Mu­sic in Mo­tion

The Baltic 130 My Song joins an elite breed of high-tech cruiser-rac­ers.

Yachts International - - Contents - By Justin Rat­cliffe

Just as “My Song” is for those who think they don’t like jazz, the Baltic 130 named after Keith Jar­rett’s well loved com­po­si­tion is a yacht for those who think they don’t like sail­ing boats.

Even moored un­der bare spars in a steady driz­zle off La Spezia, Italy (where this au­thor first saw her), My Song has some­thing mov­ing and mu­si­cal about her pure lines and teak deck­ing. But there is also some­thing sav­agely ex­cit­ing about her plumb bow and wide, flat af­ter­body de­rived from grand prix rac­ers—de­sign el­e­ments more than hint­ing at po­ten­tial power. Per­haps that’s why Baltic Yachts de­scribes the cruiser-racer as “one of the most re­mark­able, state-of-the-art, all-car­bon su­pery­achts ever launched.”

My Song is the fourth yacht of the same name with over­all styling by Nauta Yachts in Italy, built for Pier Luigi Loro Piana, deputy chair­man of the epony­mous lux­ury tex­tile brand. The owner spends long pe­ri­ods cruis­ing the Mediter­ranean and Caribbean with fam­ily and friends, but he also wanted win­ning per­for­mance on the re­gatta cir­cuit. Baltic Yachts is a Fin­nish yard with the maxim “lighter, stiffer, faster,” and it built the hull from car­bon and Core­cell com­pos­ites with Nomex cored bulk­heads, giv­ing My Song a light dis­place­ment of just 231,485 pounds.

“Be­cause of their holis­tic, in-house ap­proach to de­sign, en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion with teams for all dis­ci­plines con­stantly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other, Baltic are one of very few yards capable of build­ing such a com­plex yacht on time and to weight,” says Nigel In­gram, the owner’s project man­ager at MCM Marine.

San Diego-based naval ar­chi­tects Re­ichel/Pugh de­vel­oped the hull lines for fast, sta­ble and com­fort­able per­for­mance whether rac­ing or cruis­ing. They spent 18 months run­ning com­puter fluid dy­nam­ics mod­els to op­ti­mize the wa­ter­line max­i­mum beam, re­duced wet­ted sur­face, full wa­ter­line length and more. Fur­ther per­for­mance at­tributes come from the chord di­men­sion and top-to-bot­tom ta­per of the lift­ing keel fin. Its char­ac­ter­is­tics re­duce the wet­ted sur­face area to in­crease per­for­mance. En­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges in­cluded de­ter­min­ing how to guide the ta­pered fin and bulb as they move

from raised to low­ered po­si­tion (from 15 feet, 9 inches to nearly 23 feet) while en­sur­ing the same ground­ing strength as a con­ven­tional fin.

An­other in­no­va­tion is the re­tractable propul­sion sys­tem, which has an az­imuthing, for­ward-fac­ing, pulling pro­pel­ler. Such sys­tems are not new, but Baltic de­vel­oped its own in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hun­dested Pro­pel­ler in Den­mark. The unit com­bines the abil­ity to re­tract the pro­pel­ler when sail­ing with ro­ta­tion through 180 de­grees, so the prop dou­bles as a stern thruster.

“The con­trol­lable pitch pro­pel­ler means the speed of the yacht can be re­duced when ma­neu­ver­ing with­out chang­ing the rpm of the main en­gine, so you still have the rpm to pro­vide hy­draulic power, in this case for the bow thruster,” says Henry Hawkins, CEO of Baltic Yachts. “As the sys­tem ro­tates, you can

also use it as a thruster, and driv­ing the boat off the dock in 40 knots is no prob­lem at all.”

Dur­ing my sea trial aboard My Song, the wind, smoth­ered by low clouds, was closer to 14 than 40 knots. “Walk­ing” the boat off the dock us­ing the re­tractable propul­sion sys­tem was child’s play. Sadly, our spin around the Gulf of La Spezia in light airs re­vealed lit­tle of the yacht’s per­for­mance po­ten­tial, but she is ex­pected to be one of the fastest yachts of her type in the world, with an av­er­age cruis­ing speed of 16.5 knots and plan­ing speeds close to 30 knots when her South­ern Spars rig is in full rac­ing mode.

Nauta’s ex­te­rior styling oozes power and grace. A raised bul­wark hides some of the coachroof and pro­vides pri­vacy in the guest cock­pit at an­chor. (In ad­di­tion to con­ceal­ing hy­draulics and line runs, that bul­wark also al­lows for sin­gle-wire, half-height life­lines.) Long free­ing ports let wa­ter drain off the deck and ad­mit nat­u­ral light into the sa­lon—a seem­ingly sim­ple de­sign cue that re­quired ex­tra en­gi­neer­ing and lam­i­na­tion to main­tain hull in­tegrity.

Loro Piana re­quested 1:1 scale mock­ups dur­ing the de­sign process, and he chose a dé­cor based on white and ma­hogany tones with stain­less steel ac­cents and im­ages of sail­ing yachts by renowned pho­tog­ra­pher Carlo Bor­lenghi. De­sign de­tails in­clude sur­faces, ceil­ings and soles man­u­fac­tured from car­bon fiber com­bined with—wait for it—resin-im­preg­nated nat­u­ral li­nen fibers.

“With Baltic, we de­vel­oped around 30 dif­fer­ent sam­ples with var­i­ous gloss, satin and matte fin­ishes be­fore we got the for­mula just right,” says Martino

Ma­jno, Nauta’s project man­ager. “Be­cause the nat­u­ral fibers ab­sorb the dark resin, they take on the color and tex­ture of hard­wood at a frac­tion of the weight.”

Li­nen is, of course, the ma­te­rial de­rived from the flax plant for which the Loro Piana brand is fa­mous. Ac­cord­ing to the My Song team, this is the first time li­nen has been com­bined with high-tech com­pos­ites as a struc­tural ma­te­rial. (They also stud­ied us­ing li­nen fibers in the hull con­struc­tion, but aban­doned the con­cept.) Other hand­wo­ven tex­tiles come from lotus fibers—once used to make the robes of high-rank­ing Bud­dhist monks—cre­at­ing a tac­tile feel like a cross be­tween silk and li­nen.

Crew quar­ters are aft with the mas­ter suite for­ward, sep­a­rated by the full-beam sa­lon for pri­vacy. In ad­di­tion to two guest state­rooms aft, each with twin berths, a study ad­join­ing the mas­ter con­verts to al­low a to­tal of six guests plus the own­ers.

“The birth of a yacht is a long walk, through­out which we take the client by the hand,” Mario Pedol, co-founder of Nauta Yachts, told Yachts In­ter­na­tional in our May is­sue. “There is no such thing as a uni­ver­sal con­cept of what an ideal yacht should be; ev­ery­one has their own opin­ion. But it has to be an ob­ject of beauty that in years to come will al­ways give plea­sure to the on­looker.”

This is es­pe­cially true of My Song. Like her mu­si­cal coun­ter­part, she is des­tined to be­come a mod­ern clas­sic.

above: The in­te­rior de­sign is soberly nau­ti­cal in style, but all is not what it seems: Soles and ceil­ings are made of resin-im­preg­nated li­nen fibers on a car­bon-fiber base.

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