest cabin also has a queen size berth, storage beneath and overhead and like all the cabins has individual air conditioning with temperature controller.
The L-shaped format of the starboard guest cabin offers more privacy between the two bunks and there is plenty of storage under both.
The significant beam of the Icon 54 is noticeable in the accommodation areas, where space is often a constraint on the layout. Not so in the Icon 54, which makes good use of the available area and the benefit of the extra volume is obvious.
Icon 54 #6 is powered by twin MTU Series 60, 825hp engines, giving a top speed of 32 knots and a cruise of 25 – 27 knots. With the standard 4000-litre fuel tankage, the Icon 54 has a range of around 500 nautical miles @ 24 knots and 1200 nautical miles @ 10 knots. A very efficient hull shape utilising the best of modern construction techniques means true long range cruising is now within your reach.
The progression of the Icon 54 has been dictated by both changing trends and owners’ input, both of which Formula Cruisers has taken heed of. The Formula brand has been around for 26 years and Formula Cruisers Ltd, incorporated in January 2000, has a dedicated and loyal staff, with a total of over 250 years of customised boatbuilding experience within its team. Currently, the model range also includes the Icon 58, 62, 68 and there is even discussion with a Kiwi client on an Icon 75.
While Formula Cruisers is concentrating its sales efforts currently in New Zealand and Australia, Troy Woods is also looking at other international markets.
However, while the plans are to grow the offshore market, he is content right now to consolidate the ‘local patch’ and to look further afield when the economy improves.
“We have a good enquiry level at the moment, especially in our larger boats and are looking positively to the future”, said Woods. The Icon 54 is a boat that will certainly handle any international scrutiny and should do well for Formula Cruisers in the future.
- Design Name: Formula ICON 54
- Year Launched: 2008
- Designer: Grant Senior / Formula Cruisers
- Interior Designer: Formula Cruisers & Parkhurst Design
- Builder: Formula Cruisers
- LOA: 17.80m
- Beam: 5.65m
- Draft: 1.20m
- Displacement: 24000kg (light-ship)
- Max Speed: 32 knots
- Cruise Speed: 27 knots
- Construction: Solid GRP below waterline, GRP and foam core composite
- Fuel Cap: 4000 litres
- Water Cap: 1000 litres
- Engines Make: 2 x MTU Series 60 @ 825hp
- Base Price: NZ$2.4 million