The winners of the World Superyacht Awards 2019

Converted yachts: Dream

Length: 106.5m

Original builder: Halic Shipyard

Refit yard: Olympic Yacht Services

Refit naval architect: Olympic Yacht Services

Refit exterior design: Studio Vafiadis/Olympic Yacht Services

Refit interior design: Ciarmoli Queda Studio

This ambitious project, which converted an aging 93-metre cruise ship into a 106.5-metre dream yacht for an owner with world cruising in mind, presented a significant challenge to the owner’s team, who acted as the builders, the project managers and also as naval architects and engineers. But as the Judges discovered from the documentation and the reports of colleagues who had visited the yacht, the task was completed in a highly successful manner.

At the outset, the hull was stripped to bare steel, the complete superstructure and surplus metal works were removed, and the interior gutted and sandblasted. The 320 tonnes of steel that was removed was replaced with 550 tonnes of new fabrications, including the new superstructure and 112 electrically-operated sliding windows each weighing 500kg. New stabilisers and other heavy engine room equipment were installed before the vessel was faired, painted and relaunched. Following her launch, new pipework was installed, she was rewired, and her new interior, all floating on rubber mounts to minimise noise transmission, was inserted. All these works were compliant with SOLAS 36 Passenger requirements.

The Judges concluded that this was an extraordinary conversion that not only changed the whole exterior profile of the vessel, improving it beyond recognition, but also gave her a completely new interior, which has a refreshingly understated and modern appearance that abounds in luxury. This, they felt, was a conversion for which the owner should be justifiably proud.

Rebuilt yachts: Haida 1929

Length: 71.1m

Original builder: Krupp Germaniawerft

Refit yardPendennis

Refit naval architect: Cox & Stevens

Refit exterior design: Cox & Stevens

Refit interior design: Adam Lay

Of the yachts entered for this class, the standout winner was Haida 1929, a motor yacht that was designed by the American naval architects Cox & Stevens for Max C. Fleischmann, a Santa Barbara businessman. This yacht, one of several of the same name owned by Fleischmann, was launched in 1929 in Kiel by her builders Krupp Germaniawerft. Since then she has sailed under many flags and names, perhaps the most recognisable being Rosenkavalier and the most recent being Doña Amelia.

She was in bad repair in 2017 when purchased by her new owner and was taken to Pendennis Shipyard for refitting, a task that he correctly anticipated would reveal hidden issues. The whole ethos of the work was of respect for the integrity of this historic yacht, a decision that was admired by the Judges, who were aware that while an ill-conceived rebuild would have destroyed this classic vessel, one that did not upgrade her interiors to meet modern standards of comfort might be money wasted. During the very detailed and well executed 17-month refit, 110-tonnes of steel and 90% of the pipework were replaced, the whole interior was tastefully reworked to the design of Adam Lay to create interiors evocative of her era, while a Hammam spa, massage room, and hairdressing room were added.

Early external features, such as stairways, were reinstated and her previous dip-pool was replaced with a larger swimming pool. Perhaps most notably, her original engines – built by Krupp in 1928 and probably the oldest marine diesels in their original installation – were rebuilt to their original specification rather than replaced, despite the inconvenience of having to stop them and restart them in reverse to go astern. The Judges considered this an eminently worthy rebuild that saved a historic yacht.

Refitted Yachts: G2

Length: 39m

Original builder: Vitters

Refit yard: Pendennis

Refit naval architect: Tripp Design

Refit exterior design: Tripp Design

Refit interior design: Nauta Design

Of the yachts in the highly competitive Refit category, the Vitters-built 38.2-metre sloop G2 was selected by the Judges as the winner. Built from advanced composites to a design by Bill Tripp and launched in 2009, the original owner’s requirement was for a fast yacht suited to long range cruising. Her new owners had a clear vision of their needs which, with a circumnavigation in mind, were similar in scope to the original but their personal interior taste called for enhanced interior light and clean modern design.

On deck, the aft cuddy was surplus to their needs and was removed to create a flush open deck, to which sunbathing cushions were added, while 40% of the old teak was replaced, the caulking changed to grey, and the main cockpit extended to permit a larger guest dining area. To lighten the interior, two large new skylights were cut into the deckhead of the main saloon, while 11 larger portlights were fitted to the guest cabins, where the original, and now dated, honey-toned wood was replaced by a lighter, contemporary style created by Nauta Design.

At the same time, the owners' cabin was increased in size and its layout modified, a complex task which necessitated moving some structural bulkheads. Additionally, the yacht was made as maintenance-free as possible for her upcoming circumnavigation by servicing, upgrading or replacing all machinery and systems, and bringing forward the 10-year Class Special Survey. Navigation and communication equipment was also replaced while the hull, mast and deck structures were repainted. The Judges considered that the extent, quality and outcome of the 11-month refit was exemplary – and well worthy of a Neptune.

Sailing Yachts 30m to 59.9m: Vijonara

Length: 42.2m

Builder: Pendennis

Naval architect: Hoek Design

Exterior design: Hoek Design

Interior design: Owner/Hoek Design/Hermès

Admiration for Modern Classics – yachts that borrow their outward appearance from the ‘Golden Age of Yachting’, but are otherwise completely modern in their comfort, performance and technology – remains widespread, and Vijonara, a Truly Classic 127 designed by Andre Hoek, was considered by the Judges to be a near perfect example of her breed.

Not only was she built to the very highest standards, with the quality of her craftsmanship – especially her woodwork – being rated as outstanding by the Judges who visited her, but her polar diagrams also revealed that she possesses extremely good performance under sail, particularly in lighter breezes. The Judges considered that the twin-cockpit deck layout, with a private aft cockpit linked to the master cabin and the helm station located forward, adjacent to the guest cockpit, worked extremely well by providing privacy for the owner and a sense of safety while being at the heart of the sailing action for the guests. But perhaps the most important factor in choosing her as the winner was found inside, where her welcoming accommodation areas are all beautifully paneled in wood and trimmed with fine leather supplied and crafted by Hermès. As such, Vijonara exuded the charm and character, as well as a sense of luxurious comfort that one might expect in a great classic yacht.

Sailing Yachts 60m and Above: Black Pearl

Length: 106.7m

Builder: Oceanco

Naval architect: Dykstra Naval Architects/Oceanco

Exterior design: Ken Freivokh/Nuvolari Lenard

Interior design: Gerard P. Villate/Nuvolari Lenard/Ken Freivokh

Black Pearl, the Judges considered, was a huge step forward from the first yacht of this type, Maltese Falcon, surpassing her on practically every level.

Here was a sailing vessel with all the facilities, comfort and performance of a motor yacht, but one that has the potential to cross oceans without the use of any diesel fuel whatsoever, as propulsion is left to the wind and the total demand for household electricity could be met from her shaft generators. Interestingly, provision has been made for the future integration of solar power generated from her sails – an emerging technology that is not yet ready for service. This, and a host of other attributes, was more than sufficient for the Judges to award a Neptune to this remarkable yacht.

Semi-Displacement or Planing Motor Yachts 30m to 32.9m: RJ

Length: 31.6m

Builder: Arcadia Yachts

Naval architect: Arcadia Yachts

Exterior design: Arcadia Yachts

Interior design: Hot Lab

All six yachts in this class were of a similar size, and while this made comparison easier for the Judges, the high quality of the entries still made choosing a winner difficult. It soon became apparent that their focus was concentrated upon RJ, an Arcadia 105, that not only impressed them as being very well built but also displayed contemporary good looks while satisfying many of today’s ‘must have’ trends.

Particularly admired was the connectivity with the marine environment through an abundance of large windows, many of which open to provide a cooling breeze without the need to run air conditioning. The combination of sliding doors that open to fold-down balconies on either side of the main saloon with the room’s fully-glazed aft portion makes this whole area open and airy, while offering wide views spanning almost 300-degrees. Forward, there is an observation lounge that once again provides panoramic views forward over the yacht’s bows and through the glazed bulwarks, while the glass deckhead, overlaid by solar panels, adds both light and power. The aft deck, set out as a lounge, and the extensive sun deck were also praised for their design and functionality as social areas.

The Judges are highly aware of a yacht’s environmental impact and took note of RJ’s abundance of solar panels that can feed between 4kW and 4.5kW into the yacht’s power system, as well as her modestly-sized engines that reduce emissions and provide long range, albeit at the expense of high speed. The secret ballot revealed her to be a clear winner.

Semi-Displacement or Planing Motor Yachts 33m to 39.9m: Brigadoon

Length: 36.3m

Builder: Moonen Yachts

Naval architect: René van der Velden/Diana Yacht Design

Exterior design: René van der Velden

Interior design: Nauta Design/Studio Indigo

This class was contended by five yachts built by some of the world’s most distinguished yards – a fact that certainly put pressure on the judging panel. The first detailed examination of the entries seemed to focus the Judges' spotlight on four yachts, but after more discussion, a secret ballot revealed the Judges' preference to be Brigadoon, built by Moonen Shipyards.

The owner, in his statement submitted as part of the Judges’ Dossier, said he was seeking a yacht with a ‘classic timeless look, embracing quality and reliability’, and the Judges who had visited the yacht confirmed that he had received exactly this. These Judges also praised the sense of brightness and external views from an interior that was sophisticated, comfortable and welcoming. They also showed special admiration for the pleasant crew quarters, a highly practical galley, large laundry for a yacht of this size, and the spacious layout of the engine room.

Another plus was that her Fast Displacement Hull Form only requires moderately sized 1,417kW diesels to take her to a top speed of 16.5-knots, but at the same time, these deliver an enviable range of 5,000nm at 10-knots. In the Judges’ view, this is a well-constructed, attractive and sophisticated yacht that deserved to win her class.

Semi-Displacement or Planing Motor Yachts 40m and Above:Utopia IV

Length: 63m

Builder: Rossinavi

Naval architect: Arrabito Naval Architects

Exterior design: Enrico Gobbi – Team For Design

Interior design: Enrico Gobbi – Team For Design

This class contained an enviable selection of six large and fast semi-displacement vessels, some of them very fast indeed. All featured MTU main engines of roughly comparable power, with half the class favouring twin engine installations, while one entry opted for triple units, and the two largest and fastest yachts squeezed in four engines. Needless to say, the Judges scrutinised the power, performance and economy figures very closely, but every other aspect was also examined, from exterior styling to the general arrangement plans, mechanical installation, and the quality of construction for the hull, deck areas and interior furniture. When the secret ballot was counted it became clear that one yacht had almost unanimously attracted the Judges’ interest.

This was the 63-metre, Utopia IV from Rossinavi. She was, by a small margin, the fastest yacht in the class thanks to her four MTUs that deliver a total of 7,756kW to four Kamewa waterjets, but despite their immaculate installation and accessibility, this was by no means the determining factor in the Judges’ eyes while making their decision. They were also impressed by her sleek and modern lines, her understated interior design and the well-conceived general arrangement plan in which almost every facility found on a displacement yacht of this size – from superb beach club to large tender garage, spacious deck areas and excellent crew quarters – was incorporated. If owners of displacement yachts are tempted to commission such a thrilling vessel, they should be aware that at her 33-knot top speed she consumes just over 2,000-litres of fuel per hour.

Displacement Motor Yachts Below 299GT:Mimi La Sardine

Length: 33.5m

Builder: Cantiere delle Marche

Naval architect: Cantiere delle Marche/Hydro Tec

Exterior design: Nauta Design

Interior design: Nauta Design

After the photographs were screened and the Judges had discussed the yachts in this class, it was becoming clear that one yacht stood out from the crowd. That impression was confirmed by the secret ballot in which the Judges almost unanimously selected the explorer yacht Mimi La Sardine as the winner.

Not only does she possess the attractively rugged exterior lines of an explorer, but her 5,000nm range, seaworthiness and long autonomy means that she also had the other necessary attributes of this type. Other features that the Judges particularly liked were her very distinctive interior, and a quality of build that was beyond reproach.

In particular, it was considered that the yacht’s general arrangement clearly allocated onboard activities to suitable areas, with the bridge deck being used as a ‘dining deck’ rather than a second saloon. Incorporating a beach club may be too much to ask in a yacht of this size but this design has, nevertheless, created such an area with a wide flight of stairs descending from the main deck aft to the bathing platform. These two areas are divided by a removable rail, rather than the fixed bulwark found on most yachts, so that there is a sense of connectivity and easy communication between them. The Judges also admired the ‘beach house’ style of the whole yacht that successfully makes use of a wide range of organic materials and unfinished wood to create an immediate ‘holiday atmosphere’ that at the same time is also sophisticated and luxurious. This, the Judges concluded, is a great family yacht where everyone will feel at ease.

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