Jimmy Buffett’s famous lifestyle, delightfully infused with copious amounts of “island escapism,” pairs perfectly with the personality of the Surfari 44 that Friendship Yacht Company is presenting in a scaled-back version of its Surfari 58 announced last November.
Buffett will take delivery next November on Hull #1 of the new Surfari 44 designed by naval architect Edward “Ted” Fontaine and built by Pacific Seacraft in North Carolina, and he anticipates that the new design’s more compact length and personally approved adaptations – including those for short-handed handling – will “simplify” his life on the water as he uses the yacht for a home away from home.
“It’s the perfect extension for living the life he enjoys, whether it’s in Sag Harbor for the summer or the Keys and the Caribbean in the winter,” said Fontaine about Buffett’s appreciation of the Surfari 44’s most intriguing features and the semi-custom options for its keel, cockpit and interior. “A high performance auxiliary powered sailing yacht, it has as strong an emphasis on speed under sail as it does speed under power, which means…it goes places. And once it’s where it needs to be, it becomes a luxury indoor/outdoor living platform that allows its user to enjoy the destination as much as the journey.”
Fontaine, best known for the romantic classic lines of his Friendship sailboats (in models ranging from 36 -79 feet), is a waterman himself and explained that his love of paddle boarding, surfing and kayaking inspired the Surfari 44’s 39” high and 11 ½ foot wide “tailgate.” (The yacht’s max beam is 14’ 63”.) The tailgate lowers while the yacht is at rest and integrates with a single-level floor plan that extends from the swim platform through the entire length of the cockpit and on through the deck salon and steering station. “It creates a unique, clutter-free area for storing and launching all sorts of watersports equipment and water craft,” said Fontaine.
Fontaine added that 360 degree visibility from the interior helm station enhances the open-air environment. It is achieved by a large sliding glass companionway bulkhead, sliding side windows and full-width windshield. Electrically powered sail handling gear provides fingertip control of the fully battened mainsail (with Harken Battcar system), roller furling genoa and furling asymmetrical spinnaker, while all halyards and sheets are led internally for control from the helm station. Lightweight, composite “grand prix race boat” construction, a carbon fiber mast and boom, and twin 75 HP auxiliary engines are further features that differentiate the Surfari 44 from semi-custom and production yachts in the same size range.
“Buffett epitomizes the demographic that would get the most out of the Surfari 44,” said Fontaine, adding that target markets include experienced performance racing yacht owners who have exhausted their appetites for competition and the extensive demands of their campaigns. “Having honed their sailing skills to near-professional levels, these potential owners associate high performance with high technology. They want to go fast and get there in style, and now that they are approaching their retirement years their need for speed is being seasoned with a newly appreciated desire for comfort and versatility afloat.”