Cd’A Magazine: Ship of Dreams

Cd’A Magazine: Ship of Dreams

Show-Stealer The Coeur d’Alene Wooden Boat Festival brings a wealth of intriguing craft to Lake Coeur d’Alene every summer, from antique beauties to modern builds. Boat lovers stroll the docks admiring their favorites, appreciating the look and feel of well-crafted wood.

Last summer’s show-stealer literally towered over the rest of the fleet. Her gleaming finish, tall mast and unusual layout attracted a crowd. Her admirers typically did a double-take at the boat’s size and design, then fired off a flurry of questions. What kind of boat is this, anyway? Where was it built? What’s it made of? Then they pulled out their cameras. The beautiful blue boat summoned a special kind of curiosity, admiration and the uncontrollable urge to snap a photograph.

Witness the magic of Sizzler, a one-of-a-kind sailing craft that has boat aficionados buzzing. Crafted from an owner’s exacting vision, this work of art combines traditional and exotic materials from around the world, and pairs the best of big yacht systems with a small boat’s pure sailing ability.

At the end of the Wooden Boat Festival, one person sailed the 42,000-pound boat away single-handedly, a testimony to the simplicity of function inherent in her design. As she returned to her berth across the lake, the yacht responded to fingertip helm control, tacking nicely in a light breeze to carry her home into the sunset.

The Dream

Sizzler began with a promise between the owners, Duane Hagadone and his wife, Lola. They were cruising the world on their 205-foot motor yacht, Lady Lola, when someone made an offer to buy their boat. In the end, they relented, but only after promising each other they’d own another boat soon.

This sailboat had been taking shape in Hagadone’s thoughts for some time. He wanted a simple, yet elegant, yacht to ply the fresh waters on his native Lake Coeur d’Alene . He wanted striking good looks above decks and below. The wanted the best of both comfort and performance. And to top it all off, he wanted a boat that could be sailed by just one person, without relying on a boatload of crew to handle the heavy loads.

“We were impressed with the beautiful sailboats we saw in various ports of call, but they all came with sizeable crews,” the owner says. “I liked the idea of being able o sail the boat myself. I wanted to see if we could build something completely different.”

He’s a man with an eye for detail, a perfectionist who likes things done right. The boat he had in mind would have to be expertly designed and fastidiously built down to the smallest detail. It would have to look absolutely gorgeous, and it would have to sail fast.

His first call was to naval architect and shipyard owner Richard Hein, who had designed and built Lady Lola. Hagadone and the shipbuilder had many interesting conversations about the concept. Hein was vital to the process. He reviewed the best of European yacht designers, helped handpick designer Tony Castro for the job, and flew to Coeur d’Alene with him to research the yacht. When Castro saw where this new boat would sail, he was suitably impressed.

“One does not often get approached to design a 60-foot custom day-sailor yacht for a lake,” he says. “And this is a magnificent lake with sheltered waters, typically lighter winds and a variety of gorgeous waterfront restaurants to visit.”

From the beginning, the owner was involved in every aspect of the project. When he hosted the design team in Coeur d’Alene, he pointed out the lake’s prevailing wind and weather, water depth and access to docks and other facilities. He also shared his vision for this revolutionary new boat.

Hagadone grew up on Lake Coeur d’Alene and explored its nooks and crannies as a child. He knew the lake well. He had fond memories of sailing with his boys in the family’s previous craft, and Erickson 36. He enjoyed watching the sunset while underway and sailing home by moonlight. It was an experience he wanted to share again with family and friends.

He gave his designers an unusual request – specifying that the boat have no overnight accommodations. Instead, the space should be used to maximize the potential for entertaining onboard. The dream was for the owners to walk down the dock at their lake home, board their pride and joy, and enjoy a summer’s evening cruise to their favorite lakefront restaurant.

For his post-dinner cruising plans, the owner had something special in mind. He remembered in earlier days enjoying Lake Coeur d’Alene’s unique phenomenon, a wind condition local sailors refer to as the Wolf Lodge Express. Nearly every summer evening, a few minutes after the sun goes down, a breeze begins to blow out of the east as the land cools faster than the water. It’s a reliable and steady wind, a true sailor’s delight. Hagadone’s new boat would be designed to leave the dock after dinner, head out and hoist sails, and catch the fresh Wolf Lodge Express for a sweet downwind ride back home.

“I love being on the water, and I love the sound of nothing but the wind,” Hagadone says. “I wanted to return to what I loved about sailing.”

Building the Sizzler

The design that came back from Castro’s drawing board was for a boat 60 feet long, moderate in width and inte3ded to be fast in a variety of conditions. And the name? Castro suggested it, after repeated planning sessions in which Hagadone kept telling him how important the extra features, or “sizzle,” were to anything new the owner created.

For example, the yacht’s dock lines would be mounted on invisible reels inside the boat to retract them neatly from view when not in use. That’s just one example of “sizzle” – and the boat is absolutely packed with them. “Where’s the sizzle?” Hagadone would ask, time and again.

“Why don’t you call is Sizzler?” Castro finally asked him. The name eventually took.

At first, it was assumed that one of the world’s major yacht builders would create this boat. Then, realization grew that the answer might be close to home, The Hagadone group of companies includes a marine division with craftsmen skilled at building and maintaining boats. Could this project be built right there in Idaho? Craig Brosenne, general manager of The Hagadone Marine Group, stepped up to the challenge at The Resort Boat Shop.

To build the yacht, his crew created a completely new operation, They honed old skills, learned new skills, and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with international experts like Giorgio Cecchinato, who builds offshore and America’s Cup race boats.

“It was a real opportune it for our team to create something that had never been done before, anywhere,” Brosenne says. “It was with a great deal of pride that we saw this beautiful boat through from start to finish.”

After the delicate maneuver of flipping the hull right side up with two giant cranes, it was time to begin fitting the interior and deck. With so many systems slotted into small spaces, the working quarters were snug and the work intricate and extremely time-consuming. Every bit of the boat was precisely executed to tolerances of 1 millimeter or less. After 13 months, she was nearly complete – a remarkable labor of love.

“Our guys each brought their unique set of skills to building Sizzler,” Brosenne says. “They worked together really well to create something that had never been done before. A great deal of credit goes to Jim Brown and the entire Resort Boat Shop team for their dedication on a 30,000-man-hour journey, start to finish.”

The mast was fitted, as well as sails, lines and other final bits of trim. Her launch date was followed by several weeks of testing and fine-tuning. Her delivery to her owner in July 2007 was a proud moment for everyone involved.
“My hat is off to the entire build team,” Hagadone says. “They did an unbelievable job. They truly created a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of a sailing vessel.”

Onboard the Yacht

One of Sizzler’s most striking details is her streamlined deck layout. Hagadone made this an essential part of the design mandate, even going so far as to insist that traditional lifelines would not be a part of the vessel. With no deck hardware in sight, Sizzler’s lines are clean and sharp.

Another unique feature is the boat’s stunning blue finish. Hagadone likes a particular shade of blue as evidenced by the color schemes of many of his business holdings. After smoothing the hull’s final layer of mahogany to perfection, The Resort Boat Shop crew applied 16 coats of clear epoxy, followed by four layers of blue-tinted Alexseal clear coat, three more layers of clear Alexseal and a five-stage puffing process with one final coat of wax to follow.

The term “mirror finish” does not begin to do it justice. The boat’s hull appears different in a different light; sometimes so translucent the wood gleams through, other times nearly black in appearance.

Another distinctive feature of Sizzler is her twin helm stations. Edson steering wheels on either side of the cockpit allow the helmsman to drive from the preferred side of the boat. This is important for the helmsman’s comfort, as well as his ability to see the sails, the water ahead and any boat traffic. When the boat tacks across the wind, the driver can simply move to the boat’s opposite side.

Each of Sizzler’s helm stations holds more than a dozen push buttons to control the sails using an elaborate hydraulics system from Italian yacht supplier Cariboni. This system honors one of the owner’s most important requests for the boat – that she have the ability to be managed by only one person. On a traditional sailboat of this size, an entire crew of sailors would be required to deal with the heavy loads and large sail plan. Thanks to the genius of hydraulics, the single-handed sailor need only press the right button at the right time.

The helm stations also contain other ship’s controls, such as the joysticks that command the hydraulic bow and stern thrusters and make it possible to maneuver the yacht in tight spaces. The engine controls, as well as one entire panel of switches for the ship’s incredible lighting system, are also housed here.

The deck layout, like the rest of Sizzler, reflects a mix of traditional and modern elements, from her elegantly curved open transom to her racy plumb bow. Her cockpit and decks are made from Burmese teak with a lovely honey-colored finish. Winches are hidden from view beneath the decks. Instead, ropes disappear into openings in the boat, where invisible hydraulic forces below work their magic. Not even an anchor breaks the smooth lines of her bow. Sine this boat was made strictly for sailing from dock to dock in sheltered waters, no anchor, anchor chain, or windlass is required.

One of her most impressive features is a passerelle, an innovative boarding system that hydraulically unfolds from the stern to provide a safe, secure and elegant solution for boarding the yacht.

Sizzler’s cockpit is considerably larger than most sailboats her size. It’s distinctively built for entertaining, with large comfortable couches upholstered in buttery-soft fabric arranged to port and starboard. Tables rise up from the cockpit seats.

The carbon fiber mast and boom came from Southern Spars in New Zealand. At the touch of a button, the mainsail unfurls from the boom and rises to the top of the nearly 90-foot-tall mast. The North Sails main and headsail are made of carbon fiber for weight savings and advanced sail shape. Another headsail, the Code Zero, is designed for light winds and downwind sailing, and is made from Kevlar.

Below decks, the boat is an art piece, a study in workmanship in contrasting materials. In the main salon, fine upholstery is paired with steel appliances, carbon countertops, teak flooring and varnished mahogany walls. The fine fabrics and finishes come from the practiced eye of Guy Dreier, and architect who also designed the Hagadone’s’ Palm Desert home.

The galley has a refrigerator and freezer, an icemaker, and even a microwave oven for making one of the owner’s favorite snacks – fresh popcorn. A unique round skylight overhead lets in plenty of natural light. There’s also a seating area below in case of inclement weather, as well as a locker complete with special Sizzler jackets and caps for guests to wear. In the bathroom, the fixtures are built entirely from carbon fiber for a unique appearance and lightweight construction. All lights below decks can be adjusted to any level desired.

In many boats this size, the forward end of the boat would be used for overnight accommodations. On Sizzler, with no need for berths, this area becomes a tech room space filled with batteries, hydraulic pumps and hydraulic rams. Instead of being covered up like they might be on some yachts, these are intentionally exposed and gleaming showpieces. These hydraulics raise and lower the mainsail, furl and unfurl and headsail, and even power the ship’s Volvo Penta auxiliary engine runs during times of peak load to drive the propeller and other key systems.

Sizzler’s adjustable keel is also controlled hydraulically, another unique part of the boat’s custom design for Lake Coeur d’Alene. Many of the desirable destinations on the lake, including waterfront restaurants, have docks with a depth of just 10-12 feet of water even at the lake’s higher summer levels.

Consequently, when Sizzler is at rest at the dock, her keel is designed to be only eight feet below the waterline. Yet in order to carry the impressive amount of sail that she does, the boat needs a longer keel to counterbalance all that force above. The solution was a keel that drops from eight feet of draft down to 12 feet before sailing, putting the 16,000- pound keel in position to balance the sail plan.

Whether sailing across Lake Coeur d’Alene or sitting alongside the dock, the boat is an absolute stunner. Cameras flash and everyone cruises by to wave hello and get a closer look. And at night, Sizzler really shines as her custom lighting system puts on an extraordinary light show.

In addition to her required navigation lights, she has underwater lights both to port and starboard, cockpit lights beneath the seats, spreader lights shining both upward and downward along the mast, and boom lights illuminating the cockpit. A series of brilliant blue lights arranged along each side of the boom light up the mainsail to make the spectacular image complete.

Sailing a Dream

Underway, Sizzler shows her championship pedigree and masterful build. She excels in a variety of conditions from light breezes to strong winds. With her sails balanced, the boat offers a light and responsive helm. She shows an exceptional talent for creating her own breeze in light winds, and can often be found sailing at 15- percent of the speed of the actual wind. On a windy day she flies comfortably along at a sustained 12 knots, with bursts of higher speed when conditions are right.

Sizzler delivers pure sailing pleasure. Her owner has seen his dreams take shape before his very eyes; from a mere concept to a beautiful boat he loves to command.

“The end result exceeded all my expectations,” Hagadone says. “I’m very proud that this caliber of yacht was built by our own people right here in Coeur d’Alene. I just love sailing this boat. It’s a real delight to be at the helm.”

His summer office has panoramic vistas of Lake Coeur d’Alene, a view that might prompt him some days to knock off a bit early, ring up his private captain, and head out into the prevailing southwesterly breezes for a fine afternoon sail.

Other days, conditions are right for a cruise to dinner, followed by an evening sail across one of the world’s liveliest lakes. The moon comes up over the mountains, the Wolf Lodge breeze kicks in, and the boat is absolutely flying through the dark, skimming the water smoothly, her tall sails pulling with the power of the elements.

Because quite beyond her fabulous looks, her sizzle-factor features, and her creature comforts, this is at heart one very fine sailing machine.

Published: Cd’A Magazine, Summer 2008 (PDF)