Spirit’s flagship, and largest yacht built to date, is the thoroughbred 100’ Gaia. As demand for Spirit superyachts increases, resulting in the recent release of designs for a new 118’ sailing yacht, we take a closer look at what makes Gaia such an icon.
In a review of the 100’ superyacht, Boat International commented, “Classic yacht styling always looks good on the water, but Spirit Yachts have taken this ideal to new levels.”
Keen superyacht fans may have recently spotted Gaia on the race circuits at the Loro Piana and Superyacht Cup regattas and with plans for cruising in Croatia and the Balaerics this summer, Gaia embodies the essence of a Spirit yacht built for racing as well as relaxed family sailing.
In terms of competing, at 48 tonnes she has an impressive strength to weight ratio for a yacht of her size. With North 3DL sails, Nordic carbon mast with BSI nitronic rod rigging, carbon rudder, full stainless steel 2 speed electric self-tailing Anderson winches and custom deck gear by Hercules, she has certainly been built for performance.
Image credit: Carlo Borlenghi
Skipper Tom Aiken has been working on board Gaia for nearly two years alongside 2 other permanent crew. Of Gaia’s performance on the race circuit, Tom comments, “Her best performance is in sub 14 knots, light winds is where she shows her true colours. Gaia is like a big 40 footer sail, although the crew has to be on top of it to ensure we perform to our best when racing. As a crew we take things seriously and we love a challenge, it’s all about the right balance of man power, timing and team work.”
Gaia is as elegant down below as she is above deck, with four sky lights from the coach roof flooding the area at the bottom of the companionway with natural light. An owner’s cabin with two large beds, dressing table and en suite shower, and two guest cabins sharing an en suite shower comprise the guest accommodation, with additional skipper’s cabin and crew cabin. A well equipped galley on the port side leads into a central saloon area with tan leather sofa and dining table, complemented by a discreet flat screen TV and surround sound music system throughout the yacht.
Tom says whilst he would like an additional crew cabin down below, he admits Gaia’s design never fails to turn heads, “Gaia’s flush decks, smooth lines, low freeboard and the curved overhang of her transom make her a truly beautiful yacht. When we come in to a marina we have queues of people waiting on the dock just to catch a glimpse of her.”
In a recent interview with Superyacht News during the Palma Superyacht Cup, Gaia’s owner-helm explained what drew him to Spirit Yachts, “I have always had a love for wooden boats and since I am from Stockholm I love the classical design of the square rig cruisers built for the Swedish archipelago, which are very beautiful boats.”
He continues, “But unfortunately they are not very seaworthy boats outside of the protected archipelagos. I wanted something that was very similar in looks to the square rig cruisers but obviously bigger and more powerful.”
Spirit CEO and head designer Sean McMillan adds, “Gaia was a particularly great project to work on as her owner was so flexible and a real joy to work with. He gave us clear guidance in certain areas but was realistic about the practicalities and was willing to be guided by our expertise in sailing performance and construction.”
Spirit Yachts is faced with the common perception that whilst its modern classic yachts perform on the regatta circuit and are without doubt beautiful, surely the varnish means excessive maintenance?
Skipper Tom disagrees, “We varnish Gaia every two years, which is pretty good considering the amount of time Gaia spends in the sun and the all racing we do. There are also simple things you can do to reduce wear and tear; at the start of this season we stained the varnish and put a lacquer on top as a protective layer, which allows us to polish out any scratches.”
Tweaks to their varnish process in addition to the protection from UV rays afforded by new cap rail and coach roof covers, mean Gaia is three months into the season and, in Tom’s words, “Still looking good as new.”
To find out more about Spirit superyachts, please contact Nigel Stuart via email [email protected] or phone +44 (0) 1473 214715.
Spirit 100’ Specifications:
L.O.A: 100’6″ / 30.6m
Beam: 19’8″ / 6.0m”
Displacement: 48 tonnes
L.W.L. 70’7″ / 21.6m
Draft: 12’0″ / 3.7m
Sail Area: 4,566sq.ft.
Power: Yanmar 200hp