The modern classic sailing boats by Spirit Yachts are always head-turners and its 111-footer due to launch later this summer is no exception. SuperYacht Times travelled to Ipswich, UK, to grab a sneak preview.
Photo: Spirit YachtsWith her lightweight wood and epoxy construction, flush decks, long overhangs and low freeboard, the 33.80-metre yacht is typical of the beautiful boats built by the British shipyard, which is why a Spirit Yachts 54 was chosen to appear in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. But her elegant exterior lines conceal some very advanced technology and utterly unique interior design.
The build management of this exciting project is being carried out by Cornelsen & Partner, with founder Jens Cornelsen representing the owner throughout the build.Photo: Spirit YachtsBuilt entirely in-house, the Spirit 111 has been designed from the keel up to be as eco-friendly and fuel-efficient as possible, starting with her Torqueedo electric drive system. Supported by four BMWi lithium battery banks, the system can power the yacht for modest distances or when manoeuvring. Under sail, the turning propeller will automatically recharge the batteries.
“Right at the beginning we asked the young owner, who already has a Spirit Yachts 52, if he wanted a Prius or a Tesla: he definitely wanted the latter,” says CEO and head designer Sean McMillan. “With careful consumption, the yacht can operate solely under battery power, but for longer distances, there is the option of two back-up generators.”
Photo: Justin Ratcliffe / SuperYacht TimesAs the owner also intends to race with the yacht, reducing weight to increase performance under sail was another consideration. The wood and epoxy construction method used by Spirit Yachts is already surprisingly lightweight, offering a strength-to-weight ratio on a par with carbon fibre, and lightships the yacht will displace just 58 tonnes.
Photo: Justin Ratcliffe / SuperYacht TimesThe most dramatic innovation, however, is the yacht’s interior design developed by Rhoades Young – the first time Spirit Yachts has worked with an outside design studio.
“The inspiration came from the owner’s visit to Antelope Canyon in Arizona,” says Jonathan Rhoades. “The canyon has been eroded by wind and water into weird and wonderful shapes that he wanted to recreate on the boat.”
The result is extraordinary with a general arrangement based on a twisting, leaning ‘ribbon’ that runs through the guest and owner’s areas. Suffice to say there is hardly a flat or vertical surface in the whole boat – everything is composed of flowing compounds curves.
Photo: Spirit YachtsThe focal point in the main salon is a bespoke, oval sofa and a glass-topped table made of American black walnut. From here a companionway winds its way forward to the VIP cabin and owner’s suite with beds that are partially cocooned inside egg-shaped cupolas.
“The owner told us he wanted a work of art, but making it all look simple is actually very hard,” says McMillan. “There are so many complex curves that meet each other, the only way to built it is in the boat.”
Photo: Spirit YachtsThe bulkheads and fitted furniture are of sipa wood, a non-threatened hardwood like mahogany, which has been painstakingly cut and matched so that the grain is always vertical. Even the washbasins in the bathrooms have been sculpted out of the wood surfaces. But that’s not all:
“There are no door handles on the boat,” says Nigel Stuart, MD of Spirit Yachts. “Instead, the doors have hidden ‘scoops’ where you put your hand and sensors that automatically open or close the door.”
Photo: Spirit YachtsThere are no light switches either. Instead, the custom-designed LED lighting system can track movement on board and light different areas accordingly. If a guest has to get up in the night to use the head, courtesy lighting will automatically light up to lead the way and then illuminate the bathroom.
Photo: Spirit Yachts“The system is fitted with a GPS clock that knows exactly when sunrise and sunset are, wherever the yacht is in the world,” continues Stuart. “Sensors can then detect and replicate the same temperature on the Kelvin scale of the outside light, inside the boat.”
Unusually, there is no onboard entertainment system and no TVs. Instead, the owner preferred a portable music system that can be placed around the boat and connected to plug-in points to recharge.
The Spirit Yachts 111 breaks new ground on so many levels that it has to be seen to be believed. Eat your heart out James Bond!
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