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Boat of the Week: This Classic 70-foot ‘Gentleman’s Yacht’ Is All High-Tech Beneath Its Wooden Skin

The Spirit P70 looks like a boat from the 1930s, but its list of modern technologies includes lithium batteries to power the house systems.

The Spirit P70 is a modern gentleman’s runabout that can reach 29 mph and travel for 1,000 miles. Courtesy Spirit Yachts

Spirit Yachts’ flagship P70 may look like an extra from The Great Gatsby, but this oh-so-elegant wooden motoryacht, with its gleaming mirror-varnished mahogany and classic flag-blue paint, is new from the keel up.

The 71-footer was built by Britain’s Spirit Yachts for an experienced Norwegian owner who fell in love with the timeless lines of the company’s classic wooden sailboats, but wanted the style to translate to a powered yacht.

If the Spirit name sounds familiar, this was the builder that has enthusiastically supplied yachts for Daniel “007” Craig to sail in those epic James Bond romps Casino Royale, and the newest, No Time to Die.

The Spirit P70 is a modern gentleman’s runabout that can reach 29 mph and travel for 1,000 miles.

Note the beautiful grain of the quarter-sawn sapele mahogany on the exterior.  Courtesy Spirit Yachts

But according to Sean McMillan, Spirit Yachts founder and chief designer, the owner didn’t simply want a classic-looking cruiser with a retro Roaring Twenties vibe that would sit at a marina. He wanted a boat that could go places. “The brief was to build a motoryacht capable of cruising from Britain’s south coast, across the North Sea to the Baltic and on to Norway, at an average speed of 18 knots. And he wanted the boat to go there and back—that’s over 1,000 miles—without having to refuel,” McMillan told Robb Report.

To meet the challenge, McMillan and a dedicated team of eight woodworking craftsmen, turned to the same wooden boatbuilding techniques they use to craft Spirit’s range of classic sailboats, including the recently launched 111-foot masterpiece Geist. That involved creating a framework using tough sapele hardwood. To this, longitudinal strips of Douglas fir were screwed and bonded to build the hull shape. Then, on top of this, multiple layers of Japanese kaya wood were glued diagonally to deliver carbon-fiber levels of strength and rigidity.

“It creates a hull that is immensely strong and light. The P70 weighs just 24 tonnes, which is almost half the weight of similar-sized fiberglass counterparts,” explains McMillan.

The Spirit P70 is a modern gentleman’s runabout that can reach 29 mph and travel for 1,000 miles.

The lines have a retro feel, but the boat was designed to be a fast ocean-runner, capable of reaching 29 mph, but able to run in rough seas.  Courtesy Spirit Yachts

Lighter weight also allowed smaller than usual engines to be mounted in the P70’s over-sized engine room. The twin 800-hp six-cylinder MAN turbo diesels are capable of delivering a top speed of 29 mph, with cruising at a more relaxed 20 mph.

Without doubt, it’s the lines of this timelessly elegant 1930s-style “gentleman’s” motoryacht that sets it apart. But the process of creating such a head-turning profile wasn’t easy. The owner, a highly experienced and knowledgeable boater, had firm ideas on what he wanted. It resulted in McMillan modifying the design more than a dozen times.

“He really liked the style of some of the Spirit power boats I’ve designed over the years. So, we combined the flared bow and tumblehome stern from our Spirit P40 with the 1930s style of our sailing yachts, and applied it to a larger motoryacht design,” he explains.

The Spirit P70 is a modern gentleman’s runabout that can reach 29 mph and travel for 1,000 miles.

The main salon.  Courtesy Spirit Yachts

The result is nothing less than a piece of floating art, with a classic slender waist—the beam spans just 16.5 feet—and that tall, proud bow. And there are some lovely classic design features, like the stainless-steel engine vents on the cabin sides that were inspired by those from a classic ‘50s Mercedes-Benz 300SL.

“To keep the sleek, uncluttered look, we did away with the typical stainless handrails, and lowered the level of the deck to make it safe and easy to walk around the yacht,” says McMillan.

Below decks, the slightly unconventional layout requested by the owner includes a central wheelhouse, a rich, leather-lined salon area forward, and a spacious galley and dining area aft. And on the lower levels, the master suite is in the bow with twin guest cabins at the stern.

The Spirit P70 is a modern gentleman’s runabout that can reach 29 mph and travel for 1,000 miles.

The outer helm on the flybridge leads into the main wheelhouse a few steps down.  Courtesy Spirit Yachts

The quality and attention to detail are exceptional. You can understand why it took a team of three painters almost seven months to varnish the bare-wood interior. From start to finish, building the yacht at Spirit’s yard in Ipswich, on Britain’s east coast, took almost three years.

But while the P70 looks classic and elegant in its design, beneath the skin it’s packed with some of the latest maritime technology. That includes a bank of lithium-ion batteries that can power the yacht’s air conditioning and zero-speed stabilizers while at anchor overnight, without cranking-up the generator.

“Wooden motoryachts like this are the future,” says McMillan. “They’re light, sustainable, have a great strength-to-weight ratio, are highly fuel-efficient, and, as our P70 shows, can be turned into things of real beauty.”

The Spirit P70 is a modern gentleman’s runabout that can reach 29 mph and travel for 1,000 miles.

It took three painters seven months to varnish the interior.  Courtesy Spirit Yachts

The price of a new P70 starts at £4 million, or roughly $5.5 million.

 

 

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