With her second launch anniversary taking place this month, the super sailing yacht Vertigo has been roaming the seas with her owners and guests since she departed the Alloy shed in 2011. But for her owners and indeed the designers and builders behind this magnificent vessel the Vertigo voyage began back in 2004. Fast forward five years (2007 and 2008 saw the project being postponed due to the financial crisis) and nearly a million man-hours, and the end result is a stunning combination of comfort, style and functionality wrapped in a fast-cruising hull and rig design.
Vertigo's sporty exterior was created by french designer Philippe Briand. Briand, who has great knowledge of racing yachts and designing streamlined and fast hulls, admits that even though Vertigo was not initially designed as a racing yacht, she has proven to be extremely efficient in light winds with reefing starting in 12 knots of breeze. Apart from the exhilaration that comes with fast-cruising sailing, having the potential to outrun unfavourable weather conditions is another benefit of Briand's design handy work.
Knowing that the owners would be spending prolonged periods on board with their children, comfort was another crucial influence in the design and layout of the exterior spaces. Having previously owned a large sailing yacht, the owners identified a large and open flybridge as a necessity.
Here, the sweeping views can be enjoyed from curved L-shaped seating areas on each side and two generous sunbeds aft. This space is ideal for guests to experience the placidity of sailing six meters above sea level while still feeling engaged in the hustle and bustle unfolding behind the two helm stations.
To shield guests from the breeze while at anchor or underway, a glass windshield rises gracefully from the aft-facing seating area, keeping that hair-do in tact. Further cover is provided by fold-away biminis and a large dodger that is erected over the helm stations.
A staircase separating the two sunbeds above leads you down into the heart of the cockpit below. As the meeting place on board, the cockpit is ideally laid out for intimate dinners and gatherings, yet is spacious enough to host the entire family. With the mizzen mast as the centerpiece, this area consists of two informal dining lounges port and starboard with the main dining table placed aft of the mast.
Lateral Louvre style sliding windows fitted in the flybridge deckhead above are opened with a touch of a button, flooding the space with sunlight or revealing the magical tropical night sky. Another switch deploys glass panels on either side of the sloping superstructure that joins with the flybridge deckhead to create a wind-free zone. Sunbathers are well catered for with a full-size sunbed placed on the aft deck. The platform cleverly slides open to expose a large swimming jacuzzi.
As you move forward towards the bow, its Briand's curved side windows that first catches your eye. These unique marvels of design has truly proved a challenge for all involved; Alloy, who had to create the faired mullions between the panes for a perfect flush surface and Tilse, in Germany, who manufactured these 14mm thick glass pieces, the largest of which is 3.6m. One thing certainly becomes clear while staring at these windows; that Briand's vision of a 'floating superstructure" has realised into an impressive display of design and craftsmanship.
Vertigo's exterior trump card however comes in the form of two hull openings that are placed midships and serve the purpose of a beach club and gym respectively. The 'miderette' as it is known amongst Alloy engineers, is another one of Briand's firsts for a super sailing yacht. These offer safer boarding as the pitching movement commonly experienced at a vessel's transom is less evident in this section of a boat. On the port side, guests can choose from an array of water sports equipment in the beach club. Custom storage compartments house all the toys and gear and makes stowing a breeze. The starboard side features a gym with built in exercise equipment.
Access to the midships platform are either through a passage from the guest cabins or from the main deck down two side boarding ladders. These pantograph steps can be set as a step ladder or changed to a smooth ramp and doubles as a gangway when docked in port. Two independently operated staircases links the aft deck to the swim platform at the stern. It is here where Vertigo's 8m Lloyd Stevenson limousine tender is launched. Another two 6m RIBs are neatly stowed under the extensive foredeck and adds to the water sport fun and exploration capabilities.
The design team of Christian Liaigre were given free reign with the design of Vertigo's interior apart from that the spaces had to be light and comfortable and would also be very child-friendly. As Andrew Senn, the owners' representative notes: " It needs to be a place where you can put your feet up and feel comfortable in a T-shirt and shorts, where you can fall asleep on a sofa. You certainly don't want to feel intimidated, or that you can't touch anything. If it felt like a museum, that would be horrible."
To meet the owners' 'urban at sea' request, Liaigre came up with modern minimalistic designs; areas filled with dark woods and white lacquered surfaces. The main living space is a 30 meter long area stretching from the cockpit entrance to the wheelhouse. Even though this has been divided into several separate niches, each serving its own purpose, it feels remarkably open and there is a lingering fluency about it all.
Guests are greeted with an open-plan saloon furnished with with one-tone reclining pieces, adhering to the simplicity of the design brief. The matt surfaces utilized render a sense of comfort and homeliness in what is clearly a space designed with the practicalities of real sailing in mind.
White-stained oak floors leads through to a cluster of special gathering spots. A twelve seater dining area and open day galley on the port side with a TV room starboard perfect for the youngsters. Privacy between all these areas are provided by glass panels and doors which, at the touch of a button, transform from transparent to opaque caused by liquid crystal displays embedded within.
The accommodation deck below consists of five guest cabins aft and generous crew quarters forward, with the miderette and engine room separating the two. In addition to the full beam master suite aft, three double and one twin cabin, each with further bedding for children, make up the guest area.
The light atmosphere is continued here with with a prominent white and earthly brown pallet. The round-edged custom furnishings are echoed in the tapered portholes, providing natural light and a striking view to each cabin. Guest bathroom floors are laid with Portugese Valverde marble and the use of stainless steel fittings adds the right amount of glister.
Vertigo is connected in every way and nowhere more so than in the guest areas. AMX controllers in each cabin can be used to access a custom navigation interface to view Vertigo's current position on Google Earth via real time GPS feeds from the bridge. Tracking mode can be disabled to view possible landing spots within the yacht's vicinity using Google Earth.
Vertigo's ketch rig design is perfected by carbon rigging from Southern Spars and sails by North Sails. The two companies worked together to ensure the strength required to safely manage the loads placed on the 67.9m main and 62.4m mizzen masts by 5037m2 of sails is achieved.
The largest super sailing yacht ever built in the southern hemisphere has set new hights in design and manufacturing of such vessels and Vertigo's recent 2012 Sailing Yacht of the Year award has been a fitting praise to all involved in the project.
We wish her well on her future voyages and will be looking out for her at future yacht shows and events.