Saturday, December 17, 2016

ICE 52

The Ice 52 had bad luck: Last year it was nominated for the European yacht of the year contest and had as direct competition the Solaris 50.  Hard to beat the Solaris 50, that has a great finish, a very good interior design and is a beautiful boat.

Lot's of tests, movies and publicity have been made regarding the Solaris 50 and very little to the Ice 52, only a real test sail by a German sail magazine, even if several yachts have been made and sold. The Ice 52 certainly deserved more. Last year in Dusseldorf I looked with special attention at these two babies, that share some common characteristics regarding design, including a dinghy garage and an interior that is not maximized for taking the maximum number of guests, but for two couples to cruise in comfort. Besides both are truly gorgeous boats.

The interior of the Solaris 50 seemed to me a bit better designed and maybe just a bit better finished while the interior of the Ice 52 was just a tad less glamorous but very comfortable and cozy. The price of the two boats is very similar and it is difficult to say which is the nicest looking boat, both being beautiful.

What makes the difference between the two is the Solaris 50 being a true production boat with a very high built quality and the Ice 52 being a more customized boat regarding its building. It can be built the same way as the Solaris, with infusion techniques, vinylester  resins and sandwich with a foam core, using some carbon as reinforcement but it can also be built using more carbon or can be a full carbon boat.

I had the luck to have the boat shown to me not by a dealer but by someone from the shipyard that knew a lot about boat building and knew exactly how the Ice 52 was built and the differences regarding the use of the different materials. Soon he had taken out all the floors to explain, with evident satisfaction, how the boat was built and how the structure was an integral part of the hull. All versions have a similar structural strength, with better materials allowing for less weight.

I have to say that I was convinced. Sure if I had to chose between the Solaris and the Ice, I would dig much more but I was truly impressed with what I saw and a bit surprised with the know how on a new shipyard. Later I understood from where that expertise came: the only new thing about the shipyard is them building their own boat because before that they had been building high tech big yachts mostly for Vallicelli and Felci. The list is impressive.

The Ice 52 is a Felci design, not very beamy but with all beam pulled back. The hull design and proportions are not very different from the ones of the Solaris 50 (Soto Acebal), both have a big B/D ratio, having in account the deep draft, that is similar in both, (between 2.5 and 2.8m) and the main difference has to do with weight, that due to the high tech built and carbon use is less on the Ice 52.

While the Solaris 50 has a displacement of 14.2T, the Ice 52, depending on the building materials, has a displacement between 12.5T and 10.9T and that, in what regards performance (especially on light winds) can make a big difference. On that German test sail (Segeln), with the heavier boat, with just a F3 they were sailing at over 9K, meaning this is an easy 9k speed boat.

Regarding price, it seems not exaggerated. The Solaris 50 seems to me attractively priced, for the quality and the Ice 52, being bigger, lighter, with a more high tech built, costs about the same and therefore the Ice 52 is even more interestingly priced.

Both boats cost around 600 000 euros, even if the standard price is a bit less. Both can be equipped with a full button sailing system (with a manual backup) and that will make  them even more expensive. The one tested by the German magazine costs 705 000 euros, including VAT. I would say that for a powerful boat like this to be sailed solo or by a couple, the electric and hydraulic help makes sense.

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