Its name is Mahon and it is a 54-footer designed for spending a good long time at sea, whatever conditions. Just like the Austin Parker tradition
by Niccolò Volpati
The first time that you boat into Mahon on the island of Menorca, it is hard not to be impressed. It is one of the Mediterranean’s largest natural fjords. A safe harbour to protect from any north wind and from those that blow south from the Gulf of Lion without finding any obstruction. Menorca is indeed in the middle of everything, and that is why Mahon has been used as a safe mooring since the time of the Phoenicians. As you approach, it feels like you could reach out and touch it, but there is still a curve you have to go around. It is such a long fjord that the city never seems to arrive. Perhaps only Bonifacio gives one the same feeling, but the Mahon fjord is deeper. It is like going into a cave with all the dangers left outside.
Austin Parker has decided to call its new 54-footer Mahon and never has a name been more appropriate, because its most distinctive feature, as well as its elegance, is how safe it is underway. The project is again by Fulvio De Simoni, the lines are classic and there are two 715 hp Cummins engines with shaft drive. No experimentation or anything impulsive. Everything that works has been used again but updated.
You could say that it is a semi-customised boat, especially in terms of the interiors, given that you can choose between a layout with two or three cabins. The dashboard is at the right distance and you can steer comfortably whether sitting or standing. Everything is close at hand and comfortable to use.
The quays at Santa Margherita Ligure certainly aren’t like those in a large commercial port, and there isn’t a lot of room for manoeuvring. The 54’ has a joystick with bow and stern thrusters and, even though straight-shaft transmission isn’t especially agile, unmooring and negotiating tight spaces didn’t feel difficult. Away from the quays, the sea was calm but the large yachts in Golfo Paradiso, especially in front of Portofino, meant that I was able to try out how the boat went through waves.
The hull seems very stable and secure. It has the classic profile of a lobster boat, like all the Austin Parkers: it sits back slightly to the stern, not least because the weight of the engines is there, there is an accentuated V-shaped bow to cut through the waves and it is sure of itself when underway. At the helm, it seems easy to handle. It isn’t a boat to start slaloming between the buoys, but despite that, it ensures a good level of manoeuvrability. It turns without any problem, accelerates smoothly and reached nearly 27 knots. All around it is the kind of boat that when you get beyond the harbour walls, you want to sail for a good long time. It gave the impression that it wouldn’t have struggled even if the sea conditions had been tougher, and it holds a Category A CE certification, like all of the yard’s models.
DON’T CHANGE A WINNING TEAM: ONCE AGAIN IT WAS FULVIO DE SIMONI WHO DESIGNED THIS BOAT FOR THE YARD.
I liked the ergonomics of the steering position. The dashboard is at the right distance, and you can steer comfortably whether sitting or standing. Everything is to hand, and easy to use. What was less convincing was the visibility. It wasn’t bad, but the windscreen is made from two pieces, so the central section with the division slightly blocks your view.
The advantage of the partnership with Fulvio De Simoni is that they can make boats that are better and better. They know what has worked and has been appreciated, and can concentrate on getting the details just right to improve the new models. An example of this is how quiet the 54’ Mahon is. You would have expected two onboard shaft drive engines to produce a lot of noise, but they don’t. There were not a lot of decibels up to twenty knots, and you only get the higher figures at the top speeds. That is thanks to the excellent soundproofing of the engine room – and there is also a complete lack of vibration, even in the two guest cabins located midships, so very close to the engines.
In terms of performance, you go from 14.5 knots minimum planning speed to 26.7 top speed. The fuel consumption data is interesting because the range for the same speeds goes from around 100 litres to 284 litres per hour for both engines. Essentially you can go between 15 and 20 knots with overall fuel consumption of between 100 and 200 litres per hour. That is a fairly limited amount, which rebuffs the idea that having shaft drive engines necessarily require a lot of fuel. It depends on you. Fuel consumption only really increases significantly above 25 knots. And the 2,500-litre capacity of the tanks ensures that you have the right range to go up and down the Mediterranean. The range is enough to reach Mahon from Sardinia, and also from the French coast, even at top speed. The layout of the open spaces and the main deck is traditional but functional. The living area and the chairs in the dinette and the cockpit, with the sun pad in the bow.
The 54 is sixteen-and-a-half metres long overall, so there is no lack of room, but neither is it wasted. I liked the width of the gangways because they mean you can get around safely, even when the boat is underway. Perhaps the layout of the cabin area is more innovative,but at the same time very convincing. The master cabin has been located in the bow, far from the engine room to give the owner an even more comfortable area. The double bed is arranged diagonally, and in that way, it feels as if there is more space than there is. And then you can enjoy an excellent view out thanks to the windows on the hull which run from midships up to the bow. There is room for guests in the two twin rooms in the stern. The only thing that didn’t completely convince me about the interiors was the width of the doors of the three cabins, which is only 50 centimetres, meaning that getting in isn’t too easy.
The 1,430 combined horsepower from the two Cummins engines gives a good range of cruising speeds. Volvo IPS motors can be installed as an optional.
Austin Parker International Slu
E-08320 Masnou ‘El – Barcelona, Spain
Santa Margherita Ligure (GE)
T. 0185 699022
Fulvio De Simoni Yacht Design
LOA 16.50m • Maximum beam 5.10m • Full load displacement 25,000 kg • Fuel tanks volume 2,500 l • Water tank volume 600 l
2×715 Cummins QSM11 • Outlet mechanical power 533 kW (715 hp) • 6 cylinders inline • Swept volume 10.8 l • Bore&Stroke 125mm x 147mm • Maximal rotational speed 2300/min • Weight 1,188 kg
CAT A – 12 people
€ 1,530,000, Excl. VAT, powered with 2×715 Cummins inline engines (May 2022)
(Austin Parker 54’ Mahon, Happy Island – Barchemagazine.com – May 2022)