This powerful offshore cruiser has all the bells and whistles that allow shorthanded sailing in comfort
The new Bill Dixon-designed Hylas 57 has been making waves since its debut at the 2021 fall boat shows with its good looks and innovative shorthanded sailing systems. The 57 is a departure from the more traditional, beefy bluewater cruisers the company is known for, with its powerful Solent-rigged sailplan, hard top and wraparound windows that give it a sleek modern flair.
Hull No. 1 is owned by Hylas COO Peggy Huang and her husband David Crafa, who, together with the Hylas designers and the Dixon design team, helped create this shorthanded offshore cruiser. I jumped at the opportunity for a test sail following the U.S. Sailboat Show in October.
Queen Long Marine shipyard has been owned by the Huang family for three generations and has been building Hylas offshore cruisers for more than 40 years in Taiwan. The high level of craftsmanship comes from its collaboration with top designers such as Dixon and German Frers and its skilled workforce.
The Hylas 57 hull is a FRP composite using isophthalic gelcoat, cored with closed-cell foam and infused with vinylester resin that makes it both strong and lightweight. Five epoxy barrier coats provide protection against blisters.
At 56 feet 10 inches long with a 17-foot beam, the 57’s power comes from its generous 1,636-square-foot sailplan. With cruising in the Bahamas in its future, the test boat was fitted with the 6-foot 5-inch shoal keel. The deep-draft keel draws 8 feet 2 inches. With 264 gallons of fuel, there is plenty of runway to make offshore miles before needing to refuel, and the 238 gallons of water goes a long way before you have to turn on the watermaker.
The enormous cockpit that stretches nearly half the length of the boat is designed as two separate areas—a spacious entertaining area with long, comfortable settees and folding cockpit table with inset refrigerator and the business end, with room for sail handling and the twin helm stations, each with a full set of engine controls and navigation instruments.
The hard top is supported by a carbon reinforced arch. A full array of solar panels and the traveller are located on top. The polycarbonate center panel retracts up into the hard top to allow the breeze to flow through. An automated awning extends aft, covering the helm seats to provide additional shade.
“I’ve been working on a prototype to fully enclose the cockpit using carbon fiber struts and canvas curtains,” Crafa said. “It would be perfect for high latitude sailing.”
Moving forward, the teak felt sure under foot and the side decks were free from toe stubbers with folding cleats and recessed hatches. The bowsprit is a work of beauty, with twin anchor rollers and the tack point for the asymmetrical sail.
While there are many options, the 57 comes ready to sail, with North NPL tour Xi sails, Harken Rewind power winches, generator, air conditioning capable of running on the lithium battery bank, bow thruster, autohelm, radar and AIS. The drop-down transom reveals the swim step and access to additional storage and the lazarettes. The attention to detail was evident everywhere I looked.