THE SURFARI 50 PLAYS WELL UNDER SAIL OR POWER.
The Surfari 50 is a performance sailboat that can motor like a bona fide powerboat. She is the brainchild of Ted Fontaine at Fontaine Design Group in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Pacific Seacraft in North Carolina built her for Fontaine’s Friendship Yacht Company, also in Rhode Island.
As a sailboat designer who worked with the renowned Ted Hood Sr. for many years, Fontaine says he has witnessed a sea change in the modern sailboat market.
“History will prove that many aging competitive yachtsmen have abandoned sailing altogether, selling their racing or cruising boats and moving on to midsize motoryachts,” Fontaine says.
Fontaine says that many veteran sailors in the baby boomer generation are looking to ease into retirement with an all-around boat that is fast, sporty, comfortable and low maintenance. “I tried to blend in the desirable features found on catamarans such as a large single-level floor plan with the powerboat feature of an open transom for easy water access,” Fontaine says. The Surfari also has plenty of stowage to accommodate an abundance of water toys such as a surfboard, a kayak, paddleboard and fishing gear.
The result is hull number 1, called Drifter. Twin 85-horsepower auxiliary engines are standard, enabling speeds similar to those aboard semi-displacement motoryachts.
“I tried to blend in the desirable features found on catamarans—such as a large, single-level floor plan—with the powerboat feature of an open transom for easy water access,” Fontaine says.
That water access is via a fold-down, tailgate-style swim platform. The Surfari’s exterior styling has a low deckhouse to mitigate a boxy look, and the boat has a single-level indoor/outdoor floor plan with sun protection, on-deck dining and entertaining space. The galley is outdoors with pullout refrigeration, an ice maker, a sink and an electric grill. There is purpose-built stowage for water toys, and multiple accommodations plans (one-, two- and three-stateroom options) are available.
The mast and boom are carbon fiber, keeping weight down, and there is hydraulic and electric sail control for sheeting and furling the mainsail, thus making it possible to sail the boat single-handed. (The systems were tested aboard Fontaine’s Friendship 40 and 53 designs.) Visibility is 360 degrees from the twin helm stations through a long, single windscreen; sliding windows to port and starboard; and an optional sliding glass companionway bulkhead. Owners can also opt for a lifting bulb keel, making the draft 5½ feet or 8½ feet (1.6 meters or 2.6 meters). Fixed draft is 6 feet, 5 inches (about 2 meters). With either keel setup, the Surfari can anchor in shallow harbors for fun on the hook. “Its all about the party once you get there,” Fontaine says. “It’s all about the cockpit, the galley-up and outside, the ability to carry watercraft without cluttering the decks, the excellent dockside lifestyle the open transom provides.”
Fontaine is betting that’s exactly what today’s older sailors and the new generation (those who are not into competitive sailing) will want to do with their boats—and that they won’t want to wait too long to get started. Estimated build time for the Surfari is 15 months.
top: The Surfari was designed so that life on board is oriented to one level with the sailing cockpit doubling as the salon/galley. left: Options are available for configuring the bunks below to accommodate two to four guests in double or twin beds.