ICE 53 ST: the latest innovation from ICE Yachts is bivalent and fast.

8 mins read

ICE 53 ST: two boats in one

Sailors all over the world, including this writer, have always been forced to choose their boat according to the category definitions imposed by the market. Cruising, cruising-racing, racing-cruising and pure racing are the four categories that all of us have until now been forced to identify with when choosing what to sail, whether to participate in winter regattas or to go on holiday with our families. This compromise has never been able to fully satisfy anyone, because a boat capable of cruising has never been fast enough to really compete in regattas, while a racing boat has never been able to satisfy a family’s need for comfort when cruising.

It is perhaps for that reason that ICE YACHTS, one of the most advanced shipyards in recent years, has decided to make an extra design effort and has created the new ICE 53 ST. A sailboat that is completely different from what we have been used to seeing up to now and which, escaping the above-mentioned four categories, upsets the market by making every sailor’s dream come true, namely the possibility of owning a boat that can be transformed from a pure racer to a grand cruiser at will.

A boat that we literally ran to see, as soon as it was put in the water for the first trials.

ICE 53 ST running upwind

The new ICE 53 ST in detail

The owner of this ICE 53 ST previously owned an ICE 52 EVO (a high-performance boat in itself) with which he raced and holidayed for a few years. This French sailor wanted an even better performing sailboat so, in perfect ICE style, Marco Malgara and the Felci studio set to work and pulled out of the hat a boat that, despite its 16 metres, managed to have a light displacement of 10 tonnes.

Two tonnes less than the RS version is an ambitious goal, which has been achieved thanks to a full carbon construction, made with four-axial, unidirectional carbon fibres that allow the hull to be laminated by means of a three-step infusion of epoxy resin onto a closed-cell PVC core.

ICE 53 ST running downwindThe result is a one-piece, highly sturdy construction, capable of both containing weight and ensuring an uncommon level of safety.

The rudder of the ICE 53 ST has also been made of carbon, both blade and shaft, and lengthened for maximum responsiveness, even when heeling. The keel is totally new, three and a half metres deep, and made of Weldox700, a high-strength steel capable of withstanding huge loads.

The deck plan includes an oversized bowplate, a high module carbon mast designed by the Axxon racing department and, of course, all the best in deck equipment.

The sea intakes have been almost halved and, thanks to a clarinet positioned aft, they go from 12 to 7, thus reducing hull drag.

In short, a boat that to the most attentive eyes would certainly seem to be classifiable as a pure racer, were it not that … it transforms.

The transformation

Yes, the ICE 53 ST is actually transformable, no pun intended. The visionary genius of Marco Malgara effectively converted this boat into its cruising version in less than three hours. But what does this transformation actually consist of?

Studio Felci and ICE Yachts have designed a system that makes it possible to easily and quickly replace all the elements that determine the configuration of the boat from cruising to racing and vice versa. All dunnages, cabin doors, galley, dinette table, upholstery and mattresses are part of this system. This way there is a transition from the light and essential material of the racing version to the sophisticated and luxurious material of the cruising version.

racing vs cruising transformation

The entire conversion set of the ICE 53 ST fits in a small van and can be replaced without technical expertise. I personally witnessed the conversion and the two people from the yard took about two hours and 45 minutes, a very short time for such a stunning result!

In short, a touch of genius that makes it possible to actually have two boats for the price of one.

ICE 53 ST Sea Trial

I witness the miracle of the re-transformation of the new ICE 53 ST into a racer, an operation that is carried out in just under two hours in this case, and the boat is ready to leave the Marina di Varazze. The 53 is rigged with old transfer sails (she leaves today for Marseille): a full batten mainsail in dacron sandwich that is definitely smaller than it should be and a jib in exotic fabric that has certainly seen better times. Outside the true wind is blowing at 13/14 knots and I am doubtful that I will be able to see a miracle with this equipment aboard.

Out of the marina the crew hoists the mainsail and, instantly, the boat takes off like a rocket, with crazy acceleration, damn I guess I was wrong….

With the mainsail set and upwind, the boat is already sailing at more than 8 knots. The jib goes up ( damn how ugly it is) and again the boat speeds up. I see the helmsman luff up to an impossible angle, the jib refuses for 30% of the surface but, nevertheless, at 23° of apparent wind ICE 53 ST is sailing at almost 10 knots. Then it bears away and at broad reach I squint my eyes and see the GPS reading 13.5 with 15-knot true wind!!!

Compared to the 52 RS, the owner confirms that upwind he has already seen an increase of almost a knot, almost two knots at broad reach.

I can only imagine the performance of this boat once it has received its sails which, new and made in the correct sizes, will be able to fully express the potential of this boat which, even in these conditions, already impresses with its performance.

Technical Specs


16.18 m


14.84 m

Max Beam

4.66 m


3.40 m


10.00 t (Lightship)*


3.80 – 4.00 t


Volvo D2 CV 75 – Sail Drive

Water Tank Capacity

440 l

Fuel Tank Capacity

250 l


3 cabins – 2 bathrooms


360 m2

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