Aquila 54 hits the sweet spot
Judging by overwhelming global sales including into Asia, the new Aquila 54 has hit the sweet spot for a powercat, with large outdoor and interior spaces including a vast beach club, cockpit bar and full-beam master suite, all complemented by the brand’s renowned performance. By Dominic Salandre.
The aft platform can carry a 14ft tender, deployed by a crane that slides out of the cockpit roof
Since 2012 and its first power catamaran, Aquila has come a long way quickly, with the ongoing 44 Yacht and 36 Sport models establishing themselves among the world’s best-selling power catamarans. This success is due in part to Lex Raas (Leader, Issue 61) and the brand’s partnership between US-based MarineMax, the world’s biggest boat dealer, and builder Sino Eagle.
However, with the simultaneous launch of the 54 Yacht and flagship 70 Luxury, Aquila took a big leap by releasing its two biggest models at the same time, both again designed to prove as attractive to monohull owners as catamaran fans.
While the 70 Luxury (Review, Issue 59) is a semi-custom offering with furniture and fittings from exclusive brands, the 54 was designed to be a production yacht, albeit with a range of finishes and options from an enclosed or open flybridge and galley up or down to a wide choice of cabin layouts including a full-beam master.
The central aft platform can be lowered to create a full-beam beach club
Yet despite being a huge step up from the brand’s previous flagship, the 48, the new 54 Yacht has generated quite remarkable sales according to figures shared privately by Aquila, although the company chooses not to publicise the numbers due to being a listed company.
However, of the several dozen sold, we know at least one has been ordered for Asia, with regional dealer Simpson Marine expecting a delivery to Thailand in the first half of 2022.
BIG STEPS UP
From the first glance, the Aquila 54 is eye-catching. At over 54ft in length with a 25ft-plus beam, the size is impressive, especially with the addition of the flybridge and hardtop that reaches a height of 24ft 4in.
Starboard stairs lead to the flybridge
Surprisingly, the 54 Yacht clearly distances itself from the design of the 44 Yacht by displaying lines more reminiscent of the 36 Sport or even the 32 Sport, with thin stems and a very slender and sophisticated line. She also boasts vast glazed surfaces, both on the hull and on the main deck.
The symmetrical stern includes two sugarscoops and a larger, central high-low platform. The latter can accommodate a 14ft tender, which is cleverly deployed by a retractable crane that slips in and out of the cockpit roof and can be operated remotely.
Behind the back of the aft bench seat is a useful compartment to store mooring lines or other items, while other features include an integrated, retractable swim ladder and a large storage box on each
side to stow water toys.
The outdoor galley is a key feature on the open aft deck of the flybridge
Wide, deep steps – which double as aft-facing bench seats – lead to the cockpit, which includes a long bench seat and large table. To port, a door opens upwards to reveal a staircase leading to a crew cabin with two single beds, bathroom, desk and porthole, although the room could be used by guests if the boat is owner operated.
The 17in-wide side decks lead to the solid foredeck, which has two double sun loungers with folding backrests, while forward are two sofas. The bow is well secured by quite high pulpits, while two deck hatches access a huge storage locker for fenders or mooring lines.
The foredeck is accessed from the flybridge and side decks
The flybridge is a real attraction. Our trial model featured the enclosed version with an L-shaped bench seat and adjustable table aft of the helm station, with sliding doors both aft and to the starboard side deck that leads to the foredeck. The aft deck has an outdoor galley and space for chairs, tables and sun loungers.
Back downstairs is one of Aquila’s signature features, the cockpit bar, with two bar stools facing a fold-out countertop and the aft galley courtesy of a lifting window.
The cockpit bar has become an Aquila signature feature
Inside, the large, U-shaped galley benefits from great light and is packed with storage spaces, while the saloon has a C-shaped sofa and folding table to port plus a sofa to starboard.
The version we trialled was the three-cabin layout with the full-beam owner’s suite, which has a king-size bed (2.04m x 1.95m), bathroom with two sinks, separate toilet, separate shower, vanity/office area and a real walk-in closet.
Again, there’s plenty of storage space and lots of natural light, and although the extra-large shower is a huge plus, having it as the access to the washing machine was unusual.
The galley is packed with storage spaces
Each guest cabin occupies a good chunk of each hull and has a queen-size bed (1.98m x 1.63m), bathroom, small desk and, once again, lots of storage space.
The boat is also a technological winner. In addition to the numerous TV screens, cleverly hidden in the furniture or in the ceiling, the interior is packed with USB sockets and wireless charging stations for smartphones, and the lighting is almost all LED and indirect.
The saloon has a three-sided sofa to port around an adjustable table, a TV and a long sofa to starboard
The interior style is modern and tasteful, with light-colour wood, understated fabrics and meticulous finishing, while a certain degree of customisation is available upon order.
Built partly in infusion, the 54 offers very good stiffness, a characteristic reinforced by the thickness of the nacelle. The two hulls benefit from real research work. Unlike some powercats that are simply adaptations of sailing models, the Aquila 54 was designed from the start as a motorboat.
The full-beam master suite is forward of the saloon and has windows on three sides
Like the 70, the hulls feature bow bulbs, a design inherited from commercial vessels that allow the boat to maintain a better pitch. Under way, this element also brings more comfort, especially in chop, as the bulb attacks the wave before the rest of the bow.
The bow itself is sharp as a sword and has an angle of only 15 degrees. The hull features two solid inverted chines that will repel spray and improve course keeping. In addition, the air cushion effect generated by the tunnel and excellent weight distribution give the boat a very nice attitude under way and, above all, excellent comfort for all aboard.
The starboard guest cabin in the three-cabin layout
Aquila offers three different propulsion options from twin 380hp Volvo Pentas to 550hp Cummins engines, although the 480hp Volvo Penta D8s on our test model represented an excellent compromise to move the 30 tonnes this boat displaces when laden.
From the flybridge helm, which offers great visibility and two screens, the Aquila 54 is very easy to manoeuvre due to the twin engines, ensuring easy departure from the marina. The helm is smooth and the vessel surprisingly very responsive.
The helm is in the flybridge skylounge
Remaining perfectly flat, the Aquila takes off quickly and cruises at about 16 knots at 2,800rpm, which is relatively economical. With these engines, the top speed is about 22 knots, going up to 25 with the 550hp Cummins. The boat turns while completely flat without oversteer, as with some competitors, although on the performance side, it’s the two-hull stability that naturally provides the most comfort.
Range is one of the model’s strong points, since at a speed of eight knots, you can cover around 1,000 miles. If that’s not enough, two 360-litre fuel tanks can be added.
The Aquila 54 Yacht shares similar lines to the flagship 70 Luxury
Along with the flagship 70, the CE A-certified 54 opens the doors to real offshore cruising for Aquila, which confirms its dominant position as the leading powercat-only builder as it moves seamlessly into larger yachts.
Designed to be as sleek and fast as a monohull motor yacht, the Aquila 70 also offers the enormous living areas of a large powercat, while luxurious, semi-custom interiors and advanced technologies further open the doors to a new level of clientele.