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BD56: A fast take on the motorsailer

Describing a motorsailer as high-performance may sound oxymoronic, but the term is accurate when the boat is a BD56. Powered by a pair of outboards, this yacht has a top speed of 21 knots. Close-reaching under sail she’ll cruise at 9 knots, and off the wind, flying her asymmetrical spinnaker, she’ll climb to double-digit speeds.

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Before lightweight construction and beamy, shallow-draft hulls became de rigueur for sailing yachts, exceeding a speed/length ratio of 1.34 was nearly impossible. Motorsailers designed to the fashion of that period earned a reputation for being severely compromised — more sail-assisted motoryachts than true motorsailers. Barcelona Yacht Design has taken the concept to a level that hasn’t been tried since early in the 1980s, when Lancer Yacht Corp. of Irvine, California, designed and built a line of motorsailers that could reach about 15 knots under power. The smallest was 27 feet and powered by a single outboard. Although the bottom had a shallow deadrise and hard chines in the after sections to create the lift it needed to exceed hull speed, the rest of the underbody had the rounded bilges and moderately fine entry of a conventional sailboat. These boats failed to attract a significant number of buyers because they were monumentally ugly and didn’t perform very well under sail or power.

LOA: 54 feet, 8 inches LWL: 49 feet BEAM: 14 feet, 9 inches DRAFT: 11 feet, 6 inches (keel lowered); 6 feet, 7 inches (keel raised) DISPLACEMENT: 31,980 pounds SAIL AREA: 1,455 square feet WATER: 103 gallons, plus a watermaker; 225 gallons (tank only) FUEL: 259 gallons POWER: twin 300-hp Mercury outboards PRICE: $2.3 million CONTACT: BD Yachts, Barcelona, Spain.,

BD Yachts may be resurrecting an old idea in its quest to build a powerful motorsailer, but the Spanish company’s creation has the potential to capture the hearts of yachtsmen everywhere. The BD56 combines the edginess of a naval warship with the flowing lines of a modern grand touring coupe. Her plumb stem suggests the speed potential of a Volvo 70 raceboat. Trace the sheer line from stem to stern, and you’ll see a reverse curve that recalls that of a high-performance motor-yacht. A cheeky little upward break in the sheer amidships accents the angle of rake in the deckhouse’s front fascia. A substantial amount of freeboard — needed to house the spacious accommodations — hides the acreage behind a character line just below the sheer, the windows in the topsides and the chine lines forward and aft. The forward chine will also deflect spray when the BD56 is upright and planing.

Drawing a deckhouse that satisfies the need for headroom and the builder’s desire for good looks often breeds unusual treatments, such as the BD56’s house. The swept-back windshield and mullions in the side windows remind me of a four-door SUV, as does the rising line at the base of the glass. The deckhouse contains the saloon, galley, lounge and inside helm. A large area of glass all around and a sliding glass sunroof bring the outdoors in.

Using fixed outboards instead of an inboard auxiliary opens space below for captain’s quarters under the cockpit in the port quarter and a dinghy garage opposite. The outboards electrically retract into the transom in sailing mode. The fin keel has a torpedo-shaped ballast bulb at the tip, and it lifts for motoring.

I applaud BD Yachts for this bold approach to motorsailing and I look forward to a sea trial.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue.



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