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.

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

  • Less than 16 would be considered under-powered;
  • 16 to 20 would indicate reasonably good performance;
  • Over 20 suggests relatively high performance.

2. Ballast/Displacement Ratio: 34.8

  • Under 40: less stiff, less powerful
  • Over 40: stiffer, more powerful

3. Displacement/Length Ratio: 241

  • Under 100: Ultralight
  • 100 to 200: Light
  • 200 to 275: Moderate
  • 275 to 350: Heavy
  • Over 350: Ultraheavy

4. Comfort Ratio: 39.9

  • Under 20 indicates a lightweight racing boat
  • 20 to 30 indicates a coastal cruiser
  • 30 to 40 indicates a moderate offshore cruising boat
  • 40 to 50 indicates a heavy offshore boat
  • Over 50 indicates an extremely heavy offshore boat

5. Capsize Screening Formula: 1.7

  • Under 2.0 (the lower the better): Better suited for ocean passages
  • Over 2.0: Less suited for ocean passages

read more about these Key Performance Indicators...

Summary Analysis of the Design Ratios for the Irwin 54

1. A Sail Area/Displacement Ratio of 15.7 suggests that the Irwin 54 will need a stiff breeze to get her going. In light conditions, unless you've got plenty of time on your hands, motor-sailing may be the way to go.

2. A Ballast/Displacement Ratio of 34.8 means that a sailboat like the Irwin 54 (which doesn't have its ballast concentrated in a bulb at the foot of a deep keel), is likely to benefit from being reefed early to keep her sailing upright in a moderate breeze.

3. A Displacement/Length Ratio of 241, tells us the Irwin 54 is a moderate displacement cruiser, which means she'll carry all your cruising gear without it having a dramatic effect on her performance. Most of today's sailboats intended for offshore cruising fall into this displacement category.

4. Ted Brewer's Comfort Ratio of 39.9 suggests that crew comfort of a Irwin 54 in a seaway is similar to what you would associate with the motion of a moderate bluewater cruising boat - a predictable and acceptable motion for most seasoned sailors.

5. The Capsize Screening Formula (CSF) of 1.7 tells us that a Irwin 54 would be a safer choice of sailboat for an ocean passage than one with a CSF of more than 2.0. 

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