Another Gatwick to Nice on EasyJet this time for a day sail aboard Pink Gin


Another Gatwick to Nice on EasyJet this time for a day sail aboard Pink Gin the new 152ft Judel/Vrolijk designed, Baltic Yachts-built sloop for Hans Georg Nader. He’s sold his previous Baltic Yachts built Pink Gin – a real beauty and also disposed of Bionic Elk his all singing and dancing Baltic 56 which proved to be quite a handful but that’s another story.

The morning of our brief trial looks unpromising off St Trop but by midday a light south westerly has picked up. It’s enough for Pink Gin. She’s a beautiful looking yacht, deceptively fast needing next to no wind to get her moving well in excess of the true wind speed. The secret of her success lies in a combination of lightweight pre-preg carbon construction and Judel/Vrolijk’s design which includes a fin and torpedo style bulb and a balanced rudder. According to Rolf Vrolijk (remarkably fresh from Mean Machine’s TP52 victory on the Breitling MedCup circuit) and Baltic marketing director PG Johansson, a performance cruising yacht of this size would normally displace in the region of 220 tons but Pink Gin tips the scales at something like 160 tons. And you can really feel the difference when you sail her. She really is a joy to sail, feeling more like a 50-footer she’s so responsive and nimble.

In just 10 knots of true wind we were up to 11 knots and more and this without the yacht being fully tuned. It’s said that if a yacht looks right she is right and when I nipped aboard the tender for some ‘running’ shots Pink Gin revealed her appeal – sitting up there ‘on’ the water not ‘in’ it. Such is her sparkling performance that skipper Henry Hawkins, who with his capable and particularly genial crew delivered the yacht from Finland, was radioed by a ship in the English Channel checking to see if Pink Gin was, in fact, a yacht. The speedo was in the high teens and the commercial boys couldn’t believe that a sailing yacht could be maintaining such high averages.

The last time I’d seen Pink Gin prior to this sail was in Finland where ‘PG’ showed me round the yacht as final furnishings were being installed. Something that struck me then was the unusual cleanliness of the yacht even though the Baltic workforce were going frantic in the final throes of build. The bilge was immaculate and the yacht generally tidy, not the sort of state one would normally expect to find a yacht at this stage. Henry Hawkins explained one of the enemies of anything electronic be it a computer (and there are dozens on this yacht) or any nav table kit, is carbon particles or dust. Pink Gin is all carbon. Its conductivity is exceedingly efficient and bits can be drawn into electronic components by cooling fans. If that happens BANG! And all sorts of nasties ensue. So Henry was adamant that cleaners were specially employed to keep Pink Gin pristine during build to prevent this hazard. And he also insisted on a cut off date for allowing power tools on board. “They are the things that do the damage, knocks and dings everywhere, so we said from a certain day on any woodwork or alterations needing a tool would have to be done off the boat,” said Henry. An interesting lesson which clearly saved a lot of grief.
We’ll be publishing a detailed article with some fab pictures of Pink Gin in an upcoming article in Yachting World.