FPB 97 – Designed For Reality

“Having a boat that can deal with whatever might happen—no matter what—provides a mental comfort level that defines their view of happy sailing.”
–Bill Parlatore, Editor, Passagemaker Magazine


Designing, specifying, and building a modern cruising yacht demands clear goals about what the yacht is intended to do. In the FPB Series, as with all our yachts, the first priority is going places (read: crossing oceans) in maximum comfort and safety, quickly, with the ability to operate for long periods away from civilization. Toss in optimization for short-handed passage-making–cruising as a couple should the owners so desire–and you have the ability to go where and when you want, without concern for crew requirements, servicing errant systems, or the schedules of yacht transport companies.




The FPB 97’s ability to be handled by a couple, with or without crew, sets a new precedent for large yachts. The 5,000+ nautical mile range, systems and structure designed for extreme latitudes, coupled with enormous storage capacity–the forepeak alone is 26ft/8 m long, the fridge and freezer have 50 cubic ft/1.4 cubic m capacity, fuel tanks hold 5,000 gallons/18,000 l–gives you the freedom to cruise to the farthest corners of the globe, and the flexibility to choose when and where you re-supply. Add in a highly evolved systems integration, encompassing ventilation, heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, and an electrical system that allows the FPB 97 to operate off the grid, with minimal requirement for fossil fuel, and you can see what has everyone so excited.


We think of our yachts as tools that will allow us and our owners to venture forth with minimum anxiety, frustration, and hassle and every aspect of the FPB 97’s design, construction, and outfitting has this outcome in mind.


We expect our own yachts to be able to head for distant shores when the fancy strikes (with an eye on the seasons, of course). We expect our clients to have this same freedom. If we are in Marina Del Rey, California on a Monday and decide to visit the South Pacific again, by Saturday we’ll be under way (it takes two days to provision for six months, a day to check drive lines and systems, and we never leave on a Friday). With the FPB 97, ten days and four hours later we’ll be at anchor in Taiohae Baie in the Marquesas Islands, having easily averaged our nominal 11.7 knots on the 2800 nautical mile passage. And we won’t need to think about refueling until Samoa, several thousand miles west (where the fuel is clean and will cost half of anywhere else). We could just as easily be in Florida and decide to head back to Greenland, or make a quick summer’s trip to the British Isles.


There is an enormous amount of data to cover on the FPB 97, which we’ll do over the next few weeks. But before we get into the prosaic information, we want to discuss another important issue: whether or not a yacht tugs at your heart strings. As important as the functional considerations are, we feel that in order to really enjoy cruising you have to be in love with your yacht. Function does add to the aesthetic equation, as does familiarity. But at some point, when you look back at the boat while standing in your dinghy,  we would hope your breath catches. Most yachts, motor vessels in particular, look better from high up. This is why you always see renderings and photos taken from altitude. But those images are not how we see our yachts in the real world. We see them standing in the dinghy, six feet off the water at best. So unless you want a rude surprise, it is better to evaluate aesthetics from the lower perspective.


A second part of the emotional relationship is how the yacht treats you. If she keeps you satisfied, with minimum frustration, then love will blossom. But if you are beset with continuing maintenance issues, crew problems, and schedule conflicts, if you are uncomfortable at sea and counting the hours till landfall, perhaps a little worried about the “what ifs”, then soon there are more reasons to stay at the dock than to head offshore.


We  prefer love over frustration.


In these renderings the camera is 100 feet/ 30 meters from the FPB9, as if in an anchored dinghy, with the FPB 97 rotating on a turntable. Height of the 50mm lens is six feet/1.8m. Being within a boat length with the camera, or your eyes, is a worst case aesthetic scenario.


Move back another boat length and things look a lot sleeker.


And just for fun, let’s assume we’ve got Ivor Wilkins in Auckland out for a photo shoot during sea trials for the FPB 97 (Ivor took the Wind Horse, Avatar,and years ago, Beowulf, photos that are so wonderful). If we were at rest when he flew over, it would look like these images. Not what we see from the dinghy, but cool hanging on the office wall none-the-less.




And since we mentioned our good friend, Ivor Wilkins, we’ll re-post the image below. That’s Ivor’s shot from the Wind Horse sea trials, with the FPB 97 inserted. The reaction of the hull to the sea, and the wake, will be a touch smoother with the new design. We think that is wickedly cool.


Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 13, 2012)

9 Responses to “FPB 97 – Designed For Reality”

  1. Holly Jennings Says:

    Hi Steve,
    What is the LOA from the rear of the swim platform to the tip of the anchor sprit?

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    30.56m/99.6 feet, transom to forward edge of the anchor projection ahead of the roller.

  3. Ward Says:

    Over on yachtforums.com, I’m sometimes surprised by the positive comments people make about the appearance of the “floating apartment block” style yachts that are so common.

    Although some of the comments about the Wicked FPB (and before that, Windhorse and the FPB 64s) haven’t been positive, most people seem to understand the idea of form follows function.

    I’d still rate Windhorse as the overall best looking FPB, but it’s close with the Wicked… Now if you could give Windhorse the frameless, overhanging windows, _That_ would be Awesome!

    most of the comments have been positive,

  4. Johan Says:

    Following many shipyards over the world in their development of new ships, I admire our Dutch yards as there is:
    Damen with commercial vessels and Amels with commercial yachts both using the ‘enlarged ship concept’ and ‘X- or AXE-bows’, they developed together with ‘Delft Maritime University’ and others. Hoek Design with beautiful sailing yachts from classic to modern. Vripack vessels and yachts with the thorough Doggersbank. Last but not least ‘Storm Yachts’ with the Storm 78 using the ‘Fast displacement hull design’ from ‘Van Oossanen, naval architects’.
    Since I discovered Beowulf winning a passage with over 300 miles a day, I follow Steve Dashews designs with great interest.
    And now there is FPB 97 Wicked, the most beautiful yacht I can think of outperforming everything I have seen.
    Darwin would have loved to see this evolution and FitzRoy would smile at last.
    (Steve, I think you should not publish this. See it as a personal note)

  5. Alain M Says:

    What say???
    Just Great looking!!!

  6. ray Says:

    anything in this excercise going to change any aspects of the fpb64’s? partic the windows and the increase in solar generation?

  7. Steve Dashew Says:

    I doubt there is anything that directly relates. The FPB 64s already have sockets in the stern for an aft solar array, that would accommodate three or five of the 320 watt panels.

  8. Phil Hack Says:


    Why do you never leave on a Friday?

  9. Steve Dashew Says:

    Bad luck – prohibited by clause 13 in our insurance policy.