Formula Icon 54

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: David Lockwood


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The Formula Icon 54 is geared for big adventure, ready for the rough stuff and can be tweaked to suit individual needs

Formula Icon 54
Formula Icon 54
  • Great engineering, build quality and mouldings
  • Big cruising range
  • Five-star fishability
  • Comfort and performance in spades
  • Surefooted and stable

Weaponry, the Icon 54 tested, took 30,000 man hours to build, boasting a fitout for serious fishing.

Construction

Construction is solid 2.5cm GRP for the hull bottom, with vacuum-bagged Corecell foam composite sides and deck. The flybridge is infused or bagged to save weight.

The 54 displaces about 30,000kg loaded and is backed by a 10-year warranty.

The hull is a warped plane (variable deadrise) design, with a sharp 58-degree entry at its forefoot, 21 degrees of deep-vee just ahead of the engines, and with a relatively flat 10 degrees of deadrise at the transom.

All-important shaft angles, an indication of efficiency, are a low 7.9 degrees. Thus, the MTUs impart plenty of horizontal thrust.

Aesthetically, the Icon 54 has a lovely profile with a pretty sheerline and a high bow. Looking down at the Icon 54 from the bridge or tower, the gunwale line reveals a huge amount of flare and arcing bow rather than a pointed one.

The knuckle in the hull sides has boosted volume, allowing for more internal storage, and a high spray rail that, during our test, visibly shed water.

The engineering is a highlight, beginning with a Seaworth engine vent system from NZ, with intakes high up the hull sides, and washable membranes and dorades to shed water. Access to the engines is via a hatch back in the cockpit, which leads into a utility space housing batteries and the sight gauge for the aluminium fuel tank under the cockpit sole. There are fuel shut-offs and a manifold system.

A watertight door forward of the utility space reveals the twin Series 60 825hp MTU electronic engines built on 14-litre straight-six blocks and linked to underwater exhausts. There are heavy-duty stainless steel sea strainers, laminated sheet insulation and soft panels in case you have to remove an engine. An oil change system was to be fitted, and I noted CCTV cameras and fire-fighting kit.

The engineroom was setup to retrofit one of ZF gearbox maker’s new station-hold devices that will operate engines and bowthruster and speak with satellites to hold you in position. The ZF 2.192:1 gearboxes, four-blade ZF Faster 34 x 41.5in props, plus big 2.75in shafts and rudders complete the running gear.

Bright sparks

A Furuno CSH 5041 was installed – a full-circle, multi-beam colour scanning sonar for finding bait and marking fish in a large cone around your boat.

The boat has 11 electronic display screens including two 12" Raymarine screens in the cockpit, four 12" screens in the tower, and three 17" screens and two 12" screens in the custom helm console in the bridge.

The DC power is largely 24V, with a Mastervolt 16kW genset for Crusair air-con throughout. A 3kW inverter looks after the fridges and AV systems overnight.

Custom cockpit

The custom specification of this Icon 54 includes the Black Marlin Tower with additional steps for better access from the bridge. But with a 5.65m beam, skippers will find less pitch than in towers on deep-vee boats.

Down at water level, the external staircase was deleted to create more cockpit space –there is 11.6m² of serious fishing room – which allowed the creation of a second aft-facing crew/charterer lounge to starboard.

The usual outdoor dayhead was turned into an enormous walk-in, wash-down rod locker, while the existing cockpit fridge was enlarged into a bait-holding tomb. Fish storage is underfloor by way of two slurry bins of 280L capacity each.

Rod storage exists under the boats lounges and in the rocket launcher above. The coaming across the transom was reduced (it usually houses a barbie on cruising versions) to improve access to the water. Tuna tubes were then fitted beneath a clip-off lid, the livebait tank was deepened, and a window was added.

Deck hardware includes flush-mounted cleats and 11 heavy-duty Lees holders. Next are the tag and gaff pole tubes feeding forward either side of the cockpit. Then come the outriggers: 10m or 32-foot models from Chatfield Marine, with a shotgun to come. Teak cockpit planking is 12mm.

Wide sidedecks backed by handrails, moulded toerails and ankle-high bulwarks lead to the big foredeck. The boat was fitted with a 350kg Davco davit and Aquapro 1401 duckie with 40hp four-stroke Yammie. I also note a Lofrans windlass with 85m of 14mm survey chain and 66kg Delta anchor.

Indoor gloss

In the aft-galley are appliances ranging from four-burner cooktop and oven to dishwasher and oversized fridge and freezer. There’s abundant storage space, upmarket Corian counters, soft-close drawers and a built-in wetbar with glass and bottle storage.

The U-shaped lounge to port can seat eight people around a dinette/coffee table. A two-person lounge is opposite, with all seating enjoying good views of the Philips flatscreen TV in the cabinet forward.

Down the companionway is a three-cabin and two-head layout designed to accommodate charterers and crew.

There’s a forward stateroom with island berth and en suite, with the owner’s stateroom amidships to port. It was changed from having an island berth to a double and a single.

Drive time

Underway, I was parked up top in one of the two Navigator helm chairs. Sight lines forward were good, revealing at least the bowrail when seated, while a clear view falls back over the cockpit when reversing.

The Edson wheel and ZF electronic shifts with go-slow, synchro and cruise modes fall to hand. Bennett trim tabs are provided but not needed unless you are traversing beam-on weather when the boat might lean to windward. A bowthruster assists with docking, there are opening windows and air-con, but even more ventilation is in the well-equipped tower. Concealed rod storage, a fridge, pull-out double bed or U-shaped lounge for six complete the flybridge station.

With 4000L of diesel, the boat’s range at 8kts is said to be 2400nm, leaving 20 percent of the fuel in reserve. This drops to 1200nm at 10kts and 500nm at 24kts.

I spent most of my time offshore at the 24ts at 2000rpm for consumption of 200L/h. Pull back the reins and the boat cruises at 20.5 to 21kts at 1830rpm for 170L/h. A touch of trim tab and throttle and we were running at 27.8kts at 2200rpm for 280L/h, whereupon the Icon remained smooth and delightfully quiet.

Top speed was 31kts with a little over half fuel and full water, and sea trials revealing that 31.7kts is possible. And the MTU Series 60 are continuously rated if you want to throttle up and hightail it home from the grounds.

In lumpy sea there was never a hard landing. And while the fine entry displaces plenty of water, only light spray landed on the flybridge windscreen. I noted there was no blowback on the aft saloon windows.

The boat feels surefooted and stable and, thanks to its high bow, it doesn’t ship water into a headsea. Backing up was the surprise, the boat scooting around the corner smartly, with the only delay from the yet-to-be commissioned MTUs and ZF electronic gearboxes.

Read in-depth boat reviews in the latest issue of Trade-A-Boat magazine, on sale now.

See a range of Formula boats for sale here.

See the Formula Icon 54 in action here.

Specifications

LOA 17.80m
Beam 5.65m
Draft 1.20m
Weight 30,000kg loaded
Fuel 4000L
Water 1000L
Holding tank 270L
Engines 2 x MTU Series 60

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