The “sarissa” was a very long spear used in ancient Greek warfare: robust and efficient, it rushed along at lightning speed finding its mark...This is what Vitters’ 140-foot sloop Sarissa does.
As I sailed on board Vitters Shipyard’s newest jewel, Sarissa, in Palma de Mallorca a couple of months ago, I witnessed first hand her ability to cast a spell on all who see her. Under sail, at anchor in a bay or moored in the marina, this 140-footer by the Dutch shipyard is able to communicate at first glance her extraordinary qualities. Sleek, slim and extremely elegant in her metallic grey, Sarissa’s silhouette exudes performance despite a generous 28-foot beam that creates a roomy interior.
A bit more than two years ago, Vitters acquired UK-based Green Marine. It was this composite specialist that created the hull and superstructure, using pre-peg carbon composite to laminate the female mold. Following designer Bill Tripp’s directives, the builder built the entire hull, deck, internal structure, rudder and mainsheet arch so that the ensemble weighs less than 25 metric tons. To ensure stability and performance under sail, Sarissa has a lifting keel holding a 38-ton bulb and a further five tons of water ballast that can be transferred across the beam in just over three minutes. The lifting keel allows the sloop to have a modest 13-foot draft (in raised position) that increases to 20 feet when it is deployed.
After the hull and superstructure, built to the designer’s requirements, arrived at Vitters’ facility in Zwartsluis, the Netherlands, the yard’s craftsmen fitted out the interior in only 11 months using very high standards and following strict weight controls. Finally, in early summer 2011, Sarissa unfurled her sails for her maiden voyage and has hardly stopped sailing since.
“In a few months, we sailed thousands of miles from Holland to the Med, where the owners enjoyed a long holiday on board sailing in Turkey, Greece, Sardinia and the Balearic archipelago. The yacht behaves in the very best way,” says Captain Greg Monks, who took the yacht across the Atlantic for a season in the Caribbean.
“Sarissa’s sleek exterior lines echo those of the 143-foot Mystère designed and built by the same team: Vitters shipyard, Bill Tripp Design for styling and naval architecture, and Rhoades Young Design for the interiors,” says Vitters Managing Director Louis Hamming, who was along for an enjoyable day-sail in mid-October. Louis, Bill Tripp and Jonathan Rhoades, together with Captain Monks and his friendly crew, were the extraordinary guides who introduced us to Sarissa’s secrets.
The yacht is designed for a young couple that plans to sail the seven seas with their children but also take part in (and win) international maxi-yacht regattas. In order to comply with that dual purpose, sailmaker North Sails gave Sarissa a conventional triangle-shaped sail used for cruising and a square top main sail for racing, increasing the main sail area by 20 percent (for a total spread of 10,764 square feet). Sarissa’s basic sail setup includes a jib and a mainsail with three removable furling sails on cables, a staysail and a top-down furling spinnaker. Sarissa’s performance with her cruising sail configuration is excellent; with a light wind, she smoothly crosses the waves and tacks quickly, thanks to an efficient hydraulically operated system. With a proud Bill Tripp at the helm, we easily won an impromptu race against a sporty-looking sloop sailing on a same course—sailors are always ready to race!
Thanks to her length and a rather small superstructure, the yacht has plenty of deck space available, and to go from stern to bow is quite a walk. An imposing 167-foot carbon mast with four spreaders and in-furling boom, built by Southern Spars, towers over the teak deck. The coaming around the cockpit encompasses large living spaces with sofas and tables, dual helm and sailing stations, sun pads and an aft owner’s cockpit that is a case study in engineering ingenuity: It can be flooded to turn into the kids’ swimming pool. To make matters a bit more complicated engineering-wise, the full-beam master suite has a vertical skylight that forms one of the walls of the children’s paddling pool.
Rhoades Young Design devised an interior layout and décor that is very closely styled to the client’s lifestyle. Comfortable and modern, Sarissa’s interior feels like a cozy-yet-sophisticated family home with a taste of the romanticism and mystery of a classic sailing yacht. What’s better than oiled oak floors and cherry or rosewood furniture with brushed stainless-steel fittings? The apparent simplicity of the decoration includes exquisite custom-made details and evident savoir faire.
“Within the length and the yacht’s performance hull lines, our goal was to create the feeling of a much larger interior. We have visually borrowed volume and length wherever it was possible to do it and integrated double use of certain areas. By staggering the accommodation blocks diagonally, we have stretched the visual length, effectively making the interior feel 1.5 times bigger [than it is],” Jonathan Rhoades says. In the upper salon, to starboard, is a comfortable lounge area with loose armchairs and sofas from Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona series and, on the opposite side, a navigation corner close to a bar that overlooks the lower salon and dining room. A few steps lead to a TV/family room; it has a singular configuration as it straddles the sweeping curve of the windscreen above and the curved wall concealing the keel trunk. On starboard is a snug study, decorated with dark rosewood and red leather upholstery, which can be converted into a double guest cabin with ensuite bathroom.
In order to maximize the livable spaces and volume, the designers placed the dining room and galley, which can be separated by a sliding wall, forward of the mast. Then comes large crew quarters for six, accessed through a secret door in the forward bulkhead. Aft of the main salon is a gently curved corridor with well-concealed doors that unfurls onto a circular lobby space in front of the master suite. A helix-shaped ceiling feature lets in the sunbeams that flow down freely. The overnight accommodations also include a VIP cabin, a single or nanny’s cabin and a triple cabin for children. A ship planking-like detail on the bulkhead and a ceiling aglow with fiber-optic stars from the northern and southern hemisphere give the kids’ room the feel of adventure.
Building upon Bill Tripp’s expertise and Rhoades Young’s creative pen-and-ink imagery, ultimately it was up to the shipyard to deliver a yacht that translates the owner’s dreams into a tangible reality. And, at Vitters Shipyard, the yard has shown its people know how to do it. Like that famed spear, so precise and steady, the team behind Sarissa has reached its mark. ■