Yachts International - - Contents - By Alan harper

As she neared com­ple­tion, Elena, the 10th in Heesen’s 47-me­ter se­ries, fnds her per­fect match.

EV­ERY YACHTS­MAN ul­ti­mately would pre­fer a cus­tom build, one that per­fectly suits his needs and taste. Ship­yards, on the other hand, nat­u­rally pre­fer pro­duc­tion-line projects be­cause it’s a lot eas­ier to make some­thing you’ve made be­fore. The su­pery­acht busi­ness is in­creas­ingly about meet­ing in the mid­dle: giv­ing the cus­tomer the tai­lor-made yacht he wants while al­low­ing the ship­yard to beneft from economies of scale, stan­dard­ized work fows and greater po­ten­tial for profts.

The beau­ti­ful 153-foot (46.7-me­ter) Elena is the 10th of her type to roll out of the con­struc­tion halls at Heesen Yachts in Hol­land. She’s dif­fer­ent from each of her pre­de­ces­sors, but in terms of ma­chin­ery, hull de­sign and ba­sic lay­out, she’s also sub­stan­tially the same. Heesen be­gan her con­struc­tion long be­fore a cus­tomer had been found—quite a long time be­fore, as it turned out.

It’s not ex­actly a re­turn to the build-on-spec years that pre­ceded the global eco­nomic crash at many ship­yards, but rather a re­sponse to new con­cerns of clients post-re­ces­sion. The plain fact is, th­ese days many cus­tomers are un­will­ing to sign up for a three-year build be­cause they worry about whether the ship­yard will still be around at the end of it, says Mark Cavendish, Heesen’s direc­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing. Com­ing in with a year to go un­til com­ple­tion, though, you still get to spec­ify the in­te­rior of your choice, and there’s less wait­ing time. It’s the ship­yard tak­ing the risk in­stead of the cus­tomer.

A 10-hull se­ries of 150-foot yachts must be counted as a re­sound­ing suc­cess, and it’s easy to see the ap­peal of Heesen’s 47-me­ter class. It’s about as big a yacht as you can get with­out cross­ing into more heav­ily reg­u­lated and, thus, more ex­pen­sive 500-gross-ton ter­ri­tory. The se­ries has a beau­ti­fully sculpted, ef­f­cient dis­place­ment hull, a 15,850-gal­lon fuel ca­pac­ity and a range of 4,000 nau­ti­cal miles at 12 knots. The in­te­rior spa­ces are ex­pan­sive. The full-beam, main-deck owner’s state­room is nearly 30 feet (9.1 me­ters) across, and an­other four big guest cab­ins are be­low. The crew ac­com­mo­da­tions in the bow, built to the now-manda­tory MLC 2006 reg­u­la­tions, are ex­cep­tion­ally com­fort­able. And the yacht is built to frst-class Dutch stan­dards.

Elena’s in­te­rior was de­signed by Omega Ar­chi­tects, where Frank Laup­man’s team found it­self work­ing for a phantom client. Yet strangely, this wasn’t re­ally a prob­lem. Omega was cho­sen two years into the project, with still no buyer in sight, be­cause of the frm’s track record in cre­at­ing “clas­sic con­tem­po­rary” de­signs. The ship­yard felt that any­thing too sharp-look­ing wouldn’t suit a steel­hull, dis­place­ment su­pery­acht.

“The big risk to us is when we start on the in­te­rior,” Cavendish says. “That’s when we go down a par­tic­u­lar path. We choose the de­sign­ers ac­cord­ing to the style we think will ft.”

Laup­man knew Heesen well. Be­fore he set up Omega 20 years ago, he worked in Heesen’s de­sign depart­ment and helped es­tab­lish the ship­yard’s de­sign style.

“You can be pretty conf­dent about what buy­ers will ex­pect,” he says. “If you work with two or three of them, you can start to un­der­stand the tastes of the typ­i­cal Heesen cus­tomer.”

Aboard the com­pleted yacht, noth­ing be­trays the fact that the de­sign­ers were work­ing blind. They didn’t play it safe. The in­te­rior is nei­ther a beige waste­land nor a Scando-mod­ern wait­ing room. It’s invit­ing, conf­dent and co­her­ent. Any num­ber of quirky fea­tures and fx­tures lend real char­ac­ter to the yacht, in­clud­ing oc­ca­sional ta­bles and light ft­tings that seem to be as­sem­bled from twigs, fab­rics im­bued with the tex­tures and pat­terns of styl­ized fow­ers and leaves, and even a head in the mas­ter suite whose cen­tral fo­cus is a metaphor­i­cal hot spring em­a­nat­ing from a sym­bolic tree of life.

It works so well that it’s al­most as if the ab­sence of an owner fnd­ing fault or mak­ing well-in­tended sug­ges­tions helped the Omega de­sign­ers to fo­cus on ex­press­ing their cen­tral con­cept. Elena’s in­te­rior is strongly themed around the idea of the nat­u­ral world with the dining sa­lon in­tended to evoke the feel­ing of a for­est, the owner’s state­room de­signed to sug­gest a pond, the guest suites on the lower deck re­fect­ing the em­brace of an el­e­men­tal earth and the sky lounge, with its gold and blue … you get the pic­ture.

Ty­ing the whole thing to­gether is that un­reach­able place where the earth and the ocean meet the sky.

“We have a hori­zon in the de­sign—a hor­i­zon­tal line,” ex­plains Omega’s Jolanda Gerrits. “Be­low the line, we use darker-colored ma­te­ri­als and warm earth tones, like stained and nat­u­ral wal­nut and Em­per­ador mar­ble. Above the line it’s light-stained oak, cream and off-white leathers and fab­rics, and traver­tine mar­ble.” Light greens, pale blues and soft pur­ples pro­vide rest­ful vis­ual in­ter­ludes.

As her launch date ap­proached in Heesen’s Oss ship­yard, Elena still didn’t have an owner. She didn’t even have a name. The yard knew her as Project Mar­garita.

“We would nor­mally ex­pect to have sold her about a year be­fore de­liv­ery,” Cavendish says. Things were get­ting a lit­tle close to the wire, and

man­age­ment be­gan to think about hir­ing a crew and tak­ing her down to the Med to see if they could stir up in­ter­est. It all sounded rather ex­pen­sive.

Sum­mer was well on the way when ev­ery­thing fnally came to­gether. A cus­tomer from eastern Europe vis­ited the ship­yard to view some 37- and 40-me­ter de­signs. He wanted a pri­vate yacht he could use with his young fam­ily, and he hadn’t owned one be­fore. Af­ter he spot­ted the al­most-com­plete 47-me­ter, he was of­fered a tour. Told that she was avail­able al­most im­me­di­ately, in time for the start of the sea­son, he pon­dered. He had an­other look around. His ques­tions be­came more de­tailed. Then he made his de­ci­sion, and ev­ery­one at Heesen stopped hold­ing their breath.

“You could prob­a­bly hear the col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief all over the world,” Cavendish says with a smile.

When Elena was ex­hib­ited at the Monaco Yacht Show last fall, her vet­eran Aus­trian cap­tain, Mario Merl, de­scribed her sea tri­als in the North Sea in rough weather, which she came through with fy­ing colors. Then came an ex­ten­sive shake­down cruise in Nor­we­gian wa­ters with the owner and his fam­ily, fol­lowed by a long and sat­is­fac­tory pas­sage south to the Mediter­ranean via Gi­bral­tar. Be­tween then and the Monaco show, she had logged thou­sands of miles in the Adri­atic, around Cor­sica and Sar­dinia, and all along the South of France. Af­ter the show, the plan was to head for the Suez Canal, join a con­voy past So­ma­lia and then dis­cover the Sey­chelles.

It may have taken a while for Elena to fnd her owner, but she’s cer­tainly mak­ing up for lost time.

For more in­for­ma­tion: +31 (0) 412 66 55 44, heeseny­

BE­LOW: Two decks, two en­ter­tain­ment ar­eas. The pri­vate sa­lon up­stairs, and (bot­tom) the main-deck sa­lon, look­ing for­ward. left: Omega Ar­chi­tects is re­spon­si­ble for Elena’s in­te­rior and ex­te­rior de­sign.

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