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Shamanna: The jack of all trades yacht from Nautor’s Swan

There aren’t many owners who choose to join their yacht on every ocean crossing. The owner of Shamanna, who recently traversed the Atlantic with his new 35.2 metre Nautor’s Swan 115 FD, is far from the average.

The antithesis of a fair-weather sailor, his passion for yachting transcends the occasional romp around the Med or cushy Caribbean cruise. Bitten by the sailing bug after participating in a windy regatta with his brother when he was 10 — “we did not do very well,” he admits — he has grown into an avid yachtsman with a penchant for spending as much time on board as possible, conditions be damned.

Ocean crossings are often deemed too uncomfortable for “the boss”. It’s much easier to fly in and meet the yacht than to brave unpredictable conditions, whether it be high seas or pancake-flat doldrums, but crossings are the highlight for Shamanna’s owner because they provide an opportunity to detox from our world of constant connectivity. 

“It’s so different. It’s a relief to get away from emails and telephones and just enjoy the people on board and the nature,” he says on the eve of joining the yacht on her first transatlantic jaunt. “I can sit and look at the horizon for hours. It’s a way of living I find attractive.”

This isn’t to be his first crossing either. He has been making them for years on his initial sailing superyacht, the Swan 90 Nefertiti, on which Shamanna is modelled. He was pleased with his first Swan. “I wanted exactly the same flush deck version as the Swan 90, but slightly bigger,” he says, “and she had to be a good performance sailing boat.”

The brief was for a yacht that would serve multiple functions, equally satisfying private use, racing and chartering. He opted for the new model that Finnish builder Nautor's Swan was presenting, its largest-yet 115 series designed by Frers Naval Architecture & Engineering, which utilises the same technical platform but with differing exterior profiles and layouts.

“Long before it became the Swan 115, the initial design was started at the request of a Swan owner, who wanted to race seriously in various Mediterranean and Caribbean circuits,” says designer Germán Frers. “I really liked the idea of moving a step forward, away from the typical cruiser-racer characteristics and traditional aesthetics into something closer to a real racer: a lighter displacement; a fast, wide and powerful stern shape; a plumb bow, bowsprit, square-top mainsail; and a minimal superstructure.”

Although the original client interest faded away, the idea remained and the plans came to this owner, who decided to build hull No 2, with hull No 1 reserved for Nautor’s Swan chairman Leonardo Ferragamo.

“While planning a semi-custom model, we include in the equation various options, hopefully appealing to a wide audience looking for different layouts, deck configurations and keel depths to fit a standard canoe body,” says Frers. “The options also include rig sizes and type.”

Shamanna’s owner chose the flush deck (FD) version, which retained the sleek, minimalist lines of his previous boat. He and his captain, Daniel Calascione, worked closely with Swan to create the 115 FD and, as it was the first of its kind, were able to influence the burgeoning model.

“The experience from my previous boat and the continuation of skilled captain from the old boat as my project manager... was essential,” says the owner. “I think we have improved a number of small and big things.”

The layout was conceived as the ideal charter sailing yacht (Shamanna will charter for about eight weeks a year). “Having the galley and crew area aft allows for a complete cut off from operations to [the] guest area, which is good for charter,” says Calascione. 

“On the other hand, the owner likes fluidity, so we have that option as well. As the galley is near the saloon you can open the door and have a flow. In that way, we satisfied both the charter scene and the owner.”

Other considerations included having a separate washer and dryer, professional-grade appliances, hiding the air-conditioning units and saving room for the toys. A four metre Williams tender is stowed in Shamanna’s aft garage and takes eight minutes to launch.

The crew area, with three cabins, a laundry and a mess that converts to another sleeping area, is set all the way aft with separate cockpit access. The galley, huge for a sailing yacht of this size, is just forward and is highly functional, with a central island, plenty of counter space for plating and room for more than one crew member to move around with ease. Plastic food storage containers are all built-in, so nothing slides around Shamanna’s galley when sailing.

Nefertiti’s and Shamanna’s interiors are strikingly similar, with neutral tones, white leather settees and white-washed wood panelling throughout. Dark stained teak floors balance the airy spaces. “I was extremely happy with the interior choices we made on the old boat, and I didn’t want to make any changes,” says the owner.

If anything, Shamanna is simply an upgrade, with even more luxurious fittings befitting of her step up in size. Cashmere blankets, also in muted tones, drape over couches and beds, and leather details add to the luxe appeal.

Space is at a premium on sailing yachts, and Shamanna has a host of dual-purpose items and hidden storage, with a coffee table that transforms into an ottoman, a TV hidden in a sideboard, a dining table that extends to seat up to 12 and a cleverly concealed cutlery and glassware unit. All the furniture is built-in, so you never hear rattling, even when underway.

“We made friends with the carpenters, so they gave us some extra attention,” Calascione says of Swan’s in-house joinery department, which is a strong part of the yard’s 50 year tradition in yacht building. The interior is a combination of lightweight sandwich construction to conserve weight and classic woodworking.

Shamanna ’s layout has a large, open living area with saloon to port and dining starboard. The keel box, housing the keel that lifts from 5.8 to 3.6 metres, is covered in leather and separates the saloon from the dining area. Forward, the mast is a design element, striking in its carbon fibre finish, which is slightly different from what’s found above deck, with a cross-strand mesh fibre chosen for aesthetics.

While the master suite is all the way forward, the owner can use the amidships VIP in bad conditions. In addition to the double berth VIP, there are two twin berth cabins on Shamanna, each with Pullmans. The bed allocation was based on the owner’s experience of bringing family on board. “And most charters we get are one family or two couples,” says the captain. Leather headboards wrap all the way around on the walls, while lee cloths come down to cradle guests during crossings. 

The master has a king size bed, spacious windows and abundant storage, which was a major part of the brief for an owner who plans to spend up to eight weeks per year on board Shamanna. There’s also instrumentation, with readings for speed and wind angle, so even while in the comfort of his own bed the owner can be aware of the happenings at the helm.

In the master en suite, the shower becomes a steam room, heating up to 38C. Not quite a sauna, as Shamanna’s Scandinavian owner might be accustomed to, but it’s a great way to warm up on wet crossings, and he has put it to good use during long legs, even venturing down while the yacht was underway in the Bay of Biscay, cruising at 20 knots.

Shamanna will be operated as an eco-friendly yacht. All of the baskets that adorn the bathrooms and the laundry bags are made from recyclable materials. Shampoos and toiletry items are in refillable bottles and the soaps, from handwash to laundry detergent, are eco-friendly. Beyond this, Shamanna has switched from plastic to reusable water bottles — on the delivery from Finland, they saved 1,200 plastic bottles alone thanks to a filtration system and reusable bottles.

While getting the boat just right is crucial, the owner stresses that finding the ideal team is key. “The one thing about yacht ownership I wish everyone could know is that having the right crew is more important than having the right boat,” he says. “Life is all about people, especially when it comes to yachting.”

Consideration for his crew is why their quarters have the same finishes as those in the owner’s areas. It’s also why the atmosphere on board Shamanna often takes on a familial feel. Not only will some of the owner’s friends join for long legs and ocean voyages, but so will his captain and crew’s family and friends. On a recent delivery to the Canary Islands, Calascione’s father and brothers came along.

“To make up for being away from home, all our deliveries and races are with family members only,” he says. “The reason is they are fantastic sailors — not just because they’re family. It’s just a lucky bonus.”

Shamanna normally runs with a crew of five but during races that can swell to 26. Though she’s predominantly a cruising boat, Shamanna has racing chops should the mood strike. “I love racing, especially offshore racing, and plan to do three to four races per year,” the owner says. “To be together with a lovely crew, family and friends — either cruising or racing — is the highlight in life.”

Shamanna beat the more racing-attuned Highland Fling 15 on handicap during the 2016 Swan World Cup and will try her luck next at the Caribbean 600. “Shamanna has been very successful during her first summer season, both cruising as well as racing in the Swan Cup against her racing-oriented sister,” says Frers.

The 115 FD is the midway point between the cruising-friendly 115 S Solleone, launched for Swan chairman Leonardo Ferragamo, and Highland Fling 15, belonging to regatta regular Lord Irvine Laidlaw.

Solleone is most similar to Shamanna in weight but has a completely different layout, with the master set aft, while Highland Fling 15 is fine-tuned to meet a racing brief. Shamanna is designed to be a jack of all trades — racing capable, but still very fleshed out and comfortable.

Hull No 4 of the Swan 115 line is in the works, a high-performance and highly secretive project, and Swan is also developing the first 115 RS, featuring a raised saloon that will boast 360 degree views from below and a fixed bimini top on the cockpit.

Shamanna’s cockpit is a true transformer, with a pop-up spray hood built into the coach roof and an awning system that attaches to the side of the boom to unfurl and offer complete shade. The cockpit has a close connection to the water, an intention of the design, as Frers tells it:

“It was an important requirement from the owner to maintain the deck cockpit areas [feeling] close to the sea and to have easy access to the water.” It’s a comfortable spot to sit and enjoy the rush of wind as she easily makes 13 knots reaching in 15 to 20 knots of wind.

Shamanna proved impressive on a day with big swells and blustery winds. There was never a sensation of slamming into an oncoming wave and, as she sailed, the pure quiet of engines-off was disturbed only by the whirr of the hydraulic winches. There’s a minimum array of gear, a hallmark of Frers’ designs.

The sailplan of choice was an easy-to-handle roller furling jib and pin mainsail, with a fixed backstay and Park Avenue boom arrangement. With a plumb bow and broad stern, the 115 was designed by Frers with stable, sprightly performance in mind. Twin rudders make her highly responsive.

It’s easy to see why her owner trusts her sailing across the Atlantic. Shamanna has already had a summer season of racing, cruising and working out any teething problems. On the autumnal 10-day transatlantic crossing, she was put to the test further, and her owner had the chance to detox from the real world more deeply.

That’s 10 days when the focus reverted to the basic needs of food, sleep, relaxing with a good book, connecting with Mother Ocean, and gazing off at that distant horizon.

First published in the February 2017 edition of Boat International

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