favicon

Reviews

ILIAD 53S: Ode to the Ocean

Every odyssey begins with a dream, and should that quest involve wine-dark seas teeming with gods fickle and fair, then the ideal vessel must be prepared for every challenge, like the ILIAD 53S, says Jeni Bone.

Like the Achaean ships and heroic adventures described in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, its namesake brand of power catamarans was conceived to “conquer any ocean passage in all conditions with confidence.”

Veteran multihull dealer Mark Elkington, CEO of ILIAD Catamarans, collaborated with Italian designer Riccardo Bulgarelli on the range, and the result is clear – ILIAD has won a firm following in Australia and is making international inroads, building on its growing success in New Zealand, Asia and Europe, with its sights set on the US.

The 16.35-metre ILIAD 53S – the S stands for Sport – intriguingly named Tantrum, is the creation of her owners, a Perth couple who ordered her two years ago at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show with ambitions to cruise her back to their home town via the Whitsundays. The sedan profile is a departure from the marque’s flybridge designs, and grew from the collaboration between Elkington and the owners. “They had originally settled on an ILIAD 50 minus the flybridge because of the bridge clearance in Perth, but after in-depth conversations, they designed a boat that was slightly longer and with a wider beam to accommodate their preferences,” explains Elkington.

ILIAD Catamarans grew from exactly this idea of offering something that wasn’t necessarily available on the market. Elkington had long been a dealer in sailing catamarans, and he spotted a niche. As he explains, “At the 2015 Sanctuary Cove show, I met a number of prospective power cat buyers who had specific requirements, and their list of modifications wasn’t workable with the production models that the existing manufacturers offered.

“While it’s impossible to offer everything to everyone, I spent many months putting together a design concept that took into account the best of our own and these clients’ ideas to see if we could satisfy this growing list of displaced buyers’ needs. What it came down to,” he continues, “was providing a level of customisation with varied options for engines, equipment and layouts. “For a boat to travel to remote places,” he adds, “you need flexibility and reliability, and that’s what we’re all about, as well as key design essentials for an offshore power catamaran – good volume, shaft drive, beachable in an emergency, safe at sea through attention to detail of deck and hull design, with 2,500-plus nautical mile range but offering 20-plus knots. Not an easy task.”

For the owners of Tantrum, the flexibility to get something that perfectly fitted their cruising plans was key. Keen to travel north from the Gold Coast to the Whitsundays for a winter sojourn exploring the islands and reef, they then plan to head over the top to Darwin before cruising down the west coast to the Kimberley Coast and home to Perth.

Tantrum is a three-cabin model with a list of custom features covering everything from extra refrigeration to symmetrical, double swim platforms with two showers, now an option available to all owners. The hydraulic aft platform accommodates a Highfield Classic 380 – a versatile, seven-person aluminium-hulled RIB tender – while the undercover cockpit is a spacious social area with an elegant varnished teak dining table that folds out as required, with seating for 10. 

ILIAD 53S: Ode to the Ocean - ILIAD Catamarans

In addition to a Vitrifrigo fridge and icemaker, there’s a Southern Stainless electric barbecue, plus sink, storage and bin, making entertaining a breeze. Underwater LED lights by Aqualuma are standard and help enhance the atmosphere, while indirect lighting above illuminates the dining table.

Each hull’s engine room is accessed from the cockpit by its own hatch – spacious and simply laid out, they were designed for owners to move around comfortably. The generator is in the portside engine room, as far removed from the master stateroom as possible, and there’s added help from solar panels mounted on the hardtop.

Twin 440 hp Yanmar engines deliver a top speed of 21 knots, and there’s an option to upgrade to Cummins 500 hp engines. You can also specify a long-range fuel tank, taking the standard 3,500 litres up an extra 500 litres. Cruising long range at 7 knots delivers a projected range of 3,000 nautical miles.

Well-trimmed fore and aft at all speeds, ILIADs are known for their protective grounding skegs that make them beachable. A full vinyl-ester, resin-infused hull is built to tackle all conditions and is reflected in the 53S’s Cat A classification. All ILIAD cats are constructed to comply with international survey regulations, and for owners’ assurance, they come with internationally supported, two-year general fit-out and five-year structural warranties.

The expansive social space at the bow features an array of reclining sunpads and, on each side, as well as beneath the sunpad seating, are massive lockers to stow water toys, scuba gear, fenders and more. High bulwarks offer safety when moving around – great for cruising with kids or pets.Separating the cockpit from the interior are the Alfab aluminium and glass sliding door and sliding window above the bar, both rated for offshore cruising. Noticeably, there’s no step between the cockpit and saloon, creating a true free-flowing entry into the interior where perhaps the most striking impression is the unimpeded views; the furniture is purposely designed to remain below the line of vision.

To starboard, the large dining table and seating is a comfortable vantage point for enjoying the views, and there’s a unique and nifty element here – when illuminated, the stainless-steel ILIAD logo embedded in the timber dining table reflects bat-signal style onto the deckhead above. Speaking of deckheads, the 2-metre head height is exceptional in a vessel this size. Tucked neatly beneath the dining table are two additional seats that fit snugly around the stainless-steel stand in their own timber casing, ensuring their security during passage-making. The galley is located portside – a C-shaped alcove with no island on this model, fitted with Fisher & Paykel stovetop and Siemens appliances including microwave, dishwasher and double fridge drawers. This galley layout is one of two options – the other comes with a full double-door fridge. The cupboards and drawers use positive locks for soft closure, and the drawers are lined with the Blum organisational system for meticulous storage.

ILIAD 53S

The forward saloon comprises a doubleseater sofa facing a 50-inch pop-up television opposite an L-shaped lounge, all in ultraleather but with the option of genuine leather or any other choice of upholstery. There’s also the option to replace the double-seater lounge with a liquor cabinet and/or wine fridge. 

Additional onboard entertainment includes a Fusion sound system, which is standard in the saloon and cockpit, and optional to the foredeck and cabins. Just inside the saloon on the starboard side, the switch panel contains traditional breakers that are more easily fixed in remote places. Chargers and house batteries are separate from the engine room, and there’s a Victron inverter management system plus Victron lithium batteries.

The standard equipment list includes air-conditioning, a generator, a full electronics package, bow thruster, galley appliances, fridge-freezers, washer-dryer, lithium batteries, a 5,000-watt inverter, 2.5 kilowatts of solar panels and an AV system. At the helm, decked out with a 16-inch Raymarine Axiom Pro chartplotter, the owners have chosen two separate Besenzoni chairs rather than the standard bench. There’s also the option of a single helm chair with a desk. The electric sunroof above is standard and includes flyscreen and black-out shutters. The vessel has Seastar’s Optimus electronic power steering – a steer-by-wire system that provides advanced features plus extensive self-monitoring to advise the operator in the case of a system fault. An opening window in the windscreen is designed for ventilation and is useful for viewing and communicating while docking.

Hull # 6 has been designed with steps for direct access to the foredeck. The master stateroom occupies the entire starboard hull, while the portside hull offers two guest cabins. The owners’ wing is a tranquil retreat and makes full use of the extra length and beam of the 53S with a walkaround, transverse queen-size island bed facing the large hull window. Drawers in the base of the bed provide additional storage; owners can opt for a king-size bed if they reduce the size of the side cabinets. The owners chose to replace a section of the wardrobe with a 40-inch television that swivels out, but there’s ample storage in impeccably crafted cabinetry that runs both sides of the dressing room. There’s a desk/vanity and seat, plus drawers, shelving, a hanging locker and an integrated armchair, with the option of a minibar. 

Underfoot, Quick-Step hybrid timber flooring is covered by a beige carpet. The ensuite boasts a spacious shower, double basins with storage beneath, an electric freshwater flush WC, and a hatch for light and ventilation. The guest cabins are comfortable and cosy. The forward VIP is configured as a triple with a double bed and an elevated single, in case the teen cousins want to bunk in together on a family voyage. This could just as easily be designed with cabinets or used to house the washer-dryer – on Tantrum, the owners chose to conceal the washer-dryer in a cupboard in the corridor between the VIP and twin cabins.

The twin cabin features two single beds that can be converted to a super king with an infill. Each guest cabin has a private ensuite, television and large windows. Moreover, owners have a plethora of options to choose from and can work with the ILIAD design team on customising layouts. “That’s part of the brand promise,” states Sales & Business Development Manager Marcus Overman.

ILIAD 53S: Ode to the Ocean - ILIAD Catamarans

Like so many cruising couples, the pair from Perth embrace new destinations and are intent on cramming in as many experiences as possible. As Overman says, they’re seeking “adventure, the pleasure and peace of solace at sea, knowing they have the right kind of boat designed for anything they encounter.”

Her name may be a mystery, but Tantrum’s purpose is not – nor is why the couple chose this spacious and capable cruising yacht. 

More information