Dunya's first superyacht Axioma is full of surprises
by Tim Thomas
The story of 72.5 metre superyacht Axioma (ex-Red Square) started in 2005 when Sedat Ergun, owner of the Ursa Shipyard in Turkey, who had been working in the financial and civil engineering sectors, decided to take the yard owned by his family and transform it into a superyacht building operation.
‘We had this yard—the Ursa Shipyard—where we used to do small refits on yachts up to thirty-five meters,’ he explains. ‘I really wanted to do something more international. I thought at that point that yacht building was easy. So a partner and I founded Dunya Yachts as a brand and our plan was to build and sell spec boats. It was before the 2008 financial crisis and it was a very good idea at the time. At that time I was an investor, nothing more, and I really didn’t know anything about yachting or yacht construction. When the crisis happened things started falling apart. My business partner and I parted ways, and I had to make major changes in the management of the yard.
‘I had to get back to the kitchen and learn how to cook. I learned about the marketing, the business, the sector and the yachting industry as a whole – and I learned it wasn’t easy. In all areas of my life I’m a perfectionist; if I want to do something, I have to do it properly. I realized that the labor force and craftsmanship in Turkey is very good, but one of the biggest problems was that the yards didn’t have the right vision or the right facilities.’
In 2006, Ergun set about transforming the yard to create a modern yacht building facility, completing the works in 2007, the same year the keel for Red Square was laid. ‘I had seen Alfa Nero and was very impressed by the interior [designed by Alberto Pinto],” Ergun says. ‘I wanted to work with Alberto Pinto and went to his office in Paris. We had to convince him to take our project on as he was very busy and he didn’t want to do anything in Turkey, but finally we succeeded. The brief was simple; we said we were not going to interfere much because we are not yacht owners, but it had to be a light, summery, cozy house style so that when people walked in they felt like they were at home.’
With Axioma's lines drawn by Diana Scott of Sterling Scott in Monaco and with the late, great yacht designer Pinto taking on the interior, Ergun and his team finalized the general arrangement and began building the yacht on speculation. Ergun’s philosophy was as simple as the interior brief.
‘We were going to manage the project properly and become good assemblers, and this is what I tell clients who come to the yard,’ he says. ‘Our yachts are not made in Turkey; they are assembled in Turkey. It’s like an iPhone – it is made in China, but it’s still an iPhone, and you don’t look at where it’s been made because you know it’s been supervised by Apple and designed by them. The know-how these days can be gotten so easily, and that’s what we do. I buy the know-how.’
The list of suppliers and subcontractors on the build reads like a Who’s Who of the top end of yacht construction. The interior joinery was built by the Austrian company LIST; Van Cappellen did the sound and vibration; the paint is Awlgrip; Quantum provided the stabilizers; the navigation equipment is Raytheon and so on. But despite this investment in expertise, the price still works out favorably for the client due to the labor rate.
‘The price of this superyacht was thirty percent lower than the other guys,’ Ergun says. ‘Our goal is not to build cheap, but to build to the highest standards possible using the best proven brands in the world…and the math will do its work.’ Proving his approach, within a month of the yacht’s completion, she was sold through Yachting Partners International with the deal signed at the Monaco Yacht Show in September 2013 and soon renamed Axioma by her new owners.
‘To be competitive, we thought we had to build something over sixty-five meters and thirteen hundred gross tons,’ Ergun says. ‘At that time, pre-2008, there were not that many seventy-meter-plus yachts. Diana Scott did an excellent job creating beautiful lines – she is a real talent. Then we worked on the GA. For a perfect vacation, what should it have? First, if I were on charter with my friends and family I would want a large pool where my kids could swim, a big spa pool up top with a bar where I could have drinks with a view, and also different spaces so we don’t have to see each other all the time.’
Ergun used a similar philosophy when creating the interior layout. ‘When yachts get bigger, typically all you do is double the spaces – the lounges, the dining areas. So we decided to combine these areas to create something new for a seventy-meter, creating a wow effect by combining two decks.’ The result is the spectacular atrium gallery at the aft end of the main salon, creating an incredible sense of space and airiness while connecting the upper seating area with the salon and bar below.
‘For the owner’s deck we made a private terrace with an exit from the sleeping cabin forward,’ Ergun continues. ‘Then we said for charter, if I’m on board for fifteen days I have to have a gym, massage room and steam room, and they have to be together. They should not be downstairs like on a lot of other yachts. If there’s a guy on the treadmill or bike in the gym, he has to have the best view so he can be energized. Instead, we put the cinema on the lower deck where it should be as you don’t need light.’
The same thinking dictated the guest cabins’ location. ‘We put all the guest cabins on the main deck with a brief for large windows to let in a lot of light,’ he says. In fact, the only guest area on the lower deck is the cinema, with the rest of the space given to crew and technical areas.
The materials and hues used by Pinto are simple, with hints of color in the throw cushions and occasional furniture and with variations in texture creating a sensual feast that does not overwhelm. The style is modern, and very much allied to that idea of a comfortable, contemporary summerhouse rather than a glitzy hotel.
On the technical front, Ergun researched exhaustively to get the best spec, choosing twin Caterpillar engines that give exceptional range. Axioma can do 6,000 nautical miles at 12 knots with respectable fuel consumption.
‘My father always used to say, “Try to surprise people rather than disappoint them,”’ says Ergun. ‘With Red Square, this is what we did. We surprised them rather than disappointed them.’
For Ergun, the reaction to the yacht at the Monaco Yacht Show was as much a surprise for him as the yacht was for those who were lucky enough to get on board. ‘Everyone loved Red Square,’ he enthuses. ‘If someone had come to me and said this was what was going to happen I’d have said “no way.” I was stunned. It was unbelievable. They loved the flow of the GA, the quality and soul of the interior, and everything about the yacht. The Monaco show is the milestone at the beginning of Dunya Yachts. We start now. Also, I am very fortunate and proud to have the team I have now. They are hard-working, proud and very talented.”
Axioma is being offered for charter through YPI. And as for Dunya, the yard has a 262-footer already in build with the hull nearly complete. Ergun says that they will take lessons learned and feedback from this first launch and incorporate it into the new build. There’s little doubt that when the next yacht emerges from the yard there will be no disappointment.
Jeff Brown/Superyacht Media