When her owner commissioned this Baltic 111 Custom foil-assisted superyacht, weight control was paramount. Baltic Yachts was selected for its forensic approach to lightweight advanced composite construction and unique ability to combine it with an unmatched custom finish. Baltic Yachts has successfully moved the Baltic 111 Raven from her building facility at the company’s waterside premises in Jakobstad, Finland to reveal one of the most extreme yachts it has ever built.
Broadly described as a 111ft foil-assisted, ultra-lightweight superyacht, she will be used primarily for day sailing, but also undertake high-speed, long-distance passages. Not easy to categorise, this extraordinary yacht can be placed firmly in a class of her own.
Baltic Yachts was chosen to meet this challenge because of its unmatched reputation for building advanced composite superyachts to the very highest standards, including its forensic examination of systems and components throughout the build process. Add to that the company’s ability to finish yachts to a level of luxury second to none and the decision to build in Jakobstad was straightforward.
Baltic 111 Raven’s experienced owner’s project manager, Garth Brewer of A2B Marine Projects, said: “Raven doesn’t fall easily into a category, but if I had to place her, I’d say she’s the equivalent of a high-end Super-car. The boat is primarily for pure enjoyment and the owner likes the challenge of doing something that hasn’t been done before.”
“He really understands the technical elements and this will be a development project which will require a measured approach,” added Brewer, who emphasised the need for incremental steps in Raven’s trials, building confidence and understanding over time as the boat reaches her peak performance.
Raven does, however, possess some distinctive features which provide more than a hint of how she might perform. They include two large T-shaped hydrofoils mounted on hydraulically controlled side-arms capable of supporting some of the boat’s displacement.
At her transom, Raven will be equipped with vertical Interceptor trim tabs to adjust fore and aft trim at speed and there is movable water ballast, carried in built-in tanks in the aft quarters to boost the righting moment required while sailing.
Designed to sail partly on her leeward chine, Baltic 111 Raven will derive her stability and lift, while sailing, from her foils, leaving her 9.3-ton fixed keel bulb and precision-engineered 5m long fin to provide basic stability. It’s also the location for a fully submerged intake for cooling water and is designed with a sacrificial zone to absorb impact in the event of a collision.
Ultra-lightweight interior of Baltic 111 Raven
Not only is Raven’s foil-assisted ability likely to deliver a phenomenal sailing performance, she is also the subject of a highly unusual study in ultra-lightweight interior design, combining the yacht’s complex all carbon construction with styling which pays homage to Baltic Yachts’ rigorous program of weight saving. Target displacement is 55 tons – just as a comparison, the recently launched, Baltic 110 Zemi displaces 95 tons.
Jarkko Jämsén, the Finnish concept designer who developed Raven with her owner and is responsible for the yacht’s styling, explained that they were keen to combine the need for weight saving with the opportunity to expose the remarkable carbon structure of the yacht to create a unique interior design aesthetic.
A key part of Baltic’s effort in the Raven project has been directed at weight saving and control. Apart from using the lightest possible carbon/Nomex combinations in the yacht’s main structures, every item, down to the last pipe clip, nut and bolt, has been assessed. The naval architects and structural engineers behind her are Botin Partners and PURE Design respectively, both at the leading edge of America’s Cup design.
“This project undoubtedly represents one of the biggest challenges Baltic Yachts has ever embraced,” said Baltic Yachts Executive Vice President, Henry Hawkins. “But that is what we do – we have a long history of bringing leading edge innovation to the fore. We are surrounded and supported by a dedicated team who are led by Garth Brewer, who oversaw Visione’s construction here at Baltic 21 years ago and still keeps her on the pace.”
Baltic 111 Raven: Experience to take on the challenge
Jarkko Jämsén emphasised the importance of choosing Baltic Yachts to build Raven. “The company was selected because we believe it has the courage, experience and track record to take on the challenge. Calculating weight and Baltic’s well-known ability to hit displacement targets were critical.”
For Sam Evans, project manager, and Mattias Svenlin, project co-ordinator for Raven, the challenge was to construct a superyacht much lighter than anything previously built by Baltic – yachts that were already considered light in the sphere of Superyachting. “Mattias’ experience, creativity and flexibility, supported by a dedicated production team combined with Sam’s communication skills, have been key factors in the overall success of the build,” added Garth Brewer.
“This is another level entirely in terms of weight saving,” said Mattias. To ensure as fair a hull finish as possible, a carbon mould was preferred to reduce excessive heat differences and thus distortion in the curing process. “We re-assessed the hull coating schedule to reduce weight using light primers and filler instead of Ultra-Build to reach the acceptable industry standards – in effect coatings do the job of filler,” he said. Using this technique in a superyacht is unprecedented.”
Hull and deck construction use carbon IM fibre pre-preg, employing the highest quality fibres on the market, and a Kevlar honeycomb sandwich throughout. The owner has accepted that sailing Baltic 111 Raven at speed will be noisy so the elimination of any attempt to sound deaden represents a huge weight saving. “But we have created an interior finish with special surfaces affecting the acoustics to ‘soften’ the noise a little,” said Mattias. He pointed out, however, that all the adhesives suitable for bonding this material to bulkheads were compared for weight, the final choice resulting in a saving of 6kg. In terms of the Raven project that’s a big number.
100 grams off every bracket
Baltic Yachts has revisited all weight saving opportunities shaving 100 grams off every carbon pipe bracket, making carbon cable trays even lighter and switching out steel hydraulic pipework for lighter hosing which has saved 160kg. “We’ve even reduced the weight of the shower door from 13.5kg per m² to just 2.3kg m²,” said Mattias.
Even as Raven neared completion, the Baltic build team were continuing to identify weight-saving opportunities including replacing the metal clips holding the lightweight carbon tubular accommodation framework in place. “Östen Sundelin, one of the team, reckoned we could 3D print them in a far lighter material so we went ahead and made that saving,” said Mattias. In-house 3D printing is increasingly used at Baltic to fashion custom items to save weight and optimize design, the complex titanium head of the yacht’s retractable propulsion system (RPS) mechanism being a case in point.
Lightweight interior design
Raven’s interior, conceptualized by Jarkko Jämsén, is unusually comprehensive for a high-performance superyacht of this type, but the use of ultra-lightweight rattan deck-heads and bulkhead finishes, exposed carbon and a lack of coatings help keep weight down along with Nomex cores in structural bulkheads. All the frameworks for the furniture, for example, are made from hollow carbon piping, its lightweight combining with a modern take on style guaranteed to turn heads.
The focal point of the accommodation is centered around the glazed sides of the large cockpit, dubbed the ‘bird’s nest’, which forms a type of inverted observation ‘dome’ allowing occupants to view the carbon-dominated accommodation. The glazing is in fact Perspex, which is considerably lighter than toughened glass, representing an overall saving of 250kg. It is reinforced with a criss-cross pattern of carbon mullions which gave it its bird’s nest description. Further weight saving is achieved by minimizing the amount of caulking between each pane and replacing some of it with a foam fillet.
On deck, attention is immediately drawn to the cockpit because, apart from its aforementioned aesthetics, it also converts to a semi-covered, hardtop-protected seating area. The forward section of the cockpit hinges up and aft in ‘clam-shell’ style to affect this unique conversion.
Perspex is also used in numerous deck prisms which still use a centuries-old design to efficiently illuminate the accommodation with natural light, but are vastly lighter by replacing bronze and glass with carbon and Perspex.
Spacious saloons are located fore and aft of the bird’s nest, the forward one laid out with a galley and dining areas and the aft space dedicated to the owner’s sleeping accommodation, with a large double centreline berth folding up against an interior bulkhead when the yacht is in performance mode. There’s also a passage berth or sea cabin to starboard.
It is not often one can describe a head and shower compartment as a work of art, but in the Baltic 111 Raven’s case numerous hydraulic rams mounted inside some of the complex carbon reinforcement, including the A frame taking the load of the deck stepped mast, have been exposed by inserting Perspex inspection covers. So, you can take a shower while watching the upper and lower deflector rams in action or the downhaul ram for the 7m long reaching strut, which is used to optimise headsail sheet leads!
Further weight saving has been achieved by modifying a custom bamboo seat in one of the shower/head compartments with carbon tubing made to look like bamboo, complete with its characteristic rings and a remarkably realistic painted finish.
The aft section of the yacht is largely empty, but forward there’s accommodation for four guests in two cabins and extensive crew accommodation including a captain’s cabin.
For propulsion and generating, the design team settled on a diesel-electric hybrid system for lower emissions and efficient weight distribution. It’s a solution Baltic Yachts has been perfecting for a number of years. A Swiss 130kW Phi-Power AG electric propulsion motor is located just aft of amidships and twin 80kW Yanmar generators, optimized to save weight, are located further aft. These charge two battery banks which power the main propulsion motor, hydraulic pumps and accommodation services. The drive train is completed by a retractable propeller designed with carbon blades and a titanium hub.