The world’s largest catamaran, sail or power, Hemisphere is an exceptional yacht for world exploration. This 145-foot sailing catamaran offers an enormous amount of space and a décor that is utterly luxurious without being ostentatious.
Photos by Superyacht Media and Bruce Thomas
Hemisphere is, by all measures, an amazing vessel. Seven years in the making from the first concept drawings to her launch at Pendennis in 2011, she has a 54-foot 6-inch beam and an awe-inspiring 174-foot (53-meter), 5.8-ton carbon main mast by Lorima, supporting 9,321 to 12,037 square feet (according to the setup) of sails woven from carbon and spectra. A 499-gross-ton giant of a sailboat, she displaces 300 tons and can reach a top speed of 20 knots under sail. This awesome vessel is her owner’s first yacht.
Before she was launched, there was much ballyhoo about Hemisphere being the largest-ever catamaran. However, building a record-breaking yacht was never the intention, according to naval architect Marc Van Peteghem, a founding partner of French architectural firm Van Peteghem Lauriot Prévost (VPLP). Hemisphere simply is what she is today because the owners wanted to be able to accommodate all their needs and desires. During the construction, Van Peteghem and his colleagues worked closely with the yacht’s owner and his representative, Captain Gavin Bladen.
VPLP does not exclusively design multihulls but has earned a solid reputation with projects running the gamut from ultra-light carbon racing cats to the groundbreaking 138-foot custom catamaran Douce France—once the world’s largest luxury catamaran—built at Alumarine in 1999. Hemisphere’s owner, who chartered often before building his own yacht, had actually cruised aboard Douce France. Competing against a number of other architectural firms, VPLP eventually earned the business.
As for Captain Bladen, he met Hemisphere’s owners when he was a charter captain and dive instructor. As is often the case of people who share a common passion, they connected. Eventually, the owners and Bladen started speaking about boats. Bladen says the owners always showed a fondness for two-hulled sailboats, so when the talk turned to building his own yacht, a sailing catamaran is what these owners had in mind.
How do you get from this point to building a 145-foot yacht? Interestingly, according to VPLP’s naval architect Mathias Maurios, it was a much smaller boat that became the focal point of the design, a 27-foot tender. This all-important auxiliary vessel (a speedy, custom 8.2-meter Scorpion RIB housed in a center garage during navigation) is, in fact, what determined the yacht’s overall length and beam. “We worked from there, adjusting the length and beam to achieve a good balance and attractive lines,” Maurios says. From an initial 130 feet, the project grew to accommodate all that the owner envisioned on the yacht, which was not only to be his family’s recreational island but also a luxurious charter vessel, user friendly to guests and crew. More discussions helped refine the project. Diving, naturally, was part of the brief. “Other key words were Pacific, family, cruising, private yacht and charter,” Van Peteghem adds.
While a catamaran, particularly one as large as Hemisphere, offers a huge deck surface (the main deck is 1,324 square feet), the layout can be a challenge. A vast, open salon is attractive, but how do you create areas for guests who may want a little privacy on the upper decks? And how do you accommodate everything you need, including a fully equipped galley, in two relatively narrow hulls below? A tour at the yacht’s debut in Monaco, courtesy of charter management company Burgess, and a follow-up visit at the Antigua Charter Yacht Show, made a convincing case that the designers met that challenge head on. Working with interior designer Michael Leach Design, VPLP’s architects—who were responsible for the layout—created a great flow with a sort of intermediary deck between the main deck and the two hulls below. “It is about life on board,” says Van Peteghem. “You have to create areas for different moods and times of day; areas for children and areas for adults.”
The vast teak aft deck sets a stunning first impression. It has room for two seating areas, a large sunbed and a large oval table with comfortable chairs set in the shade. In case of inclement weather, Eisenglass can enclose the whole area. From here, glass doors open wide onto an exceptionally large interior salon. Michael Leach Design selected textured surfaces, woods (walnut, brushed oak and wengé, among others), leathers, shells, stones and chromes. This interesting juxtaposition of colors and materials makes it quite hard to resist the temptation to run your fingertips along the walls and feel the floors with your toes. Flowing curves, custom furniture and lighting further define a number of smaller spaces. Near the salon entrance on the port side, a couple of steps lead to a den with big windows close to the waterline. A fantastic surround-sound system helps set the mood—with Norah Jones’ sultry voice drifting from the speakers, the mood is one of utter relaxation. Confirming the intent, Maurios describes the space as the “chill-out room.” Put a movie or video game on, and the kids will enjoy themselves away from but close enough to their parents in the nearby main salon.
Douce France, VPLP’s earlier luxury catamaran, has all the guest suites accommodated in its twin hulls. The setup on Hemisphere differs thanks to that intermediary deck mentioned earlier. In addition to three guest cabins in the portside hull and cabins for 10 crew accommodated in the starboard hull, the designers created two luxurious suites a couple of steps down from the main deck. Panels, impossible to detect unless you know they are there, discreetly divide the two cabins. These rooms can transform into a huge suite, a great option for a family with younger children, or they can be left as separate rooms for couples traveling together. The two 344-square-foot suites open onto a private forward deck with seating on each bow. Stretched in between is a massive and inviting net. Lying there—staring at the sky and the sails, with the occasional spray of the waves cooling you off—is one of the real joys of sailing on a catamaran.
While the interior is undeniably attractive, the flybridge deck proves irresistible. Revealing the owner’s love for the outdoors, it is a 936-square-foot playground with a large spa pool decorated with colorful mosaic tiles and plenty of lounging areas with springy cushions. Elegant sail-shaped biminis provide shade as needed over the substantial dining table. It’s a great conversation piece with its custom glass top engraved with a world map. Who wouldn’t enjoy planning their next trip over a five-star meal with a cool breeze wafting across the open deck? This beautiful—and impressively large—table exemplifies Hemisphere’s purpose: to help her guests enjoy the world.
This all-aluminum (with the exception of the carbon spars and front beams) catamaran is meant for exploration, fun and, of course, diving. The yacht carries full equipment for 12 divers of all ages (with wetsuits in seemingly all sizes) and Nitrox air. There is a full-time diving instructor aboard, in addition to the captain.
Fun is also part of the picture. A hydraulic system deploys a swim platform for easier access to the water, and a springboard, affixed to the stern, has to be a guest favorite. The yacht carries dive scooters, two Seabobs, wakeboards, paddleboards and mountain bikes for onshore exploration. A 54-foot F&S custom sportfish is the most recent addition to a full array of tenders and toys.
In other words, there is just about everything to keep guests entertained for days in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and in the Pacific later on.
There are big plans to explore the world and to do it in the right manner. Recently, a charter week aboard Hemisphere brought a record bid of $150,000 at the Christie’s Green Auction: Bid to Save the Earth in New York. The owners of this superb yacht just won’t do anything halfway.
Erica Cooper contributed to this report.
LOA: 145ft. (44.2m)
Beam: 54ft. 5in. (16.6m)
Draft: 10ft. (3.2m)
Hull construction: aluminum
Mast: 174ft. (53m) Lorima
Sails: North Sails
Engines: 2 x 490-hp Caterpillar C12
Speed with engines (min./max.): about 13.5/11 knots
Range: about 3,500 nm (@10 knots)
Fuel capacity: 7,397 gal. (28,000 L)
Speed under sail (max.): about 20 knots
27ft. (8.2m) Scorpion w/ 315-hp Yamaha
54ft. (16.4m) F&S custom sportfish
14ft. (4.5m) Castoldi Jet WaveRider w/ Yanmar 125 hp
Builder: Pendennis Shipyard Ltd. - 2011
Naval architecture: Van Peteghem Lauriot Prévost
Engineering: BMT Nigel
Interior design: Michael Leach Design
Classification: BV / MCA LY2 under 500 GT