Silver Fast's origins
It seems to be an unwritten rule in superyachting that bigger is better as yachts get taller and fatter, packed to the gunwales and beyond with vast acres of deck and floor space at every level. Well, rules, unwritten or otherwise, are there to be broken and Guido Krass, owner of SilverYachts, has a big enough hammer to do it.
A German industrialist, Krass is clearly no follower of convention. His philosophy from the start was to build slender, lightweight yachts that would travel very economically at high speeds through challenging conditions, requiring a higher length-to-beam ratio than is commonly accepted. The intention was to create craft with exceptional performance, tremendous range and very capable seakeeping.
Knowing what a hard sell that might be on paper, he took the unusual step of creating a shipyard and building the yacht first, before seeking a buyer. It gave him other advantages too, removing deadlines and freeing budget constraints. “We wanted to build something of outstanding quality,” he says.
Espen Øino was the naval architect charged with turning that dream into a reality. What he came up with was a semi-displacement shallow draught design that espoused the lightweight slender concept. “There is actually nothing revolutionary about the design,” Øino says. “Fifty years ago before the kind of ultra-high output (and consumption) diesels that we’re used to today, high length:beam ratio was the route to high speed. And an easily driven hull has many other benefits, chiefly great efficiency and excellent seakeeping.”
Silver Fast’s build
As if a maverick approach to design and marketing wasn’t enough, the commissioning of such a craft was equally free thinking. European yards struggled with the concept so Krass looked to Australia, a country with huge experience in fast aluminium ferries and high speed commercial and military craft.
“They build boats that operate consistently and reliably in all weathers and at high speed – they have a huge amount of know-how in this field,” says Krass. What the Australians lack is experience of custom yacht building, so he brought in experienced shipwrights from Europe to ensure a standard of finish that matched his requirements.
The build process was kept simple – conventional shaftdrive, well-designed systems and large technical spaces. “Our philosophy throughout the whole project was KISS: keep it stupidly simple,” says Krass. “A lot of commercial expertise went into creating a craft designed with the operator and owner in mind, not simply the easiest way for the yard to put it together.”
It’s a brave and free-thinking approach and one that appears to be working for him: the yacht you see here is the fourth in a decade from the yard based in Henderson, near Perth, Western Australia.
SilverYachts’ narrow, fast design
The concept remains constant across the quartet: rather than padding out the beam and extending the height, Silver yachts are shapely low-profile darts. Subtle is not often a word associated with €80 million, 77 metre yachts but it applies here. Silver Fast, which is currently for sale, stands out among a sea of bright white superyachts by being low, narrow and very sleek.
There is more than a nod to executive jet aircraft design here, with a rounded raked fuselage-like superstructure. The all-aluminium construction is unsullied by stripes or other cosmetic adornments – there is a purity to the aesthetic that is rare in craft of this calibre. Although almost identical in profile to 2012 sistership Smeralda, the simple step of finishing the yacht in a single dark shade of metallic silver rather than the previous twin tone colours makes a massive difference, suggesting quiet confidence and allowing the design rather than the colour scheme to hold sway.
But it isn’t just the look that lends itself to aircraft comparisons; this yacht fulfils the lightweight brief too. The gross tonnage of under 1,000GT is half that of some yachts of comparable length. Partly, of course, that’s because the pared-back beam and height mean there is physically less yacht. But a large part of the weight saving is thanks to the aluminium honeycomb construction of much of the interior.
Silver Fast’s layout
The layout, bar a couple of changes, is essentially the same as Smeralda. A sundeck tops the yacht with its horseshoe of sofa around two tables, complemented by a central bar area and a spa pool aft. Loose Paola Lenti furniture adds a little flexibility and colour, while a three-stack mast above sees all the navigation scanners, domes and antennae colour coded a uniform black.
The next deck down is given over wholly to the owner. The master cabin is vast and offers expansive views through the forward windows.
A quirky indoor sunpad, accessed up a few steps, sits forward of the berth, offering a very private place to read or watch the yacht entering or leaving port. To the rear of the deck is the owner’s lounge, with sliding doors opening onto a private terrace. A sweeping staircase links to the VIP guest accommodation on the main deck, comprised of three spacious doubles.
The well-lit saloon truncates in a cosy media lounge at the rear of this level, featuring well stocked shelves behind a deep comfortable sofa and flatscreen TV. You pass through this area on your way to the “winter garden”. Dividing the accommodation from the large aft cockpit, it’s so named because the floor-to-ceiling glass panels that surround it ensure a clement climate regardless of the cool night outside. It’s equally useful in the 40-degree heat of an Abu Dhabi afternoon. Two large circular tables infill to create a massive dining area for 20.
And in more temperate climes every glass panel retracts to finish up stacked and hidden from view.
A large tender garage fills the lower deck beneath the touch and go helicopter pad on the foredeck, with space for two 7.7 metre tenders (custom built by SilverYachts in matching metallic silver) to be launched via gullwing doors. Eight crew cabins are found on the lower deck, along with the rest of the guest accommodation: four large en suites. Two further crew cabins sit aft of this lower-deck guest space – perfect for nannies or security.
The beach club has benefited from the tenders being mounted forward, as well as the length stretch from 73 to 77 metres between hulls two and three. A steam room, sauna, massage area and hairdressing station surround space for exercise, complete with a recess in the floor to take a running machine. The sloping aft wall is actually the transom of the yacht – itself a mere button-press away from lifting to gain access to the “beach” – the large teak-laid swim platform complete with more Paola Lenti furniture.
The interior design of Silver Fast
While the layout is very close to that of Smeralda, the execution is quite different. Designed by the same company – Vain Interiors of Germany – the most obvious variation is in the finish. Where bulkheads of the former boat were high-gloss walnut, Silver Fast is finished in a more self-effacing open-grain teak. The rather formal full-length saloon sofas have been usurped by more intimate areas formed of four smaller sofas complemented by comfortable club chairs around a pair of low marble-topped tables, giving greater versatility. Greys and browns predominate, lending a gently masculine aura set off perfectly by white framed monochrome prints. Staircases are clad in stitched mid-grey leather matched by the handrails, and carpets are of grey silk.
It’s a timeless décor that feels cosy without being cloying, confident without ever being brash.
Sea trialing Silver Fast
But all this form is nothing without function and a 3am start (timed around customs clearance and to avoid disturbing crew leave) for an 80-mile run to Dubai represents an ideal test at sea. We slip out of Abu Dhabi and head north west into the darkness. The bridge is a haven of order and, above all, quietness. The engineering on this new hull has been tweaked to incorporate extended shaft-lines, a new propeller design and tuned engine mounts, which combine to give the sensation of being pulled along by an invisible thread from a ship just over the horizon. Only the tachometers in the headlining give any clue that the two MTU 16V 4000 engines are running at 1,400rpm for a log reading of 18 knots. Some 112,000 litres of diesel give us about 4,500 nautical miles at this speed. Despite the semi-displacement hull there is zero sensation of bow lift, as the slender entry slices effectively through the rolling swell. The reality matches the concept perfectly: the experience completely embodies Krass’s concept and Øino’s execution.
With a top end of nearly 30 knots this is a fast boat – fast flat-out, fast at cruise. The benefit is clear: a cruise of 18 knots gives a 50 per cent increase in range compared to conventional yachts that typically cruise long distance at 12.
“To put that in perspective, we gain 150 miles over a conventional yacht for every 24 hours at sea,” the captain says.
Silver Fast’s potential owner
SIlver Fast is currently for sale, but what kind of owner is SilverYachts going after with this new breed of yacht?
“We’re appealing to a new breed of buyers with this yacht,” says Krass. “Every buyer so far has been under 40. People buy these yachts because they fulfil a niche for covering ground which extends the range of a week’s charter considerably or allows an owner to travel further within a specific time-frame. Shallow draught means that when they get there, they can get into bays or harbours that other 80 metre yachts can’t get near. So they have a boat that will allow them to do what they want when and where they want to do it.”
SilverYachts’ Middle East agent Hisham Abushakra sums it up perfectly: “You buy a Range Rover because it does everything well. It will operate as well in the Arctic as it will in the desert. You can drive it at 100mph on the freeway, park it outside Raffles Hotel and it will fit in. This yacht is like that. What do you want to do with your yacht this week? Cover distance, cruise slowly, explore off the beaten track, sail into Monaco, entertain friends and family, charter? Whatever you want, this yacht will do it.”