Issue: July 2003
One of the nice things about being superrich, I imagine, would be the ability to place an order for a superyacht. The ordering process may be the best bit. Let’s say you like the look of this Kim Warwick-designed 66-footer. You would presumably have a few chats with Kim and with the builders, in this case Sydney Yachts. And you would have the time of your life ticking the boxes on the order form.
Question: Will you want the boat to do
Q. Would you like a foam-cored carbon fibre
Q. And carbon spars?
A. Of course.
Q. And a garage in the stern?
A. Why not?
Q. With a lifting transom door.
And so on, until either your imagination or your budget reached its limit first. It is highly unlikely that I will ever discover first-hand how it is really done. But the boat shown here, like all such craft, is the conjunction of a vast amount of desire and dollars on behalf of the owner and knowledge and effort on behalf of designer and builder. The project manager on a job like this must bite his fingernails down to the armpits. How would you feel if the interior was finished, everyone standing back to admire the work and the smartarse down the back asks, Where does the air-con ducting fit ?
This W66 is a luxurious fast cruiser. It is intended for charter work; forward of the saloon are quarters to house skipper and crew, though that area is not separated from the rest of the boat and is equipped to the same standard. But the W66 also has a carbon hull and spars and it doesn’t take much fiddling with the calculator to work out that the displacement/length ratio is low, and the sail area/displacement ratio is high. This should be a fast boat. The keel is a high-aspect iron fin, flanged at the root chord and attached to the hull with 12 x 30mm stainless steel bolts. A 7,000kg lead bulb keeps the centre of gravity low.
The spade rudder is of composite construction formed around a carbon fibre shaft. The deck layout features a separate sailing cockpit behind the guest cockpit. All winches and lines are aft, so the guests never have to be involved in the sailing. With electric sheet winches and a self-tacking headsail she can be sailed by the crew while the guests sip their cocktails or cappos and watch the action. The fully battened main furls into the carbon boom and the headsail furls onto the forestay. Sydney Yachts made a point of sourcing everything they could in Australia. The spars were made by Carbontech, the hydraulics were made in Sydney and the construction team fabricated as much of the detail hardware as possible.
The fairleads, for instance, are machined from solid stainless; the entire galley sink/cupboard unit is a huge fabrication in stainless. Pretty well everything was built by Australians, says Sydney Yachts Darren Williams. We have proved that we can do these things without going offshore. The mast, for example, is second to none as far as quality goes. Below decks the owner’s cabin is aft, with 6ft headroom under the fairly low coachroof. The en suite bathroom is to port and ahead of the en suite is the soundproofed workshop, where the systems are housed the watermaker, air-con, hydraulic system for vang, furlers and transom door. But the saloon is the heart of this boat. When seated at the dinette you can see out through the windows set in the hull sides. When you stand you can see out through the coachroof windows.
There is a cocktail/coffee table on the starboard side. Forward and down two steps is the galley which has everything; two isotherm fridges, two eutectic freezers, microwave, four-burner and oven stove, garbage disposal and other stuff you can only dream of. The worktops are in black Corian with radiused edges for easy cleaning. That sink unit I mentioned earlier is in unpolished stainless and although the saloon’s colouring is dark (the leather upholstery is also dark), but so much light comes through the windows that the interior is always bright.
The skipper’s cabin is forward to port, with a couple of stacked crew bunks to starboard, as is the day head. But the skipper’s cabin has its own en suite and is trimmed like the rest of the boat, so it can also be a guest room. It shares the luxury stuff with the owner’s cabin and the saloon – DVD, stereo, air-con, all with seperate controls. The interior trim is in a timber called Angre, which I have never heard of, a mid-coloured wood a bit lighter than maple or teak. It is trimmed with solid teak. The floor is solid teak with black epoxy seaming. The sci-fi interior is one thing, but if you haven’t experienced the deck gear of a big modern yacht you would have no idea of how far technical advances have come in recent times, spurred by the proliferation of superyachts worldwide.
There is a Yin and Yang thing going on here. The Yin is the complex bit, the hydraulic furlers, electric winches, the duplicated helm stations with duplicated controls which include footoperated buttons set in the deck, allowing the helmsman to trim the headsails. The Yang is that the complicated machinery drives sail handling systems, which are quite simple. The carbon mast has three spreaders, no runners. The main is on a furler; the furling jib is a selftacker. The jib sheet runs from the clew through the turning block, up the mast (externally) down the mast (internally), then aft to the winches. You want to tack ? Put down the helm and wait.
The headsails a bit flat. Twitch the big toe, stir the electric Harkens winches into action and ease the sheet. You can control everything from either steering station. The curved jib track is recessed into the coachroof, but is proud of the sidedecks. Adjustable stops control the sheeting angles. There are short tracks each side for the overlapping headsail of around 112 per cent. On the sidedecks you will find the carbon spinnaker and jockey poles, though the sail wardrobe includes only asymmetric spinnakers (gennakers), so the poles will be used only to pole out the headsails when running square. All sails are by Norths Sydney loft. The deck has no superfluous fittings; the fairleads retract to deck level, to give the clean look adored by Europeans, though it is not so clean that safety is compromised.
What works in the Mediterranean in summer will not work in the Tasman at any time. I wrote earlier that the W66 is a fast cruiser, but it has a harder edge than that rather soft title would indicate. It has all the luxury that existing technology can place in a yacht, but the extensive use of carbon will save the weight penalty incurred by that luxury. It is set up for small crews but Darren Williams reckons it is perfect for cruiser division racing, where the crew can race and the guests can watch.
You can’t help the feeling that it is a better boat than the charter trade deserves. The W66 is too good to host over-rich, overweight champagne-gargling smarties. Pearls before swine, I say.
Words by Barry Tranter