News: 197 ft Panamax Ketch Sailing Superyacht by Baltic Yachts

March 27, 2010 by john
View large version of image: 197 ft Panamax Ketch Sailing Superyacht by Baltic Yachts

The Baltic Yachts 197 ft Panamax Ketch sailing yacht is the largest and fastest superyacht capable of navigating the Panama Canal – She is also a beautiful modern classic.

The 197 foot (66.7m with bowsprit, 59.9m w/o) Baltic Yachts Panamax Sailing Ketch will set many new benchmarks in superyacht construction when it is launched next year. It will, for example, be the largest yacht to have been built from carbon-fibre composite.

Work at Baltic Yachts on the Baltic 197 superyacht is also well advanced on installing the interior whilst incorporating the electrical, plumbing and hydraulic systems along the way.

This advanced Baltic 197 superyacht has also brought together Baltic Yachts with Dykstra & Partners naval architects for the first time. Chief naval architect on the Panamax project, Erik Wassen, says he has enjoyed the collaboration with Baltic Yachts, especially on such an ambitious project. “I would not hesitate to go there again with any other project. I think they are a very nice yard to work with. It is a very good working relationship.”

Wassen explains the fundamental concept of the luxury 197 Panamax sailing yacht: “The Yacht owner wanted to build the largest and fastest possible yacht that would still be capable of crossing the Panama Canal. It also needed to have a classic look.” The distinctive appearance of the Panamax hull – an aggressive, near-plumb bow and a very long stern overhang is very reminiscent of the British pilot cutters that sailed in the mid- to late- 1800s.

“People might tend to think of the vertical bow as a modern innovation on racing yachts,” says Wassen, “but if you look at pictures of 1870s American and British yacht designs you will see numerous examples pilot cutters with vertical bows. So the design of the Panamax draws its inspiration from boats of that era, although they were gaff rigged, so there is no similarity there.” Instead the Panamax will be ketch rigged.

“The Panama Canal limits your maximum rig height to 62.5m, and we opted for a ketch rather than schooner configuration as the taller fore-mast allows you to carry more powerful headsails. The ability to carry a large downwind sail plan will make the boat particularly fast at broad reaching.” VPP predictions suggest a theoretical max speed of 27 knots in the right conditions.

Ilan Graetz of Southern Spars has been closely involved with the Panamax project throughout. “We were given a design brief to build a rig package for a classic performance ketch that will perform competitively in inshore and offshore races. “

Speed and saving weight are two key factors. Both the main and mizzen masts incorporate high modulus carbon in their construction. High modulus is known to be light in weight and high in stiffness properties. Both rigs have running top-mast backstays, to accommodate the large sail roach profiles. This further maximises the sail handling and performance of the masts.”

The masts are also equipped with light weight box booms, designed to suit the racing-styled sailing of the yacht. Aesthetically, to keep with the classic look of the yacht, the rig package has been designed to operate without the need for vangs.

With a main mast that measures 62.5m above the waterline, there is a very small window for clearance of the Panama Bridge. Because of this, the equipment on top of both the main and mizzen masts, such as aerials, has been designed to be removable. Most of the fittings on the masts have been custom designed by Southern Spars.

The main mast’s Code 0 lock is capable of locking up to 40 tonnes – the biggest Southern Spars has yet designed. Deck equipment specialists Lewmar have also developed many custom fittings for the deck. “We have designed a new series of deck blocks with Lewmar,” says Wassen. “This is based on strop technology, a pad-eye solution where strops go through the block.

Normally you would have metal cheeks taking the load whereas this system takes advantage of the modern type of ropes which are immensely strong and light. Compared with an equivalent metal block, these new blocks are about 2.5 times lighter.” As with every aspect of the Panamax project, not only must equipment perform to the highest level but it must look right too.

And so the new range of high-load Lewmar blocks have been designed to resemble the appearance of a traditional, wooden-cheeked block in keeping with the traditional aesthetic of the Panamax. For Wassen, the excitement of this project has been the opportunity to experiment in so many ground-breaking areas. “The owner is not shy of experimenting with the latest technology. He is always pushing the boundaries of what is technically achievable, and that’s interesting.” One such example is the fluid ballast system.

“Everything that we have on board, we can shift,” says Wassen. “There are fresh water tanks on either side of the boat and there are sea water tanks on either side of the boats and all that fluid can be transferred from leeward to windward.” The benefits of such a system are twin-fold. “There is a performance enhancement by moving all the fluid up to windward,” he says. “But it’s also a matter of increased comfort. We reduce the angle of heel by approximately 5 degrees when transferring all the ballast to windward – so enjoy a performance gain and a more comfortable ride too.”

PANAMAX Luxury Yacht Build Update

Project manager Håkan Björkström and his team have been working hard on a number of key areas on the Panamax luxury sailing yacht in recent months. One job has been focusing on the reinforcements and the grounding blocks inside the keel trunk, the highly-loaded metal blocks that have to bear the brunt of impact in the event of an accidental grounding.

The under-hull anchor system is almost complete, and work is well advanced on completing the bulwark which does much to give the Panamax its classic, traditional look. “It will have the appearance of a fully-varnished wooden bulwark,” says Björkström, “although of course it is largely constructed from hi-tech pre-preg composite with a wooden surface. It is a much lighter structure than it would otherwise have been.”

Work is also well advanced on installing the interior whilst incorporating the electrical, plumbing and hydraulic systems along the way. One of the next big milestones in the coming months will be the post-cure of the hull to impart that extra level of strength and stiffness to the laminates. With a curing temperature of 80 degrees, the entire hull will have to be encased in an oven measuring approximately 60 metres long, 12 metres wide and 8 metres high.

Building the oven is no small task in itself, as Björkström explains: “Building the oven will take four weeks. It is constructed of wood, with rock wool for insulation to enable us to reach the required curing temperature.”

Team Panamax

In a super performance and high technology project like the Panamax there are demands to find equipment, detail designs and solutions that are totally new and that has not been used before. Many systems needed do not exist but must be developed. This makes the project, to say the least, very challenging but also very interesting and inspiring.

I believe that in order to achieve the best result it is important to have a good mix of people in the team. From one side you need people that are very creative and optimistic and come up with totally new sometimes wild ideas. On the other hand you also need members in the team with more realistic and traditional type of thinking in PG order to reach the correct balance.

If you have only the optimistic creative members the end result will most likely be a technical wonder but will be too complicated to work optimum. On the other hand if all your team members are the conservative type you will never reach your goal in a project like this. If you go through a project like this and has not tried things that after a closer analyze was found to be “too wild” to work than in my opinion you have not tried hard enough.

The key is to have a team that comes up with new creative ideas and the capability to select the correct ones and work hard to make them come true in reality.

Sailing Yacht Panamax Ketch Superyacht Specifications

LOA including bowsprit 66.700 m
LOA 59.900 m
DWL 47.760 m
BEAM 10.540 m
DRAFT 3.500/6.000/9.000 m
BALLAST 83,000 kg

Naval architect: Gerard Dykstra & Partners,
Co-Naval architect: Reichel Pugh Yacht Design
Interior design: Rhoades Young Design
Composite engineering: Gurit Ltd

Sail Plan Main mast:
I 54.431 m
J 17.756 m
P 56.293 m
E 15.470 m

Sail Plan Mizzen mast:
I 49.000 m
J 9.213 m
P 51.630 m
E 14.215 m

Project Management: Jens Cornelsen GmbH
Project Manager at Baltic Yachts:
Håkan Björkström tel +358-6-7819233
Senior Advisor: PG Johansson

This unique ketch with its very special philosophy, including extremely high-technology materials and building techniques as well as a large number of pioneering solutions never seen on sailing yachts before, in combination with its custom classic design, will be one of the most challenging projects done in the world, and definitely one of the most interesting ones.

Production is running at full speed.

The design and plan of several areas, both interior and exterior, is still continuing. Some interior desing renderings are now availble within this page.

The yacht was moved to our new production facilities in Jakobstad and we are happy to have these facilities available for this project.

Delivery will take place in the summer of 2010.

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