The Delta 54 wraps Swedish sensibility in lightweight, all-carbon fibre construction – the first production boat to do so – which means sprightly performance and simple elegance inside.
Swedish yacht brand Delta emerged with a series of sharp new designs starting in 2003, and since then, they’ve produced over 250 yachts ranging from twenty-something open boats, up to their new flagship, the Carbon Cruiser 54. Their chief designer, Lars Modin, has aimed to rethink the look and feel of boats in their size range, and his efforts come to their best fruition in the new 54.
The creative look of Delta, particularly with the 54, was picked up by Tee Tzer Yu, and his business partner, Roger Samuelson, as a possible winner for Asia. Feeling that there might be a fatigue in the market for yachts, with standard designs dominating the shows, he has rolled the dice on the Swedish maker. He may be on to a winner. Their company, Navinode, exhibited the 54 at the 2012 Hong Kong Gold Coast Boat Show – the first time Delta boats have been showcased in Asia.
During our sea trials out of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club at Kellett Island, Tee recalls a conversation he had with a Chinese buyer who liked the look of the boat and the performance, but was concerned about the lack of flybridge. Rather than play down the fact that the Delta 54 is a coupe, he challenged the buyer’s assumption. “How much time would you spend on a flybridge anyway, especially if the saloon is so big and comfortable?”
Easy on the owner
Indeed, the sleek looks of the 54 are a key component. But this is not a boat that is all design and no function; far from it. From the forward raked front screen windows that offer perfect views of the sea that extend nearly 360-degrees around the helm, virtually uninterrupted. The very thin mullions required on the 54 (the cabin roof can be kept to very lightweight construction, thanks to the lack of a fly) give the operator a field of view that would normally be found on a passage-making yacht, rather than a sport performer. The dashboard has the controls in easy-to-reach places, with readouts placed at a rather steep angle to cut glare. A mechanically operated door next to the starboard side helm station opens easily and gives the helm quick access to the sides when docking. Another nice touch is the double joystick controls at the aft deck – one to port and one to starboard – that give the operator complete control when gentle stern-to adjustments are required.
There is a lot that commends this boat to the owner-operator, and indeed, this is what Delta and Lars Modin had in mind. Thanks to the Volvo Penta IPS system, joystick control at the helm makes manoeuvring a snap. The Humphree ATOS trim tab control system ensures automatic adjustments as you go – there’s both “bow up” and “bow down” controls, plus listing adjustment. As we boarded the 54, Tee pointed out that, rather than having a series of electrical switches to govern the systems, there is just one master switch to flick on when you board, and then everything starts to work. It’s all part of making the yacht easier for the first-time owner/operator to feel more comfortable in his (or her) yacht.
The exterior appearance of the Delta 54 certainly takes a poke at standard profile convention for mid-range motoryachts. From the medium rake on the bow to the continuous sheerline on the rooftop, there is quite a different appearance at work. It takes a little getting used to. For my part, it all made more sense when you get onboard.
One of the first things you notice getting onboard the 54 is the huge aft cockpit area. This is open to the sky, though a sunshade can be extended to cover this aft deck area. As this is a Swedish designed and built yacht, there is almost an IKEA ethic at work – but not in terms of build quality, rather in terms of multi-functionality. Simple, effective and finely finished is what is valued on the Delta boats. Satin finished teak was matched against cream fabrics and polished stainless steel on our test boat.
But the thing to note about the Delta 54’s interiors is that they also have the lightweight construction that characterises the hull. Very thin veneers cover the carbon fibre, and you won’t find a lot of weight-gaining items either. Cabinet doors that shut snugly also feel very light. Shades and screens are operated by hand, while the biggest insert to the roof must surely be the electric motor to run the retractable roof above the helm station. The lightweight construction has resulted in a yacht that, at 14 tonnes displacement, is much less than most competing yachts in this range – by as much as 40 percent less, according to Tee.
The large aft deck area is probably the best example of Swedish simplicity in action. An electrically-activated table emerges from the floor and can come up to be used either as a eating table, coffee table or as a sun pad. When it is all the way down, it is a part of the floor. The aft deck rails that provide solid safety also store the deck chairs, which are popped out of their holders, fold out, and are then placed in position around the table. The swimpad looks custom designed for the 54, and it lowers down to launch a tender that can be stowed here.
The designers at Delta opted for curved, sliding glass doors, operated by hand. When completely open, the saloon space and aft deck merge together to create a large entertaining area. This is certainly a boat that could be used for large parties, relative to its size. The Delta 54 certainly has a very open feel, thanks to the beam and thanks also to the effect of wraparound windows and undisturbed sight lines. The roof is supported by just two stainless steel posts, and these double as handholds.
On our test boat, the galley had been placed into what would have been a guest cabin, in keeping with the Asian desire to have the galley out of sight and mind. Though working in the galley would be tight in this version, it can be changed for a galley-up version, in which galley is positioned opposite the main settee. Throughout the main saloon, there are myriad practical touches, with the main partition between the dining area, located to starboard of the helm station, featuring a hidden bar set.
Heading down below in the centrally-aligned companionway, you notice the one sacrifice of having those forward-raked windows – very little natural light in the corridor. On our test boat, the main cabin is located in the bow, with the pronounced chines contributing to a very spacious feel – much more so than normally found on VIP cabins. The showers in the day head and the master bath were spacious and the appointments were very comfortable. Hanging closets are available in all guest cabins. The two guest cabins are a bit tighter than yachts of a similar size, but perfectly practical.
From the aft deck, there are two, comfortably wide side deck passages up to the bow. Here, one finds quite a big departure from normal yacht design, with the handrails along the coach roof extending forward past the roof itself. For on this yacht, there are no handrails forward of the coach deck. I don’t expect most people will want to traverse to and from the bow while the boat is underway, but at anchor it works perfectly fine.
From Victoria Harbour to Shek-O
With a walkaround done, it was time to take the 54, and the smallest yacht in the Delta range (also up for sale with Navinode), the 26 Open, out to Shek O to see how she handles. Though winds were relatively light, Victoria Harbour was kicking up chop in her normal way, giving us a chance to see how the 54 could handle some turbulence.
It is here that the hull shape comes into effect. Rather than going with a bow of the normal type, it appears that Delta designer Lars Modin opted for a fine entry at the base, with a very shallow development of the hull’s draught moving aft. Above the fine entry point, two very pronounced chines spread out quickly, creating the big volume that one finds in the bow. They also act as spray guards and do a fine job of helping to provide stability when the yacht is underway. Given the lightness of the yacht, we reached target speeds almost instantly when the throttles were applied.
With moderate conditions, we ran at eight knots at 1250 rpm; just over 20 knots at 2700 rpm and 27.2 knots at 3250 rpm. I couldn’t find a fuel consumption gauge, but the projected range of the 54 (with three Volvo Penta IPS engine option) is 350 nautical miles at the cruising speed of 32 knots; a rate of about five litres per nautical mile. Our test boat came with twin Volvo IPS engines, but three is the norm, and given how sprightly our test boat was, I’d be curious to see the yacht with three engines in action.
Tight turning circles were of particular note, as we manoeuvred the yacht into position for some photos near Shek-O beach. Overall, the handling appeared to be smooth and easy, and the hull delivered on a fairly smooth ride. Even while in Victoria Harbour, we were able to move around the boat with ease. The trim tabs seemed largely unnecessary, thanks to the stability of the hull design. After all, this was a yacht that was designed to match the needs of Swedes looking to explore coastal islands in the Baltic. Surely, this would give Hong Kong and Singaporean buyers pause to be confident. The overall price, though a bit higher than other production yachts in her size and type, is not that much higher for those wanting greater fuel economy and clever design.
Technical Specifications – Delta 54 Carbon Cruiser
Hull length 16.6m
Hull and deck construction carbon fibre
Fuel capacity 2 x 900l
Designer Lars Modin
Cruising speed 25-32kts
Fuel consumption at 30kts 5/nm
Engines 3 x Volvo Penta IPS 600 (option for two)
Max speed 38 kts (32kts with two engine option