Fairline Squadron 50
For more about the history of Fairline, check out “A Look Back at Fairline”.
Just standing on the dock and gazing up at Fairline’s Squadron 50 gives you a sense of her magnificence. My test vessel had a steel-blue hull, which added to her impact, and with acres of black glass windows, she’s a head-turner. I’m not going to bore you with the whole couch-to-starboard tour, because there are three features of this yacht that I really want to share with you.
One is a tender valet service. No more struggling with a crane or consuming interior space with a garage. Designed by Fairline and built by Besenzoni, it’s a huge improvement over the submerging swim platform. A 9½-foot Williams jet tender sits on a pair of chocks on the teak transom platform, and at the touch of a button, a section of the platform slides out and down, still holding the tender. At this point, you can comfortably and securely board her. Another touch of the button lowers her into the water. When you want a swim platform, the chocks fold flat: slick!
Boarding is easy even if the tender is stowed, since twin stairs lead to the teak-plank cockpit, which gets sun protection from the overhanging cantilevered bridge. Access is via easy stairs to port, and this bridge is huge! Stretching forward from above the transom to the venturi windscreen, it could comfortably seat all of your in-laws on the full-width divan aft, which curves into another couch to starboard. A folding table serves the family dinner or cocktails for a few. A console on the port side holds a grill and wet bar with refrigerator or ice maker.
The helm’s thoughtful portside location gives the skipper a good view down the steps to the corner of the 50 for docking. The captain also gets a double-wide helm seat behind a modest fiberglass dash. I particularly liked having the engine gauges (not digitals, but good old round dials like the ones from my flying days) right in my line of sight.
This yacht’s master stateroom is in the bow. Lots of yachts have the master cabin amidships, but if a yacht has any amount of deadrise there, you can end up with slanted walking areas around the berth. Yes, putting the king-size berth in the bow means the stateroom tapers on each side, but who cares? What you get is an enormous flat sole with the space usually found on much larger yachts, plus headroom of more than six feet.
And there is another reason that a forward suite makes sense. Many yachts moor stern-to in marinas or at quays, so having huge windows in an amidships owner’s cabin gives only a close-up view of someone else’s topsides. On the 50, the big windows provide light and view, and with overhead skylights, the suite is lovely. Amenities here include a realistically sized hanging locker, a dressing table and a frosted shoji-style door leading to the en suite head.
Just aft are two guest staterooms, and each provides flexibility with double berths that can separate into a pair of singles. The starboard cabin has direct access to the day-head and, like the master’s, is comfortably large with a full shower stall.
Fairline has also broken with its own traditions by placing the galley aft, which makes sense because the sliding doors to the cockpit are extra wide, opening the area for entertaining. Large windows surround the L-shape countertop, which houses a De Dietrich grill (only two burners seems a bit skimpy) and under-counter Isotherm fridge. Several large lockers hold pots, pans and provisions, but I didn’t find a single drawer. (I’d lose one locker to gain four drawers.) The lower helm is in the forward starboard corner and offers great all-around sight lines. A full array of Garmin instrumentation appears on a single monitor. Controls for the Bennett trim tabs and Sidepower bow thruster are handy.
Not having a space-eating tender garage in the transom allows the Squadron 50 to provide a truly civilized (and optional) crew cabin under the cockpit, with a single berth, mini galley and head. It’s perfect for kids.
The engine room is impressive. Every possible service point is readily accessible. Not only is this likely to improve the reliability of the yacht, but service techs will love you. Power comes from a pair of 710-horsepower Caterpillar C-12s, which push the Squadron 50 along at a respectable 31 knots. A yacht with flatter underwater lines might get another knot or two but wouldn’t ride as nicely. Under way, she carved sweeping turns with élan and maneuvered nimbly in tight spots. She felt solid, certainly because she is well built, but also because Fairline takes the time to put what the Brits aboard for our test called “little rubbery bits” between anything that might squeak or rattle.
In this highly competitive segment of the market, the Squadron 50 seems poised to hold her own.
Displ.: 42,108 lb. (dry)
Fuel: 604 gal.
Water: 145 gal.
Engine Options: 2 x 575 hp Volvo Penta D9, 2 x 670 hp Volvo Penta D11 diesels
Engines Tested: 2 x 710 hp Caterpillar C12 diesels
Base Price: $1,466,000
Test Conditions: Speeds were measured by GPS on Biscayne Bay off Miami, Florida, with flat seas and light winds, with a half-load of fuel, half water and four people on board. Fuel consumption was calculated by the electronic engine-monitoring system. Sound levels were measured at the helm.
Fairline Yachts, +44 (0) 1832 273661; fairline.com