SWS’s latest 100-foot sloop Morgana is beautiful and fast too
Thursday, June 3, 2021 11:15 AM
Some sailors’ lifetime goal is to cruise around the world. Others have a burning ambition to win the world’s major regattas. If you want to do both at the same time, you’re going to need a very special yacht indeed. That was the ambitious design brief for Morgana, the latest 100ft high-performance superyacht built in Cape Town by Southern Wind Shipyard.
Launched on 18 October 2020, Morgana was handed over to her skipper and delivery crew just six weeks later and completed her 6,863-mile maiden voyage from South Africa to La Spezia, Italy in a creditable 30 days at an average speed of 10 knots. A top speed during that passage of 26.4 knots, logged while sailing downwind with a double-reefed mainsail and staysail, gives some insight into her potential.
Southern Wind is well known for its semi-custom blue water cruiserracers which are available as platform builds in three sizes, from 30m (96ft) to 36m (120ft) LOA with a wide range of deck plan, superstructure and interior options. However, the shipyard also takes on what it likes to call ‘smart custom’ build projects, which challenge the team to deliver innovative hi-tech one-off yachts like Morgana while maintaining the reliability and quality for which Southern Wind is renowned.
Convention has it that racing yachts are designed from the outside in – starting with the ideal shape then figuring out how best to engineer it and how to use the internal space – whereas cruising yachts are designed from the inside out, starting with a set of key interior parameters like the size and number of cabins, the required amount of headroom and so on, and then drawing a suitable hull to carry it all. Morgana breaks that convention.
The project started back in 2017 when the owner, an experienced yachtsman with a strong racing background whose previous yachts have included a notable mini-maxi of the same name, approached Nauta Design with a concept and sailing programme for his next yacht. ‘The owner was particularly keen on three aspects of the project,’ Nauta boss Mario Pedol explains. ‘Functionality for safe and comfortable navigation, performance to enjoy racing in the most famous superyacht regattas, and sexy, appealing design to give a modern, aggressive and sporty look.’
‘Morgana represents the latest expression of Nauta’s key milestone in sailing yacht design: to combine top performance, liveability and striking aesthetics. Achieving a perfect balance between these three ingredients, which for us are fundamental, involved not less than 3,000 hours from the initial design concept to the smallest detail of the interior and deck design.’
The interior design, deck plan and exterior styling were developed to a large extent before the yacht’s naval architect and builder were selected. In due course, Reichel/Pugh was chosen to draw the hull shape and sailplan on the strength of its success and experience in designing both pure maxi racing yachts and dual-purpose superyachts. Southern Wind Shipyard was selected to build the yacht due to its strong track record of producing widely admired yachts of a similar size and style. These were logical choices as the three companies had collaborated successfully before, most recently in the creation of Allsmoke, a full custom 90-footer whose exceptional sailing performance has delivered some convincing results at events like the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. To represent the owner, Carlo Torre of Monaco Yacht Temptation (MYT) was hired as external project manager.
‘The hull, sailplan and appendages of Morgana benefit from the combined research and development of recent Reichel/Pugh superyachts,’ says Jim Pugh. ‘This latest yacht has a powerful hull form when heeled and a narrow upright waterline, which provides stability when reaching and sailing upwind in addition to great light air performance. Morgana will deliver an exceptional sailing experience while cruising and at superyacht regattas.’
Morgana’s strong performance potential is indicated by a light ship displacement of less than 64 tonnes with upwind sail area of 638 square metres. She carries her full beam of 7.46m all the way aft to the transom and combines a powerful hull shape that gives exceptional form stability when slightly heeled with balanced aft quarters and a single rudder. Most of her ballast is concentrated in a lead bulb at the bottom of her lifting keel, which draws 6.1m when all the way down and 4m when raised, giving access to most major ports and anchorages. A tender garage, an ample foredeck locker, a hidden mooring arrangement, an underwater anchor system and various other features combine to keep her deck profile as clean and elegant as possible.
She sets a huge code zero and various downwind sails on a long, removable carbon bowsprit and her 11/12 fractional sloop rig consists of a hybrid HR40 carbon mast with EC6+ standing rigging. Transverse jib tracks give precise control of sheet lead angles and enable her to point high on the wind. When cruising and in delivery mode, she is designed and configured to be sailed by a professional crew of three, including the skipper.
She has a huge expanse of flush, teak laid decks and stands out for the sleek, sporty lines of her subtly raised coachroof, which extend aft to form the coamings encircling a safe and very spacious passenger cockpit amidships. This cockpit design is the result of many years of experience and ongoing development by Nauta, with ergonomics optimised for both cruising and racing use.
The hull’s inner and outer skins are full carbon fibre with Corecell in between. Nomex and prepreg carbon are used for the foredeck and side decks, aft cockpit and fore-and-aft bulkheads. The result is an extremely stiff, strong, lightweight structure with excellent sound and heat insulation properties as an added bonus.
‘Morgana benefits from the experience we gained in the last few years with the construction of several semi-custom yachts in this size range and also from the technological innovations that we mastered during the build of the SW-RP90 Allsmoke, says Marco Alberti, general manager at Southern Wind.
‘The owner challenged us to meet his requests, encouraging us to try new geometries in the interior and giving input on the balances of colours and materials’, says Massimo Gino of Nauta Design, who led the team responsible for developing the yacht’s interior. All internal partitions are Nomex or foam sandwich to save weight, richly finished in premium hardwood veneers.
The interior layout features three guest cabins, two forward and one aft, including a full-beam owner’s suite in the bow with a king-size island bed on the centreline, a private lounge area and ample closet space. All guest cabins have en suite bathrooms. At the foot of the main companionway is the enormous main saloon, designed for entertaining, with a section extending forward to give a dedicated TV viewing area. Twelve large deck hatches, subtle coachroof windows and four throughhull windows on each side flood the interior with natural light.
The crew area is aft, adjacent to the galley and accessed via a separate companionway just forward of the twin wheels. It includes a large captain’s cabin with a double bed and a crew cabin with two bunks.
Morgana’s operating systems were designed by Southern Wind’s own inhouse team, as technical manager Yann Dabbadie explains: ‘A full-height and accessible engine room makes for easy maintenance. Because the engine room was designed slightly to starboard, the systems and battery positioning had to be carefully optimised and balanced.’
‘The hydraulic system is powered by two state-of-the-art 48V DC motors that produce 40kW, controlled by a very efficient PLC system designed by MYT that can run in a completely silent mode,’ Dabbadie says. ‘The lifting keel was designed with a semi-cylindrical head to make best use of composite material and optimise weight. More than 600kg was saved, thanks to highly detailed engineering in collaboration with Gurit.’
Morgana’s performance numbers are a closely guarded secret but her sea trials off Cape Town were reported to be a resounding success. ‘During the six weeks between the launch and the handover to her owner, we’ve fine-tuned the systems and honed the details of the deck and interiors,’ says Marco Alberti, Southern Wind’s general manager. ‘We’ve tested her by sailing in all weather conditions. It was amazing how light she felt at the helm while sailing at 16 to 17 knots. Powerful and balanced, aboard Morgana I always felt in complete control.’
‘With Morgana we did more than build a custom yacht, we built an efficient custom yacht,’ says Andrea Micheli, commercial director at Southern Wind Shipyard. ‘The construction and the design of this yacht benefitted from very efficient cooperation between the designers, the project manager and the yard, aimed towards finding the best balance between innovation and well proven, reliable technologies.’
The last word on Morgana goes to her professional skipper, Achille Cristino, who was similarly impressed with her performance in sea trials. ‘Thanks from the bottom of my heart,’ he told the shipyard workforce. ‘You have been amazing and built a truly amazing boat.’