Design: Surfari 53

This new yacht from Fontaine Design Group explores the benefits of single-level living, powerboat style.

March 5, 2013


First, erase the rig. Now, cover the underbody and appendages. What do you see? Of course, it’s a boat, but to be specific, I see a charming 53-foot express cruiser. Fontaine Design Group


That’s not an accident. Ted Fontaine designed the Surfari to combine the single-level living arrangement we find more and more common aboard midsize motoryachts with the joy and excitement of piloting a fast sailing yacht. Fontaine Design Group


The polar diagram confirms what her ratios ­suggest — she’ll be entertainingly fast under sail. In the tradition of true 100/100 motorsailers (boats that sail and motor equally well), this yacht’s two Volvo Penta D2-75 engines, Fontaine predicts, will give her a top speed of approximately 11 knots. Fontaine Design Group


Anyone who’s familiar with Fontaine’s classically styled Friendship 40 and 53 will recognize the Surfari 53 as a serious change of pace. Be that as it may, his eye for perfect proportion hasn’t abandoned him. Fontaine Design Group


I like the way he’s balanced this hull via an identical rake at the stem and transom and visually joined these elements with a subtle spring in the sheer line. Although Fontaine stepped out of the box to draw this yacht, the lovely spoon shape of the trunk cabin and the elliptical portlights show that he kept a toe immersed in the Friendship tradition. Fontaine Design Group


I needed a bit of time studying this yacht to embrace her overall look, but the simplicity of the various elements work well together. The graceful line of the coachroof, large windows on each side and the glass-panel overhead nearly make the deckhouse disappear from sight, no matter your perspective. Fontaine Design Group


Raking the windshield as steeply as he’s done allowed Fontaine to lengthen the house and provide clearance for the boom vang. A more upright front fascia would have shortened the superstructure and spoiled the seamless look. Fontaine Design Group


The Surfari‘s contemporary sail plan will enhance her performance while it adds visual speed-cred to the overall design. Think of the rig as equivalent to 20-inch aluminum wheels, gumball tires and an aerodynamic wing over the trunk of a sports car. We could say the same for her fixed bowsprit, but it too creates the advantage of setting the code zero on a furling system. All of the sail-handling lines sheet to electric winches near the twin wheels, which makes child’s play out of solo sailing. Fontaine Design Group


This high-aspect sail plan combined with twin rudders, the blade keel and foil-shaped ballast bulb promise tight sailing angles upwind. Simple lines, great spaces for entertaining aboard, easy access to the water through the open transom and spirited performance should attract a flock of buyers.
Fontaine Design Group, 401-682-9101;
Fontaine Design Group

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