Best Of The Best 2006: Adèle

  • Marilyn M. Mower

Jan-Eric Österlund is a longtime fan of Britannia, a racing yacht commissioned in 1893 by the Prince of Wales, who stipulated that he wanted a fast vessel with enough accommodation to allow him to enjoy a hot lunch. After 15 years spent cruising in a 78-footer, Österlund found himself able to commission a yacht with the speed and grace of that royal boat. But, clearly, this 180-footer can offer much more than a hot lunch.

Adèle is the largest yacht designed by Andre Hoek, a Dutch naval architect known for constructing yachts with classic looks above the waterlines and cutting-edge designs below. The vessel is a product of the Netherlands’ Vitters Shipyard, a builder whose short history includes an impressive number of custom high-performance cruisers. While Österlund’s new boat is speedy enough to have participated in last October’s Super­yacht Cup off the coast of Mallorca, Adèle also was built for thrills of another sort. On her maiden voyage, she crossed the Arctic Circle, flirting with pack ice at 81 degrees, 10 minutes north, while her passengers documented retreating glaciers and photographed wildlife.

Adèle is ketch-rigged for versatility and sails upwind with genoa, staysail, main, and mizzen for a sail area of 16,727 square feet. Downwind, the crew furls the jibs and lets fly the world’s largest asymmetrical spinnaker (16,146 square feet). The 208-foot mainmast will just slip under the Pan­ama Canal’s Bridge of the Americas.

Unlike most yachts of this size, Adèle offers the option of manual steering, imparting a true sailing experience to the helmsman. She also features hydraulic steering with a joystick control that links engine, bow, and stern thrusters for delicate harbor maneuvers. With long overhangs and graceful sheer—plus just under a third of her weight in ballast, most of it in a bulb keel—the yacht handles easily.

Within the boat are a salon and dining room, a library, three guest staterooms, and a magnificent owner’s suite with its own deckhouse and snug cockpit above. The interior design features mahogany walls and furniture that contrast pleasingly with ivory overheads and planked floors. The presence belowdecks of cherished paintings and books supports the point that Adèle, named for Österlund’s late mother, is as much a family home as a sailing vessel. And above are a deckhouse and an adjacent covered outdoor salon that seats 10—a fine spot to enjoy a hot lunch.

Vitters Shipyard
+31.38.386.7145
www.vitters.com

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