Vertigo is the largest sailing yacht ever built by New Zealand’s Alloy Yachts and the biggest ever designed by Philippe Briand.
The story goes back to 2004, with initial drafts for a 200 footer, followed by some important evolutions that have led to today’s 220. The basic challenge for Philippe Briand was to design a sailing yacht with lots of beam but that would nevertheless be fast.
To achieve both results it proved necessary to adopt a very modern hull design for which, for example, the designer chose a vertical bow, thus increasing waterline length and so optimising performance in terms of top speed both under sail and power.
Naturally, among other requests there were those that concern air clearance and draught, this so as to allow Vertigo to sail the Suez Canal. The main mast is 68 m high and draught has been kept to 5 m, but underway can be extended to 9.10 m thanks to a dagger-board extension.
So as to achieve all this, together with the high level of performance requested by the customer, the designer developed a particularly efficient sail plan, capable of maximising the potential of the yacht’s hull. A ketch rig was chosen, which, given the dimensions involved, we find good for a number of reasons, and it is nevertheless capable of guaranteeing Vertigo truly amazing performance.
Top speed under sail is 20 knots, with true winds of the same speed, whilst with light winds under 10 knots performance is still outstanding. This has been achieved thanks to a number of clever solutions, such as mains with lots of roach so as to exploit the winds near the top of the sail, where, as we all know, it’s strongest.
This makes for a truly powerful rig, especially as compared to traditional triangular sails. As you will by now have understood, there are many high-tech solutions that have been adopted for the very first time on this massive sailing yacht, but this is after all a highly innovative design, which aims to be a point of reference for the world of cruiser/racers.
For this reason, also the companies that have taken part in the project with their products, and before that the design aspects for such a mighty one-off, have come up with a number of firsts, such as is the case for Southern Spars, that have designed and made running backstays in place of permanent backstays. As to performance under power, here too the numbers are remarkable: a top speed of 17 knots and a cruising speed of 12, at which Vertigo can sail for 4,000 miles. But the many cool things that can be defined as original on this ketch are also others, such as the main lazarette amidships instead of astern, as it is in most cases.
This makes getting back on board from the tender far easier and safer. As to tenders, Vertigo can host an 8 metre in the stern garage, plus two 6 metre tenders sunk out of sight into purpose made lockers in the foredeck. Outside, there are plenty of areas where to relax, as there are inside, but there’s no doubt that the presence of a flybridge contributes to adding to open-air space.
For example, the stern cockpit has a large hard top, with hideaway side windows and rotating flaps on the roof that can be adjusted both for extra light and ventilation. The flybridge, with its sun pad, divans, bar area with coffee table, armchairs and other seating, has a retractable hide-away bimini top.
The sun pad here hides a “spa pool”. The interior is just incredibly comfortable, and designed with long range cruising in mind. The interior design and layout are by Christian Liaigre, who has created an atmosphere he himself defines as “urban at sea”.
The white on lacquered surfaces harmoniously combined with materials and accessories, over and above guaranteeing plenty of light everywhere, give the whole a sober and elegant look. There’s decidedly lots of room inside this yacht, it’s no chance that the designer was able to fit in a massive owner’s suite astern with central bed, double bathroom with WC and two tubs, vanity table, office corner, and a sofa set lengthways with coffee table and armchair.
The whole is very comfortable thanks to its size and well lit thanks to as many as 12 portholes. Just forward of the owner’s suite there are a further four cabins, two of which have an identical twin bed layout, each with bathroom en suite, plus a further two that can host up to three guests each, depending on how the beds are arranged: a double and a single or three singles. These too have bathrooms en suite with separate toilet.
Forward of this is the main lazarette mentioned above, accessible from both sides thanks to lateral openings, and at its centre partially divided by a day-head. The forward section is entirely dedicated to the crew’s quarters, which clearly shows how it’s been conceived to ensure crew comfort that can warrant a level of general wellbeing.
The galley too is in this section of the boat, alongside the crew’s mess and pantry. All crew’s cabins have their own head and lead into a central corridor that starts in the mess. The main deck is dedicated to relaxation without compromise, in effect, apart the large cockpit with dining table, sun pad, divans, coffee tables and armchairs set under the rigid top described above, there is also a large living room below the coach roof.
This section is divided into different live-aboard areas, where divans, coffee tables, multimedia systems, bar, dining area and floods of natural light all contribute to making it a very pleasant place, whatever the weather conditions one might be sailing in. The forward section of this part of the yacht holds the wheelhouse, with direct access to the crew’s quarters, a day head and the captain’s office.
Vertigo is undoubtedly a sailing ship capable of confirming Alloy Yachts’ ability to build such a giant and Philippe Briand’s talent for designing one, and for sure this time round that was quite a challenge.
by Angelo Colombo