Walt Schulz, President, Shannon Yachts, Bristol, R.I., www.shannonyachts.com
Instead of calling my new design a motorsailer, I called it a Shannon 53 Hybrid Power Sailer (HPS) because I wanted to avoid any confusion concerning the term “motorsailer.” William Hand, a genius of yacht design, crafted the quintessential versions of the motorsailer in the 1920s. My hobby is restoring wooden boats, and I currently am working on a 1930 William Hand 45-foot motorsailer built by Sturgeon Bay Boatworks.
Basically, Hand developed the “trawler” concept long before the advent of paravanes, active fin stabilizers and other complicated mechanical anti-roll devices. His boats used short sail rigs to get the best possible powering characteristics in ocean conditions. On Hand’s motorsailers, the sails were used to prevent rolling and also offered some minor assistance while motorsailing.
In contrast, the Shannon 53 HPS is a real sailboat. I based my 53-foot design on the Shannon 35 Shoalsailer, for which I received a U.S. Patent (hull design) in 2001. Like the 35-foot Shoalsailer, the 53 HPS will actually sail to weather with a draft (daggerboards down) of only 4 feet, 9 inches. One of my primary goals when designing the 53 HPS was to create a yacht that could safely sail at 8 knots to a destination in the event of engine problems or fuel issues. Powering is equally as important, so the boat will economically power at 12 knots with a single 200-hp or twin 110-hp diesels.
The custom interior layouts include an inside, out-of-the-weather helm station. The large outside cockpit is aft, not in an unseaworthy location close to the bow, and includes twin helm stations and excellent visibility in all directions. The 53 HPS is available with Shannon’s exclusive short-handed “Scutter” rig or “Sketch” rig with a 64-foot bridge clearance for the Intracoastal Waterway. The generous sail area will also allow power sailing at low engine rpm, hence the name “Hybrid Power Sailer.”
We have two under construction, and hull No. 1 will be introduced at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis this fall. Just like William Hand incorporated the best design and mechanical elements available in his day to create his innovative motorsailers, I also looked to raise the bar with the Shannon 53 HPS to achieve the best possible motoring and sailing performance.
The article originally appeared in the September 2009 issue.