Author : Barry Thompson
Images by Bryce Taylor
The Formula ICON 58 is not only the first 58 to be built, it is the first boat Formula Cruisers has launched with pod drives and it is also the first ever triple Zeus pod boat in the country.
NoXcuse follows on from nine ICON 54s and while built out of the same hull mould has been lengthened over 1m. All of that extra space is found in the cockpit, because this boat is destined to be used primarily for fishing. The flybridge, forward accommodation areas and main saloon retain the same dimensions as the ICON 54, however there have been significant changes to the layout both in the accommodation spaces and the living area.
Launched just prior to Xmas in time for its very experienced gamefishing owner to enjoy a summer shakedown, NoXcuse brings back the look, style and practicality of the ICON sportfishing range. The solid front screen is now very much the stock in trade of a serious sportfisher and the ICON is no different. While the same boat is available with full wrap around screens, the owner of NoXcuse is seriously into his fishing and doesn’t plan to contain his boating to local shores.
Plans are for extensive passages to the gamefishing playgrounds off Queensland and locally you can expect to see NoXcuse anywhere from The Three Kings to Fiordland. This is a boat that will undoubtedly get plenty of sea miles under the keel over the next few years. Its deep burgundy coloured hull – the first hull of that colour from Formula Cruisers for many years – will certainly be an eye catcher on the water.
In fact, talking about the keel, NoXcuse doesn’t actually have one due to the pod drives. The decision to go for pod drives was one that the owner wanted right from the start and the end result was triple Cummins/Zeus. This necessitated the removal of the keel and the inclusion of three small tunnels to take the pods.
“Our standard hull has long been approved by both Volvo Penta and Cummins to take pods, so we didn’t have to make any other changes to the running surfaces”, says Troy Woods, general manager of Formula Cruisers.
“It was a complicated process setting up our first triple pod drive system, but it went together reasonably well”, added Woods. On top of that the builders also had to create a cockpit that was fishable, with extra cockpit sole refrigerated kill bins that needed to be worked around the placement of the engines. 1800mm jackshafts were required to get the right positioning of engines and fishing requirements all neatly packaged together in and under the cockpit.
Where you would traditionally find the engine room in the conventional shaft drive ICONs, is now a service room that stows the Seakeeper Gyro, washing machine, generator, watermaker and a storage area for the myriad of game rods and reels. The 5000-litre transverse mounted fuel tank has been moved forward and acts as great sound barrier between the machinery spaces and the accommodation.
Interestingly, this is not the first Formula to run triple engines. Back in 1984 when Formula was under the ownership of Alan Young, two triple sterndrive Formula 4000s were launched, the first with triple Volvo Penta 165 Duoprops (boat #4), the other with triple BMW 180hp sterndrives (boat # 12). Three years later a third Formula 4000 (boat # 41) was built with triple Volvo Penta 200hp Duoprops. Top speeds were 30 knots, 31 knots and 33 knots respectively. These were the only triple rigs produced from the 50 Formula 4000s that were built between 1984 and 1987 and all three have since been repowered with twin engines.
NoXcuse has a total of 1800hp through the triple engine package, which compares to twin MTU 825hp engines on shaft drives as the standard alternative if conventional drives were to be preferred. Top speed would still be around 32 knots, with a 25-knot cruise.
On trials, NoXcuse recorded 36 knots and estimated cruise was around 25-30 knots. Unfortunately when the magazine went to print the fuel data had yet to be confirmed following sign off of engines, but early indications were at 25 knots the three engines combined were burning 200 – 210 lph total.
Inside, NoXcuse is exceptionally well finished, practical and above all portrays a friendly and open atmosphere. “This is the most customised boat we have built in a long time and that’s something that Formula Cruisers has always been about and makes us different from some of our competitors”, remarks Woods.
The saloon area exemplifies the owner’s request for an open, versatile use of the living space. The galley and saloon layout is totally different from anything Formula Cruisers has done before. Most obvious to me was that the galley and floating staircase to the flybridge are now forward. This was done specifically because the owner wanted as much of the rear bulkhead open as was practical. A sliding door system and electric drop-down window has allowed the alfresco seating area and the saloon to become as one and with no heavy mullions to distract your sightlines you have a clear, open view from the transom to the 60” TV on the forward saloon bulkhead This also doubles as entertainment and relays information from the helm station displays when fishing.
To starboard aft is a fore-aft lounger and opposite a large L-shaped lounge area with high/low combination coffee/dining table. From any of the seating positions inside you have excellent vision through the aft and rear windows.
When you walk upstairs to the semi enclosed flybridge it’s obvious that this is a dedicated sportfisher in every sense, with the helm placed aft and clears rather than a fixed rear bulkhead and sliding door. This allows the skipper to watch what’s happening in the cockpit when there’s fishing action happening, plus it provides great stern views when backing into the marina. There is a full width teak seat on the upper aft deck, remote Zeus joystick control and access to the rod rack.
Compared to the previous couple of ICON 54s, the flybridge is actually shorter – the owner’s choice – but there is still a huge amount of space, with a generous forward lounge that converts to another berth, U-shaped dinette and fridge. This area will become the skipper’s cabin when on fishing charters. The helm features triple 19” Furuno display screens coupled to an extensive NavNet Furuno electronics package, including WAASP. There’s also a MaQ directional sonar and for the long term driving comfort of the skipper and guest, a couple of twin Navigator helm seats are provided.
NoXcuse is also the first boat in New Zealand to be fitted with the combination AC/DC BEP CZone control system, which does away with a huge switch panel, in favour of a single touch screen.
“The owner had some very specific requirements about the layout he wanted and it was our customising ability and the fact that we could achieve exactly what he was looking for, that went a long way to getting the contract to build the boat”, says Woods.
NoXcuse offers a three-cabin layout forward, with a master stateroom and two guest cabins. The main change in the accommodation areas is that the forward VIP cabin has four single berths instead of the usual island queen. With the owner planning on using the boat to take mates fishing, the four single berths made more sense. Woods adds that being a custom boat you can have virtually any berth layout you like. Storage is provided in upper lockers on both sides as well as an aft hanging locker.
The starboard guest cabin has two single berths, one running fore and aft, the other athwartships, and plenty of storage. Both cabins share the same ensuite which features a very large shower cubicle with glass doors, Corian vanity with recessed bowl and head. The sole is finished in Amtico and the walls are all painted with white lacquer for ease of cleaning.
To port is the owner’s cabin with the walkaround queen size bed, matching night stands, hanging lockers and a very spacious private ensuite which is consistent with the guest bathroom, just larger. Cherry timber is used throughout the accommodation spaces, with macro-suede on the bulkheads and panels. All cabins have individual air conditioning controls.
“The accommodation plan in NoXcuse is what this particular owner wanted, but being a custom boat we can do just about anything”, says Woods.
The owner knew that the outdoor areas on NoXcuse would be well utilised so made sure they were well equipped and comfortable. The cockpit has certainly a serious fishing trait about it with a central fighting chair, over a dozen rod holders plus an overhead rocket launcher and game poles, sockets for electric reels, recessed cleats and warp guides, low coamings and refrigerated storage/kill bins in the sole. There’s no boarding platform as it was removed at the owner’s request, but the platform is a standard feature on most ICONs.
What is neat is the upper area of the cockpit’s alfresco seating, with a comfortable L-shaped settee, where you can relax and watch all the fishing action, settle in for a cool afternoon drink or watch the sunrise at breakfast. The choice is yours.
On the starboard side forward is the day head and aft another top loading fridge and cockpit docking station. A fixed barbecue and sink unit is built into the transom, alongside a couple of tuna tubes. The port and starboard coamings are covered in teak – something that Formula Cruisers has not done for a while.
NoXcuse was very much an owner-driven project and over the 11-month build period, he was very much involved with a lot of the design and layout aspects of the boat. “We encourage our owners to be part of the design and build of their boat as it is a rewarding part of the process of owning a semi custom boat and then there are no surprises at the end. After all, would you build an architecturally designed house for a couple of million and not go and see it take shape? says Woods.
NoXcuse is the tenth and biggest boat built from the ICON range. Woods points out that while the hull in its present wide beam format could be extended to 19m (62ft), anything over that would come from another mould. The ICON 62 is available in shaft or pod drive and is not only longer overall, it features a completely different layout from the ICON 58, including an entire new flybridge.
- Boat design name: Formula ICON 58
- Boat name: NoXcuse
- Year launched: 2012
- Designer: Formula Cruisers/Grant Senior
- Interior designer: Formula Cruisers
- Builder: Formula Cruisers
- LOA: 18.35m
- LOH: 17.77m
- Beam: 5.65m
- Draft: 1.23m
- Displacement (dry): 25,500kg
- Max speed: 36 knots
- Cruise speed: 30 knots
- Construction: GRP – hand laid
- Fuel cap: 5000 litres
- Water cap: 1000 litres
- Engines: 3 x Cummins QSC 600