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Grace III: On board the latest Hoek Truly Classic 128 sailing yacht

20 May 2022 • Written by Marilyn Mower

A performance cruiser with the looks of a classic, Grace III has been made for an entire family to enjoy. Marilyn Mower gets on board for a closer look.

After a lifetime of sailing and refining his ideas, the owner of Grace III knew roughly what he wanted for his next yacht – and absolutely that it had to be drawn by Dutch naval architect Andre Hoek. “The owner of Grace III came to visit our studio in Edam and we began discussing a custom project of about 110ft (34 metres),” says the naval architect and founder of Hoek Design Naval Architects. “He was drawn to the lines of the J Class and the traditional deckhouses of our Truly Classic series. He wanted a boat with a classic look, but one that would sail like a modern performance cruiser. It would be mostly for family cruising but capable of performance for a Superyacht Cup or a Bucket.”

While her look is unmistakably that of the Hoek Design Truly Classic series, this sloop borrows its fractional rig from the J Class sailplan and features a unique deck layout
All images courtesy of Kerem Sanliman

However, after he had been pining for a large boat for a long time, the time it would take for engineering, designing and waiting for bids on a custom yacht seemed almost too much to bear. Sensing his concern, Hoek suggested to the client that he might like to consider his 39.3-metre Truly Classic 128. As two were already sailing (Atalante and Vijonara), the complete design and engineering documentation existed. Better still, Dutch aluminium hull builder Bloemsma had an immediate opening for a new project. As it had welded the hulls for the first two 128s, they could start on it while Hoek worked out interior and deck specifics for Grace III. It was an easy choice.

The specifics were primarily a fractional rig with a Park Avenue boom to emulate the look of the Js, a single deckhouse and two cockpits to separate guest and family relaxation from sailing operations. The owner was happy to build the hull in the Netherlands, but he wanted the boat fitted out in Turkey at SES Yachts, a yard where he had built previous boats. It was a fortuitous decision for the owner, who had been splitting his time between Istanbul and New York. When the pandemic took hold, he was in Turkey and could visit the yard every week from his residence.

“We have actually built five boats for this owner,” says Elif Yildirim, an engineer and the project manager for Grace III. SES Yachts is a family-owned shipyard in Tuzla and she and her brother, a naval architect, are the third generation of boatbuilders. Still, Yildirim says she didn’t feel predestined for this career.  “I knew that building boats is hard work and considered it just what the generations before me did.” But she did like engineering and the boatbuilding genes must have kicked in, because she pursued a bachelor’s degree in naval architecture and marine engineering at Istanbul Technical University. Then, she moved to Newcastle in the UK for a master’s degree in yacht design to support her father’s enterprise, which now counts six family members among its professionals.

SES Yachts, established by Sefer Yildirim in 1977, has launched more than 80 boats and yachts, both motor and sail, but Grace III was its first cooperation with Andre Hoek.

The exterior guest seating under the fixed bimini is completely free of winches and sailing gear

At first glance, anyone familiar with Hoek’s work can easily guess that Grace III, with her low profile, long overhangs and bright-finished teak deckhouse, stems from his drawing board. “The owner wished for a large, separate social cockpit that could provide on-deck dining for 10 to 12 people,” Hoek explains. “Beyond that, he wanted a sailing cockpit with the mainsheet traveller and all deck winches positioned aft. People can be involved with the sailing action or not, but they are all safely seated forward.” Included in “all” is a seagoing poodle named Twiggy. Washboards inserted in the cockpit openings keep two- and four-legged guests contained.

“This is the first time we have used this twin cockpit setup [on this model] and it’s only possible because of the single deckhouse design,” Hoek adds. It puts six of the winches in front of the helmsman and two close behind so the skipper knows whether or not all crew are ready for manoeuvres. A single wheel suffices.

The cockpit dining table converts into a pair of coffee tables. Weather boards fill the spaces between settees to keep water out and the family pet in when the boat is heeling

As a bonus, sheets can be easily led to any vacant winch and two can be dedicated to controlling the main. “A [robust] mainsheet system on a fractionally rigged yacht is crucial when gybing,” Hoek notes. “For that reason, we have set it up for the so-called German-sheeting system using two winches and double the number of blocks.” The sailing cockpit has all the comforts as well as the modern conveniences sheltered within expertly varnished teak and below its own bimini. Plastic windows sewn into the canvas allow the crew to keep eyes  on the rig and mainsail.

The shape of the deckhouse is straight out of the Truly Classic playbook, with arched windows, air vents and dorades, stainless bejewelled gloss handrails on the cabin top  and lots of varnish. One notable feature is that instead of the deckhouse and the teak deck meeting in a 90-degree joint, the deck curves  up to meet the deckhouse – and cockpit furniture, too – in a small detail called waterfall margins. These make the tidy application of varnish easier and eliminate the inevitable build-up of algae and grunge common to a typical deck joint. It’s a simple thing, a bit of foresight really, but it requires more artistry on the part of the deck layers.

Oak floors and white paint throughout balance out the rich mahogany joinery to keep the interiors from feeling too dark

From the guest cockpit, a door leads to the asymmetrical deck saloon with seating for five flanking a high-low table on a raised platform to port and L-shaped seating to starboard. The long sightlines to and from the cockpit enhance the feeling of spaciousness. The joinery details are relatively simple, and the hardware is gleaming silver rather than brass or bronze. Still, dark mahogany, bright white paint on upper walls and window surrounds, shiplap overhead and ceiling cornices read as classic. The deckhouse extends beyond the deck saloon’s seating area to create an atrium effect for the lower saloon where dining is to port and a library/media room is on starboard.  The focal point is a delightful water vapour  faux fireplace. The soles here, as above and on the stairs, are light oak.

From the lower saloon, a passageway passes two guest suites – a twin with an extra Pullman berth and a double. A third cabin with upper and lower bunks is opposite the galley. This is a flexible space that serves as a guest cabin for family cruising or extra crew if the yacht is chartering. By choosing which doors to open and close, the room is either part of the crew area or not. As with the number of deckhouses, the owners deliberately chose to preserve a sense of spaciousness by not squeezing in additional guest cabins.

The deck saloon connects directly to the lower saloon with its fireplace and dining area. It is one of three places to dine on board

For enhanced privacy, the owners’ suite is aft of the deckhouse. At the bottom of the stairs from the saloon is a powder room on starboard that guests can use as the dayhead, although a second door can make this part of the owners’ suite at night. A full en suite with shower is outboard on port. The cabin is large enough for the luxury of a sofa, a vanity or writing desk and a pair of wardrobes.

While Hoek and his team created the layout and the millwork details, the wife in the couple collaborated with long-time friend and London-based and Turkey-born designer Yael Modiano on interior details. Modiano studied business and worked in banking before following her passion for architecture and interiors, attending the Inchbald School of Design. She opened YM Design in London nearly 22 years ago.

“They asked me for decor that would feel like a home,” Modiano says. To contrast the dark mahogany, they chose earth tones and pastel fabrics in one marathon day at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre in London. When asked if the  fact the yacht would charter affected material choices, Modiano said the fabrics meet the needs of a couple who entertain on their boats.

“It is the Turkish tradition of hospitality. If you invite someone for a sail or a swim, you want them to be comfortable even in their swimsuit anywhere on the boat. There are a  lot of Colefax and Fowler and GP & J Baker fabrics. The exterior cushions are, of course, all Sunbrella. I used a soft palette of taupe and grey and grey and white except for the owners’ suite, which is rust, blue and off-white. The interest isn’t created by a lot of colours but by textures,” she says. “If you want crazy colours, you don’t choose me.” The lamps and accessories were selected on another single shopping marathon in Paris, mainly at the Maison&Objet trade fair.

The owners’ cabin and children’s or guest cabin have a much more classic style than the saloons, which gives them a cosy feel. The twin cabin includes an extra Pullman berth

Modiano had not done a yacht interior before but she studied the look of the Hoek Truly Classic series. “I would have suggested less gloss for the interior, but that is a Hoek hallmark. To do something else would devalue the pedigree.” However, she redesigned all the seating pieces to be far more linear than a true 1930s look.

Although Grace III was the yard’s first fully classed MCA vessel, it was previously built to commercial ship specifications. All SES subcontractors are Turkish companies, which was fortuitous as the Turkish government chose not to close manufacturing during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We just kept working, organising to have a reduced number of people on board. This helped us make up for late deliveries of equipment and materials from Europe and the United States,” says Yildirim, proud that Grace III was delivered just three months late despite the difficulty technicians had in reaching the yard for commissioning.

In retrospect, the biggest challenge, says Yildirim, was fitting in all the equipment.  “A gross tonnage of 130 tonnes is pretty small for a 40-metre; the engine room for example took very careful planning. The Hoek team supported us on the engineering. We had to solve all the difficulties on site as they could not come  to Turkey, but they respected our solutions.  We kept the budget reasonable for the owner, but at the same time meeting the highest standards of the Truly Classic series and MCA.”

After showing Grace III at the Monaco Yacht Show last September, SES Yachts contracted another TC128 project, number five in the series, and a stunning 33-metre classic motor yacht, also one of Hoek’s designs.

“We wanted a classic sailing yacht with the look of the 1930s combined with the comforts of a modern-day yacht that felt and handled like the smaller sailboats we had previously,” Grace III’s owner says. “The result is a yacht that helms on your fingertips with perfect balance and great performance in all sorts of conditions. She is a joy to sail, and I can confirm that she behaves better than all my expectations. Her motion in rough seas is very pleasant and smooth, keeping everyone on board safe and comfortable.  And apart from all that, she looks stunning!”

First published in the June 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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