The Black Pearl is the second-largest sailing boat in the world, with its 106.7 metres length overall. Built by the Oceanco yard, it is a concentration of high technology
by Mariateresa Campolongo – photo by Tom Van Oossanen
IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT THE PEARL IS ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS IN NATURE. Rarer still, and even more highly prized, is the black pearl, which comes from French Polynesian islands around Tahiti, and which is a symbol of self-reliance, strength and independence. A name as evocative as that could only be given to a unique yacht: the Black Pearl, a true rare pearl that ploughs through the seas unfurling her sails, entirely black, and evokes the fictional ship of the same name from the film series Pirates of the Caribbean, which was famous for its amazing speed.
The first thing that strikes you is her extraordinary length: 106.7 metres overall, that makes the Black Pearl one of the largest sailing boats ever made, second only to the famous A, by Philippe Starck, which is 142 metres long but is actually registered as a sail-assisted motor yacht, and so cannot be considered to be purely a sailing boat. Despite her size, Black Pearl keeps the elegant and genteel look that is characteristic of sailing vessels, a feature that is often lost when boats get very large and end up looking more like ships than yachts.
This megayacht was custom-built by the Oceanco yard, which since 1987 has specialised in building large, highly-personalised, luxury yachts. This project came about through cooperation between the owner, who is an engineer who was heavily involved at every stage of planning and construction, the owner’s representatives, the exterior designers (Nuvolari Lenard and Ken Freivokh), the interior designers (Nuvolari Lenard, Ken Freivokh and Gerard P. Villate) and the Dykstra Naval Architects studio. And the length is not the only unusual thing about the Black Pearl: she is a super-technological megayacht. One of the aims of the design was to create something that respected the environment as much as possible. During the planning and construction period, this aim was the main parameter for taking decisions, from choosing the sail plan to the development of the hull lines, from fitting the power unit to deciding on furnishings and all the other systems.
Black Pearl is a super technological sailing megayacht, equipped with a cutting-edge DynaRig system, hybrid propulsion and a single-level engine room.
The experience acquired on the Maltese Falcon showed that the extraordinary DynaRig system was the right way to go. The highly-efficient technology uses rotating masts, with yards which have square sails that open horizontally, which unfurl and spread out with the entire sail surface under control. When the sails are lowered, they can’t be seen, they come straight out from the mast and every single sail opens in just seven minutes. There are a full 2877 square metres of sails in total, spread across three identical masts, each of which carries 959 m2.
In the outside area on the main deck, there is a 6.5-metre swimming pool, with a variable-height bottom, so that it can be taken down to 1.5 metres from deck level. Going aft from the swimming pool two flights of stairs provide access to the beach area.
Each carbon-fibre mast is 68.5 metres high and has five sails that, attached at top and bottom to a horizontal yard, create a single sail when put together, which improves the aerodynamics enormously. The sails are operated using an automatic system that means just one person can run all the functions to set or reduce the sail plan and decide the angle of the sails to the wind. Being able to visualise the load on the mast is another characteristic of the Black Pearl’s rig.
The nearly 2,900 square metres of sails can be set in just seven minutes, merely by pressing a button.
A large number of fibre optic strands are layered into the carbon fibre mast structure to generate data on bending: that is then used to calculate the motive force, the listing force, the bending moment and the twisting of the mast. The figures are constantly monitored by the operator, so when the trim changes, the change in load levels can be seen.
The Black Pearl rig is also set up to carry solar sails, which are currently under development and which could give further electrical energy from sunlight. While most yachts this large have an engine room that goes across two floors, the one on the Black Pearl is restricted to the lower deck, thus leaving more room for the 12 guests and 25 crew members. This set-up has been possible because of the use of a hybrid propulsion system, made up of two shaft lines each including a main MTU diesel engine that develops 1080kW, combined with a 450kW electrical propulsion motor (EPM).
The hybrid propulsion system provides the owner with as much flexibility as possible, by offering as many as eight operating modes: silent cruising mode (with the main engines and diesel generators turned off and the battery bank powering the EPM system, this is suitable for low-speed cruising/manoeuvres); quiet cruising mode (for speeds of up to eleven knots, with the main engines turned off, while the EPM is powered by the auxiliary generators); economical cruising mode (the diesel engines power the propellers and the EPM works as a generator, for cruising at 11 to 15 knots); normal cruising mode (for sailing at reasonably high speeds, all the power from the diesel engines is available for propulsion); boost mode (to get to the highest speeds, all the power from both the diesel engines and the EPM is used for propulsion); motor sailing mode (when the sails are in use, this mode can be chosen to assist the power provided by the sails); sailing mode (the propellers are adjusted to reduce resistance and ensure that the boat sails as fast as possible); and regeneration mode (when the yacht is only using sail power, the propellers can be set so that power is generated in the electrical system, using the EPM: that way the yacht doesn’t produce any pollution, and is entirely powered by the wind).
To further reduce overall fuel consumption, additional thermal insulation has been added to reduce heat transfer from the outside, and there is the HVAC system with eco mode to optimise temperatures and the residual heat recovery system.
The hybrid propulsion system gives the owner complete flexibility and the choice of as many as eight operating modes.
The exteriors feature characteristic aspects of Nuvolari Lenard’s work, such as the original shape that combines the longest possible waterline length with a flared bow. The interior designs are currently top secret. From the few drawings that have been made available, it looks as if the whole hi-tech feel we have talked about so far is not, reflected below decks, where it seems as though you are going back in time.
The shape of the ceiling in the main lounge and the colour contrast with the furnishings brings to mind the beauty of sailing boats from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries (for example the interiors of the historic Ilex, Puritan, Oiseau de Feu and Nordwind, in which the spacious and warm living area, with sofas that often buttoned tufted, was in contrast to the white ceiling crossed with exposed beams) at a time when taking to the sea was generally emissions-free, just as it is using the regeneration mode on the Black Pearl. The centre-point of the interior is a multi-level
central atrium, which includes the stairwell and the lift: this space helps give a sensation of vertical integration between the different decks. And rather than having different lounges on the various levels, the designers have decided to have a central living room, which is a full 2.8 metres high. The furniture is essentially taken from a home setting, and the style is mainly Louis XVI, but rather than the characteristic simple, straight lines with a geometrical feel, we find details with the curves that are associated with the earlier Louis XV style and Art Deco, for example, the legs of the chairs and table/desk.
The difference in styles between interiors and exteriors is a bit unnerving, and it would be interesting to see the interiors having a design more in line with the exterior. However, if seen overall, and if you only take the interiors into account, the different influences are well balanced: the showy gilded frames that are typically Louis XIV; the sofas and armchairs that have more contemporary volumes; the references to the classical world, such as the subjects of the pictures that appear to be oil paintings, and the cabinets that form a single horizontal whole with an inlay that is typical of the new interest in classical Louis XVI art, come together pleasantly.
The interiors are the result of careful historical research and the design by Valentina Zannier of Nuvolari Lenard and the French architect and designer Gerard P. Villate, who have worked closely with the owner.
Yacht name: Black Pearl • Interior Designer: Ken Freivokh / Nuvolari Lenard / Villate Design • Exterior Designer: Ken Freivokh / Nuvolari Lenard • Naval Architect: Oceanco / DykstraNaval Architects
LOA: 106.7m • Beam: 15.4m • Max Draft: 7.25m • Displacement (full load): 2,550 ton • Draft: 3.96m • Gross Tonnage: 2,864 • Cruise speed: 12 kn • Max speed: 17.6 kn • RPM @cruise speed: 1995 • RPM @max speed: 2250 • Cruise speed range: 5400 mn • Electric propulsion: 2 x 400kW • Generator: 3x Scania DI16 71M 520kW 422EkW • Battery capacity: 684kW • Water capacity: 62,000 l • Total sail area: 2,934m2 • Hull material: Steel AH36 • Deck material: Steel • Hull finish: Awlgrip
ACCOMMODATION: Max number of guests: 14 • Max number of crew: 25
CLASSIFICATION: Lloyds register: 100 A1 SSC, Yacht, MONO G6 (✠) LMC UMS SCM ECO-IHM • Flag notation: Cayman Islands shipping registry, LY2
(Black Pearl Oceanco 106m, the black pearl of the seas – Barchemagazine.com – December 2020)