Songtau Friendship 53: A Resonant Tune
In form, function, and execution, naval architect Ted Fontaine's elegant Friendship 53, Songtao, strikes all the right chords. In "Yachtstyle" from our February 2009 issue
The other key Kiwi element in the construction of the Friendship 53 is the Auckland-based composite-engineering company High Modulus, which fabricates the boat's pre-cut panels of biaxial, unidirectional, and double-biaxial fiberglass mat and Corecell closed foam. The foam core is employed in the structural bulkheads, for weight savings, as well as in the deck and the hull, where four different densities are specified in the pre-impregnated, hand-laid structure. About three feet below the waterline, the layup becomes solid glass, which also encapsulates the keel's lead ballast, which terminates in a Scheel-type bulb.
What all that means is that the striking teak interior aboard Songtao-the Goldens, who generally sail by themselves as a couple, chose a layout that reflects this sailing style, with a big stateroom forward, an expansive navigation station and gourmet galley to starboard, and guest quarters to port-was engineered and fashioned to maximize performance, in an old-school sort of way.
In that regard, though the look and style is markedly different, it sort of sounds like an updated Little Harbor.
"The construction is a little more high-tech," said Fontaine. "The carbon-fiber mast might be worth a couple of feet on the rig. Those foam-core bulkheads (and other weight-saving laminates) take a couple of thousand pounds out of the interior, and that goes down in the lead. So it's all about horsepower and drag. We've got a big rig for horsepower and a lot of ballast for stability. That translates to a bit more speed. It's just a philosophy that's different from what most people are doing these days, but it works for the products we design.
"The hull shapes I learned from Ted Hood try to minimize wetted surface," he concluded. "I had 20 years of mentoring under him. A lot of things he did really well. Some things I thought I could do better."
With the Friendship 53, the student is well and truly beyond the shadow of the teacher. But step aboard and go sailing, and you'd have to think that the teacher would be rather proud.
Herb McCormick is a CW editor at large.
LOA 52' 10" (16.10 m.)
LWL 39' 4" (11.99 m.)
Beam 15' 1" (4.60 m.)
Draft (board down) 12' 2" (3.71 m.)
(board up) 5' 9" (1.75 m.)
Sail Area 1,500 sq. ft. (139 sq. m.)
Ballast 18,000 lb. (8,165 kg.)
Displacement 44,700 lb. (20,275 kg.)
Water 280 gal. (1,060 l.)
Fuel 140 gal. (530 l.)
Mast Height 77' 0" (23.47 m.)
Engine 78-hp. Volvo
Designer Ted Fontaine
Friendship Yacht Company