The Irwin 54 Sailboat
Specs & Key Performance Indicators

The Irwin 54, produced in both cutter and ketch formats, was designed by Ted Irwin and built in the USA by Irwin Yachts. It is a popular centre-cockpit sailboat for long-distance cruising.

An Irwin 54 cutter sailing under headsail and full mainsail.An Irwin 54 cutter, sailing with her staysail furled

Published Specification for the Irwin 54

Underwater Configuration: Stub keel with centreboard and semi-balanced rudder

Hull Material: GRP (Fibreglass)

Length Overall: 54'0" (16.5m)

Waterline Length: 44'0" (13.4m)

Beam: 15'4" (4.7m)

Draft: 5'6" (1.7m)

Rig Type: Cutter (as shown in pic, but also produced as a staysail ketch)

Displacement: 46,000lb (20,865kg)

Designer: Ted Irwin

Builder: Irwin Yachts (USA)

Year First Built: 1988

Published Design Ratios for the Irwin 54

1. Sail Area/Displacement Ratio: 15.7

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 34.8

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 241

4. Comfort Ratio: 39.9

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.7

read more about these Key Performance Indicators...

Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Irwin 54

The Irwin 54 is a 54.0ft staysail ketch designed by Ted Irwin and built in fiberglass by Irwin Yachts. Based on the design ratios, the theoretical sailing characteristics of the Irwin 54 are:

  • Sail Area/Displacement Ratio (15.7): This ratio is effectively the Power-to-Weight Ratio and gives an indication of a boat's performance capability. A ratio of 15.7 suggests that the Irwin 54 is slightly underpowered, which might limit its speed potential under certain conditions.
  • Ballast/Displacement Ratio (34.8): This ratio indicates the stability of the boat. A ratio of 34.8 suggests that the Irwin 54 is reasonably stable and stiff, and has a good righting capability if knocked down. However, this ratio doesn't take into account the location of the boat's ballast, which can be misleading. A boat with the ballast in a shallow draft keel will be less stiff than the same boat with much of its ballast in a bulb at the foot of its keel.
  • Displacement/Length Ratio (241): This ratio indicates the boat's speed potential. A ratio of 241 classifies the Irwin 54 as a Moderate Displacement boat, which means it requires a moderate amount of sail area to reach its design hull speed.
  • Comfort Ratio (39.9): This ratio, created by yacht designer Ted Brewer, is a measure of motion comfort. A ratio of 39.9 suggests that the Irwin 54 has a motion associated with a moderate bluewater cruising boat, which should provide a reasonably comfortable ride in various sea conditions.
  • Capsize Screening Formula (1.7): This formula indicates if a boat has blue water capability. A result of 1.7 suggests that the Irwin 54 is better suited for ocean passages rather than coastal cruising, as it has a lower vulnerability to capsize.

It's important to note that these ratios are theoretical and have their limitations. For instance, the Ballast/Displacement Ratio doesn't consider the location of the ballast, which can significantly impact the boat's stability.

Similarly, Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio favors heavy displacement, narrow-beamed vessels with long overhangs. Therefore, today's light-displacement, beamy cruisers with plumb bows might not score well for crew comfort according to this ratio, even though they may well have bluewater capability.

Your questions answered...

Is the Irwin 54 still in production and, if not, when did production end and how many of these sailboats were built?

No, the Irwin 54 is not still in production. Production ended in 1990 after only two years and about 20 boats were built.

What is the history of the builders of the Irwin 54 and is the company still in business?

Irwin Yachts was founded by Ted Irwin in 1966 in Florida. The company specialized in fibreglass sailboats ranging from 23 to 68 feet. Ted Irwin was an innovative designer who won several races and awards with his boats. He also lived aboard his own Irwin 68 for many years. Irwin Yachts ceased operations in 1991 due to financial difficulties and a fire that destroyed the factory. The company is no longer in business.

What alternative versions of the Irwin 54 were built?

There were four versions of the Irwin 54. It was produced as either a ketch or a sloop, and as an owners' version or one intended for the charter market.

The main difference between the standard version and the charter version of the Irwin 54 sailboat is the interior layout. The Owners' version has a large master cabin aft with an ensuite head and shower, a forward cabin with a queen-sized berth and an ensuite head and shower, and a starboard cabin with two single berths and access to a shared head and shower.

The charter version has two double cabins aft with an ensuite head and shower, and two identical cabins forward each with two single berths and ensuite heads and showers. The charter version can accommodate more guests, but has less storage space and privacy than the standard version.

What other sailboats have been created by the designer of the Irwin 54?

Ted Irwin designed over 40 models of sailboats for his company, Irwin Yachts. Some of his most famous designs include the Irwin 23, the Irwin 28, the Irwin 34, the Irwin 37, the Irwin 43, the Irwin 52, and the Irwin 68. He also designed custom yachts for clients such as John Travolta and Malcolm Forbes.

How many people can sleep on board an Irwin 54?

In the standard version, the Irwin 54 can sleep up to six people in three cabins. The forward cabin has a queen-sized berth with an ensuite head and shower. The aft cabin has a double berth with an ensuite head and shower. The port cabin has two single berths with access to a shared head and shower.

The charter version has berths for 8 people.

The above answers were drafted by using GPT-4 (OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model) as a research assistant to develop source material; to the best of our knowledge, we believe them to be accurate.

Other sailboats in the Irwin range include:

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