Why does one of the world's most successful superyacht builders was to get back into building production cruisers? Toby Hodges reports.
Baltic Yachts is the reigning king of large custom carbon fibre performance superyachts.
Yet it has now announced plans to series build a 67ft cruising yacht, with lines by Judel/Vrolijk and styling and interior by Design Unlimited – two firms with which Baltic has worked very closely over recent years on some of its superyacht projects.
The new 67 should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Baltic’s heritage. The 40-year-old Finnish company’s roots lie with its mid-size cruiser-racers from 40ft to 56ft.
But at a time when it has been rolling out a string of 98ft to 115ft yachts, and has larger models in build, why go back to a more modest-sized female-moulded yacht?
“Looking back I can see we are missing a product,” Baltic’s sales director, Kenneth Nyfelt, told me. He pointed to the Baltic 56, now 12 years old, highlighting how there is nothing in Baltic’s current range between that and its custom superyachts.
He also admits it makes business sense to have a mix of model sizes. This creates flexibility in the workforce so staff levels are not entirely dependent on the big one-off projects.
It seems only natural that carbon is the material of choice. The benefits to using carbon form Baltic’s key principles of ‘lighter, stiffer and faster’, whatever the boat.
By using carbon epoxy Sprint laminates and Corecell foam, the target displacement of the 67 is just 21 tonnes. This is between four and 15 tonnes lighter than other production sailing yachts in the same market sector.
Advantages of keeping the 67 light include lower rig loads, faster average boat speeds and less motoring time.
The 67 is a semi-custom yacht, based on a pre-engineered hull and systems package that is designed to keep total build time below a year. “We have engineered a platform for this size range where clients can then tailor it to their needs,” Nyfelt explained.
Long-range fast cruising
The focus is on ease of handling for short-handed and family sailing. “Most clients are looking for long-range sailing. So to take the food, water, fuel etc needed you need to have a good performance yacht that will continue to perform when loaded.” (Arcona proposes a similar notion with its new carbon built 465).
I spoke to a repeat Baltic Yachts owner, an experienced bluewater cruiser who is in discussions about buying one of the first 67s. His aim is to build the ultimate fast long-distance cruiser. This will be his fifth upgrade in yacht and size and I was interested in why he wanted to go this large.
“We want to have a higher quality of living on board with larger tanks and a much bigger and more seaworthy galley. We wanted four decent cabins in order to have my kids and other guests aboard and a garage that can store a 3.4m dinghy facing forward with engine mounted. We also wanted a good-looking boat.
“The size, at 67 feet, might look big and I would have loved it to be slightly smaller but it is the size you end up with. Most of the smaller boats lack something on my wish list. Every new boat is big at first, but then you learn how to handle it.”
The 67 is designed for short-handed cruising with a simple deck layout and sailplan including fully-battened mainsail that stows onto a V boom. Furling systems are optional – indeed this particular client wants a hydraulic jib furler and furling boom, plus both bow and stern thrusters.
“I feel confident that we can handle the boat with a crew of two as long the most important systems work,” he continued. “We don’t plan to have permanent crew at this stage but will have a land-based support person who looks after the boat.”
This point was echoed by Baltic’s Kenneth Nyfelt. “You do not really need a full crew at this size – a couple of owners can handle it. These owners really like sailing and doing the work themselves. Privacy with this size is the benefit.”
The 67 will be offered with a variety of options and layouts. These include the option of having the owner’s cabin forward or aft, plus two types of deck layout to suit Med and Baltic sailors. A telescopic keel is also offered, designed to have minimal impact on the interior.
The engineering for the 67 is currently being finalised. Baltic predicts the first 67 will launch in Spring 2018, with the second to follow three months later. www.balticyachts.fi.
Baltic 67: Specifications
LOA: 20.50m (67ft 3in)
Beam: 5.30m (17ft 4in)
Draught (fixed): 3.20m (10ft 6in)
Displacement: 21,000kg (46,297lb)
Ballast: 8,600kg (18,960lb)