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May 2004

Article selected from our quarterly magazine dedicated to the largest and most luxurious boats with information, interviews, technical articles, images and yachting news



Yachting catalogue

Navigation tests

Used boats


Video Nautica

Article by
Angelo Colombo;

Photos by
Onne Van Der Wal


The whisper of the wind belongs to sailors, like the flavour and smell of the sea itself, elements which, when you are back on land, call to you and come to the fore whenever sailing is the subject of your dreams or even only a mnemonic reference. The music of the wind is a symphony whose conductor seems to improvise each time, music for which there is no score, a jam session played with the aid of the elements: man can only be the audience. "Whisper" is the name of this splendid sloop we're about to describe, that whisper which a sailboat leaves in its wake and which blends in harmoniously with the wind. A discreet whisper, the result of waterlines that caress the sea, thanks to the powerful sail plan that carries them and from which they obtain energy.

"Whisper" was developed entirely by Fountaine Design Group and built at the Dutch boatyard Holland Jachtbouw. The design and fitting out were conceived with basic elements of classic inspiration, side by side with a modern profile and a powerful sloop rigged sail plan. The owner of this "lady of the sea" is an American enthusiast with a track record in important international competitive events. What he had in mind was a top performance boat with a high level of comfort for himself and his guests under all conditions. Another fundamental aspect determining design choices was the owner's wish to have a yacht that was also suitable for charter on the east coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. The designers saw the demanding owner's requirements as a challenge from which a unique boat would emerge, technologically advanced and stylistically refined. These requirements may also be observed on other yachts but, on each one, what changes is the interpretation of those who have conceived it. We might say that we are dealing with works on the same subject, but seen with different eyes, like a landscape by Monet and one by Van Gogh. Of course designers have to respect the laws of physics, so the Fountaine Design Group had to do various tank tests before arriving at the definitive creation of "Whisper's" hull. It is entirely in aluminium, as is the superstructure, the latter of relatively modest dimensions to avoid disturbing the thrust of the external layout.


LOA.: 35.46 metres
Length on waterline: 27.03 metres
Beam: 8.30 metres
Draft: 2.50/6.06
Displacement: 162.000 Kg.
Sail area: 565 square metres (mainsail + genoa)
Engines: 2x300 HP Lugger coupled to ZF gearmotor and variable pitch screw
Manoeuvring propellers: one at the bow (50 Kw) and one at the stern (30 Kw)
Fuel tank: 11.000 litres
Water tank: 5.000 litres
Classification: Lloyds Register Maltese Cross 100A1, SSC Yacht, Mono, G6, LMC M.C.A. Cayman Islands.

For further information contact Holland Jachtbouw; Vredeweg 32b; 1505 JJ Zaandam; The Netherlands; tel. +31 075 6149133; fax +31 075 6149135; e-mail; website

The line is clean and classic, each stylistic element proportioned and harmoniously inserted into the whole, precisely what the owner originally wanted. But to achieve such harmony of forms the boat had to be lengthened with regard to the size envisaged initially. The result is a design that best expresses the experience and personality of the designer and the owner's idea of "Whisper" when he first imagined it. Ted Hood, America's Cup skipper, creator of the famous Hood Sails and mentor of Ted Fountaine, persuaded the designer to increase the initially envisaged size of the carbonium mast to its actual 46.50 metres above water level. This turned out to be a winning choice: "Whisper" can thus carry sufficient canvas to sail even in light winds. The sail plan was studied and created to be handled by a small crew, so all the running rigging can be handled from the navigation area where there are two steering stations, complete with instruments and with excellent visibility on all points of sailing. The deck offers spacious relaxation areas: aft of the cockpit there is a sun-deck while forward there is a spacious open air saloon with sofas and tables, from which access is gained to the pilot house. Inside the deckhouse are the saloon, the dining room, the bridge, a bar and access to the lower deck. The interiors, designed and developed by Andrew Winch, include an owner's suite aft which runs the whole width of the beam and is equipped with sofa, dressing table area, office corner, private bathroom and independent access from the aft area of the deck as well as from the central corridor of the night-time zone. There are two guest cabins forward of the owner's suite, one with double bed and a double room with single beds. Whisper's central zone has another single cabin on the starboard side and a spacious galley/pantry to port, as well as two guest bathrooms. Forward of the mainmast there is a spacious saloon with a dining table on the starboard side and a relaxation area to port. This area communicates with the pilot house upper deck, and the two environments are separated only by a balcony and a companionway. The area forward is entirely for the crew: two double cabins with bunk beds and a single cabin for the skipper, a small sitting room, a galley and a dining area. Andrew Winch describes "Whisper's" interiors as a combination of classic and modern in which the furnishings correspond to classic stylistic canons with decorative details that give the layout a more modern and original aspect. As we said, Fountaine carried out numerous tank tests with a 1:20 scale model at the University of Southampton in order to check the hydrodynamic responses of "Whisper's" Deltaform hull and the dagger-board keel which makes it possible to explore areas with shallow waters. The rudder too has an electro-hydraulic control for increasing/decreasing its depth thus facilitating steering in various wind conditions and making for safe sailing in shallow seas. The engine room, which houses two Lugger engines of 300 HP each, two 35 Kw generators, de-salting apparatus and other mechanical and electrical systems, was designed in accordance with MCA regulations which also prescribe the necessity of being able to inspect and work on each individual system absolutely independently. The sail plan includes mast and boom in carbonium with a hydraulic sail hoisting system . The boatyard created the hull and deck under Lloyd's supervision. Moreover, with regard to respecting MCA regulations, the hull was divided into five watertight compartments to ensure floatability even following extensive damage to the hull. The choice of twin engines was dictated by the wish to make "Whisper" suitably fast also under power, to meet the typical requirements of charter sailing where there are pre-established ports of call and time schedules to be respected. Though there are two engines, "Whisper" can sail with good averages on one engine only, bringing its range to no less than 3.000 nautical miles. As for the sails, these were specially designed and manufactured by North Sails and Tom MacLaughlin. You need only take a glance to see that "Whisper" was not ordered by an owner without sailing experience. In fact over the last 13 years he has sailed on a great number of 30 metre plus yachts, noting all the details he felt to be worth remembering in order to create what is now his own vessel. It should be pointed out that from the design phase this splendid yacht took no less than five years to build. But every work takes the time it needs, and in these cases only the symphony of the wind may be granted improvisation.