CRUISING IN THE FAST LANE
Yachting World|April 2021
NOT ONLY THE FIRST FOIL-ASSISTED SUPERYACHT, BUT THE FIRST CRUISING YACHT WITH A FOIL, THE 142FT CANOVA IS A GROUNDBREAKING PROJECT IN SO MANY WAYS, SAYS TOBY HODGES
TOBY HODGES

Were you to somehow be teleported into Canova’s palatial master cabin while under way – and let’s face it, many of us would like a sudden change of scene these days – you could be forgiven for thinking that her owner doesn’t much like sailing. For starters, it would seem remarkably quiet, thanks to the impressive insulation and a quiet ship system that ensures no unnecessary mechanical noise.

Then consider how surprisingly flat it feels for a monohull under sail, and not just because the generous berth you’re sitting on can gimbal. However, once you look out of the considerable porthole, see the blue sea streaking past at over 20 knots and notice the orange plank of carbon fibre sticking out to leeward – which is serving to keep the boat a lot more upright than it should otherwise be – you’ll understand you’re actually aboard a truly state-of-the-art superyacht.

In fact, anyone studying these pictures of Canova ripping along will quickly realise just how forward-thinking its owner is and how much he actually must enjoy sailing. Indeed, it can be argued that this yacht represents the present and future of cruising at speed and in utmost comfort.

SUPERYACHT OF THE YEAR

The 142ft/43m Farr design, launched from Baltic Yachts in October 2019, was conceived to be a powerful yet easily handled bluewater cruiser, capable of operating for long periods without specialist assistance. It was commissioned by a serial yacht owner, who was also keen to minimise emissions by using hydro-generating electric propulsion. Canova was crowned sailing superyacht of the year winner 2020 at the World Superyacht Awards, with the jury commenting that it will “influence the future of sailing superyachts”.

Although this yacht teems with advanced technology throughout, you’ll notice little of it on boarding .You probably won’t even see the foil protruding while the boat is in port. The marvels of engineering have all been hidden behind a wonderfully luxurious cruising layout. Canova is a carbon epoxy wolf dressed in the finest lambswool clothing.

I was given a tour of the boat by her captain, Mattia Belleri, who project-managed the design and build over four years. I made the presumably common mistake of thinking Canova would be all about the foil, and while there are many integrated parts to that technological feat alone, I soon came to realise that the boat is full of innovative engineering, all aimed at creating a fast yet comfortable voyager.

Take the elegant, long and low deckhouse design for example, with its acreage of dimmable glass, which affords guests full protection and one-level living comfort. Then there’s the inventive double-deck design-forward, which helps create room for a vast sail locker in which drums are stored for the furling foresails. And consider the diesel-electric pod drive, which rotates to generate power while sailing. Canova employs the most sustainable tech the yard felt it could use to still ensure it would still sail safely round the world.

The design team is extensive, including Gurit and BAR Technologies, but a lot of credit is given to the owner for his initial and enduring vision. “Everything began in the summer of 2015, when the owner started this quest of merging new technologies, volumes conception and energetic efficiency into a yacht,” Belleri stresses.

TREND OR TRAILBLAZER?

But let’s first address the talking point feature of the boat: a foil on a cruising superyacht... really? Let’s remember that when Canova was being designed, monohulls with foils were still only really discussed in cult circles. And while we’ve seen this scene explode in racing, to the point where a boat is boring if it doesn’t fly and miraculously challenge physics, we’ve yet to see any foils employed for cruising purposes at all. To do so on a superyacht shows serious confidence in the technology.

Hugh Welbourn’s Dynamic Stability Systems (DSS) foil design has proved itself on smaller boats including the Infiniti 36 and 46 over the last decade, and retrofits have been successfully made to existing race boats such as Wild Oats and Wild Joe. The multi-million dollar question here, though, was always going to be whether such a system would work on a 150-tonne superyacht.

In theory, the foil, which protrudes 22ft/6.7m horizontally to leeward to add masses of lift, should create a paradigm shift in fast cruising comfort. It was predicted to reduce heel and help the boat reach in comfort at sustained high speeds.

In practice, during initial sea trials Baltic tested the DSS upwind in 20-24 knots of wind and found not only a VMG increase, but a heel reduction of 30%. “To put these numbers into context, it would take an extra 33,000kg in the keel bulb – the total displacement weight of an IOR maxi – to achieve the same heel reduction,” Baltic reported.

During Canova’s passage across Biscay in winter, aftersales representative Sam Evans described the yacht as much easier to handle with the foil deployed, “as boatspeed averaged between 20 and 22 knots and topped out at 24 knots”.

The DSS foil has also produced a dramatic reduction in pitching motion – measured at 42% less during trials – an element with which the owner was particularly impressed. Gordon Kay of Infiniti Yachts, the company that markets DSS, describes it as “industry-changing comfort”.

Although it’s a significantly complex piece of engineering, Baltic wanted to make the casing and mechanism to move the foil as simple and reliable as possible. The Finnish yard constructed a full-sized dummy system before the foil itself was fashioned by ISOTOP to within 1mm tolerance tip to toe.

It is controlled using a system of rope pulleys led to a Harken captive winch and, remarkably, can be pulled in or out at up to 17 knots of boatspeed (see panel, page 86).

As Belleri demonstrates the system, pushing the button to make the fluorescent diving board extend silently outwards, he explains that they wanted length for maximum leverage, but that it had to be practical too, to allow other boats to moor alongside. The resulting appendage is the same length as Canova’s beam, so although the foil doesn’t retract fully, it meets a straight line to the top of the topsides.

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