Vela sails into high demand in Indonesia
A stunning six-cabin phinisi delivered in 2022, the 50m Vela is already in high demand for memorable charters in Indonesia, available through Camper & Nicholsons.
Words: Julia Zaltzman
Photos: Camper & Nicholsons
Built in Sulawesi, Vela was launched in 2022
In the 20th century, phinisis were built by the seafaring cultures of South Sulawesi to carry exotic spices, sandalwood and textiles through the ancient spice trading route. Today, new phinisis are primarily Indonesian charter yachts built for cruising, diving and recreational activities.
Although the onboard pursuits may have altered, the distinctive architecture and boatbuilding skills of the UNESCO-recognised Bugis Makassar community have not, resulting in striking new builds, such as the 50m Vela, which offers a harmonious blend of ancient craftsmanship and enchanting cruising opportunities.
Vela is among the newest phinisis operating charters
Accommodating up to 12 adults and two children, Vela is available for charter throughout Indonesia with Camper & Nicholsons. The boat’s cruising itinerary takes in Raja Ampat in the winter, where guests swim with manta rays during drift and reef dives in richly biodiverse waters.
In the summer months, Bali and the Komodo National Park offer shoreside sightings of Komodo dragons and whale shark encounters, while the option of exploring the famed Spice Islands in between seasons allows for treks into rainforests in search of the elusive Bird of Paradise.
Most dining takes place outdoors, such as on the foredeck
There’s also the option of exploring off-the-beaten-track destinations in Flores, east of Komodo, and the Alor archipelago further east.
Vela (meaning shoreline) is one of the largest phinisis on water. Built by Pak Haji Abdullah in 2022 at its Sulawesi shipyard, the boat successfully unites old construction techniques with a modern offering.
Its two hotelier owners, Dimitri Tran and Adrien Portier, have brought their hospitality expertise to the water with the aim of redefining the phinisi charter experience.
View of the bow from the bridge
“We wanted to build a boat that feels like it belongs in Indonesia, but to standards that are more comparable to a superyacht in the Mediterranean,” says Tran, who celebrated Vela’s delivery by enjoying a 10-day Indonesian cruise with Portier and friends, with fireworks and beach barbecues among highlights.
“Modern phinisis are powered by an engine with the sails kept for their aesthetic beauty, but we wanted Vela’s sails to be more than decoration and for the boat to be able to sail whenever wanted.”
BUILT TO SAIL
Designed by naval architect Tresno Seery, Vela is a tall phinisi and boasts a large sail surface with 650sqm of off-white gaff-rigged sails.
The aft deck has wraparound seating and a covered dining table
The sleek, pronounced hull is made from durable ironwood – which ensures good seakeeping in rough, high seas – and a superstructure primarily crafted from teak.
The boat’s 32m-high masts and classic schooner rigging with winches, booms and gaffs set her apart from other phinisi yachts and deliver impressive sailing capabilities that showcase true artisanal skill. A double keel gives the boat weight under the waterline, while the implementation of a marine cooling system – another notable difference – further enhances guests’ onboard comfort.
The lounge offers views through large windows
Vela’s spars are made of carbon, but the masts are crafted from steel. The main mast doubles as a crane to lift the yacht’s toys and tenders in and out of the water. It eliminates the need for a separate hydraulic crane on deck, freeing up the exterior areas for dining, relaxing and socialising, as well as enhancing the efficiency and convenience of the boat’s charter operations.
The opportunities for fun on the water are boundless. In addition to two Zodiac tenders, the yacht carries a fantastic selection of water toys including two Yamaha jet-skis, waterskis, wakeboards, paddleboards, surfboards, kayaks and various towables.
Indoor dining in the saloon
For guests keen to explore beneath the waves under the expert guidance of Vela’s dedicated diving instructor, there are two Bauer air compressors, a Nitrox generator and 17 sets of diving gear for an autonomous set-up in even the most remote areas.
Back on board, guests unwind at the hands of Vela’s trained masseuse or toast bright-red sunsets from the stargazing deck with signature cocktails, crafted by the onboard mixologist.
The master suite on the bridge deck has 270-degree views and its own balcony
Solid teak furniture produced by local artisans using teak from sustainably managed sources is found throughout the yacht. In addition to the yacht’s zero-plastic policy, reef-safe bath and body products made with natural ingredients and bamboo toothbrushes are offered in respect of Indonesia’s delicate cruising environment and responsible charter offerings.
Likewise, the interior is both refined and contemporary with carefully sourced materials chosen by the owners from overseas. There are white linen and fabrics by brands such as Hermès, Dedar Milano and Rubelli, reading lamps by Contardi Italia, brass door handles made in Italy by Olivari, and silverware produced by Cutipol in Portugal.
The large VIP suite is on the main deck
Among Vela’s standout features are the six en-suite guest cabins, which include the full-beam bridge deck master with a private terrace, and the similarly-sized VIP on the main deck, both offering panoramic views out to sea.
Each cabin features a bathroom with Axor fittings and dressed in white marble and green tiles made by Balinese ceramics specialist Gaya. Hand-woven plant fabrics, traditional kimonos and decorative throw pillows made from natural plant-based indigo add an elegant touch.
Artworks have been sourced from leading galleries
A formal saloon is the yacht’s only indoor dining option, with nearly all meals taking place outdoors on either the main deck forward or aft. The chef’s culinary skills are far-reaching and tailored to guests’ preferences – nasi goreng with a side serving of sambal one night, mushroom risotto the next.
For the yacht’s 15 artworks, the owners collaborated with three of Indonesia’s leading contemporary galleries. “Our mandate was to showcase up-and-coming talent and highlight what Indonesian contemporary art is today,” Tran says.
Vela’s six en-suite guest cabins include two doubles in the hull
As Vela was built with charter in mind, Tran and Portier now have their sights set on further phinisi builds, smaller in size to accommodate couples and families, but always striking a careful balance between old and new. And with over 15 charters already booked on Vela for 2023, their first build is already resonating with adventurous charter guests looking to enjoy an authentic slice of phinisi life.