Galatea: the sporty superyacht made for the Med
by Stewart Campbell
Galatea is a stylish take on a getaway vehicle
“Still” is not Galatea’s natural state. This is a superyacht designed, engineered and manufactured to run fast, with a pair of MTU’s latest 4000 series engines doing the heavy lifting. So successful was Heesen in building this slippery sportster that Galatea exceeded expectations during her sea trials, hitting 29.7 knots - 2.2 knots above its contracted design speed. It’s a little out of character, therefore, to see it leashed to the dock at Beaulieu-sur-Mer in the French Riviera, its low-down, sharp-nosed profile pointing to land, rather than out to sea.
But all thoroughbreds need time to recover, and this one’s taking it easy after a first season that saw it travel a very healthy 7,600 miles, visiting Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy, Corsica and Monaco, where it made its first public appearance during the yacht show in September. “She’s the perfect Med boat,” reports skipper Thierry Pastor. “With all the micro-climates, her power means you can always get out of trouble. Just pull up the anchor and away.”
A superyacht with coveted interiors for ultimate luxury
Galatea is the first in a new line of 40 metre models launched by the Dutch manufacturer, and replaces Heesen’s established 37 metre, of which 10 were built. This isn’t simply some stretched version of the former model, though, with a bigger bathing platform and a new hardtop: Galatea has a brand new hull and superstructure design, and an improved layout.
She was designed inside and out by Omega Architects, which has given her a comfortable interior of contrasting tones with an art deco edge. Real connoisseurs might identify the style as inspired by the Dutch handcraft period and the Amsterdam School. Either way, it’s just idiosyncratic enough to make it a brave decision for Heesen to install this interior on a spec boat – but it paid off, with the owner signing on the dotted line not long before the yacht’s launch.
Galatea boasts technological advancement for a smoother sail
From the water, Galatea doesn’t look as sharp as the 37 metre, but that’s no bad thing. It’s more upright and purposeful and now incorporates a really pleasing “tick” in the rear superstructure. But none of the earlier models’ DNA has been lost, which was important to the owner, who says he was attracted to Galatea by her “sporty design and cruising speed”. Windows have been improved all around, with the main beneficiary being the owners’ cabin, which gets much more light thanks to broader windows that taper less aggressively.
New technologies have also been incorporated to improve space and comfort for those on board, notably a Heinen & Hopman HVAC system that cools the engine room with sea water, negating the need for massive – and noisy – fans on either beam to suck in air. This has freed up space inside to the rear of the saloon and means there’s less annoying ambient whirr. Serenity is further promoted by a pair of Seakeeper gyros either side of the tender garage to keep things rock steady at anchor.
Galatea's engine room’s not one for swinging cats, but there’s still room to get around the two big MTUs, which in many ways are the main event. The luxury yacht was designed from the ground up with the punchy 3,600hp engines in mind – a decision that appealed to skipper Pastor, who has known the owner since 2011 and helped him shop for a yacht to replace his 23 metre Sunseeker. “I said to the owner, a fast boat can go slow, but a slow boat cannot go fast,” he recalls. “I prefer to escape bad weather than be in a displacement hull and ride it out. A displacement boat wallows; an aluminium boat can be sloppy, but you can also burn through it out of trouble. There’s no pleasure to be in a storm.”
Balancing performance and economy on Galatea
Galatea’s semi-displacement hull was put to the test during one nasty crossing of the Golfe du Lion, though. It was a “very bad night”, Pastor says, which left him and the stewardess barely on speaking terms. “Nothing was broken,” he says proudly. “We took on a lot of water, but none made it inside.” A bigger boat might have given them an easier passage, but the beauty of a 40 metre hull is the access it grants you.
Galatea tucks into Beaulieu where the maximum length is 45 metres, and can sneak into most Med ports, while bays inaccessible to the big boys are well within the reach of this 40 metre. In his first season on the helm, Pastor found a sweet spot between performance and economy at 20-22 knots, but says Galatea provides a very comfy ride at 25-27 knots as well. For short coastal hops, he tends to sit on 12-14 knots, and maintains 14-16 knots during night passages. At 12 knots, her range is 2,200 nautical miles, a 400 nautical mile improvement on the 37 metre.
Warm fixtures and spacious architecture feature below deck
Galatea packs more volume than her predecessor as well: 321GT versus 245GT. This doesn’t mean you’re getting vaulted ceilings and bathrooms you can play tennis in – this is a sport yacht, remember – but there’s no obvious pinching inside. In fact the only time you ever feel space is a little tight is when walking around the massive dining table to the rear of the saloon – but it doesn’t have to be that big.
Frank Laupman from Omega Architects says he put the main dining here to “make the saloon feel as spacious as possible”. That dining table is beautiful, though, and it’s here, on entering through the cockpit doors, that you get your first hit of the brass-edged, geometric art deco vibe. The whole dining space, meanwhile, ripples with circles. “The dining table has concentric inlays and the table itself is round on purpose to match the round shaped room and rounded windows,” says Laupman. “And the ceiling lamp is surrounded by a circular ceiling decoration.”
Lights and darks bounce off each other, with the wood – Coromandel and light oak – faithful to the pre-WWII design period that inspired the interior. “Light stained oak was used on a large scale [back then] since the oak tree was available on a large scale in the Netherlands,” says Laupman.
“Dark stained Coromandel was highly exotic and exclusive, used for details mostly to get a sense of precious luxury.” Nowhere on board – except the galley – will you see stainless steel or chrome, which are “cold”, according to the designer. Instead “warm” bronze was used on lighting panels, lamps, bathroom fixtures and surrounds. The approach has added intimacy to the main deck area, especially when the blinds are down and a film is playing on the big TV screen.
A master's domain
The layout of Galatea isn’t wildly different from the later-generation 37 metre Heesens, with a main-deck dining area and saloon leading onto the master suite forward. One big improvement is the galley, which has a bigger footprint. A small bureau with a clever chair that folds away flush gives purpose to the master cabin’s lobby, and beyond that are the main sleeping quarters and full-beam bathroom. The owner says his cabin is one of his favourite places on board, thanks to its space and silence. The art deco feel continues in here, and also downstairs in the guest accommodation, which comprises a full-beam VIP amidships, two twins forward and another full-beam double, all of which are en suite.
Galatea offers sun, sea and spas
The main access through the superyacht – for crew and guests – is via the central stairs, which run from the lower deck up to the raised pilothouse, then out onto the flybridge. It’s wide-open spaces up here. The original order included a spa pool and sunpads, but the owner hasn’t fitted these yet, so they remain in storage in Beaulieu. They’re something he’s considering, but in the meantime he’s happy with the space offered by the expansive top deck, which he used extensively for exercise during the summer season. It’s testament to the stability of Galatea that he was able to continue exercising up here even on passage. There’s no bar on the flybridge, and none of the furniture is fixed, so it really does present plenty of layout options. The hardtop is a permanent fixture, though, and offers good protection. Biminis can be erected over those bits of deck it doesn’t cover to offer total shelter from the sun.
Access forward to the sunken foredeck and sunpads is through a door to port of the upper helm. It slides out easily, and allowed Heesen to stay within class rules (Galatea is full MCA coded) and keep her guardrails low at the same time. These minimal railings atop the bulwarks help sleeken the profile and mean cool isn’t compromised. More lounging space can be found at water level when the big bathing platform folds down. It lowers beyond 90 degrees to make tender retrieval simple. No high-tech, over-engineered solutions here, just Teflon slides, which the crew bolt to the tender garage floor to get the Seadoo and five metre RIB back on board with the help of a winch.
Worth every penny
The toys in the garage, including the obligatory SeaBobs, are for the owner and his family’s use only – Galatea is a private yacht and not for charter, despite her commercial use coding. That might not be the case for much longer, since the owner is already looking to go bigger after a season with Galatea, and she’s now on the market for a snip under €20 million. She’d make a great buy. Sometimes the first hull in a series can be compromised by a yard’s experimentation with design, fit-out and technology, with the sweet spot found a few boats into the production run. But Galatea benefits from the considerable proving ground that was the 37 metre, and there’s not a lot she doesn’t nail, especially where it really matters – out at sea with the throttles hard down.