Yacht Design Paul De Saint Front

Paul De Saint Front


      Wahoo is one of the rare Phinisis projects that I have studied. She was designed to be built in Kalimantan (the island of Borneo) by one of the best traditional boat builders in Indonesia. These boats are traditionally built by eye without any plans, and can reach 60m in length. Many of the old customs and techniques are still in practice today, the art and hand craft that are displayed by these master craftsmen is a living example of years now past.

Specifications overview
architect: Paul de Saint Front
LOA (length overall): 57.3 m
Lh (hull length on deck): 46 m
LWL (waterline length): 40 m
BOA (beam overall): 10 m
Dt (draft underwater): 4.2 m
displacement (full): 600 tons
Sa (total sail area): 600 m²
hull material: classic wood
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Boatbuilding in Indonesia

     Indonesia has one of the richest and most ancient maritime cultures on earth. The Indonesian archipelago contains more than 17,000 individual islands, and sailing is perhaps one of the foundations of their culture, as they have made their living both on and from the sea for centuries. The sailors of Indonesia are known as “Bugis” and are considered the gypsies of the sea. The arts of boat building and sailing in Indonesia are my greatest inspiration, and this is what bring me in this fascinating country.


There are many rivers in Kalimantan, and most boatyard activity take place on the middle of the jungle where big tree can be found. We can see interesting boat build with mix of lap strake and carvel planking, but also many different type of cargo ship that carry wood log from Kalimantan to all over Indonesia.

In Indonesia ships are measured by the size of the keel, not the size of the deck. Most Indonesian ships have a straight stem with a sharp incline. The ships are built planking from the keel first, in a way similar to the Viking boat building technique. Framing is set in place once the skeen is finished. The shape of the hull is always double ended, with a stem and a stem post, and they build an unusual stern projection that can take many different shapes depending on what island the boat builder is from and his cultural style.

Indonesian wooden cargo ships are based on ancient sailing ships that have proven their efficiency over time, and still offer an attractive profile and set of lines today. I believed that this style could be the basis for a design of cruising boats if properly adapted for this purpose.

Most cargo ships optimize the hull volume as much as possible to maximize payload. Cruising and yachting boats of course carry no cargo, and therefore have different priorities in their design details. I collaborate with traditional boat builders to study the possibility of building a boat with traditional methods that could follow the exact line shape of a plan. One solution for this was to fit certain patterns in specific areas of the hull which could be used as a guide in order to produce the required shape.

Indonesia is a nation if islands, and as such boat building and sailing are keystones of its cultural foundation. Indonesia is blessed with a rich boat building tradition that has produced some of the most beautiful, and unique craft in the world. 

The beauty and efficiency are not a product of technical science, they are a product of the spiritual nature of these people and their culture. They are at one with their environment and they follow a path of least resistance in their lives and in their work. This philosophy contributes to the beauty and efficiency of their boat designs, and it comes from a basic and simple understanding of the world in which they live. 

This philosophy based in nature and balance allowed the peoples of the Indonesian islands to produce solutions to practical challenges long before the societies of Europe were able to able to. Not only did the boat builders of Indonesia begin making ocean going boats before the Europeans did, but their simple and natural designs have stood the test of time as well as the test of modern science. Their multi hull designs are as sound today as they were in ancient days, and the crab claw sail has been tested in wind tunnels and found to be superior to other rigs for efficiency and performance. 

The differences between the eastern world and the western world are many and great. The evolution of wooden boat building in both Asia and the Western world clearly demonstrates this difference. Perhaps in Europe the use of new technologies and materials is considered to be an improvement, while in Asia there seems to be an appreciation for things which have been proven over time and are in sync with nature and the environment. Different cultures offer unique solutions to similar engineering challenges, and this can be seen in the different styles of boat construction that we see today in Europe and Asia.

Europe in its pursuit of modern technology has nearly eliminated classic boat building practices and materials. Steel, and FRP materials dominate the European industry. When wooden boat building became popular once again in Europe modern methods of manufacture were introduced which offered both efficiency and economy of production. These developments in Europe produce a craft which requires much less wood than classical methods, and therefore produce a more ecologically friendly boat.

While the Asian boat building industry still uses many traditional techniques and materials, new standards are being developed which will improve not only the quality of the craft produced, but the industry’s impact on the environment as well.

Environmental sustainability is a growing concern for every industry, and boat building is no exception. Many of the classic hardwoods that were standard materials in boat building once upon a time have been over harvested and are becoming scarce and difficult to replace. Some woods, such as Ulin (iron wood), once a favorite of Indonesian boat builders are now very scarce or  banned from use altogether. Many other woods no longer have the mature forests that they once did, and current harvests come from trees much younger than previous generations. A 20 year old tree does not have the strength that an older tree would have. For these as well as many other environmentally sound reasons the boat building industry is looking to materials which have less of an impact on our environment. Bamboo is just one of the solutions to our need for quality materials which will not harm our environment.

Materials like bamboo which have been in use for thousands of years are experiencing a modern re-birth. With modern processing and laminating techniques bamboo is being used to produce plywood sheeting, flooring and even beams and structural members.  

The properties of bamboo make it a very attractive material for construction. It is extremely light, and has tremendous strength. In many applications it can match or outperform other more common materials. It is possible to use bamboo in strip planking, plywood, or cold molded techniques with a bamboo veneer. With bamboo we can now build boats that are as efficient as they are light and strong

Ancient Chinese and Vietnamese boat builders used bamboo to produce boats up to 25m in length, and now with modern processing and construction techniques we could expect to see new and exciting bamboo boats in the waters of Asia in the near future. 

Many other materials are available for use in fiber form, all of which are technologies which can be assimilated with FRP techniques.

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