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Perseverance 1: On board BOAT International's Sailing Yacht of the Year 2022

19 August 2022• Written by Risa Merl

A classic profile belies the immense technical innovations found on board this award-winning sailing yacht. Risa Merl peeks inside Perseverance 1

When it comes to Baltic Yachts’ 35.8-metre Perseverance 1, what you see is not entirely what you get. Beneath her classically inspired yet restrained exterior is a wealth of high-tech innovations aimed at maximising performance and reducing energy consumption. She epitomises a winning blend of style and substance – so much so that she has earned multiple accolades, including being crowned Sailing Yacht of the Year at the 2022 World Superyacht Awards.

With her advanced carbon-fibre construction and oversized rig, Perseverance 1 can easily sail at full speed in as little as 10 knots of wind
All images courtesy of Stella Gomman and Eva-Stina Kjellman

The owner’s previous yacht was a Dykstra 60, an 18-metre pilot cutter designed by Dykstra Naval Architects and launched at Claasen Shipyards in 2013. The brief for this smaller Perseverance was for a comfortable performance yacht with traditional exterior lines. The yacht was made to sail easily with minimal crew, and the owner, who has a passion for technology, also wanted to be able to easily carry out maintenance on all onboard systems himself.

The new yacht levels up these aims inside a much larger envelope; the owner stepped up nearly 20 metres in length. “The brief was to upscale the previous Dykstra 60 to a more modern, lightweight, high-performance superyacht, with an in-depth focus on and attention to energy consumption on board,” says Ryan Taylor, Perseverance 1’s captain.

The design was very much owner-driven.  The owner is an experienced yachtsman who chartered several larger sailing yachts to gain insight into what he liked before embarking on the new build.

The yacht can regenerate 20 to 25 kilowatts while under way at 12 to 14 knots, recharging the batteries in 4.5 hours, which then provide up to nine hours of silent running at anchor

“The client knew exactly what he wanted to achieve – this made for a very clear design brief from day one,” says Erik Wassen, senior designer at Dykstra Naval Architects. The owner, he continues, wished for “a very functional sailing yacht that would be responsive in light [Mediterranean] conditions but suitable for passagemaking worldwide, with easily adjustable sail configurations to match changing conditions. The exterior was to be classically elegant – pilot cutter-style with restrained looks, but a bold edge.”

The owner made it clear at the time of the Dykstra 60’s launch that, if he were to build another yacht, he would use the same design team, and he was true to his word for his first foray into the superyacht sphere. Dykstra penned the exterior and provided the naval architecture, while deVosdeVries Design once again created the interior. The two teams worked in concert on the general arrangement, space planning for long-range trips and the ability to charter. The band was back together, with the addition of a new member – Finland’s Baltic Yachts was chosen as the builder.

The yacht’s classic pilot-cutter exterior, complete with traditional wood-clad deckhouses, conceals a high-tech hybrid propulsion system and other energy-saving items that give her notable green credentials
The main deckhouse dining room features classic rectangular windows. A central corridor leads aft to the navigation station and crew cockpit

“Dykstra had several designs of varying sizes on their drawing board from which we started our discussions, which were quite technical from the start. [The owner’s] maritime and engineering background meant there was a lot of technical interest and knowledge brought to the project,” says Henry Hawkins, executive vice president  of Baltic Yachts. “Built for a true sailor, the boat had to sail well and be easily driven. Energy efficiency was a key topic also.”

Of course, sailing yachts are already a greener option than motor yachts but Perseverance 1’s owner wanted to push the eco-friendly limits further and reduce engine dependency as much as possible. As a result, the yacht has a diesel-electric propulsion train with high voltage battery banks that can be charged when sailing by turning the propeller. Electricity can be regenerated while under way, and in suitable conditions – 12-plus knots of breeze – regeneration alone will meet the yacht’s entire energy demands. “It also provided proof that these types of systems can be retrofitted into existing yachts,” says Hawkins.

Perseverance 1 triumphed at the 2022 World Superyacht Awards based on her “keep it simple” approach to cruising remote areas, which drove her design, together with her classic exterior lines and sailing performance

Perseverance 1 distinguished herself in the 2022 World Superyacht Awards, winning in her category – Sailing Yachts 30 metres to 39.9 metres – and taking the Sailing Yacht of the Year title. The judges praised her efficient diesel-electric propulsion system and well-integrated technology that takes her batteries to full charge in just  4.5 hours and permits eight to nine hours of silent running at anchor.

“We have been able to efficiently regenerate power over an average of 20 to 25 kilowatts in about 16 to 20 knots of wind while still managing 12 to 14 knots of boat speed,” says Captain Taylor, who served as build captain. He joined the team in 2020 after finishing a seven-year stint on another Baltic, the 33-metre WinWin. Taylor also completed the build as engineer/mate of WinWin, so he was well rehearsed in the way Baltic operates, which was an asset to the Perseverance 1 project.

The owner sought to reduce energy consumption in other ways. He pushed for a seawater cooling system using only one controllable, variable-speed pump as opposed to pumps for each piece of equipment, which resulted in considerable energy savings.

“The owner was very keen to minimise the yacht’s footprint in the operational conditions as well,” says Wassen. To achieve this, sensors were installed to set the interior temperature based on whether the owner’s and guest cabins are occupied. When a cabin is not in use, the temperature threshold automatically adjusts to minimise energy demand.

Perseverance 1’s hull is of a modern design that was optimised by computational fluid dynamics calculations to minimise drag. The hull is equipped with a high-aspect rudder and lifting keel to enhance sailing capabilities. She performs well in light air, owing in part to her carbon-fibre spars and advanced construction materials. With an oversized rig and sail inventory that can make the most out of any wind speed above eight knots, Perseverance 1 is very efficient when under sail. “The other philosophy for the design that was originally requested was that she could easily sail at full power in 10 knots with little effort,” says Captain Taylor.

Perseverance 1 sails with an exceptionally light helm feel and a fast response. “My personal favourite space on board is behind the steering wheel as it is a real joy to helm the boat and feel the response of every change you make to sail trim or course,” says Wassen. Her sailing attributes were recognised during the Boat International Design & Innovation Awards where she won the award for Best Naval Architecture in the Sailing Yachts category. She scored points for a rig geometry  that allows for quick sail adaption to match environmental conditions, enabling her to sail for long periods.

In keeping with the interior scheme, the cabin decor has a minimalist feel. Saddle-stitched leather features on the bed surrounds, while the custom bathroom washbasins are in Corian. The bed linen is from Heirlooms

Along with high performance, she is comfortable while under way. High bulwarks and deep cockpits keep guests and crew safe and dry. Notably, the bimini top over the guest cockpit can be raised or lowered while sailing to adjust to the circumstances. The bimini can be set at a position aligned with the deckhouse, which provides a nice, sheltered area for guests when under way while, in adverse conditions, it can be lowered entirely to form a lid on the cockpit coaming and protect the seat cushions.

The challenge came in fitting all the technical achievements and modern deck equipment into a minimalist exterior design. “As always, with low-profile yachts the space in the engine room was tight, meaning everything had to be carefully planned,” says Hawkins. Perseverance 1 fits into the Baltic philosophy in terms of being a lightweight, easily driven and highly innovative sailing machine, but she stands apart from the yard’s recent launches by way of her classic lines.

A wall with doors on either side and a built-in television that rises and lowers separates the galley from the versatile saloon. Overhead lighting spots are from Palagi Marine Lighting.

Classic, however, does not mean overly fussy. Dykstra was able to distil the lines of a Bristol pilot cutter, popularised in the 19th and early 20th centuries, down to its purest form. “Uncluttered, clean with understated elegance,” is how Wassen describes Perseverance 1. Her two low and long deckhouses are wood-clad to resemble traditional construction methods. The wood is saturated with oil to have the warm glow of the grain without the gloss of varnish. Metal parts are bead-blasted rather than high-gloss, adding to the overall feel of understated elegance. “While looking classic, the transom is larger – and more modern – than on many comparable yachts,” he adds.

The owner’s previous yacht served as the starting point for the interior decor. “The brief for the design was relatively open,” says Michiel de Vos of deVosdeVries Design. “They liked the airy feel created by the contrast between veneered areas and painted upper bulkheads. Leather had to be incorporated into the detailing, and we had to make sure that there would be no large contrast between interior and exterior spaces.”

Though the interior is more modern than classic, what the exterior and interior share is a minimalist, unfussy sensibility. The decor is understated, with sharp lines, grey tones and subtle detailing. De Vos calls the motif “industrial chic”. The main furniture and wall panelling is in a whitish-grey stained oak, while floors are in a durable dark-grey stained maple, which is also used in joinery details and wall recesses. Saddle-stitched leather is used on the bed surrounds, handrails, wall panelling, and cabinet and door handles. Hardware is in a dark matt vintage patina with knurled surfaces.

“All materials, veneers, colours and hardware were to be robust but cool,” says de Vos. “The detailing is delicate, tactile but not outspoken, with slightly angled floor margins, nicely veneered grab rails and a curved oak cornice detail, where you can really see the craftmanship of the carpenters at Baltic Yachts.”

Perseverance 1’s double deckhouse design helps define the divide between guest and crew areas. Guest cabins are set forward on the yacht, while the crew areas extend aft to the crew deckhouse. The main deckhouse hosts the upper saloon, with its large dining table. The custom light fixture and corresponding wall sconces were developed and built by the owners themselves. In keeping with the yacht’s traditional exterior, individual rectangular windows are found on all sides of the deckhouse rather than a swath of continuous wraparound glazing, but the sightlines are still tremendous.

All of the guest cabins are found forward of the amidships engine room. The owner’s cabin is set in the bow, with a lobby connecting it to a private starboard side en suite. A further three guest cabins include a children’s bunk bedroom and double guest cabin to port, while a twin cabin is starboard. Each have their own bathrooms with custom-shaped Corian washbasins.

The yacht can regenerate 20 to 25 kilowatts while under way at 12 to 14 knots, recharging the batteries in 4.5 hours, which then provide up to nine hours of silent running at anchor

Both de Vos and Hawkins name the lower saloon as a favourite spot. A few steps down from the upper saloon, towards the aft, it can be used as a lounge, dining area or cinema, and even augmented to be shared between guests and crew. A television on a lift separates the saloon from the galley to port. When lowered it opens up the space, creating a buffet-style countertop. “This area has been designed as a multifunctional space where guests can enjoy a movie at night, but also have breakfast or dinner,” says de Vos. “It’s a really practical area where guests and crew can come together, especially on the longer charter trips.”

In less than a year after delivery, Perseverance 1 had already worked her sea legs, putting them to the test in the shakedown cruise alone. “We have travelled and sailed more than 6,500 nautical miles with the delivery from Baltic Yachts in Jakobstad, Finland, down to Malta, via Norway, the Netherlands and southern Spain,” says Captain Taylor.

“The departure from Kristiansand, Norway, was certainly timed well as we departed early morning to a building easterly breeze of around 18 to 22 knots on the planned route to Amsterdam with a true wind angle of around 120 to 130TWA. One reef in the mainsail and unfurling the  Code 0, and we were off sailing at speeds well in excess of 15 knots, seeing over 20 knots quite a few times.”

Wassen refers to Perseverance 1 as wearing a “bespoke costume” – a fitting description as the yacht is dressed in an exterior that implies a historical nautical past while concealing her future-forward underpinnings.

Energy efficiency, regenerative power, high-performance sailing, long-haul capabilities and comfortable living are all encased in a classic-looking yacht. There is certainly more to Perseverance 1 than meets the eye.

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

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