Hybrid agility

Visit Agile Yachts

The goal with the Dutch-built Agile 42 was to identify and then deliver a very different type of offer in terms of high performance and quality…

A designer’s dream and a builder’s vision seem to have recently coalesced rather nicely to create the Agile 42, a brand new high-performance, all-carbon luxury cruiser from the Netherlands.

Successful entrepreneurs are hard to please. They’re demanding, uncompromising and don’t easily settle for second best. They’re also the market that Tim van Daal, CEO of VMG Yachtbuilders, and designer Maarten Voogd decided to target with a new brand, Agile Yachts, of which the Agile 42 was the first example to be launched last winter.

Voogd is one half of the design partnership Simonis Voogd, formed with Cape Town-based Alexander Simonis in 1991. Voogd and van Daal have been friends for over 20 years and both are based in the town of Enkhuizen on the Ijsselmeer, which is where they hatched the initial plans for Agile Yachts.

Agile: adj, able to move quickly and easily. The name is a promising start but how would they go about satisfying this exacting clientele?

‘We were thinking about what kind of boat we should build to target a new generation of successful professionals between 40 and 50 years old,’ says van Daal. ‘What kind of boat would they want? It was quite an organic process, starting with talking about what we like ourselves…’

It was fortunate then that both were more or less their own target market, and even more fortunate that Voogd already had a boat in mind. ‘I designed this boat on spec for myself as a follow-up to my own 35-footer,’ says Voogd. ‘If you like, my brief was more speed, so I could do the occasional medium-distance race, and more comfort, so I can sail more pleasantly with my family.

‘It was important to be able to sail the boat shorthanded, and that she handled easily. Having sailed extensively on the Fareast 31R and 28R over the last four years I know how well a boat like this can sail – now the challenge was to combine this with a simple but functional and stylish interior.’

Voogd’s work with the Fareast brand enabled the process to be fast-tracked, taking just one year from design to launch. ‘Over the last four years we have designed a full range of sportsboats, but every design had improvements over its predecessor. The hull shape for the Agile 42 is an evolution of this work – full-scale tank testing, you might call it!

Main picture: For a yacht with the modern and luxurious interior seen opposite to deliver the performance implicit in its styling demands a higher level of sophistication – and investment – in terms of build method. The Agile 42 delivers on the promise, founded upon the naval architecture of successful ‘freestyle’ raceboat designers and a Dutch shipyard well versed in high-quality joinery and advanced composites

‘We settled on a clean and tidy hull shape with a very flat run aft, but minimal wetted surface,’ adds Voogd. ‘This makes the boat slippery in all conditions. The SA:DSPL ratio is of modern proportions, but not extreme, accentuating the efficiency of the hull shape. However, the bow and chamfered hull deck joint are driven more by aesthetics than by performance!’

‘The choice of a single rudder over twin rudders is to minimise wetted surface, weight and cost,’ Voogd continues. ‘The hull shape doesn’t lift the rudder out of the water that quickly, so control is not really an issue. The soft chines are dictated by the maximum deck beam we allowed ourselves.

‘I wanted the boat to be interesting for shorthanded sailing so I added 750 litres of water ballast per side with an additional 250 litres in the transom corners for downwind trim.’

The build was a collaboration between Voogd and van Daal’s VMG Yachtbuilders. ‘VMG was started about 30 years ago under another name as a classic carpentry specialist yard,’ says van Daal. ‘When I came to the company in the middle of 2014 the former director stepped down and I took the lead. That’s also when we changed the name to VMG.

‘As a second speciality we introduced high-quality composite work. It was an easy decision to make because the yard was completely rebuilt in 2012 after a fire. Our premises are start-of-theart with full climate control and excellent insulation, the perfect conditions for composite work.

‘We already had a 3D measuring machine and a CNC milling machine so almost everything was there. We have a dedicated hall for composite work where we have a lamination machine; this is all well separated from the carpentry department which is actually in another building.

‘The keel bulb was cast by a specialist company but we made the mould in which it was cast. The welded keel fin was also fabricated by a specialist contractor. Apart from that we didn’t have to outsource anything.

‘We CNC milled the frames to which we bonded the foam hull core,’ explains van Daal. ‘Then we laminated on the outer skin with carbon pre-preg, vacuumed it, and the carbon inner skin was then added using resin infusion. Both skins have 0.8mm of carbon in two layers, and there are unidirectional carbon fibre reinforcements in the appropriate areas. There is a web frame under the floor with 30 layers of carbon that supports the keel.

‘The steering system is chain and cable with a carbon quadrant, engineered and produced by Jefa. It’s a plug-and-play system that always works perfectly. She has an Axxon Composite mast. The whole rig is 150kg and the boom only 15kg. It’s a beautiful rig, stepped by Tuned Rigs in Enkhuizen. For Code sails she has a 3m telescopic bowsprit, with 1.5m fixed and 1.5m retractable.’

On deck the dual-purpose, hybrid nature of this boat is most clearly displayed in the cockpit, where Voogd has drawn an L-shaped bench to starboard and offset the companionway to port. ‘It’s an important feature, and one I like. It makes the cockpit a fantastic social area after sailing and is not in the way when racing. More importantly, it enabled an efficient galley layout, and an almost symmetrical interior, which gives a spacious feeling.’

The Agile 42 can be ordered as a stripped-out racer, but the first boat is the High Performance Luxury Cruiser (HPLC) version, which features bespoke interior design. ‘Owners are invited to bring their own stylist,’ explains van Daal. ‘This target group tends to have a well-known stylist to take care of the family home, holiday home, office, even sometimes the family aircraft, so why not bring that guy to style the boat? The client really liked the idea and in this case he brought in Eric Kant, his stylist.’

Any potential performancelimiting issues with mahogany sideboards and grand pianos were soon sidelined as Kant sails too, so he understands how critical weight is to performance. The result showcases stylish, muted tones in leather, thin teak veneer over core joinery, dimmable LED lighting throughout illuminating the carbon fibre hull and gunmetal deckhead.

Below: All this and water ballast too… To achieve the sailing performance required of Agile’s target market of young entrepreneurs meant a very carefully conceived and executed solution to delivering a comfortable as well as attractive interior space. This is not a boat, nor a target client group, for a heavy and dark old-school interior; nevertheless, the builders have created an attractive modern look with quality finishes to assemble an appealing interior space without weighing the boat down. Far too many so-called dual-purpose yachts in reality just turn out to be fast cruisers and this is a trap that this confident young team made it their mission to avoid. Rather successfully, it transpires…

For weight saving and quiet propulsion she has Lithium Super B batteries, 8kW at 48v DC, powering a 10kW Oceanvolt electric motor that has regeneration capabilities. Deck gear is by Harken and B&G sensors drive Sailmon instruments with navigation controlled by mobile devices.

So have they managed to satisfy the owner? ‘He’s delighted,’ beams van Daal. ‘He’s been out in her about five times now, but he’s not a very experienced sailor – the last boat he had was a Laser. He says it’s like having driving lessons in a Lamborghini! He’s a fast learner, a very intelligent guy. He said, “I know I’m extremely demanding, but this is more than I ever expected.”

‘The boat is delivering so much more than even we expected. Every time Maarten Voogd joins us for a sail he says it keeps on surprising him. In 30kt of wind you never hear anything, it’s completely quiet, which is rare for a carbon boat. It just doesn’t give anything, it’s so stiff – that’s one of the things we’re so happy about. Maarten himself said, “I’ve built lots of boats, but never with this level of quality,” which was a great compliment.’

‘The biggest surprise is the actual feel of the boat,’ adds Voogd. ‘It feels so much bigger than a 42-footer, very stiff both structurally and in sailing behaviour. It’s a real blast, downwind as well as upwind. So far we have achieved 20kt of boatspeed on the Ijsselmeer in 20-25kt of TWS.’

The success of any brand is measured in a healthy order book so at this early stage in the brand’s genesis is there evidence that demand for the Agile 42 (priced from €595,000 ex tax for the raw race version) exists? ‘Absolutely,’ says van Daal. ‘We get enquiries every day, one in five of which is serious. In my opinion the interest is there because there’s not much choice in this market. We found a unique point between cruising and racing with a lot of comfort and all with super high quality.

‘One of our prospects has a team of good race sailors that go around Europe every year sailing the bigger ORC regattas. He said he was looking for a boat somewhere between the GP42 he used to own and the X-41 he sails now, and that’s exactly where this boat is.

‘It also very much appeals to my own sailing tastes. This is a boat I could very happily have myself!’

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