Giant T-foils provide most of the stability for Baltic 111 Raven, a cruising yacht that’s likely to break speed records with its hydrofoils born of America's Cup technology
Wow…! This foil-assisted, ultra-lightweight superyacht breaks new ground in many respects and Baltic says it is “one of the most extreme yachts” the yard has built in its 50-year history. Raven is designed to sail partly on her leeward chine, with giant T-foils providing the bulk of stability, plus some vertical lift, while a 9.3-tonne bulb at the end of a precision engineered 5m-deep fixed fin keel provides additional righting moment.
There have, of course, been many standout superyachts over the past few years, yet it’s still extraordinarily rare to come across a yacht like Raven. This 34m foiling beast blends virtually unprecedented performance potential with light displacement and a level of luxury that’s rarely encountered on such fast yachts.
The T-foils are mounted on hydraulically operated arms capable of supporting a sizeable proportion of the boat’s displacement, while fore and aft trim is controlled by vertical trim tabs at the transom. In addition, water ballast tanks in each aft quarter provide a further boost to righting moment when necessary.
Raven’s speed potential is such that sailing her will have more of the feel of a giant performance multihull than a conventional monohull. The apparent wind will be so far forward, even when the true wind is well aft of the beam, that the mainsail is expected to be permanently sheeted home, with minor trim adjustments made using the traveller in exactly the same fashion as MOD70 and Ultime trimarans.
Beyond that, the sail plan and rig is relatively conventional, with a Southern Spars carbon mast and North Sails 3Di headsails using Helix structured luff technology, plus a full complement of Code and asymmetric sails set from an 8m bowsprit. The yacht is primarily sailed from a cockpit right aft that has shelter from the elements at the forward end, as well as access to the accommodation.
Even in this part of the market the unavoidable hotel systems on board add a considerable amount of extra weight. Naval architects Botin Partners, structural engineers Pure Design and the builders have gone to extreme lengths to keep light displacement down to only 55 tonnes, a considerable saving on the typical figure of 75-100 tonnes for an all-carbon performance superyacht of this size.
Achieving such a light displacement required far more than simply the carefully engineered and executed carbon/Nomex construction. A forensic approach was taken to minimise the weight of all systems and components, right down to every pipe clip, nut and bolt. This included shaving 100g off every carbon pipe bracket, switching steel hydraulic pipework for lighter hoses, which alone saved 160kg, and reducing the weight of shower doors from 13.5kg/m2 to only 2.3kg/m2.
Despite the cost implications, carbon moulds were used for the hull and deck as they’re less susceptible to distortion due to changes in temperature. This means less fairing was required than usual, with savings in both the weight of filler and paint. Equally, in-house 3D printing was used to optimise custom items, including the complex titanium head of the retractable hybrid propulsion system.
Finnish concept designer Jarkko Jämsén developed Raven with her owner and is responsible for the yacht’s styling, including exposing elements of the carbon structure to create a unique interior aesthetic. Raven is finished to a an uncompromised level of luxury, with an interior fitted out to a far higher degree than is common for ultra-high performance yachts of this size. “Although weight has been scrutinised and massively optimised, Raven still fully supports a superyacht level of systems and comfort,” Baltic’s executive vice-president, Henry Hawkins, told us.
There are saloons fore and aft of the big central guest cockpit area, with the forward one incorporating galley and dining areas, while the aft section incorporates the owner’s sleeping accommodation. Aft of this the hull is largely empty, but forward there’s accommodation for four guests in two cabins, plus extensive crew accommodation. The latter is an important element in attracting top talent.
The unusual rattan deckhead and bulkhead finishes are extremely lightweight, while the exposed carbon adds visual interest and further reduces the amount of filler and paint required. Equally, the distinctive furniture framework is made of hollow carbon piping, while structural bulkheads have a Nomex core.
Raven’s owner also understands that sailing the yacht at high speeds will be noisy, so the absence of the usual sound-deadening materials fitted to superyachts represents another large weight saving.
The yacht will be used primarily for day sailing, but will also undertake high-speed, long-distance passages. On deck the unique ‘bird’s nest’ cockpit well is intended as a two-way observation dome – crew on deck can see the yacht’s stunning interior, while those below can see the action outside. Extensive Perspex glazing is sealed using foam to minimise weight, while the carbon mullions are hand painted to resemble timber.
Interiors of largely flush-decked yachts can be disappointedly dark by today’s standards. To further alleviate this Baltic has resorted to a traditional approach: deck prisms that illuminate spaces more efficiently than simple glazed panels of the same size. The yard brought this concept fully up to date using carbon and Perspex instead of bronze and solid glass, saving a considerable amount of weight in the process.
“The boat is primarily for pure enjoyment and the owner likes the challenge of doing something that hasn’t been done before,” says the owner’s project manager, Garth Brewer. “He really understands the technical elements and this will be a development project which will require a measured approach.”
Initial sea trials took place in early August, without foils, then the boat was hauled out the day before we spoke to the team for the foils to be added, ahead of a second phase of trials that took place in recent weeks/
Given the complexity of this yacht and the scale of the project, it’s no surprise that the post-handover development phase is expected to take roughly 12-18 months, significantly longer than the 8-12 months typically needed for smaller foiling raceboats such as IMOCA 60s.
“A significant sail and considered performance testing programme is planned,” confirms Baltic Yachts project manager Sam Evans. “This will include the boat’s core crew, plus a hugely experienced larger sailing team, which has experience across the board including the America’s Cup, The Ocean Race and SailGP.”
Raven’s potential performance data is subject to a confidentiality agreement, but it’s clear this yacht is one that has potential to break many records, including the 24-hour monohull distance record of 641.13 miles (subject to ratification) set by Team Malizia in the last edition of The Ocean Race.
“This project undoubtedly represents one of the biggest challenges Baltic Yachts has ever embraced,” adds Hawkins. “But that is what we do – we have a long history of bringing leading edge innovation to the fore.”
Baltic 111 Raven specifications
LOA: 34.0m 111ft 6in
LWL: 33.1m 108ft 7in
Beam: 7.40m 24ft 3in
Draught: 4.80m 15ft 9in
Light displacement: 55,000kg 121,000lb
Ballast: 9,300kg 20,500lb
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