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Exclusive: 6 facts about the build of Sailing Yacht A

Exclusive: 6 facts about the build of Sailing Yacht A


The construction of Sailing Yacht A

Sailing Yacht A Build Bow

Boat International was the first to reveal details of Sailing Yacht A, with an exclusive look at the boundary pushing superyacht. Now we expose all the facts behind the build of this incredible superyacht commissioned by Andrey Melnichenko.

As owner of Motor Yacht A, another divisive yacht, we knew Sailing Yacht A would be anything but conventional. Melnichenko is one owner who delights in challenging the status quo and moving the game on, introducing new techniques and technologies in his yacht projects. Sailing Yacht A ticks both boxes: at 142.81 metres LOA, it is the largest boat of its kind in the world, and is being called a “sail-assisted motor yacht” – though many consider her to be the new largest sailing yacht in the world.

Working once again with Philippe Starck on the design, Melnichenko assembled his own team to take the project from concept to completion. He chose Dirk Kloosterman, a veteran project manager of superyacht builds, to lead it. Kloosterman was involved in the build of Larry Ellison’s Rising Sun before taking on Motor Yacht A for Melnichenko.

Sailing Yacht A infographic
7 facts about Sailing Yacht A

Click here to see the infographic in a bigger size.

Sailing Yacht A infographic
Infographic by Damian Semler

Sailing Yacht A is his biggest undertaking. Kloosterman’s first challenge was to find a shipyard with the capabilities to build such a vessel.Few major deep-water shipyards wanted to take on the riskof such a radical project, but Nobiskrug’s purchase of part of the HDW yard in Kiel, Germany, presented an opportunity.

“This was an excellent facility, with its large docks and the draught needed for the project,” Kloosterman says. “In March 2011, we signed the deal for pre-engineering to start. It was made clear to the yard that the team wanted large input and control over the build so the standard tender-and-bid process, with the yard supplying subcontractors, was scrapped. Cost control for an eight-deck motor yacht, with the added dimension of sailing, was going to prove challenging.”

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Sailing Yacht A's imposing scale

Sailing Yacht A Build Photos

Sailing Yacht A is a sharp, three-masted motor yacht with sailing potential, constructed mostly in steel incorporating composite and carbon fibre to keep weight down. In profile from her high bow, the sheerline climbs aft, before dropping down to an almost retroussé stern. The line is seamless, without interruption or sight of any deck equipment, anchors, balconies or openings of any kind, but they are all there, cleverly hidden away. Astonishingly, there are 24 shell doors in the hull.

The windows, which are all oval, look small from a distance, but all have a magnifying effect, making them seem huge from the inside. During our visit tests were under way on a special one-way film to cover the exterior of the glass for privacy and to blend them into the custom metallic paint finish by Alexseal.

Her scale is extraordinary: 142.81 metres LOA, with a maximum beam of 24.88 metres and a draught of eight metres. She has eight decks, connected by multiple elevators and free-floating spiral staircases, garages for four tenders and a submarine, as well as a touch-and-go helipad on the bow. Every part of her interior has been designed to be flowing and organic.

Although the yacht was still a building site when we visited, with Vedder, Deutsche Werkstätten and Sinnex busy with the fit-out, there was no mistaking the incredible living space available for the owners, their guests and up to 54 crew, who will run a professional galley large enough to serve a hotel and a powerplant and hotel services stretching uninterrupted across two decks. In contrast to the volume of the everyday living accommodation is arguably the most incredible feature on board, occupying the smallest space: an underwater viewing pod moulded into the keel, offering a view of the props.

To make sure it all worked, hydrodynamic research facility HSVA in Hamburg performed towing tests for the hull, and the Wolfson Unit at the University of Southampton carried out wind tunnel tests to determine aerodynamic loads. This phase of the project revealed the optimal combination of sailing characteristics, seakeeping behaviour and performance under power. MARIN, in the Netherlands, conducted final tests of the model with keel and rudders.

With simulated aerodynamic loads applied, results concluded that the yacht’s heeling angle when under full sail would be a maximum of 12 degrees at 20 knots true wind-speed upwind and 35 knots downwind.

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The rig and sail plan of Sailing Yacht A

Sailing Yacht A Masts Loaded

Three colossal unstayed masts – the largest carbon masts in the world – define Sailing Yacht A. The mainmast towers 100 metres above the waterline – taller than Big Ben. An enclosed electric gimballed crow’s nest is incorporated, to whoosh a crew member 60 metres up the mast for what will surely be one of the most amazing views on the water. Dykstra Naval Architects, the Dutch naval architect that designed the rig for Maltese Falcon, was the obvious choice to develop an easy-to-use and safe sailing system.

Being “sail assisted”, the ratio between sail area and the yacht’s displacement is somewhat lower than would be found on a pure sailing yacht. Dykstra optimised the sailplan with full roach sails and freestanding aerodynamically efficient masts that can be rotated a total of 70 degrees to increase lift-drag characteristics.

Curiously, the masts are curved. “When we started to design this rig,” explains Mark Leslie-Miller from Dykstra, “the distinct feature of the freeboard sloping up towards the stern was already defined. For styling reasons, we wanted the foot of the sails [thus the booms] to align with the sheerline.” Sails this big would need to furl rather than flake when not in use. Furling booms, however, have to be at 90 degrees to the mast in order to work. Rather than tip the entire mast forward to preserve the right angle, Dykstra designed in the curve to keep the design aligned.

Magma Structures in Portsmouth, UK, developed the unique freestanding spars in carbon fibre, the only material that could cope with the stresses involved; masts this size cannot, in fact, be built using metals, according to Magma’s Damon Roberts, and they posed quite a challenge for the team. “Since the rig concept is unprecedented on this scale, there were no easy answers or standard solutions for any of the challenges that the rig design posed,” he says.

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