Are these new Umberto Felci-designed semi-custom cruiser-racers from Italian company Ice Yachts the latest word in cool?, asks Toby Hodges
Since it announced its first two new models in 2013 – 44ft and 62ft Felci designs – the Italian brand Ice Yachts has been on a roll. It created a weapon of a 33ft day-racer last year, is launching this striking 52 this summer and will follow up with its first catamaran, the Ice Cat 61 (below), next year. And this is just the start of a full range of monohulls and multihulls the company intends to roll out.
The team behind it has built maxi yachts for the last 30 years at the former CN Yacht 2000 facilities near Milan.
Ice Yachts is more focused on custom or semi-custom building than series production, but it has obviously found popularity with its high-end products.
Ice Yachts’ new 52 is designed by Umberto Felci, as is the brand’s entire monohull range. “To my mind he is the best designer in Italy,” declares Ice Yachts’ CEO Marco Malgara. Malgara thinks the 52 shares the contemporary, sporty look of the exciting Ice 33-footer that launched last year, a day-racer that resembles a mini TP52. She has recently been nominated for European Yacht of the Year.
Felci agrees, but also insists the hull shapes of the 33 and 52 go way back. “The first boat with that ‘champagne glass’ shape was our fantastic Open 33 Bravissima, which launched in 1994,” he explains, “and is still winning races everywhere (including 3rd overall from over 2,000 boats at the Barcolana 2014).”
He says the canoe body shape of the 33 and 52 is an evolution of that initial hull. “The main concept is low wetted area and long waterline length at zero heel – and high form stability that is increased by the heel angle.”
The difficulty Felci faced was with taking these hydrodynamic solutions created for racing and adapting them for a performance cruiser. “If the 33 is a pure racer, with the 52 the job was complicated by the fact that she had also to be a comfortable cruiser, and that the external style had to be modern, aggressive and elegant.”
The bow profile of the 52 is what really catches the eye. She has very full forward sections and an unusual stem; Ice Yachts describes this as a ‘scimitar’ in shape, the inverted curve being similar to the curved swords of the early Middle East. The combination of full forward sections and extensive beam provides “high dimensional stability at high angles of heel,” says Felci.
Malgara explains that they have been deliberately aggressive with her design and that the 52 is beamier than the 62. She weighs just 12 tonnes – more than two tonnes lighter than the Solaris 50 on test this month (see page 60) – yet can set nearly 400m2 of sail downwind, which offers a clue to her potential performance.
The lightweight, stiff properties of the Ice 52 are inherited from her composite build. Ice Yachts uses a three-step infusion process – infused outer and inner skins, and a vacuum-bonded PVC core – to gain maximum mechanical properties for minimum weight. The 52 also has carbon reinforcements, structural tanks, flanged bulkheads for better adhesion to the deck and sandwich-built furniture.
The Ice 52 looks like a feisty cruiser that can be sailed short-handed yet also compete in crewed regattas. I like the way the twin wheels are sited quite far forward for good sightlines, something Ice did to good effect with the 62.
The Ice 52 will make its boat show debut in Cannes in September. Look out for our full guide to the new launches at the autumn boat shows in the next issue.
Price ex VAT €520,000 (£371,415). www.iceyachts.it
LOA 15.80m/51ft 10in
LWL 14.84m/48ft 8in
Beam 4.65m/15ft 3in
Draught 2.45-2.85m/8ft-9ft 4in
Ice Cat 61
With the announcement of its first catamaran, Ice Yachts declares it is aiming to produce a multihull range from 50-70ft. The designer is Enrico Contreas whose history is synonymous with the Mattia brand of multihulls he has designed since 1970. This ranges from sports and Formula cats such as F18s, to folding trimarans and cruising cats up to 60ft known for their speed and manoeuvrability.
For the Ice Cat 61, the yard has taken the Mattia 56 as a benchmark, a catamaran that can reportedly reach 23 knots under autopilot. Cruising speeds of 25 knots plus are expected from the 61, and her projected motoring speed is 13.5 knots.
She will have a carbon mast that sets a generous sail plan. Ice Yachts says this will be easy to manage thanks to a mainsheet and traveller that can be push-button controlled and a self-tacking Solent.
The bows of the Ice Cat 61 have been given the half-moon ‘scimitar’ shape similar to the Ice 52. The company believes that, in this case, it is a practical shape that extends hull space and helps create forward volume to prevent the bows burying into waves.
Ice catamarans will be built like the monohulls – light and stiff. Options include hybrid propulsion or diesel-electric power, plus another patent-pending power solution the yard is working on that will function if there is a problem with the electronics.
The yard is also considering a turbo upgrade for adrenalin junkies: a full carbon, foiling version. A 61ft cruising cat that can fly? Pass the Chianti.
Price TBD – launch date summer 2016. www.iceyachts.it
This is an extract from a feature in the August 2015 issue of Yachting World