At 143m LOA, A is the world’s largest pri­vately-owned, sail-as­sisted mo­tor yacht. She’s ser­viced by an ex­otic fam­ily of four ten­ders – su­perb cre­ations from Auck­land’s Lloyd Steven­son Boat­builders.


Owned by a Rus­sian O busi­ness­man, A is from the draw­ing board of leg­endary French de­signer Philippe Starck, and she was built by No­biskrug in Kiel, Ger­many. Also leg­endary are Starck’s (and the owner’s) de­mands for ex­cep­tional stan­dards of qual­ity. That didn’t worry Lloyd Steven­son Boat­builders (LSB) – the yard has an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for its crafts­man­ship – but con­struc­tion of the four ves­sels pre­sented ma­jor en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges.

Auck­land naval ar­chi­tect Brett Bakewell-white was tasked with turn­ing the de­sign con­cepts into work­able boats, a chal­lenge he read­ily con­cedes re­quired out­side-the- square think­ing. But the re­sults speak vol­umes – each of the four was a be­spoke build process – and is a work of art in its own right.

They do, how­ever, share a few com­mon fea­tures. A key one is the com­plete lack of vis­i­ble ex­ter­nal hard­ware. Many things pop out with elec­tri­cal­ly­op­er­ated ac­tu­a­tors. Even the Man­son sub­ma­rine an­chors are hid­den. These drop from a pocket un­der the wa­ter­line, mid­line in the hull. And, apart from the work­boat, all in­te­ri­ors are hand-crafted leather uphol­stery with teak decks.

Propul­sion, too, is rel­a­tively stan­dard. Each ten­der is pow­ered by twin 370hp Yan­mar 8LV diesels. This sim­pli­fies the spares in­ven­tory – and main­te­nance – on the moth­er­ship. Three of the ten­ders use Yan­mar ZT370 stern­drives with duo­props, while the alu­minium-hulled work­boat has a pair of Hamil­ton HJ292 jets.

But ‘work­boat’ is a mis­nomer for the ten­der known as SYA 4, though she is used most of­ten. Far from a util­i­tar­ian, cargo-car­ry­ing barge, this lux­ury 11.7m cata­ma­ran is built in pol­ished alu­minium with a teak-clad in­te­rior.

The aft third of the hull has a pol­ished mir­ror fin­ish which cre­ates an in­trigu­ing op­ti­cal il­lu­sion – that part of the boat seem­ingly ‘dis­ap­pears’ when seen from the side. Brushed alu­minium on the rest of the hull does the op­po­site, re­flect­ing noth­ing off the wa­ter and hid­ing its shape.

Fea­tur­ing asym­met­ri­cal plan­ing demi-hulls with spray rails and chines, SYA 4 is de­signed to op­er­ate for up to 12 hours a day fer­ry­ing guests’ lug­gage, sup­plies – and some­times pas­sen­gers. The cen­tre bow sec­tion low­ers hy­drauli­cally, al­low­ing walk-on ac­cess from re­mote beaches where the Hamil­ton jets en­able her to op­er­ate in shal­low wa­ter.

De­spite her 9.5 tons she has a max­i­mum speed of 28 knots and, with a 600-litre fuel ca­pac­ity, can run con­sid­er­able dis­tances.

The two mid-range ten­ders are de­scribed as lim­ou­sines, each de­signed to carry eight pas­sen­gers and two crew in stately com­fort. SYA 2 is a 10.75m

en­closed cabin ver­sion, keep­ing guests co­cooned in a pre­cisely-con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment. Fully air-con­di­tioned and lined wall-to-ceil­ing with white leather and pol­ished teak, she ex­udes lux­ury.

Both lim­ou­sines ( SYA 2 and SYA 3) are built of e-glass and car­bon fi­bre over a foam core, and in ad­di­tion to the twin en­gines with stern­drives are also equipped with wa­ter­jet side thrusters and gyro sta­bil­i­sa­tion to prevent guests feel­ing queasy in rough con­di­tions.

The tran­som’s cen­tre sec­tion folds down, form­ing a board­ing plat­form with a built-in swim lad­der. A max­i­mum 35-knot speed de­liv­ers guests to des­ti­na­tions ef­fi­ciently.

SYA 3 is the open limou­sine and, at 11.95m, is frac­tion­ally longer. She fea­tures a bi­mini-type roof which can be raised, al­low­ing guests to ex­pe­ri­ence the open air. If they pre­fer, the roof can re­main closed, with the air con­di­tioner to keep things com­fort­able while they en­joy 360o views from the glass en­clo­sure.

The two lim­ou­sines share sim­i­lar build and de­sign char­ac­ter­is­tics, and the open model is fin­ished in strik­ing or­ange leather, mar­ble bench tops and pol­ished stain­less in­te­rior.

And then there’s SYA 1.


De­signed for the owner’s ex­clu­sive use, this car­bon-fi­bre, stepped-hull de­sign reaches 53 knots flat-out. Again, she fea­tures a com­pletely smooth ex­te­rior with all hard­ware hid­den, in­clud­ing a fore­deck that rises on elec­tric ac­tu­a­tors to form a sun­roof over a lux­u­ri­ous leather lounger. A re­frig­er­a­tor and se­ri­ous sound sys­tem help cre­ate a con­vivial at­mos­phere for owner and guests.

All four ten­ders fit into in­di­vid­ual, cus­tom ‘garages’ on ei­ther side of A’s hull – and tol­er­ances are tight. In places clear­ance for the two long­est ten­ders is less than 50mm – a de­tail that of­fers some per­spec­tive on the term ‘pre­cise spec­i­fi­ca­tion’.

Luke Hill, LSB’S mar­ket­ing and peo­ple man­ager, says this enor­mous project took nearly two years to com­plete, all while the com­pany con­tin­ued with its more con­ven­tional Elite mid-

pi­lot­house builds and re­fits. LSB dou­bled its staff com­ple­ment dur­ing the job.

Fol­low­ing the project’s com­ple­tion, LSB has main­tained this staff level, em­bark­ing on an­other cus­tom su­pery­acht ten­der project for the 80m Arte­fact su­pery­acht be­ing built at Ger­many’s No­biskrug Yard.

Cus­tom-built su­pery­acht ten­ders are an un­usual part of LSB’S port­fo­lio – but then the com­pany seems to thrive on the out-of- the-or­di­nary.

One of its more in­ter­est­ing en­deav­ours is the re­cent Vaka Motu project for the Okeanos Foun­da­tion, build­ing Poly­ne­sian voy­ag­ing cata­ma­rans. Based on tra­di­tional Poly­ne­sian de­signs but us­ing mod­ern ma­te­ri­als and tech­nol­ogy, these eco-friendly work­boats are de­signed for car­ry­ing freight, trans­porta­tion, dis­as­ter re­lief and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment. The boats are help­ing to keep tra­di­tional nav­i­ga­tion tech­niques alive across Poly­ne­sia and Mi­crone­sia.

Large premises in East Ta­maki equipped with pre­ci­sion work­shops al­low the com­pany to tackle these cus­tom projects, re­fits and re­fur­bish­ments – and it can ac­com­mo­date hulls up to 43m LOA.

OP­PO­SITE It’s easy to imag­ine your­self as 007 driv­ing one of these.ABOVE This is the view you’ll mostly see of SYA 1 as she speeds away at around 50 knots.LEFT & ABOVE It may be de­signed for car­ry­ing guests’ lug­gage, but the ‘work­boat’ is a sub­lime cre­ation in its own right. All ves­sels use pop-up cleats – the ex­te­ri­ors are un­blem­ished when they’re down.

RIGHT & BELOW Four be­spoke ten­ders for dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions – all car­ry­ing the same ex­cep­tional level of crafts­man­ship.

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