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The Devil Wears Detail

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 18 Jun 23:00 BST
Spear, the 140m trimaran yacht concept © Lateral Naval Architects

Amazing renders do indeed have a nasty habit of not being completely thought through, so complicated as to have a build cost factor of times three, or the proverbial snowflake's chance in hell of ever being built. Sometimes it is even an amalgam of all three. Often, a vessel is touted as being designed by XYZ, and the Naval Architect takes a place in the lazarette with the hatch sealed shut, if they're lucky. It is changing, but it has also taken quite a while.

Equally, a designer cannot deliver a product that sails right past the three perils named above if the Architects and Engineers have not deployed the fine tooth comb, gone for the helicopter view, and also zoomed all the way in, just like on the chartplotter where many an interesting little hazard or fact looms, that can take your passage, and turn it into a one way trip to Davey Jones' Locker.

On a rare occasion, you get the two in simpatico, and I dare say this makes it unbelievably easier for the builder.

Recently, Spear appeared. Being a stabilised monohull, it got my attention immediately, for whilst there are distinct advantages to this type of craft, there are some drawbacks, which more often than not, do reign supreme. Impressively, this was most definitely NOT the case with Spear, for it was guided very much in line with the very weapon it is named for.

Importantly, it opened up a discussion with Lateral, the brilliant Naval Architects and Engineers, who you could well argue have had a bit of time in the laz despite their glorious reputation, along with the Designer, the talented Theodoros Fotiadis. Both were a joy to speak with, both knew exactly what they were doing, and both could not speak highly enough of the other. Like wow. Rare.

In times gone by, you might have even been able to say that it felt like you had just walked out of an opium den. But that was then, and this is very much now. Never a frown with golden brown...

The Architect's and Engineer's POV

So Lateral, and yes they are so named as to reflect upon their standpoint with all things nautical, decided to compare their 140m, fast, displacement, long-range adventure cruiser creation of some 4650 Gross Tonnes with a 110m vessel of just 4400GT. Now usually, people compare their vessels to larger craft, not smaller ones, and I wondered why, when you were asking a client to build a not inconsiderable 30m more?

Lateral's Chief Naval Architect, Alex Meredith Hardy said, "There are lots of ways you can compare monohulls with multihulls, but as they are very different forms we wanted to have a fair technical standpoint, so gross tonnage, the space on board, ended up being our key determinant. Length is far less relevant in this way, and a typical 140m monohull is going to be enormous because of the extra beam in its single hull.

"The benefit of the stabilised monohull is that by being very long and slender in relation to its volume and displacement, it is easier to propel and can therefore be more efficient. In our case 4650GT compares well to a typical 4400GT monohull given these variables, and thus a similar capacity to enjoy your yacht. The fuel load is also comparable, so in this way it is as even as possible when you are dealing with apples and oranges."

We may as well get rid of the elephant in the room at this point too, for a stabilised monohull is not the easiest thing to sell given the military-esque feel, the docking costs, and dry dock constraints for a machine with a hefty 23m overall beam. Note that this form also means the orma or outer hulls (AKA sponsons) can be used for fuel storage and also crew quarters and so forth, depending on the overall shape and weight distribution plan.

The upside is unrivalled efficiency, and ride characteristics neither a monohull nor catamaran will ever match.

"Indeed, one of the reasons we wanted to go down this path was to see if we could make it look good, and we think it is awesome. Theodoros and his team at Fotiadis Design have excelled," said Alex.

For what it is worth, to my mind this is exactly why we are here with this editorial, and why we made the calls, for Spear's technological marvels are beautifully matched by her captivating and yet purposeful aesthetic. There is a certain majesty on show here, without the need to adorn or embellish, and this will certainly make the project easier for the adventure-driven owner to commission. Spear is no cookie cutter white boat.

"The main compelling argument for a stabilised monohull is improving your resistance and performance characteristics. So with your extra LWL and narrower beam, when we're benchmarking against our 110m monohull we can show from our resistance predictions that you're looking at about a very significant 20% reduction."

Take off; far, far, far, and wide

Note too that Spear has a maximum range of 7,500nm at an impressive 18 knots, so cross The Pond twice and you still have juice in the tank (FYI - 11,000nm at 12 knots or 9,500nm 14 knots could be on offer). Also, she can take herself out to 21 knots, so just imagine how much fun the dolphins will have in the pressure wave that ultra-elegant, super fine, reverse bow entry will offer them!

"Clearly this is a yacht for an owner who wants to do a lot of miles; genuine world cruising. No point taking on the cons of the form if you are not moving, and equally, the whole point of the vessel is to be efficient, so you have to use it to make that pay off. With Spear, you will be able to go further for less."

"Equally, if you are going places, the stabilised monohull, which is further enhanced at this length and beam, has significantly reduced pitch and roll. Spear does not need to drag huge fins around, rather, she only needs small interceptors on her orma hulls to keep her super-composed disposition whilst under way, given the three hulls ride over wave sets better than the other two types," said Meredith Hardy.

"Another advantage is the space you can have on the main deck in the midship area. You could be up to 23m, whereas our reference monohull would be just 16m. So the potential for more, free-flowing areas, incorporating large outdoor spaces could be very appealing, and it is also decidedly different to what's out there at the moment."

"Also, the design has a steel hull, so there is the potential to incorporate some ice class aspects, and this is yet another strong selling point for an owner really wanting to go places. Certainly, high latitudes with no polar expectation are very much inside the existing design parameters," said Meredith Hardy.

Note that the super-slender main hull would need a skeleton of unobtanium if you wanted to have an alloy hull, so we'll just stick to steel and move on...

By the numbers

Another key element in the equation was to select a medium-speed Diesel, which in this case is the class leading Wärtsilä, and then a massive, three metre in diameter, controllable pitch propeller, so that you have the engine output matched precisely to the required vessel speed. It also means you will have the ability to adopt future fuels as the solutions get developed, but in the meantime, there is no point having an efficient hull and then not utilising only the exact amount of energy required to deliver the pace as needed.

Not only is there a match between vessel type and driveline, but the futuristic form also lends to being aware of the changes upon us, and as we will see soon, a change in the paradigm of the way space is used on board. In other words, the singular purpose is reflected throughout, from engineering to appearance, and that completely encompassing totality could well be the most appealing element of Spear.

Showing how well they work together, Lateral supplied the blocks to Fotiadis with the single briefing note of, "Make it look exciting," said Meredith Hardy. In this way they are as close to being ready to pull the trigger to build as they can be, without actually having the commission... Yet.

"So the Wärtsilä might not be exactly ground-breaking, but it is ultra-reliable, and the most efficient diesel engine on the planet right now. It could well be Methanol compatible in the future, too. The specific fuel consumption is 175 grams per kilowatt hour delivered. A typical high speed diesel engine or generator on a yacht would be using around 210. Actually, right there, we're saving 15 percent in fuel consumption, and then when you combine that with the 20 percent you're saving in resistance, well it all adds up. Ultimately, you're actually looking at a 35 to 40 percent efficiency gain."

Given the programmed usage patterns, this is massive. Reliable, and efficient. Plus, in cruising mode, it also provides for hotel loads through the PTO (power take off), and there is a PTI for hybridisation, as well, or taking power from generators at super low speeds. Make no mistake, 175grams per kWh, with no genset on top of that is not just super-efficient, it is quite mind blowing. Show me another setup in that sort of bracket?

Spear's total bunkerage is 390 tonnes. That is virtually identical to the comparison 110m monohull. However, because of the inherent efficiencies, Spear will go a lot further. 11,000 nauticals is a long, long way - like halfway around the Equator! Just watch the mic go to the floor now...

There is versatility too, for the main hull can take future fuels, which will need A LOT OF SPACE (as we saw in Cool it. Cool it. Cool it!), and the ormas will be used for other fluid tanks. That sort of flexibility for 'future-proofing' is almost priceless.


Lateral are justifiably proud of Spear for her technological achievements, which is a hallmark of their existence. They work with clients and their management team, and also yards, but never the two at once, of course. They are solution driven, which is why they put so much effort into Spear.

"We see concepts come out in the media, and it's usually about the aesthetic design, not the technical side. We are trying to change that. Make it more interesting, and get more engagement in the technical architecture of a yacht.

Introducing Spear, the all-new 140m Trimaran by T.Fotiadis Design & Lateral Naval Architects from Lateral Naval Architects on Vimeo.

"We did not just release an image of the exterior, we also provided an image of the interior technical workrooms to show our expertise in that, and make the technical side more meaningful. We're all engineers, but I think we like to think of ourselves as adventurous engineers. We like to think out of the box," said Meredith Hardy.

Little wonder then that their reputation has been built around solving the challenge...

As for favourite projects, apart from Spear, Meredith Hardy reflected upon an early project in Lateral's history, the 109m Bravo Eugenia, built by Oceanco. "The question came up; is it possible to create a performance paradigm shift in the motor yacht market? By increasing the length significantly whilst minimising the volume and weight of the yacht we could create a very efficient hull form, in fact the proportions were more akin to a sailing yacht.

"We applied a hybrid propulsion system, which back in 2012 was quite cutting edge. We were also implementing the IMO Tier III exhaust regulations ahead of time. In the end we managed to achieve a 30% improvement in efficiency, which was a great result."

The Designer's POV

Take it on! In supplying the images you see here, Theodoros Fotiadis noted that, "Each one is OBI; Original, Buildable, and Innovative. I do not want to repeat design features and each one of Fotiadis Design's creations embodies new and different characteristics." Boom.

So then. If Spear is both dramatic and elegant, then it is Fotiadis Design that has made it thus. Yet there is also some very clever use of space in this most challenging of hull forms.

Just as Lateral appreciate what Fotiadis do and give them free reign to get there, Theodoros appreciates that Lateral are easy to work with, "...because they know what they do. They gave me a very good base to work with. So the blocks and the GA, the volumes, deck heights, and length; everything was delivered to me.

"The main thing was to make it beautiful, but also practical and worthwhile to account for the amount of time dedicated to it. So I started drawing lines and creating the basic geometries. Yes, there is the 'narrow' main hull, but we have the wide main and upper decks, with a concentration on the outside. Spear is for someone that wants to travel a lot, wants to have exterior space, and wants to party a lot with family, and friends. So, we started from there."

"We have all the tenders and toys for'ard, the crew, and six guest cabins below, and then it all flows back to a complete spa with a Himalayan stone salt cave, sauna, and Turkish hammam, before culminating at the beach club and tender access. The owner is on the main deck, and we also took the gym up from below to the main deck to really give people the chance for total invigoration as they work out. Opposite that are two Jacuzzis, then the 20m pool, as well as all the entertaining space. Light is fed downwards by atriums from above, so the lower deck retains the bright nature of the decks above.

"We did use each centimetre of the boat, and the main theory was to highlight the connections between interior and exterior and how you can have a dining area that in the evening can be an alfresco party area."

Force of nature

Fotiadis, who started his career as a car designer went on to say, "Originally, the initial lines came from wind, which is a special element for me, and thus Spear is both hydro and aerodynamically efficient. I worked on how the wind would flow around the hull, and we kept these lines as we moved forward to details and edges, and any creases in the hull. It is about being streamline, and also very deft, so as to denote a lightness of touch, rather than a heavy hand. That 'lightness' also works into her low impact on the planet.

"It is very much about proposing something new, not a case of copy and paste from earlier designs. This is another reason to be working with Lateral, because they always had the answer when it was like, can we do this? Can we do that? They're very fast, very efficient."

"In addition to things like the gym on the main deck, another proposal was to bring the Captain's Cabin from the Bridge Deck down to be with the guests. This is like the great liners, where dinner at the Captain's Table was a distinct privilege. Engagement with people is as crucial as driving the boat. It also frees up prime entertainment space for the owner and guests. It's like a penthouse up there, and we can use this for something else," said Fotiadis.

Cleverly, crew operations and supplies arrive from the starboard side, and thus out aft is all owner and guests. The project has been designed to work in the daytime and also at night, and deliver incredible and bold experiences to match her forthright, yet pleasing appearance.

Speaking of crew, a very large proportion of the main hull, for'ard of the technical space, has been dedicated to them, so that they can rejuvenate in peace. This is bound to help with crew retention. Of the available space, minus engineering, something like three fifths is crew.

Bling. Bling.

Another very cool idea is to have the tenders in glass garages, so as to display them like a prized car in certain lounge rooms. This should sit well with the anticipated buyers coming from the late thirty to late forty bracket, and it could well be their first build. If such, they really have landed a tremendous prize in Spear.

The opportunities for large gatherings to build connections are significant, and Spear will be a focal point for other vessels and tenders to congregate at, to say nothing of the chopper, whose 13m pad is designed for commercial operations, not merely be touch and go. A Eurocopter 135 will fit on that nicely, BTW. The helo also ties in well to adventure and long-range cruising.

"Lower consumption, along with less footprint, noise and CO2, but you have more space. I think this is groundbreaking. Lateral have also allowed for methanol, so as this and others come online, Spear has a future-proof aspect that does tie into her overall aesthetic, really well," said Fotiadis in closing.

Great projects are both science and art, and for that you need the Architects and Designers singing from the same hymn sheet. Sounds simple, but is not always the test case. Choose wisely is all I can say...

OK. Today you will find that the website has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo. If you cannot find what you want or wish to want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Finally. Please look after yourselves,

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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