A near-identical sistership of the Pelagic 77 Vinson of Antarctica, one of the most extreme expedition yachts ever built, will be built to sail the Arctic

Construction has started on a near-identical sistership of the Pelagic 77 Vinson of Antarctica, one of the most extreme expedition yachts ever built.

The 77ft schooner will be constructed by KM Yachtbuilders in the Netherlands, with delivery set for early 2024. 

Unusually, the second Pelagic 77 will be built for the same owner, who will operate a two-boat programme spanning high latitudes in both the north and south hemispheres.

Skip Novak, who is commercial director of Pelagic Expeditions and a key influence in the boat’s evolution, explained why a second yacht is in build:

“The decision to build a sistership to the Vinson of Antarctica was based on the success of this design concept, which, over the first year of her life, has supported four worthwhile projects, their content contributing to our educational arm for schools in Chile and Spain.  

“This included a north-south traverse of the Atlantic Ocean into the southern hemisphere of operation where Vinson will now be based in the southern South American sector.

“In the aftermath of our first project right out of the builder’s yard, supporting a German geological team on Svalbard in July of 2021, it was clear there is more work to be done in the northern hemisphere. Climate change science, film support and reportage need a vessel like Vinson and, in fact, the geographical scope is wider than in the southern sector, although with a shorter season. 

The Pelagic 77 Vinson of Antarctica on her first season of expedition sailing

The countries that border the Arctic basin have interests in the prognoses of climate change which not only impact the flora and fauna of those regions but also the livelihoods of the local communities. Not least of all commercial interests are at stake with ice free shipping lanes opening up. Questions and resolutions of disputed territories will also inform issues surrounding mineral extraction. Hence, the Arctic is a grand theatre of geopolitics.  

“These events, as they unfold and evolve, need to be monitored and told to the global audience. A platform of our Pelagic 77 concept is a perfect tool to achieve these endeavours.

“Embarking on such an ambitious two boat campaign operating sometimes simultaneously at the opposite ends of the earth, is not taken lightly.  However, our project team of designers, builders, crew and educators are up to the task and we welcome the challenges ahead.”

Pelagic 77 design team

Naval architect Tony Castro added: “It is very rare that an owner of a custom yacht decides to build a sistership for himself. Needless to say, we are extremely pleased that he likes the design so much that he is happy to have a second one, albeit to operate in a different part of the world.”

Nicolas Ibañez Scott is the Chairman of Drake Foundation and the promoter and main backer of this social enterprise. He explained: “Our satisfaction with the Vinson of Antarctica, and her first expeditions in the Southern Hemisphere, leads us to make the decision of building a second unit: a sistership that will focus her area of operations in the Arctic zone.

The case for split rigs on a 77-footer was to break up the sailplan into smaller chunks in order to operate all sail control systems manually. Photo: Paul Wyeth

“The brilliant team assembled for the project was yet another reason to accept this new challenge. Skip’s experience, together with Tony Castro’s talent and the good work of KM Yachtbuilders, resulted in a great boat that perfectly fulfils her purpose.”

Vinson of Antarctica launched in the summer of 2021. It was created to contend with the harshest ocean conditions, and is designed to be entirely self-sufficient for voyages of six weeks or longer while comfortably carrying 10 guests and four crew.

The second Pelagic 77 will be a near-exact copy of the first, with construction of the aluminium hull beginning this month.

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