A sailing fairytale: Inside the dramatic refit of 39m sailing superyacht G2
by Marilyn Mower
Cinderella IV became G2 in a dramatic and environmentally sound transformation that gave her first-time owners the yacht of their dreams. Marilyn Mower sets sail.
Sometimes the word “refit” doesn’t go far enough. The owners of G2 certainly stretched the definition after spending a year transforming a dark and traditional carbon sloop into the light and airy G2. Cinderella IV was launched in 2009 and built for a serial yacht owner with well-formed tastes. Ten years later she is reborn – and a shining example of what can be achieved by overlaying solid foundations with some fresh thinking.
Naval architect Bill Tripp designed Cinderella IV as a performance cruiser capable of covering a lot of sea each day with a small, skilled crew. That brief was also the starting point for a couple on the hunt for their very first yacht. The Gs (as we will call them, because their first names begin with that letter) sought a boat with good bones that they could remake in their own style. Cinderella IV presented the bones all right; she was built to high standards at Vitters in the Netherlands and came well equipped.
“It was a three-year process. Initially it was an active market watch and meeting people in the sector,” say the owners. “After briefly considering a new build, the actual search started with the Monaco show in 2016.” Toby Allies, joint managing director of Pendennis Shipyard, was an acquaintance and they arranged to meet at the show. “We don’t sell boats, but there were a few in the show that I thought they might like to see,” says Allies. He also introduced the owners to Will Bishop from YPI, the broker who managed the purchase of Cinderella IV early in 2017.
The boat had the size, cabins and the pedigree they wanted but, more importantly, it had a carbon hull with a lifting keel – the material was key to them for both performance and maintenance. The owner also wanted a world cruiser and Tripp’s boats certainly have form. “In 1997 we did an 88ft [26.8m] carbon boat called Shaman to go around the world for a couple who liked fast sailing,” says Tripp. “We followed that up with 130ft [39.8m] Alithia, designed to sail around the world. Shaman’s first owner took her from Spitsbergen to Cape Horn to Kamchatka. The second owner took Shaman completely around the world and the third owner also went around the Horn cruising from Palma to New Zealand. Alithia, whose design is very similar to G2, spent two-and-a-half years taking its family and two teachers around the world.
“We like to think of these as very good, very fast expedition boats,” says Tripp. “The lifting keel system by APM we put on these boats is fantastic. It’s based on crane technology and it gives great stability and access to shallower harbours.”
After inspecting the yacht, one of the owners’ first questions to Tripp was whether they could get rid of Cinderella IV’s aft deckhouse. Fortuitously, the designer had already considered the appearance of the boat with a single deckhouse for another potential buyer and had a sketch of how it would look. It sealed the deal.
Armed with plans, they sent the project out to bid. While the name Pendennis is often associated with metal and refits of classically styled boats, the yard has built two carbon fibre Wallys and Ocean Phoenix in composite, plus the extension and refit of the composite M5. This ability was not lost on the owners, nor was its proximity to their home; Pendennis was awarded the job.
Fittingly, the consultants Cornelsen & Partner, of which Jens Cornelsen was the original owner’s representative for the build of Cinderella IV in 2009, were chosen to manage the conversion of G2, with Benjamin Stitt taking on the project.
“The refit of G2 provided several technical challenges that required expertise, experience and strong commitment from all parties involved. It was a delight to achieve the clients’ intentions, but to also go beyond the original scope to identify and include significant additional improvements. It is a pleasure to see G2 used to her full potential,” Stitt said.
From the beginning of the project, the owner, a trustee of an environmental watchdog group, asked the team to reduce the yacht’s impact. Part of the solution, notes Captain Jason Geale, was lowering electrical loads by switching to all-LED lighting, reducing the heat impact by replacing portlights with glass of higher reflectivity and installing a water making/treatment system that delivers still or carbonated water, eliminating bottled water aboard. A new bank of 16 lithium batteries, meanwhile, enables up to eight hours of silent operation.
But it wasn’t just her environmental credentials that needed updating. The original interior featured a small master cabin, a bulkhead separating upper and lower saloons and traditional joinery. To put their stamp on the yacht, the owners wanted its style to match the contemporary nature of their home. It had to be light with clean lines and a calm atmosphere and the owners decided that Massimo Gino at Nauta Design had the best understanding of their style as well as clever ideas about lightweight interior materials and fabrication. They did not want to compromise the boat’s impressive performance with a weighty interior.
“It wasn’t just Nauta’s style, but also their approach to the project,” say the owners. “They invested significant time to come up with a detailed proposal before they were awarded the work. It just clicked.” Gino notes that each change required structural analysis. “In a carbon boat you just can’t move a bulkhead, these are tied into the structure and the load paths of the yacht. Sometimes you can trim away at them if you can leave enough for a substantial ring frame and disguise that with other uses, but some interior structures such as lateral stiffeners and deck hatches cannot be moved. You have to reimagine around them, making them work with the new plan.”
Seeing G2 in March after her first season cruising the Caribbean, the physical transformation is total. Without the second deckhouse, the cockpits offer clean lines and many comfortable spaces to wedge oneself in – a vital factor on a boat that will sail at 15 to 20 degrees heel. The aft helm position now enjoys the simplest of shade covers on carbon-fibre poles, also handy to grab on to.
A huge dodger protecting both helm pods, which hides in a slot below the teak deck and coaming forward of the crew hatch, gives far better storm protection than ever before. It’s enough space that a second crewmember can stay dry on watches – a nice way to make it less lonely aft, says Tripp – and also provides more privacy to the guest cockpit.
Sailing at up to 18.5 knots in 20 knots of breeze off Antigua, it is the perfect day for unfurling the new cable-free Code Zero sail and blasting across the Caribbean Sea. The yacht seems brand new. Her 10-year survey was advanced in consideration of an upcoming world cruise and the rigging upgraded to ECsix, explains Geale. “Many systems, including shore power converter, fridges, freezers and fire and bilge piping were renewed or upgraded, and two old satellite domes were removed from the spreaders and replaced with smaller but more powerful receivers.”
The new colour scheme is a very on-trend grey, white and black with hints of red and brushed silver metal. This extends from the Sandalwood Silver superstructure and mast and grey deck caulking outside to cushions, fabrics and surfaces inside. It is harmonious and soothing, given the brilliant Caribbean sunlight and the mesmerising blue sea outside. There is no brightwork, just a bright silver metallic paint on the topsides.
A wide sliding door leads a few steps down into a super chic deck saloon with 360-degree panoramas, while two large skylights and a pair of hatches offer views of mainsail and sky. Ruiter Quality Interiors fabricated the interior using an open-grain oak from the German timber specialist Schotten & Hansen on floors and walls. While it looks like a brushed, whitewashed finish, it is actually a more complex process that begins while drying the raw wood, during which the soft and hard sections of the grain contract at different rates. The open grain is coloured with natural pigments and stabilised and waterproofed with resins and waxes. The pale grey oak field is broken here and there for effect with a velvety white nanotech paint surface or matching leather panels.
The asymmetrical upper saloon is divided from the lower one by a half-height glass wall. A deep charcoal L-shaped sofa to port faces a large television, in keeping with the snug quality of the space. To starboard, the area assigned as an owner’s office has been simplified and the portlight enlarged for a bigger sea view. The wall between the office and the upper saloon that gave the original space a dark, clubby feel is gone, replaced by a glass balustrade. The unbroken spaces work because the area itself is large enough that nothing is crowded or butts up against another function. There isn’t a lot of bulky cabinetry either; all the china and glassware for meal service hides in large drawers under the upper saloon and are easily accessible from the lower level. Originally, the four cabins were of equal size with the master in the bow. For owners who enjoy reeling in the nautical miles, a bow cabin on a sailing boat might raise an eyebrow given the movement generated in this part of the yacht.
The subject was raised by Gino in the design discussions, but “ultimately, they wanted more distance between their cabin and the main saloon,” he says. They also wanted it bigger, which Gino accomplished by re-arranging hanging lockers and borrowing room from the en suite in the next cabin. In the process he managed to add a sofa and a second sink in the owners’ en suite.
All the bathrooms have, in fact, been reimagined and an epoxy-based process applied to create the look of granite countertops at much less weight. “It would make no sense to put a tonne of marble in a carbon-fibre boat,” says Gino. “The material is epoxy built up in layers by hand and given colour and texture with a special kind of sand. Each one is different.” Lighting in the bathrooms and elsewhere is a point of pride. “We used all LED lighting in warm white, between 2700 and 3000 Kelvin.”
Since taking delivery of the boat, the owners have spent five weeks aboard, including passages between the UK and Gibraltar and Palma to Saint-Tropez. “It’s been a very special experience so far, a great way to spend time with family and friends,” the owners note. “The freedom that you have to go pretty much anywhere is great and many times the passages are pretty thrilling.
“We didn’t have the opportunity to do much sailing when we were growing up, so for me it has been a bit of an unfulfilled dream. This summer we will cruise Croatia, Greece and Italy followed by another season in the Caribbean before we head through the Panama Canal and commence our cruise around the world.” It’s a fresh adventure for a boat with a new look and an old soul.
All photography by Quin Bisset