When a superyacht charter gives a taste of a bygone era
Exploring the Mediterranean in summer-time aboard a superyacht with a glamorously vintage allure is a unique experience for any lover of sea and sailing. But add the opportunity to compete in classic regattas to the pleasures of a five-star charter and you get a cruise that whisks you away from the crazy pace of modern life to a gentler world that delivers the perfect mix of comfort and natural wind-powered exhilaration.
Emotions promised and delivered upon by Whitefin, a stunning yacht clothed in the classic lines of a vintage sailer that has become one of the real superstars of Equinoxe Yachts summer sailing catalogue. This 28-metre LOA superyacht brilliantly encapsulates Equinoxe Yachts’ talent for finding the perfect answer for clients in search of this very special kind of holiday. Whitefin’s captain Andrea Milan, who shares his passion for boat, sea and nature with his guests, describes the delights of the Whitefin experience.
Sailing aboard Whitefin really does have the charm of the yachting of a bygone era. So I’m sure you attract a particular kind of client. Describe the type of guest that opts for this style of navigation.
Sailing has always attracted people that love the sea in particular and nature in general. These are the kind of folks that really get the charm of a sail, that find it exhilarating when a boat gets up to a good brisk speed, when it heels in a gust of wind or when you glide along completely silently in light of the full moon. Whitefin offers all these emotions to her guests very freely indeed. And anyone that gets a taste of them usually wants to come back for more: it’s a fatal attraction. White Fin also delivers truly extraordinary performance under sail – as attested to by the many regattas she has won.
Whitefin under sail
What is Whitefin’s story? And how did she come to the luxury charter market?
Whitefin was a famous privately-owned boat. She was built in Maine in the US and launched in 1983. She stayed in America for a decade or so and then came to Europe, spending some time first in Spain and later in Italy. In 2015, she was bought by Joy Charter, an Italian company that saw the extraordinary potential this marvellous sailing yacht would have in Luxury Charter world. Whitefin is actually the perfect marriage of high performance sailing and comfortable interiors. She has four two-berth guest cabins and a saloon that even has a piano.
You don’t just offer cruises in the Mediterranean, you also race in the classic sailing regattas. What is the 2017 season looking like for you? But more importantly, is it possible to compete aboard with you guys?
This season is particularly varied. It starts off with a charter on the Amalfi Coast and then Elba followed by Sicily and Malta. Next up is Ionian Greece. After that we go up through the Adriatic to explore Croatia, a spectacular cruising destination: the sea is almost always calm with no backwash which can really affect onboard comfort, a nice 8 to 12-knot breeze every day (perfect for making 10-plus-knots under sail) and endless enchanting little ports, bays, beaches and towns to call to. It is definitely the sea I both know and love best. The season continues with Whitefin sailing back towards Greece again, then Sardinia. Lastly, she’ll compete in the classic sailing regattas on the Cote d’Azur in September – Le Vele d’Epoca d’Imperia, Les Régates Royales de Cannes and Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. Whitefin races in the Spirit of Tradition class which is for recently-built boats clothed in classic lines. Many of our guests adore the regattas and ask us if they can take part either as onboard spectators or actually helping out with the sailing. After a couple of days’ training, they are ready to take an active part in the thrill of a regatta. The context of these regattas is always enthralling: briefings, dinners, prize-givings, parties every day…and then if we are good and lucky enough to actually win…glory too!
What routes do you follow in Croatia and what would your ports of call be?
Croatia is spectacular: it has a navigable archipelago of around 3,000 islands scattered in such a way that you can choose to either sail in open sea or protected by a long chain of closely-packed islands which means it will be quite calm even in strong winds. There are just endless places to go but of all of them, I am particularly fond of the upper end of Croatia with the islands of Lussino (Losinj), Silba and Ulbo (Olib) as well as the Kornati archipelago. Magical places where the sea is an incredibly clear blue and dotted with bays and white sandy beaches. You come upon enchanting little towns where you can come ashore and eat incredibly fresh fish. There are also some splendid cities like Zara, Sebenico (Šibenik)and, further south, Split and Dubrovnik, which have so many attractions and very rich histories. This summer, White Fin will be doing a charter in the very south in early August after which we’ll be sailing further north to make our way down from Lussino all the way to Greece, skirting the coast of Albania too.
The charm of a classic sailing yacht like Whitefin really comes to the fore when she’s under sail: what is her performance like? What kind of passage-making speeds does she have?
Firstly, I should point out that Whitefin performs like a modern megasailer under sail rather than a classic yacht. Her hull is actually flat like a modern boat with a lead bulb with fins. This all guarantees her an enviable speed. Translated into knots, you could say that Whitefin makes the same speed as the wind – up to 12-13 knots, and often hits 16 knots too. It is truly spectacular, particularly when we unfurl the big 500 square metre blue and white gennaker. Upwind sailing is her forte: 10 knots is pretty normal for her and at those speeds, a daytime passage of 50 miles would be a normal stage. Daytime passages of 80 to 100 nautical miles are doable without tiring the guests, however. If the wind drops below 5 knots, we revert to engine power and can maintain a steady 8-knot cruising speed very easily. If we are making for a more destination that’s much further away, we will also keep going through the night and, on average, cover 200 nautical miles in 24 hours.
Whitefin’s interiors are exceptionally inviting. It’s not every day you find a piano, master stateroom and en suite bathroom with its own tub as well as first-class service on the same yacht.
The interior layout speaks for itself: four two-berth cabins for guests and two two-berths for the crew, a very cosy, inviting saloon and an enormous galley that wouldn’t be out of place in a hotel. But the most extraordinary thing is the finish. You won’t come across such wonderfully detailed interiors very often. Everything is beautifully refined and executed in solid woods crafted by expert cabinet-makers.
Aside from luxury charters, Whitefin is also very popular for team-building exercises, photo shoots and events. How does this aspect of this superyacht’s life work?
Especially during regattas, we have groups of managers or important clients of companies aboard who discover a sense of tight-knit team spirit by working together on Whitefin’s deck towards the common goal of winning the event. We’ve had the Porsche Europe Sales team, staff from finance companies and credit management companies aboard. They have always thoroughly enjoyed themselves with us – as we have with them. Whitefin has also been used as the backdrop for photo shoots on other occasions too.
The standard of the onboard service, the chef and gourmet menu are all things that even first-time charterers will be focusing on. Could you tell us a little about the crew?
The Whitefin crew is a team of four people: the captain, two deckhands/stewards and a professional chef. The whole team, chef included, takes turns on deck while we’re underway. They also look after the clients – serving at table and cleaning and tidying cabins and the interiors. Our crew was selected with great care and everyone speaks at least two languages.
Do you have a favourite story about life aboard Whitefin? Any times that stand out in your memory?
I have very happy and proud memories of a holiday on the Amalfi Coast with a very large family group from Luxembourg. One of the guests was the mother-in-law of the head of the family and she absolutely made the very most of every single moment of her time aboard this superyacht. And speaking of unusual guests, our oldest ever was an 83-year-old lady this spring during the Vela Cup in Santa Margherita Ligure – she followed the crew’s rhythm perfectly, moving from one side of the boat to the other to use her weight to help balance Whitefin when we were heeling.
Do you have a guest review that you were particularly delighted with?
I have lots of them and they’re all very positive. This is the latest one I received:
“Dear Andrea and Crew,
We are back in the US and still talk about the wonderful experiences we had aboard the Whitefin. Being first time charter guests, and especially on a sailing yacht, we had no idea what to expect. It was one of the best vacations we ever had and provided us endless quality family time. You and the entire crew were so hospitable, kind , knowledgeable and patient with our family. Your knowledge of the area and the secret gems we should see, helped us gain a true understanding for what the Amalfi coast has to offer.
The Whitefin, itself, what can I say? It is a beautiful classic yacht that is easy to appreciate and love. Your meticulous care of her is obvious as the boat shines and stands out among all others. We were proud to be aboard and look forward to another charter (Croatia?) next year!
Lisa, Andrew, Logan and Austin Ramos – June 2017 from the US