These are busy times for Nauta Yachts. The Milanese studio, headed by Mario Pedol, may be familiar through its work with Southern Wind, but the breadth and scope of the projects the 14-strong team undertakes extends far beyond sleek cruiser-racers around the 30m mark.
Currently under development is a diverse range of projects, including work on 15 new models for the Beneteau Group; a 90m version of Project Light based on the 80m design developed for a Nauta client and engineered by Fincantieri; a 10.5m and a 22.8m tender under the Maori brand; Southern Wind's new 102; a 45m expedition yacht, and various other motor and sail projects.
On top of this, the studio has just seen its Baltic 112 S/Y Nilaya launched, while other sailing yachts due to make a splash this year include twin 20m sailing yachts in build at new Italian yard Advanced, the eleventh Southern Wind 100, and the new Southern Winds 110 and 94.
Nauta has collaborated with many top performance designers over the years, mainly Farr and Reichel/Pugh.
'We have an excellent reciprocal relationship with them,' Pedol explains. 'We are specialists in aesthetics, styling, and functionality in general on high-performance sailing yachts, and on the other side Farr and Reichel/Pugh can draw on up-to-date science and technology as they are top designers in the grand prix sailing circuit and events such as the Volvo and America's Cup, meaning they have access to big R&D budgets.
'It has worked well for 20 years we not only have a long-standing knowledge of each other, they also know we can handle the full preliminary project, including the naval architecture if necessary.'
However, the Nauta team includes a diverse range of talented designers who are equally at home drawing underwater lines as they are working on exterior styling and interior designs – indeed, the studio formerly used to design and build its own yachts. So when a client approached Nauta with a brief for a new, custom 30m sailing yacht, asking the team to handle everything from the tip of the keel to the top of the mast, it was a project that the studio immediately felt at home with.
‘We’re not just interior designers,’ Pedol adds. ‘Most of the time we do the complete preliminary design from scratch. It’s a way of working that few people realise we do.’
At first glance, the design for the 30m appears to be a traditional, conventional cruising yacht, with a gentle sheerline, aft overhangs and a stem angle that looks as if it was lifted straight from an early 1990s IOR design. In fact, this isn’t a million miles away from reality.
‘The client,’ explains Mario Pedol, ‘owned a Nauta 70, which was our flagship during the period when we were building our own yachts. In fact, the 70 was our first collaboration with Bruce Farr back in 1989, when performance yachts were still being designed to IOR hull shapes.
‘The client is not a fan of modern shapes, plumb bows and the like, so asked us to design a yacht based more on lines from the 1990s, complete with a fairly classic deckhouse. We said that we were happy to produce such a timeless design, as long as we could update it a little bit.’
Using the 28m Desirade as inspiration, Nauta set out to create a design that was reminiscent of late IOR hulls, retaining the trademark overhangs but with no hull distortion. The design work started early in 2007
Given her traditional cruiser appearance, it would be easy to assume that the entire project is something of a throwback to the yachts built two decades ago, but in this case the reality is very far from the perception.
‘Once we had agreed the basic parameters, negotiations started on the stem angle,’ continues Pedol. ‘The client wanted it like the old 70, but we explained that times have moved on… We came to a compromise, and she still looks very classical, but in her aft sections, where we had more freedom, she’s quite a modern shape, and very flat. Her superstructure appears very classical, but we cleaned up the coamings and steps from Desirade, and the deckhouse line is actually quite low profile.
‘The deckhouse itself strongly influenced the look, and her cruising styling is actually something of a disguise. The deckhouse superstructure and the glass only add about a tonne to the overall displacement so the percentage increase was very small over a flush deck version.’
With a target displacement of just 60 tonnes, the choice of construction materials was also a far cry from the IOR days – a full carbon pre-preg hull and deck, built by performance specialists Indiana Yachting, who have IMOCA 60s and other modern race builds to its name.
‘Like the original brief for the Nauta 70 – to go fast – so this 30 metre is very similar, with high tech construction,’ says Pedol. He compares the design, in the way that only an Italian can, to a car. ‘Under her conventional dress, you have a Gran Turismo,’ he smiles, ‘like a Maserati Quattroporte…’
Once agreement had been reached, a preliminary weight study was undertaken to give a rough idea of the yacht’s centre of gravity, which was then expanded to include close to 400 items to give a more precise keel bulb position. The keel itself is fixed, offering a good aspect ratio to ensure the ballast has good leverage.
Construction on the hull commenced at the end of 2007, and the hull and deck were shipped by barge to the Picchiotti yard in La Spezia, which was contracted to fit the interior.
While the outward appearance on deck may be moderately traditional, the interior design is very modern and is to be finished in bleached oak. The main saloon area is split over two levels, with the upper level offering a dining area to port and seating to starboard.
The dining table itself converts from a full table to a coffee table, while the inboard seats were specially designed by Nauta. With a relatively low deckhouse line, the centre walkway runs forward one step down from the dining and seating areas to the sides, to afford maximum headroom. As a result, access to the in-board end of the dining table is limited and loose chairs would simply fall off the step if moved back, so instead Nauta has designed seats with pantograph mechanisms that are fixed to the sole; moreover, the seats can also be swivelled through 180 degrees to face the starboard seating area.
A few steps down, the lower saloon area encompasses the full beam of the yacht, the trade-off being greater longitudinal distance between the aft and forward bulkheads, which in turn reduced the size of the owner's cabin which sits just in front of the saloon.
'There is still another guest cabin forward and two twins aft of the saloon,' says Pedol, 'so the owner has merely sacrificed a bit of his own cabin.'
In a clever bit of GA manipulation, the corridor forward is outboard on the starboard side, while the master cabin is to port. Lined with drawers and wardrobes, the corridor can be isolated with aft and forward doors, and then incorporated as part of a temporarily expanded full beam owner's suite.
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Following a similar layout to the popular Southern Wind range, also penned by Nauta, the double crew cabins and communal crew areas are located aft along with an open plan galley, mess and nav area which has direct access to the aft sailing cockpit. This leaves the central cockpit area free to be the social hub of outdoor life for guests, complete with a large relaxation and sunbed area.
Combining traditional looks with ultra-modern construction has certainly been a challenge for Nauta Yachts.
‘The client was very demanding in terms of what he had in mind,’ concludes Pedol, ‘but we were confident we could do it. He’d bought his Nauta 70 as a brokerage yacht so this was his first experience of a full custom build. It has required a lot of patience!’
With fit-out due to begin at Picchiotti shortly and launch scheduled for next summer, a little more patience is required before the world will be able to admire this amazing fusion of classic and modern. She will surely be worth the wait.