To celebrate 50 years of working life, Peter Harrison, the man behind the GBR Challenge for the 2000/3 Amercia's Cup, has bought himself an £8.7million carbon fibre present

Because Peter Harrison, the man behind the GBR Challenge for the 2000/3 Amercia’s Cup, is known never to do things by halves, it wasn’t too surprising to find that the present he bought for himself, to celebrate 50 years of working life, was an £8.7million carbon fibre yacht.

Sojana, the Bruce Farr/Russ Bowler-designed, ketch-rigged, light displacement, fast cruising superyacht, which has been in creation for the last five years, was finally presented to the world yesterday at the naming ceremony at the GBR Challenge base in Cowes.

Dressed overall, lying alongside the pontoon just off the Challenge base, this115ft yacht with her 144ft main mast stood proud, dwarfing everything around her. She’s largest boat to be built in Cowes for the last 30 years and certainly one of incredible high quality. Built by Green Marine, the hi-tech structure of the hull, using pre-preg carbon laminate and Nomex honeycomb core, is similar to the technology used in America’s Cup yachts, making her strong, light and able to perform well on the racecourse.

One of the most fascinating features of this new boat is the carbon fibre rig – the 144ft main mast with 2,982sq ft of sail, a huge 118ft mizzen mast (the same section as Leopard’s main mast) carrying a 2,153sqft sail and the 2,379sqft jib. With such a massive, powerful rig, it wasn’t surprising therefore to learn that the boat will have to be raced with two crew (28 in total). For cruising however, she’ll be sailed by a permanent crew of five.

Because Harrison intends to use her for cruising and racing, the cockpit has been cleverly designed for both, spacious but with most of the main controls led aft. The air-conditioned cuddy can also be modified for racing with the watertight glass door panel section able to be removed creating more room for sail stowage. Harrison commented: “In cruising mode she will be the equivalent of a Bentley but when we so desire we will have something closer to a grand prix Ferrari; albeit a very large one.”

A ‘sweeping staircase’ from the cuddy leads to the main saloon where Design Unlimited, the interior designers have, while liasing closely with the Harrison family, been able to exploit their talents. The standard of design and craftsmanship of the classic-style interior is outstanding. Behind all the beautifully crafted joinery is a mass of hi-tech nomex structure to ensure weight is kept to the minimum. Even the marble vanity tops are only 3mm thick but supported on aluminium bases. As a result, the entire interior weighs just 4 tonnes instead of the expected 10 tonnes for a conventional interior for a yacht of this size.

Although Harrison has yet to sail Sojana, his current plan is to compete in the ARC, base her in the Caribbean and use her extensively for cruising, racing and charter.