Yachts International - - Boats Of Distinction - By Jill BoBrow

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.

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