58 — By Tim Clark
— September 2001
Style & Substance
|Fairline's 58 Squadron is not just a pretty face.|
As I arranged to test the Fairline 58 Squadron at North Atlantic Marine Group in Stephensville, Maryland, James Robinson, head of the British builder's North American operations, told me, "Don't feel you have to treat this boat delicately. Put her into whatever conditions you want." Within reason, I regard such license as given whenever I test a boat, but normally it's only so frankly encouraged by manufacturers of stolid trawlers, not chic motoryachts.
Of course, since the 58 was in the protected waters of the Chesapeake, I didn't expect serious seas, but at least on the day of the test the bay did its utmost. More than 20 knots blew out of the north, and all was awash with whitecaps seething in the sunshine. At North Atlantic's Bay Bridge Marina, a receptionist greeted me with a worried look and asked, "Will this weather be a problem?" I assured her that conditions were ideal and, heading out to the docks, wondered if she didn't share Robinson's confidence in the boat.
Maybe she thought the 58 was just too pretty. After all, she has that particular Fairline sheen--a gleam over air-cushion contours that even at a distance suggests attention to detail. She also has the swooping forms and swerving windows we Yanks associate with craft from Europe, although sharpened edges framing the windows and sweeping aft and upward beneath the cantilevered bridge deck give her a keener look overall. Was the receptionist so enthralled by the boat's style that she doubted its substance?
That clearly wasn't the case with an assured Capt. John McDevitt, who has delivered Fairlines up and down the East Coast. We let go the lines (easy to do with 16-inch-wide side decks, 31/2-inch-high toe rails, and waist-high stainless steel rails) and were on the bay in no time. Given the weather, we decided to run the trials on the Severn River, which feeds the Chesapeake from the opposite shore. But for the sake of inquiry we took our time getting there. Although even a northerly that brings tears to your eyes only musters three- to four-foot waves on the Chesapeake, their ranks are steep enough to suggest how a boat might behave in serious slop. Within minutes it seemed clear that the 58 was designed to handle a wide range of conditions. As on all Fairline models, her hand-laid FRP hull is a Bernard Olesinski-designed modified deep-V with a sharp entry moderating to 18 degrees of deadrise that continues aft of the transom to "build in" the swim platform. Combined with multiple full-length lifting strakes, this form let us cut through the big chop high and dry and with minimal jarring at speeds in excess of 30 mph. With Teleflex power-assisted steering and Mathers single-lever electronic controls, the boat's handling was sporty and sure. During a 180-degree turn into the weather at about 25 mph, she behaved as if on a banked oval track, locking into a turning attitude of about 15 degrees that was hardly disturbed by quartering and side seas.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.