Sailing yacht Farfalla — All play, no work
by Risa Merl
Some superyachts are conceived in an instant, sketched on a napkin at an appropriately salty bar, and brought to life by a project-loving owner, only for the entire process to start again a few years later just moments after celebrating the launch.
The owner of the new 31.78 metre Southern Wind 102 had a much more pragmatic, though equally passionate, approach to building his perfect sailing yacht. Backed by years of charter experience and armed with a detailed must-have list, every bit of Farfalla – from the deckhouse style to the rigging – is the result of exhaustive research.
“I chartered an 80-foot (24.4 metre) Southern Wind called Matelot and ended up spending three weeks on board in the South Pacific,” says Farfalla’s owner, who describes this as the moment he realised he wanted a crewed sailing yacht. “The actual journey of sailing was really enjoyable and interesting, whereas with a motor boat, the journey was a means of getting from A to B. It was a different scale of adventure.”
Charters aboard a few 30 metre Southern Winds followed, so by the time the deal was inked on Farfalla the owner knew exactly what he wanted. The brief called for a quiet boat, beautiful-looking from the water, bluewater capable, comfortable for entertaining family and friends, with a personalised layout that would be equally appealing to charter clients. But most of all, it should be a place to relax: the ideal holiday home at sea.
We wanted the design to look beautiful on the water, even the colour of the hull was very important to us
The name Farfalla means butterfly in Italian
The owner, an English businessman, and his wife certainly look relaxed as they lounge in Farfalla’s cockpit, set against the backdrop of Antigua’s Falmouth Harbour. They should be: in just a few hours they will be slipping away from the dock for a short Caribbean cruise, their first holiday on the new boat without their children. This isn’t a bouncing brood of prepubescent offspring either, but adults in their early 20s, and all towering over six-foot tall (1.8 metres), much like the owner. “We’re a tall family,” says the owner’s wife. “I’m five foot eight, and the shortest.”
Sailing yachts are not typically renowned for their ceiling volumes, but Farfalla’s owner didn’t allow the family’s height requirements to deter his sailing dreams. Having decided on Southern Wind, and a 30 metre sweet-spot, he considered two deck styles offered by the builder in the SW102 – flush deck and deck saloon – and ruled both out.
Instead, designer Mario Pedol of Nauta Design, responsible for the yacht’s concept, exterior and interior styling, created the first raised saloon Southern Wind 102. Combining the best features of both existing styles, the design blends a sleek deckhouse and uncluttered sight lines with higher ceilings and ample light flooding in through the 270-degree window.
“The advantages of the raised-saloon design is you have a lot of light that comes through the wraparound window, but you can make use of the width of the hull because the sitting area is low enough to just about go underneath the deck passageways,” says Pedol. “It’s the result of fine-tuning to find the right compromise between height and ergonomics.” A mock-up of the new design with deck passageways was built, leaving nothing to chance.
Nautical without being kitschy nautical
Nauta Design also met the owner’s brief for a large cockpit that could host eight guests in comfort with room to spare. “The guest cockpit is really the heart of the yacht in terms of living areas,” Pedol says. It is the social centre of Farfalla, where meals are enjoyed alfresco, games are played (quiz night is a family tradition) and lounging is de rigueur.
The pale blue cockpit cushions hint at the Ralph Lauren-inspired classic-contemporary interior. Teak is used liberally on the floors and furniture, but this is broken up by the white linen wall panels, which brighten up the interior. The overall style is clean with simple lines, and the soft furnishings are in various shades of blue and white. It’s nautical without being kitschy nautical.
Pushing the boundaries
Farfalla is the third SW102, but to consider it a mere iteration of the series misses the mark. With a completely restyled exterior, bespoke layout and an owner-requested tender garage – the first found on any Southern Wind yacht – Farfalla pushes the boundaries of typical semi-custom offerings.
“There were a lot of decisions to make that we wanted to make ourselves: space, materials, fabrics, everything,” says the owner. The one decision they didn’t want to take on was hull design, which is where the semi-custom platform worked, although they did specify a rig made of aluminium instead of the prescribed carbon.
“Having experienced living aboard a boat with very lightweight joinery and carbon rigging, there is definitely more noise transfer,” says the owner. “So that was one non-negotiable.”
Another? No desks on board. “I’ve never used a desk on the boat,” the owner says. “I’m coming for a holiday. And if I really have to work, it certainly isn’t writing at a desk down below.” The desk nook usually found in the layout was transformed into a large wardrobe connected to the master.
The four-suite layout allows for two families to cruise comfortably, ideal for the owner’s use and charterers. The master with a king-size bed is set forward, and here a few minor changes were made; most notably, enlarging the master bathroom by taking out the desk in the bedroom.
‘Happy crew, happy boat’
The generous crew quarters take up nearly half the aft section and comprise a galley, crew mess and crew accommodations, spacious for a sailing yacht this size.
“Happy crew, happy boat,” the owner says. Not just a platitude, he speaks from personal experience as he joined Farfalla on part of the delivery trip. “When we’re on delivery, we eat down there, and we need a crew mess that has a table big enough.” Farfalla runs with as few as five and up to nine crew depending on the requirements.
The team has been busy since launch: two weeks after handover, the yacht left on a 7,000-mile voyage. It was on this delivery that Farfalla’s captain, Richard Chadburn, got the yacht up to her top speed of 23 knots.
“My claim to fame is that I was at the helm when we hit 20 knots the first time,” says the owner. “You get a real sensation of a speedy boat, but it’s a controlled speed.” It might not be long before Farfalla is on a regatta start line.
Farfalla’s high in performance but easy to sail; the entire family gets involved when on board and everyone has a turn at the helm as she flies along. This sensation of flight fits perfectly with Farfalla’s name, which means “butterfly” in Italian, a nod to the yacht’s architect, Farr Yacht Design, and the yard’s Italian roots.
Future plans The owner anticipates spending at least six weeks aboard a year, and 2016 should see the Farfalla transiting the Panama Canal and sailing down to the South Pacific and New Zealand. Greece and Croatia are on the books for summer 2015, and then the Caribbean this winter.
Farfalla won’t be in a class by herself for long: the fourth SW102 is already sold and in build, and will be the second Raised Saloon version. While Farfalla’s inception wasn’t as serendipitous as a cocktail napkin scribble, it’s clear her owner’s carefully developed design brief will inspire future Southern Wind yachts for years to come and leave a lasting legacy.
Photos by Roddy Grimes-Graeme