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Kiss: The 46m superyacht that showcases Feadship’s roots

First published in The Superyachts Vol. 29

Proving that size really doesn’t matter, Kiss is a 46 metre beauty that has a complete owner’s deck above her raised pilothouse and the most complex metallic paint livery delivered to date.

“I own a small Lancia Delta Integrale car, metallic black in colour,” says Feadship CEO Henk de Vries. “She needed sprucing up so I took her to the spray shop and asked for a repaint. ‘Are you sure?’ they asked. ‘Have you any idea how tough it is to paint a four-metre object black metallic to the quality you want?’

“Not long afterwards, the owner of Kiss said he wanted his 46-metre Feadship painted the same way. Knowing what it cost, literally and metaphorically, I tried to talk him out of it. I failed, but the result is stunning, don’t you think?”

The surveyors from CCS Yacht Coating Services were certainly blown away by the quality of the paint job, says the captain of Kiss, Oliver Varley. “Few if any other yards could have pulled this off. Feadship developed new mixing machines and an electrically charged spray nozzle technique, working in one sweep to avoid any colour discrepancy.

“Metallic paint shows even the slightest imperfections in the fairing and hull so a perfectly smooth surface was required. This is just one of many ways that I’ve marvelled at [their] craftsmen’s ability to take raw materials and turn them into something very special.”

In the year that it unveiled the 101.8 metre Symphony, the 2015 launch Kiss showcases how Feadship is also interested in custom-building vessels less than half that length. “With yachts like Kiss, we’re effectively building a sporty type boat [that was] our average size classic yacht 15 years ago,” says De Vries.

Another interesting change is that the naval architecture of Kiss is by a designer known primarily for his sailing yachts, rather than by the in-house team at De Voogt Naval Architects.

The late naval architect Ed Dubois, who designed the similarly sized raised pilothouse Como (now Lady May) launched by Feadship in 2014, said: “The Kiss project followed a lengthy study of the market by clients with a growing family who wished to undertake long-term, long-distance cruising with their children and, occasionally, with friends.

“To facilitate this lifestyle, we included an exclusive deck near the top of the yacht. From the tranquillity of the aft deck terrace via the cosy saloon to the expansive stateroom forward, this is a very special private place for the owners and — at times of their choosing — their children. The kids have their own suite below together with cabin space for nannies and a teacher as required.”

It is, of course, unusual for a yacht measuring less than 50 metres LOA to feature a complete master penthouse on the upper deck. Dubois and his team worked hard with De Voogt’s engineers to ensure that the profile and exterior styling of Kiss encompass this singular layout, with a raised pilothouse bridge on the main deck that offers the skipper good views but does not overlook guest areas.

“The superstructure height has been blended into a fast looking exterior appearance with horizontal lines coming off at a right angle from the vertical screens,” Dubois added. “These screens have a practical function in terms of privacy while also giving a purposeful look.”

Another client-driven request were the giant sliding doors either side of the main deck that open up to the full extent of their three-metre span on to the open side decks. Flush to the superstructure, this feature creates the type of inside-outside environment that the owners of Kiss particularly adore.

They were a mighty task for the yard, however, as facilitation involved re-engineering the entire sides of the main lounge, including the doors, as a single unit. There were many challenges in terms of storage, joinery and concealing the myriad electric and pneumatic mechanisms. The outcome is remarkable, though, and with the aft deck doors also open Kiss has the most al fresco of al fresco lounges.

Incidentally, the owners’ love of fresh air also led them to make another request that caused considerable head scratching for designers and builder alike. Kiss must surely be the first large motor yacht to have an aluminium sliding hatch in the master stateroom ceiling.

All these assets combine to immerse the crisp interior in a soothing natural light that reinforces the homely feel on Kiss. “This yacht project has been a great journey of ideas that has taken us around the planet,” says Douglas Hynd, who headed up the interior design team for the UK-based Redman Whiteley Dixon with Toby Ecuyer. 

Kiss has a contemporary interior style with a comfortable family twist that evolved as the Dubois team optimised the children’s facilities. For instance, what was originally envisaged as a twin berth on the starboard lower deck was changed to a bunk cabin.

“This gave us a much bigger floor area for the kids to play on and a desk for doing homework. We added the decorative artwork, easier to clean fabrics, beanbags and other elements that create a lighthearted mood.”

The lower deck of Kiss supports four guest suites, one of which can be either a double or a twin depending on which family members are coming on board. Natural rippled sycamore in a golden colour forms the backdrop here. There is a subtle shift of emphasis as you go up through the boat, with grey and silver tones on the main deck and warmer honey hues on the owners’ deck.

“The main deck palette was a specific owner wish and allowed us to give a sophisticated feel to the lounge,” says Hynd. “RWD sister company Pod Interior Style compiled a beautiful fabric selection here and throughout the boat, complementing the architectural features.

“We also worked in conjunction with bespoke furniture makers for items such as the side tables with eel skin inlays and a crackle finish lacquering on top. Add in the stunning marble work — hand chosen with the yard in Italy — and it all makes for a rich yet family-friendly place.”

Another unusual interior feature on Kiss is the VIP cabin forward on the main deck. This grand space is all on one level, which allows the owners’ parents to move easily around the yacht. The master is directly above, and creating this dual stateroom arrangement required the installation of a forward-facing superyacht staircase.

It was an intricate three-deck puzzle to make the headroom and logistics work. While pretty much equal to the VIP in terms of floor area, the magnificent 270-degree views clearly give the master an elevated status.

One of the loveliest places on Kiss is the outdoor aft area on the owners’ deck, where the couple like to have a relaxed breakfast together. A larger dining table can be moved in for gatherings, and the shade provided by the sundeck overhang can be extended with a custom-made awning that covers virtually the entire area.

The owners’ lounge aft is another intimate place but as soon as the full-width doors are opened it quickly blends in with the aft deck thanks to large windows on either side. Close observers will note the upgraded amount of detailing and finish here.

The sundeck above feels like a rooftop garden extension of the owner’s deck and is a splendid spot to take the helm. It is a cleverly laid out space offering superb 360-degree views of the sea from the four-person superyacht spa pool.

The transom beach club below includes a custom-developed feat of engineering. It has a hydraulic side boarding ladder and platform that can be raised into the air to become a stairway or diving board, or lowered right into the water to give the children a safe, flat swimming pad with railings around it.

Kiss continues to be a showcase for innovation. She has been used by Feadship for what is believed to be the first sea trial of gas-to-liquids (GTL) synthetic diesel on a superyacht. Developed by Shell, GTL, which is synthesised from natural gas, has considerable potential for conventional combustion engines due to its purity, including being sulphur-free, its highly controllable burn and various biomass origin options. And it works in virtually all diesel engines.

We take our leave of Kiss by tender, launched via a side door in the hull. And we probably don’t need to tell you the colour of this made-to-measure boat...

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