Projects: Yamila: changing the face of luxury yachting
Peter Minder has never been afraid of doing things differently. In his 13 years as CEO of Bootswerft Heinrich AG, he has led the Swiss boatyard to design some of the most cutting-edge boats in the world. The latest addition is Yamila: a 13m high performance luxury daysailor, which – with the help of PRO-SET® epoxy – makes spontaneous sailing a reality.
“Four years ago, I realised we needed to do something completely new. Something totally different from any other yacht,” says Peter. “So we set about designing Yamila.”
Aesthetically, Yamila takes inspiration from the vintage Pilgrim yacht. Designed for the America’s Cup way back in 1893, the Pilgrim is being brought back to life in a new, ultra-modern form through the Pilgrim Project and Peter is a huge fan. As with the reinvented Pilgrim, Yamila uses no structural wood at all; a little mahogany veneer on the cabin give her a deluxe vintage feel but she is built entirely in carbon. This makes her robust, ultra-light and consequently very fast. “She only weighs in at 4.2 tons,” says Peter. “That’s about a third of the weight of a traditional 13m yacht.”
Epoxy: helping to make sailing spontaneous
Uniquely for a yacht this size, Yamila is designed to be sailed entirely single-handedly. To that end, she offers autopilot – “you can control it through your smart watch if you want to,” smiles Peter – and sophisticated remote-controlled winches, plus a mainsail boom furling system. This can adjust the sail size at the touch of a button. “With features like these, one person can go sailing whenever they like. And guests are guests – they can relax in the yacht’s luxurious lounge, without having to help with the sailing,” Peter adds. The full-carbon in-boom-furling system is a creation of his own composite development and production company – Composite Worx – and results in minimum weight, maximum stiffness and outstanding sail control.
Importantly, epoxy plays a key role. Peter wanted to design a boat which could be left uncovered at all times, to make sailing truly spontaneous. “Covering and uncovering a boat can add as much as an hour to the sailing experience,” he says. “We deliberately chose materials that would resist sunlight and rain in all kinds of temperatures without being compromised, including a composite deck, and epoxy adhesives for gluing and veneers. As a result, Yamila doesn’t need to be covered up at all.” Thanks to the furling system, even the mainsail stows itself away automatically. “This is ideal for getting out in the boat when there’s only an hour or two to spare,” says Peter.
“You couldn’t achieve a boat like this with low-tech materials!”
Peter believes that materials like epoxy give Yamila vital strength. “You couldn’t achieve a boat like this with low-tech materials,” he says. “There are 100 square metres of sails – that’s a powerful sail surface, especially considering how lightweight the boat is! Epoxy coupled with carbon fibre ensures you have the necessary stiffness and strength to match the power of the sails.”
The ideal epoxy for the job
To construct the hull, layers of epoxy-impregnated carbon fibre were laid over a positive mould. A foam core was glued to this inner skin using epoxy and vacuum pressure. Finally, several outer layers of pre-impregnated carbon fibre were applied over the core, before the whole thing was vacuum pressed and then left to cure.
According to Peter, the curing properties of PRO-SET epoxy made it the ideal epoxy system for Yamila’s hull. “Usually when we build powerboats the whole hull goes in our composite oven and bakes at 95°C. But Yamila’s hull is too big to fit. PRO-SET epoxy system gives a high quality result at a lower temperature, so we didn’t need the oven – we could just build a tent and heat it to 45 or 50°C for a perfect cure.” An alternative option would have been to build the hull in sections but Peter didn’t like this idea. “It’s not ideal for strength and aesthetics. It’s better in one piece.”
The fastest yacht on the lakes
Since her launch in 2015, Yamila has caused quite a stir – and not all of the attention is positive. “Her design polarises people’s opinions – but that’s precisely what we wanted to achieve!” smiles Peter. “She looks very different from any other yacht and that’s exactly what a potential buyer will love.”
“Yamila is by far the fastest sailing boat on the Swiss lakes that can be sailed single-handedly.”
Her strong and lightweight epoxy-carbon design also means that she’s incredibly fast. “Yamila is by far the fastest sailing boat on the Swiss lakes that can be sailed single-handedly,” Peter says. “We entered into a few regattas last summer and she matches the speed of the pure racing yachts, which have zero luxury features on board. The carbon-epoxy construction makes her very lightweight and contributes to speed and ease of handling.”
For the time being Peter is holding onto Yamila until the right buyer comes along. In the longer term the plan is to build more. “We’ll make a maximum of one a year; more like two every three years,” he says. “She’s a semi-custom design, so future owners can make some adjustments to materials, sail surface, handling and so forth. We want every Yamila to be slightly different from the last. We’re always open to new ideas.”
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Photos courtesy of Tobias Stoerkle©.