Clean, green and mean
Baltic’s 68-foot Café Racer really is a yacht for the 21st Century
Breaking new ground. Easy to say, but for Baltic Yachts that is genuinely the core of its DNA. It is almost 50 years since Baltic Yachts was founded on a simple principle, based on a refusal to accept the “norm” and to explore new boundaries. In 1973 five men, young at that time, eloped from Nautor to start their own boatyard and build the very finest sailboats in the world together with a group of native talents from the Bosund region in Finland.
They wanted to create top quality, comfortable cruising yachts with racing potential and with lighter displacement than their competitors’ boats, not only to boost performance but also to make life easier and more enjoyable, and they had the idea that hi-tech materials and methods could do this. Not fighting head-to-head with other boatyards but instead creating their own product for the small niche of very demanding performance cruising/racing sailors.
Without question Baltic Yachts has led the way in advanced composite construction for superyachts over the past decades, never settling for “good enough” and always looking for the next breakthrough in composites, systems or technology generally to ensure clients could rest assured that they were always getting the ultimate solution.
It’s no surprise then that the Baltic 68 Café Racer breaks new ground in many ways. It is a size the shipyard knows well, with notable launches in this size range including Claude from the board of Reichel-Pugh. The inspiration behind the Café Racer stems from clear messaging from clients that has driven many of the key elements of the yacht, from eco-friendly building materials to electric propulsion and the concept of “easy sailing”. Clients are looking for a cutting-edge design but combining performance with the latest developments in materials, particularly noting the environment. The way clients use their yachts is changing, shorter trips but more frequently, so ease of use is key. That embodies the Café Racer philosophy.
Baltic Yachts has for some time been researching new eco-friendly materials and techniques. Recognising that, very much as they did by being the first shipyard to embrace the challenge of advanced composites for performance cruisers and superyachts, being aware of the future is key. By using naturally grown flax to reinforce the Baltic 68’s hull, not only is her carbon footprint dramatically reduced but the shipyard is again breaking new ground in both adopting new materials and seriously addressing the concerns of clients about the environmental impact of more traditional materials.
For the Baltic 68 more than 50 per cent of the hull structure will use Bcomp ampliTex flax as a reinforcement, which also has excellent sound deadening properties. This has multiple benefits that are not immediately obvious. Not only does the yacht continue the enviable tradition of developing what are widely considered to be the quietest superyachts sailing today, but the fact that the material deadens sound allows a more efficient use of space by reducing the use of insulation.
Materials used in the Café Racer’s accommodation continue the ecotheme with light oak timbers and flax composites combining with specialist wallpapers, wicker and paper cord to produce a light, cool, contemporary accommodation.
For the exterior the Baltic 68 Café Racer’s beautifully laid decks, another Baltic trademark, use multipurpose modified wood which is a sustainable, durable pine that comes with a 50-year warranty against rot. This solution lasts longer and is harder wearing than teak so deck thickness is reduced and consequently there is a 30 per cent weight saving.
The award-winning Lignia Yacht deck material means Baltic can avoid using hardwoods but maintain the feel and performance of a genuine deck and at the same time save weight, something of a holy grail for most owners.
In addition to embracing materials that are quieter and greener, this new yacht takes electric propulsion to levels not yet seen in the sailing world. The Café Racer is completely electric, removing the diesel engine completely from the inventory. The low-emission drive features two 20kw propulsion units. With such potent sailing performance on tap and a yacht designed as the ultimate daysailing statement, it seems unnecessary to have a long range in terms of motoring. The 60kW/hr battery bank, rechargable within six hours, will provide three hours motoring at seven knots.
Power comes from two 20kW 48v drive legs providing increased manoeuvrability when docking, redundancy and security and furthermore, greater efficiency for power regeneration. Regeneration comes from a variety of sources with the propellers generating 3kw at eight knots, increasing to 6kW at 10 knots. Solar panels discreetly integrated into the coachroof also produce a peak of 1.5kW and perform a trickle charge function whilst the yacht is moored.
A micro turbine range extender which weighs less than 100kg whilst producing 25kw of power allows clients to increase the already generous reserves. It is safe to say that the Café Racer is comfortably ahead of the curve when it comes to producing silent, low-vibration electric propulsion in the world of high-performance sailing.
Baltic Yachts continues to research ways of reducing power consumption and in this yacht it’s down by 30 per cent for one of the most demanding domestic services – air conditioning. The bespoke system mixes recirculated, less humid air with fresh air to reduce the amount of power needed to maintain the desired onboard “climate”. UV filters ensure the air is bacteria-free and solar panels can power the system in eco mode with no draw from the battery bank.
The naval architecture and design of the yacht was entrusted to Surge Projects, teaming up with Jens Paulus for the interior styling to create this unique Café Racer with an overarching desire to deliver the essence of sailing in an eco-friendly environment.
Javier Jaudenes, founder of Surge Projects, with his extensive racing experience drew a boat with the aim to attract owners who enjoy the pure sensations of sailing with friends and family and the minimum of fuss. The true Café Racer is one where at the last minute the owner can decide to go sailing, slip the lines and be off. Not needing a crew, a schedule or even a plan – just to go and enjoy being on the water for the afternoon.
Being able to sail shorthanded is something often “sold” but practicalities and physics are stern taskmasters and so developing a yacht where this wish becomes reality was critical in the design process. In conjunction with Baltic Yachts, the base ergonomics created a deck design that has the primary sail handling area close to the helmsman and a safe and relaxed area for friends and family amidships with sofas and sunbathing area.
The refined underdeck sailing systems and sheets ensure not only a clean deck and sensational lines but a safe short-handed sailing experience without compromising performance. Fingertip control of the powerful mainsail is delivered via the captive electric mainsheet and traveller together with the hydraulic vang and cunningham. Furling the headsail is controlled by the electric unit at the touch of a button at the helm station.
Halyards and headsail sheets are controlled by the electric primary and secondary winches.
The rig has been developed around a reliable and proven concept of high-modulus carbon and swept spreaders, refined in conjunction with sail designers and taking advantage of the latest developments in sail technology. The sailplan is powerful and effective but versatile, taking advantage of the fact that the latest developments in headsails are proven to have a wider operating range. This is ideal in particular for a short-handed café racer where as wide a range as possible is wanted for the headsail. Easy speed is the mantra and the Baltic 68 delivers it in spades.
The finer details of the naval architecture were developed using Aero Ranse CFD and these results together with the hull CFD were combined to develop the VPP, optimising balance and speed. Twin rudders were chosen as best solution for control and balance, particularly when sailing at reaching angles. This is particularly important when the boat is designed and optimised for pure speed regardless of rating with particular focus on reaching angles when she will perform best.
Perhaps unexpectedly the Café Racer has taken all the innovation and style of the exterior and infused a surprisingly spacious interior with the same energy.
The unpretentious yet elegant design language of the interior highlights the essence of this stateof- the-art eco-performance cruiser. It reflects the high level of ecological innovation with its contemporary form and the intelligent and thoughtful composition of natural and sustainable materials truly complements the ethos behind the yacht.
Taking a minimalist design approach allows Baltic to showcase stunning details of craftmanship and highlight the innovative use of materials in the construction. In essence the interior has been developed around comfort and functionality in complete harmony.
This is a yachtsman’s yacht, a true thoroughbred that will thrill and delight in equal measure whilst delivering in a truly understated style which is uniquely Baltic.
This article was originally published in Seahorse Magazine and is kindly reproduced with their permission. To check their archive of free-to-view articles, please visit https://seahorsemagazine.com/archive/2020-archives
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