Sessa Review C54

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Sessa Marine C54 Review


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    Sessa CtlDave Marsh takes a cruise off the Srcrlran coast to

    get under the skin of Sessa's new work of artTextr Dave Marsh Pholos Sessa & Dave Marsh

  • Hidden bneaththe sttaggy rugis Sessa's usualstylish oak floor

    Unusually, air-coni5 standafd, but

    lrge opening portsprovide a quieter

    fresh alr altematlv

    lmmedlately to rightof seat is . usetul full-height drssing ftirror

    Fridge/f rezer reside under


    he afternoon was dripping with heat as Idisembarked ftom the ferry that runspassengers 1om Milazzo in Sicily, out tolipari, the largest of several minusculevolcanic islands that comprise theAeolianarchipelago.I was not here for a formal test-we had areadyput the near-identical Sessa 54fly through its paces - instead the plan was to

    live on board the C54 for a couple of days, taking short jaunts outaround these spectacular islands,that lie some ten to 30 mies northofsicily. Swapping formal test hours for more leisurely cruising timewold alow me to get nder the skin ofthe C54.

    As much as we try to go through the motions of everyday cruisngwhen we perform tests (even if, at tmes,we have to imagine thatactivity), the repetition that living on board involves can hghlighta boat's good and bad points, sometimes sPectacularf What seemsto be a minot inconvenience can become an unbearabe aggravationwhen it repeated a hundred times. And vice versa.

    Practical issues aside,I shold confess nowto an initial bias. Sessaare not alone in producing fantastic looking modern sPortscluisers,and builders today are more prepared than ever to Push theboundaries of design. To my eyes, though, a gulf exists between Sessaand the rest, in the way designers Christian Grande and MassimoRadice extend their dramatic styling thees beyond thesperstructure into the hul itsell h the flesh, the C54's hull lookseven mor strikingthan the pictures,with its dazding metalic silverhue enhancing its unusual swooping lines. Sessas beautiful detailingaround their paired ports makes most others look like they've simplybeen stuck on aimlessly. And how many ofthe ubiquitous ships-sidewindows you see look like escapees fiom a wholesale Parts birl therthan interestng forms designed to suit their surroundings? For me,the C54 transcends ts purpose - it is also a piece ofart

    Back in the real world ofboats as boats, though, what stood outafter a few days on board this beauty? On the upside, what shoethrough more than anlthing (highlighted byour merous trips inand out ofLipari marina) was just how elaordinariy easy it is tohandle and manoeuvre and moorthis boat, especially in the stern toposiion that it wll nomally lnd itsef adopting in Med ma nasEven with just the two of us on board - me and my helpfulvenetianco-pilot, Simone - it could not have been any its nealidentical54lly counterpart (full rePort, MByFebruary 2010) theC54 is powered by Volvo's 700hp IPS900, which means the balleticwonders of joystick manoeuving are just a stubby rubber stick awayStill,I found the C54 so responsive and Positive to maloeuvreconventionally, using the wheel to vecfor the IPS'legs'as you wouldwith a sterndrive boat, that I often chose this option, Preferring thenear silence this method bestows.

    Also contributing is the thoroughly practical core design oftheC54's decks. Having separafe port and starboard access steps leadingliom the cockpit down orto the huge hi-lo bathing Platform madestern-to mooring far easier, Particularly as we needed to scootaround quicklybecause we were short-handed Had there been atender n residence impedng access across the bathing platform, hatbenefitwould have been even more marked. Likewse'wide teak-laidside decks, minlbulwarks, and tall sturdy guardrails are ordinarilythe stuffoftrawlers, or much larger sportscruisers. Yet Sessa havemanaged to incorporate all ofthese ingredients without imPactingon Christian Grande's ultra glamorous style one jot. Stir in a usefultransom locker, exposed mooring gear, and an invaluable handraifor bathing platform dwellers, and here was a boat I found so easy tomoor, that in calm conditions even single-handed skippers wouldhave nothing to fear

    Picking the C54's most annoying characteristic was equally easySomebody decided that the door handles on wardrobes andbiggerlockers should reside slap bang in the middle ofthe door, rather than"l^-- rr,^ -,r.. ". ,,-.,1 -^ .l^"hr . ervlF fhna Rnr these tre

    countertoF so galleyis ai a premium on



  • $ooden boat doors, not steelbankvall doors, so they naturally1$'ist a little. The consequence is that shutting many ofthese biggerLoors involvcd first pushing the door handle hard, then rvallopingthe basc ofthe door shut against the stifffricton catch at the bottom,then a sinllr thump for the catch at the top. Aso, having thehandlcs mid door means halfthe mechanical advantage when thedoor is being pulled open, and Sessis stifffriction cat.hes lght backrvith considerable resolve. By the cnd ofthe trip,l'd discoveredseverallvals to ctrse inanimate doors,

    l'd like to tell yorL rnore about the C54's Performrnce on the \\'ater.Sadl,v, our prototype bot had rotbeen ltted lt'ith the correctpropellers. Consequently, the 700hp Voh'o D11s were undcr-rewlngby around 300rpnl far too nlch for lPS, whose mr.rlti bladcdprops prefer to rev freely for best perfonnance GveD thrt wcachieved 32.3 knots frorn our 54 fly (same hull, identical lPS900engines), Sessat clainred 34 knot top sPecd seems about ght givcDthe sportscruiser's redced weight and lvindage. Oddly, the C54did not feel as agile as the 54 fly. M,v suspicion is that the Ltnder-rewing props took away the exPccted sparkle, and it's also possiblethat beig a prototype, our C54 w:rs slightl,v oveflvcight, asprototyPes olten are.

    Cefiainly, the 54 fly $as a deliSht to drive,lvith light but precjsestccring and an enjoyably sporty feel. Given the common platfrm,there's no reason to assune that a'normal'C54 won't be at leistas good, ifnot slightly better.

    'l he e \r'ere two Ltnexpccted lessons leerned from my time on thL'54. \\4en I first stepped on board,I found a big bucket ofwater inmyheads compartn,ent, sittillg portentously nc'xt to th toilct lt iu'iso happened lhat m].arrival had coincidcd wirh rhe C54's solitr\fresh n'ater pump failing, so a'bucket ofwater down thc loo'proce"replaced the usual slick'press a button' Procedure. Ofcourse, thesholvers rvere affected too, rvhich neant freezing cod showers on th.dockside. Lcsson one ws that, o\,er the collrse ofa day, the hotSicilian sun rvould heat just enough water in the long coiled fresh-rvater hose on the docksdc for a single rvarmish sholver you justhacl to be first in lincl

    Lesson tlvo, rvhich alas cane later, rvas provided lry SimoDe'singenuity. He figurecl out that the docksicle hosc could be used topressurise the boat's t'ater systenr (and hence Polvcr the on boardshowers) by pugging it into the fresh-water outlet on the C54'strasom. -rgo, hol showers againl

    Al1cr a couple of da,vs spent pottering arollnd the bcautiftLlAeolians, and living on bord the C54,I was Pleasantly srprised to1nd that there \|'as lttle bel'ond the annoving doors that did raise theblood pressure. And I reckon that a notable aclievement on a boatdesigned rvith such passionately exuberant stylirg, proofindeedthat form and function cau exist in harn, onv rvhen designersreally put thcr minds to it. ffiContact Batcs \\ 'harf Marine. Tel: ' 41 l0)912 571141L r ' " i l : ' r l c . l . r r . * v h r f l . . u . u l \ \ . 1 ' \ { . ' L " J r - r r i n e - o l



    FBig cockpit bimini(overhad) is a vyworthwhile t5.O0O


    Despit its irresistibleglamour, th C54 sports thesafest side decks in its class THE DATA

    LENGTH OvERALL 53' t 8 | (16 20m)


    FUEL CAPACITYrra rrp ga (2000 tres)WATER CAPACITY: : .:p ga (640 | tres)DRAUGHT 4ft 5 r l (1 40m)RCD CAEGORY B (for14 peop e)DESIGNERS'. ' .r5: rno Rad ce (Sessa)-.- 5r en Grande

    DISPLACEMENT21 3 ionnes ight (empty)23 6 tonnes f! fuel& waterTEST ENGINESTw n Vo vo D11.700hp ao 2 350rpnl6 cy nder 10 B tre dlese sPROPULSIONVolvo lPS900PRICE FROMApprox !860.000 (t\r in 700hp)