Formula 54

Formula Cruisers recently launched Pacific Diamond, a customised version of its 16.2m production model. Geoff Green went aboard to see what changes had been made.

Formula 54
Formula 54

Pacific Diamond tested Formula Cruiser's staff during the design and construction phases. It had to comfortably accommodate a family of six and their many friends, provide self sufficiency during long cruises, carry three tenders and numerous water toys, cruise efficiently at 20 knots and look good doing it.

Not only that, the owner's tall stature required 2.1m (6ft 11in) headroom throughout and this required the cabin sides, foredeck and hardtop to be raised above standard height. He also wanted the layout to remain open, conducive to socialising and comfortable to move about in.

Formula Cruisers' general manager Brent Perry says while Formula has production moulds for the hull, deck and cabin components, Pacific Diamond was custom built to meet its owner's specific needs. "The level of customisation we offered was very attractive to him."

The boat was built to be offshore capable and this, with the family's two week self-sufficiency requirement, meant designing in plenty of fuel, water and holding tank capacity. Providing ample refrigeration space, storage for provisions and family-oriented appliances such as a domestic washer-drier, four-element cooktop, large Bosch oven, bread maker and microwave were also priorities.

Pacific Diamond was launched at the end of March and Brent says the twin 480hp Volvo Penta diesels deliver a cruising speed of 20 knots and a top end of 27 knots with the boat in heavy trim.

The boat's three-cabin layout (all forward under the foredeck) was driven by the need to sleep four to six children, depending on the accompanying friend situation, as well as two adults. Sleeper bunks were provided in the saloon and flying bridge as back-ups.

The master cabin, complete with ensuite, is in the bow. The berth, custom built to provide 2.13m length, is positioned fore and aft much the same as an island berth, although it's built out to both hull sides to provided additional width.

Draws are fitted under the berth and dual hanging lockers and cabinets provide plenty of space for personal storage. Three lighting combinations, an instrument repeater and stereo round out the facilities.

The décor was designed around teak bulkheads and cabinets with highlights of burr poplar inserted into the panelling and cabinet doors. This attractive combination of light and dark woodwork was repeated throughout the boat.

The ensuite attached to the master cabin is one of three well-equipped bathrooms. Another is provided to starboard and this services the other two private cabins and the remainder of the boat. A day-head in the cockpit duplicates shower, toilet and vanity facilities and alleviates the need to enter the plush interior while wearing wet swimwear or to wash fishy hands.

The port cabin has a double berth running athwartships and a raised single built against the hull side. This layout was designed to provide the flexibility to accommodate one couple, two individual adults or up to three children.

The starboard cabin opposite offers a similar sleeping arrangement, although the double bunk runs fore and aft and the raised single is positioned across the aft bulkhead. The single bunk is only 1.53m long (5ft) but it will sleep the owner's youngest child (now five years old) for some years to come.

Pacific Diamond has one main steering station in the enclosed flybridge that is optimised for socialising and comfort. The space saved by not having a downstairs helm is used to maximise the family and social aspects of the saloon and provide a large aft galley.

Seating for six is provided around the saloon table and a second curved settee is provided opposite. This is one of the back-up sleepers and it can be converted to a queen size bed by adding a bunk board and filler stored in the starboard cabin.

The U-shaped galley is fitted with a blue Corian bench top with an appliance centre in one corner (to house the bread maker and microwave) and a stainless steel double corner sink unit in the other. Brent says the appliance centre was created so that the accessory appliances were immediately accessible but not obvious.

"We concentrated on highlighting the woodwork," he says.

Every possible free space is utilised for storage, and drawers, cupboards and racks abound. In-cabinet lighting is provided throughout and Brent says there is ample food storage available to service a large family and their many young guests with healthy appetites.

A four-element induction cook top is recessed into the Corian top with a Bosch stainless steel oven below. The other major appliances are a Fisher and Paykel dish draw (with custom catch to keep it closed at sea) and, set to starboard opposite the galley, a large domestic fridge-freezer with ice-maker and water-chiller.

Brent says fitting the fridge-freezer entailed modifying the cabin side and blacking out the window behind. "Visually, we wanted the exterior to look the same both sides, but on the inside we had to accommodate the refrigerator and still make the window line and cabinetry flow."

The flybridge is accessed via a 90-degree spiral staircase that was designed to provide ergonomic access without encroaching into the cockpit. Like the remainder of the boat, it was built to meet the owner's extended headroom requirements and for someone such as myself (1.82m tall) the stairway opening is generous and the stairs very comfortable to use.

The flybridge is enclosed on three sides and clears are fitted to close off the aft opening if required. The deck aft of the helm is finished in cork, laid in the manner of teak. "We used cork to reduce the weight in the bridge. It's soft underfoot, cool during summer and provides good grip," Brent says.

The flybridge layout is designed to accommodate the owner's preference for having his children alongside when steering and to encourage visitors to stay upstairs and socialise during passages. The helm is positioned aft of central to provide good views of the cockpit when gamefishing, but not so far aft that the helmsman is out of touch with those relaxing in the front of the bridge.

"We tried to make the upstairs area as user friendly as possible for the owner, as well as bring guests into the helming and navigation process," Brent says.

Visibility from the helm is good and the helmsperson can see over the seating and down to the bow while seated. The helm station features carbon fibre facia panels and the main PC screen surround is painted to match the grey of the Furuno radar and GPS/chartplotter/sounder.

Optimum engine monitoring was achieved by placing the corresponding gauges for each engine side by side so that engine functions can be scanned and compared at a glance.

The flat top of the helm station is capped with a stainless steel fiddle rail and various drinks' holders so that snacks and refreshments are retained while underway.

Four speakers in the bridge and a 400-watt amplifier (one of three aboard) provide soothing travelling music or all encompassing party sounds. The amplifier connects with the bridge CD player or the central Clarion stereo system and six-stack CD changer in the saloon.

A TV unit is built into the front settee (a removable seat panel protects and covers it when it's not in use). This unit was installed specifically for viewing the next America's Cup. "It means our guests can be immersed in the general atmosphere and gain an overview of the racing, but still see the graphics and detail on TV," says Pacific Diamond's owner.

The platform has a live bait tank in the centre with storage lockers either side to carry the fuel to power the 83hp Zodiac waterjet carried on the foredeck, 3m outboard powered tender carried on the platform and a smaller outboard powered tender that is carried deflated in the lazerette. "With three powered tenders on board the demand for two stroke fuel is high," commented Brent.

The propane gas locker vents overboard and the gas runs a Force 10 barbecue integrated into the aft coamings above it. On the opposite side of the double cockpit doors, which hinge back against the outside of the transom, there is a wet basin with 4.75m extending shower that reaches anywhere in the cockpit.

Pacific Diamond's exceptionally large scuppers are designed to exceed M&I requirements that the cockpit drain from full in less than 45 seconds. "Our calculations show it will empty from full load in about 32 seconds," Brent says.

The cockpit steering station - with throttles, autopilot and bow thruster controls - is built into a locker on the side of the flybridge stairs. A washer-dryer, to meet the owner's request for two-week self-sufficiency, is also installed in the cavity under the stairs.

"The extended cruising requirements created a wish-list that included many household AC appliances, and the combination washer-dryer was installed in the cockpit to alleviate any ventilation problems," Brent says.

The day head, which doubles as a rod storage and drying room, is positioned in the forward starboard corner of the cockpit. It's shaped to match the pillar on the outside of the boat so it doesn't spoil the lines or look intrusive.

It incorporates a toilet, vanity and shower, as well as a rod rack and hanging facilities for wet weather gear. The interior is coated in a rubberised compound so that it is impervious to water and there are no seams to hold dirt or moisture. "It's a practical workspace and you can use the extending shower to wash down children, rods or wet weather gear," the builder says.

Access to the engine room is via the lazerette and a watertight door installed in the engine room bulkhead. A stainless steel water tank (1000l of water in two tanks) and an aluminium fuel tank are installed either side of the lazerette crawl space (about 1.37m headroom makes for comfortable access).

The engine room houses two 480hp Volvo Penta diesels driving though 1.77:1 gearboxes and drive lines supplied by Henley's Propellers. Another two fuel tanks are installed in the engine room, one outboard of each engine, to carry a total of 3200l in four tanks.

Pacific Diamond was built with a solid fibreglass bottom, foam core sides and foam core decks. The engine beds run full length and are tied into the bulkheads and braced with heavy frames that intersect them in the engine mount area. "The structure and fit out complies with New Zealand and Australian survey codes," Brent says.

Efficient sound proofing is achieved by lining the engine room with 50mm Barrier sound insulation and custom building the floor structure using two layers of different density foam and three layers of epoxy glass laminates.

"The different foam densities back up the insulation and the whole package reduces the engine noise to minimum levels, especially since the engine room is water tight and there are no air paths for the sound to escape through." Brent says Pacific Diamond's engine room is typical of Formula's installations. "We like to position the raw water strainers and fuel filters in the centre walkway so the owner can check them quickly. The engines are handed and items such as the gearbox dipsticks are mounted close to centreline."

The engines exhaust through oversize water locks and underwater venturi exhausts. Brent says this system gives quiet running and eliminates exhaust smell, while the large water locks allow the boat to back up hard without generating exhaust backpressure.

Pacific Diamond has now been handed over to its owner who is looking forward to his first extended cruise.

Design Name: Formula 54
Builder: Formula Cruisers
Designer: Formula Cruisers
LOA: 16.45 (54ft)
Beam: 4.95m (16ft 3in)
Draft: 1.29m (4ft 3in)
Displacement: 19 tonnes
Max Speed: 28 knots
Cruise Speed: 20 knots
Construction: Foam/composite
Fuel capacity: 3,200 litres
Water capacity: 1,000 litres
Power: Twin Volvo Penta 480hp
Propellers: Henley's
Gearboxes: 1.77:1
Generator: Lombardini 12kva
Anchor Winch: S.L V3000
Steering: Seastar
Controls: Volvo
Hatches: Weaver
Watermaker: PUR
Autopilot: Coursemaster
GPS/Plotter/Sounder: Furuno
VHF: Furuno
Radar: Furuno
Software: Nobletech

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