The visionary sailing yacht Bliss II
by Jochen Halbe
When the owner of Bliss II, the new 24 metre from Cyrus Yachts, was looking to upgrade from his 17 metre ketch-rigged clipper, the brokerage market was his first destination: “But no yacht fulfilled the combination of pure functionality and the aesthetics of design I demanded,” he remembers. He was left with no choice, therefore, but to build new and contacted two German design agencies, one of which was beiderbeck designs, re-established by Immo Lüdeling and Tim Ulrich in 2010. Ulrich recalls the early discussions starting at 21 metres, then advancing to 23 metres and finally to over 24 metres. At this point an unusual thing happened: Lüdeling and Ulrich said, “No.”
Hitting the size sweet spot for superyacht Bliss II
The designers weren’t comfortable going ahead with the project, saying a 24 metre platform was too big for the owner’s sailing ambitions. But then an even stranger thing happened: the owner relented. He agreed to go with the recommended 22.9 metre waterline length, but with a big condition: no yacht of equivalent size could be faster. He eventually did get his 24 metre boat – albeit overall – with the addition of a fixed bowsprit to take a big Code 0 headsail. This spar has the added benefit of providing a neat solution for the anchor – “always a problem on a boat of this size”, according to Lüdeling. “Stowing it in the forepeak and getting it out automatically costs a lot of space, demands complicated engineering and disturbs the aesthetics on deck.” On Bliss II the titanium-shanked anchor hangs beneath the elegant bowsprit, which offers the perfect location for the tack of the Code 0 sail.
"I want an unobstructed view of the sea from my saloon"
The next feature demanded by the owner of Bliss II was an unobstructed view over the water while sitting in the saloon. The daring solution Lüdeling and Ulrich came up with was to combine the saloon windows with significantly larger hull windows, giving the yacht its distinctive look – like something from sailing’s future. Ulrich, himself a naval architect, asked engineers at Gurit to conduct a feasibility study on the structural implications of so much glass and got the thumbs up. The large panes are made from laminated security glass and glued in without any frames. Long carbon boxes along the gunwale provide the necessary stiffness plus enough space to run the main and Code 0 halyards, as well as the mainsheet and sheet for the self-tacking jib – both of which are controlled by Magic Trim systems – leaving the side decks obstruction free.
The open vistas created by the windows are stunning. “The outlook to the sea is indescribable and creates a truly unique atmosphere,” the owner says proudly. But they’re not the only surprise. Take the cockpit between the helm stations and the black-glass sliding door that forms the entrance to the saloon. This uncluttered comfortable island is free of sheets or lines and sheltered by solid varnished teak backrests. The table can be lowered to form a large sunpad, while the benches along the back of the superstructure are the perfect distance from the backrest to put your feet up. Beneath are a guest shoe locker and generous icebox.
Bliss II's blissful guest spaces
This whole area can be protected in the blink of an eye by a sailcloth bimini fixed to carbon stanchions, an arrangement that has already proven itself, withstanding 20 knots of wind during sea trials. The interior has a warm ambiance – the light from the big windows accentuated by a simple colour palette, bright surfaces, and deep leather for the upholstery. Sea charts, dragon and mermaid motifs, and tiny spotlights forming the star signs of the owner’s family, are extremely pleasant embellishments.
Guests are accommodated in two cabins aft of the saloon – both arranged as twins that can slide together to create doubles – while the owner gets a cosy cabin forward; it isn’t blessed with acres of floorspace, but does get some bench and bureau space, and the night sky represented in LEDs in the deckhead – as well as the real thing through a large skylight. If young children are on board, the crew cabin can be turned over to them, with the door moving to a second frame so the space becomes part of the parents’ quarters.
Performance a priority on Bliss II
The deep lifting keel and keel box were made by APM and are state of the art, as is the whole carbon rigging package by Hall Spars, consisting of the mast, the solid stays and the furling boom, which was specially designed to the owner’s wishes. The hydraulically operated gangway, meanwhile, and the steering wheels are made from carbon and teak. The steering gear for the twin-blade rudders newly developed by JP3 uses a traveller, traveller cars and rams and is very direct.
For trips ashore, a 4.2 metre Williams jet tender in the stern garage is lifted into the water by an extendable hydraulic cylinder in the furling boom. It was all brought together at the Cyrus Yachts yard in Antalya, Turkey, which specialises in semi-custom motor yachts, but is adaptable enough to take on sailing projects, too.
The yacht’s first sea trials confirmed her pedigree: a mix of German design and Turkish shipbuilding. In moderate winds, Bliss II sailed soft and fast, with speeds exceeding the actual wind speed. She also manoeuvres well, despite her 5.85 metres of beam stretching over the last third of the hull. “She is sailing like a dinghy,” say the designers, who went through 33 hull shapes before settling on the one used for Bliss II. They chose the best all-rounder, which still packed plenty of performance, which was important to this owner, who wore a broad grin on taking the helm for the first time.
His approval was further underlined when he was asked whether he got what he wanted: “The feeling of being on board Bliss II at sea comes already very close to what the boat’s name expresses.”
Photography by Dijana Nukic