Tick­led Pink

A year af­ter de­liv­ery, the 177-foot Baltic Pink Gin, the big­gest car­bon fiber sloop in the world, is liv­ing up to her owner’s ex­pec­ta­tions.

Yachts International - - Contents - By Justin Ratcliffe

Baltic’s 177-foot Pink Gin is liv­ing up to her owner’s ex­pec­ta­tions.

Much like Vic­tor Kiam of the Rem­ing­ton ra­zor ads of the 1970s, Hans Ge­org Näder was so im­pressed with the Baltic Yachts prod­uct that in 2013, he ac­quired an 80 per­cent stake in the Fin­nish brand. He heads up Ot­to­bock, a Ger­man or­tho­pe­dic tech­nol­ogy com­pany that his grand­fa­ther founded, but be­yond a fond­ness for Cuban cigars, he is not the typ­i­cal cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tive. His eclec­tic style and dis­rup­tive spirit were the driv­ing forces be­hind his lat­est yacht.

From the out­side, the 177-foot (53.9-me­ter) Pink Gin— Näder’s sixth yacht of the same name—is ev­ery inch a beau­ti­ful sail­ing yacht. Her bal­anced lines, clas­sic tran­som and cut­ter-style plumb bow be­lie the fact that she is also the largest car­bon com­pos­ite sloop on the wa­ter. Roads had to be widened and traf­fic signs re­moved when she was trans­ported from Baltic’s in­land ship­yard to its water­side fa­cil­ity for fin­ish­ing.

But what makes the yacht so un­usual is her engi­neer­ing and in­te­rior de­sign. With the yacht hav­ing cov­ered more than 25,000 nau­ti­cal miles on both sides of the At­lantic since her de­liv­ery last year, it’s now pos­si­ble to gauge whether Pink Gin’s tech­ni­cal and aes­thetic in­no­va­tions are per­form­ing as pre­dicted.

“I was most ner­vous about switch­ing from hy­draulic to elec­tric steer­ing, but I think we’ve nailed it,” Baltic Yachts CEO Henry Hawkins says of the Force Feed­back Steer­ing Sys­tem, which the yard de­vel­oped to mimic the nu­ances of load and move­ment. Un­like with hy­draulic steer­ing, sen­sors in this sys­tem trans­mit data from the rud­der to the wheels, so the helms­man can feel ex­actly what’s go­ing on. Apart from mi­nor is­sues with a cou­ple of sen­sors, Hawkins says, the sys­tem has per­formed flaw­lessly.

“The part I en­joy most is hear­ing what peo­ple have to say af­ter they’ve sailed the boat,” he says. “We had an ex­pe­ri­enced pro sailor on board re­cently who was very skep­ti­cal about how the boat would be­have. But he was blown away, so much so that when we were ma­neu­ver­ing in port, he pre­ferred to have it on sail­ing mode rather than har­bor mode, be­cause it’s eas­ier to feel how much wa­ter is pass­ing over the rud­der when re­vers­ing.”

Whether this fly-by-wire so­lu­tion is poised to rev­o­lu­tion­ize big-boat steer­ing sys­tems is an­other mat­ter. Sail­ing purists are un­likely to be swayed, de­spite the fact that the ab­sence of me­chan­i­cal con­nec­tions means helm pedestals can be po­si­tioned vir­tu­ally any­where on deck.

“Of course, there’s the cost fac­tor, and at the mo­ment we’re look­ing at the very big boats or com­plex smaller projects where you don’t have room to put in a stan­dard quad­rant,” says Hawkins, who skip­pered the owner’s pre­vi­ous 152-foot (46-me­ter) Pink Gin be­fore mov­ing ashore as CEO of Baltic Yachts. “But I can see it be­ing used again in the fu­ture, and we’ve had in­ter­est from other ship­yards. It just needs the right boat.”

An­other first for Baltic were the fold-down open­ings in the sides of the car­bon fiber hull, a fea­ture usu­ally only seen on steel or alu­minum yachts. The plat­form amid­ships to star­board serves as the main ac­cess for guests ar­riv­ing by ten­der at an­chor, and for de­liv­er­ing vict­uals to the ad­ja­cent gal­ley. The bal­cony for­ward on the port side pro­vides the mas­ter suite with a ter­race on the sea.

All hulls (even the stiffest built from pre-preg car­bon fiber, like Pink Gin’s) flex to some ex­tent, and it’s hard enough to en­sure hull in­tegrity on such a pow­er­ful sail­ing ves­sel with­out punch­ing holes in the hull where the stresses are high­est. A very real dan­ger was that the hull would sim­ply bend in the mid­dle un­der the load of the ten­sioned run­ners and back­stay.

It quickly be­came ap­par­ent that to sat­isfy sur­vey­ors, forces would have to pass through the doors rather than around them. Work­ing with com­pos­ite en­gi­neers at Gu­rit, the ship­yard came up with a sys­tem of stain­less steel lock­ing pins that se­cure the hatches. Load paths travel through the pins, which ef­fec­tively be­come part of the hull struc­ture.

Be­cause of its size and po­si­tion amid­ships, the crit­i­cal open­ing is the hatch lead­ing to the lower sa­lon and gal­ley. Hawkins says the ship­yard had an is­sue with an in­flat­able seal, which ma­rine growth prob­a­bly punc­tured, and has been re­placed (al­though it was not the main seal and not re­quired by class). The pre­ci­sion engi­neer­ing of the door is so snug that the back­stay has to be eased to take ten­sion out of the hull be­fore the door is opened.

“I joined the boat in early sum­mer in Ibiza, and we had to run back to Palma [de Mal­lorca] overnight so guests could catch an early flight,” Hawkins says. “A boat came out to meet us, and we thought about drop­ping the tran­som plat­form. In the end it was eas­ier to use the side bal­cony. It works, it’s func­tional and the crew trust it com­pletely.”

The naval ar­chi­tects at Judel/Vrolijk de­signed Pink Gin to be pow­er­ful, sea­wor­thy and sta­ble for global cruis­ing. But her light­weight con­struc­tion (the car­bon shell weighs just 18 tons, a frac­tion of the over­all dis­place­ment of 250 tons), a 71-ton lift­ing keel with a tor­pedo bulb and a mighty rig that’s a smidgeon un­der 223 feet (68 me­ters) mean she is also a swift per­former in light and mod­er­ate airs. She has clocked

LOA: 176ft. 10in. (53.9m) LWL: 148ft. 6in. (45.27m) BEAM: 31ft. 4in. (9.55m) DRAFT: 14ft. 9in./23ft. (4.5m/7m) CON­STRUC­TION: pre-preg car­bon/eglass/Kevlar with core­cell sand­wich DIS­PLACE­MENT: 250 tons (light ship) BAL­LAST: ap­prox. 75 tons WINCHES: ron­dal MAST & RIG­GING: ron­dal mast and boom. carbo-link stand­ing rig­ging FUEL: 5,019 gal. (19,000L) WA­TER: 1,268 gal. (4,800L) WATERMAKER: idro­mar Mc 15S du­plex MAIN EN­GINE: 1,500-hp MAN V-12 GEN­ER­A­TORS: 2 x North­ern Lights M1064h CLAS­SI­FI­CA­TION: dNV GL NAVAL AR­CHI­TEC­TURE: Judel/Vrolijk EX­TE­RIOR STYLING: Judel/Vrolijk and de­sign Un­lim­ited IN­TE­RIOR DE­SIGN: de­sign Un­lim­ited STATE­ROOMS: 5 guest + 1 owner CREW CAB­INS: 4 BUILDER: Baltic Yachts YEAR: 2017

15 knots up­wind in flat wa­ter. She is a very big boat to han­dle around a re­gatta cir­cuit, but hav­ing re­tired from rac­ing af­ter win­ning the 2007 Mil­len­nium Cup with the old Pink Gin, Näder is con­sid­er­ing com­pet­ing in next year’s St. Barths Bucket.

Pink Gin’s in­te­rior is by U.K.-based De­sign Un­lim­ited. An evo­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous Pink Gin’s in­te­rior, the dé­cor draws on an ex­otic pal­ette of ma­te­ri­als rang­ing from 8,000-year-old bog oak, brushed bronze and pet­ri­fied stone to hand-painted silk, ham­mered cop­per and sha­green in­laid with bone. De­light­ful de­tails abound, such as the wall tiles in the owner’s bath­room in­spired by those of the Paris sub­way, only made out of com­pos­ite in­stead of ce­ramic to save half a ton in weight.

“Since we de­signed the old boat, the owner’s tastes have evolved,” says De­sign Un­lim­ited’s prin­ci­pal, Mark Tucker. “He came to me and said, ‘ Mark, I’m old enough to make my own de­ci­sions and not have other peo­ple telling me what I should or shouldn’t do.’ That opened the door, and from there the con­cept gelled al­most or­gan­i­cally.”

Punc­tu­at­ing the be­spoke fin­ishes are more in­dus­trial flour­ishes, such as lou­vered metal doors that slide across the en­trance to the owner’s bal­cony and the cabin port­holes, for a steam­punk look. Dis­tressed pan­els of re­cy­cled wood cov­er­ing the for­ward bulk­head in the owner’s suite, an in­stal­la­tion by Cuban artist Roberto Di­ago, heighten this ef­fect.

An­other Cuban artist, Roberto Fa­belo, cre­ated the life-size sculp­ture of a sea nymph that stands be­hind metal mesh doors in the guest foyer. The cast-bronze fig­ure is se­curely bat­tened down—it was thought—but Hawkins re­counts one oc­ca­sion when she de­cided to go on a walk­a­bout.

“The doors were open and the lady came out and tried to go into the dou­ble cabin,” he says with a chuckle. “For­tu­nately, she was stopped by the rhino’s horn on her head that punc­tured the wall. She was bun­dled back into her cage and, need­less to say, she’s prop­erly re­strained now.”

Pink Gin’s in­te­rior is high main­te­nance for her crew, and the jury is still out on the pewter sur­faces, which, de­spite con­stant pol­ish­ing, don’t buff like other met­als.

But Näder, who was look­ing for a sec­ond home on the wa­ter rather than a pris­tine show­piece, is un­con­cerned.

“The point is the boat will ma­ture grace­fully,” Hawkins says. “Ob­vi­ously she should be clean and well main­tained, but she’s a home to be lived in, and that means she’s go­ing to wear, which fits with the in­dus­trial look and dis­tressed feel of the in­te­rior. She turns heads and cre­ates sto­ries, which is all part of the fun.”

Right: The vin­tage Louis Vuit­ton travel trunk in the lower sa­lon was a fea­ture aboard the owner’s pre­vi­ousPink Gin. Be­low: From the hand­wo­ven tex­tiles to the plum-col­ored leather­work, the in­te­rior is a trea­sure trove of cus­tom de­tail­ing.

From ToP: The baby grand pi­ano and Ch­ester­field-style seat­ing in the up­per lounge; The fold-down bal­cony in the mas­ter state­room; De­tail of the be­spoke din­ing ta­ble’s back­lit brass base.

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