The Tayana 52 is one of Robert Perry’s favorite designs – self-proclaimed “sweetest sheer I ever drew.” Her history is in many ways a snapshot of the evolution of the sailboat industry over the past 30 years. Her changes (less teak, the addition of a sugar scoop stern, switch from Perkins to Yanmar diesel, etcetera) mirror those of other manufacturers. The design debuted in 1983 and is ostensibly still in production like most of Ta Yang’s yachts including the 42 and 55. They still have the tooling and will make one if someone wants. The newest hull seen on brokerage market is from 2001. She is a bluewater machine and one of the most charming Taiwanese yachts ever built. If you are looking for an aft cockpit, three stateroom sailing machine for a fair price, I highly recommend you consider this design.
Your first impression will depend on whether your subject has the aft or center cockpit mold. In contrast to what you might expect, the aft cockpit version out numbers the center by my estimate five to one. Today, demand clearly favors the rarer center cockpit version. To my eye, the aft cockpit is more aesthetically pleasing. The sleek cabintrunk couples with the sexy sheerline in a way that makes your knees wobble. The center cockpit has a more modern cabintrunk that does not stir the same passion although it does make for superior accommodations. Underneath, she features a long fin keel with separate skeg hung rudder. Above the main spar is surprisingly short at 61-feet.
Tayana builds their yachts tougher than cobs, and the 52 is no exception. The hull is hand laid fiberglass cored with closed cell PVC foam while the deck is balsa cored. The mast is keel stepped. Many 52’s especially those from the 1980’s come with teak decking with all its mixed blessings. Comparing the joinery on Tayana yachts over the years, the amount of teak down below has understandably decreased over the years. While 52’s from the 1980’s and early 1990’s have solid teak staving a-plenty, the most recent models have mostly teak veneer. In an ever more environmentally conscious world I think this is a good thing.
On Deck and Down Below
The teak decking is solely along the side decks on the Tayana 52’s I have seen. Along with the teak caprail, she has just enough brightwork to keep that classic look. The fore and side decks are wide and easy to maneuver around. The aft cockpit on most versions is seaworthy with large scuppers, a deep well, and a stout bridge. On post-1990 versions, Tayana often glassed on a ledge to her rocket ship stern. Down the companionway you are immediately immersed in a symphony of honey colored Taiwanese teak. The exact layout is difficult to talk about as these custom built yachts have so many variations. There are anywhere from two to four staterooms and one to three heads. A notable feature is the way Tayana composed the partial bulkheads with large walkthroughs.
Engine and Underway
The engine was originally the 85 HP Perkins 4-236 in 1983. In 1991, Tayana switched to the 110 HP Yanmar. Sometimes you will see 52’s repowered with a 140 HP Yanmar. Where the yacht really shines is under sail where her beautiful lines prove they are fast as well. R. Perry designed her to sail, and sail she does easily handling 25 knots and reeling off 180 nautical mile days. She is a classic offshore yacht by the Ta Yang yard whose name means “big ocean” in Mandarin; the brand name, Tayana, means “belongs to big ocean” and is an appropriate label for these yachts.
The Tayana 52 is one of Bob Perry’s favorites and deservedly so. Highlights include her fine light teak interior and fast, sweeping hull lines. On the brokerage market, 10 are available with prices ranging from $189,000 to $419,000. Watch for the center cockpit variations and ones with a glassed on swim platform. And ask for an interior layout because you never know what the accommodations will be like. A place for more information is the Tayana Owners Group (TOG) which is the largest sailboat owners group with many happy owners of Perry’s 52-footer.