19 World Superyacht Awards 2015 winners

Motor Yacht of the Year: Grace E

Award sponsored by Mercedes-Benz

This award needed little debate – the stunning 73 metre Grace E was an overwhelming favourite. The superyacht with the ultimate sun deck spa, Grace E handily won Motor Yacht of the Year.

Builder: Picchiotti – Perini Navi Group
Naval Architect: Philippe Briand/ Vitruvius
Exterior Design: Philippe Briand/Vitruvius
Interior Design: Rémi Tessier

Past winners of Motor Yacht of the Year include: Ice (2006), Kogo (2007), T6 (2008), Al Mirqab (2009), Arkley (2010), Eclipse & Exuma (2011), Tango (2012), Loretta Ann (2013), Madame Gu (2014).

Displacement Motor Yacht of 1,300GT to 2,999GT of Below 75m: Grace E

Award sponsored by Embraer Executive Jets

Despite their wide range of backgrounds and individual tastes, the judges were of one mind in deciding a winner for this class – a degree of agreement rarely seen in this competitive environment. The yacht that stood out was 73 metre  Grace E, the third vessel in the Vitruvius series designed by Philippe Briand and built by the Perini Navi-owned company Picchiotti.

The judges were particularly impressed by the purposeful good looks of her attractively clean, modern exterior lines, but they also admired her interior layout, her calm yet detailed decorative scheme from the celebrated French designer Rémi Tessier, and the high quality of construction achieved by Perini Navi. Not least, the judges also noted that her miserly fuel consumption, long range and economy of operation made her a vessel that is ideally suited to the modern era.

Builder: Picchiotti – Perini Navi Group
Naval Architect: Philippe Briand/ Vitruvius
Exterior Design: Philippe Briand/Vitruvius
Interior Design: Rémi Tessier

Displacement Motor Yacht of 500GT to 1,299GT: MySky

Award sponsored by Clyde & Co

Five yachts competed for the Neptune in this competitive class with two being singled out during the judges’ round-table discussions prior to the completion of the ballot sheets. When the mathematics were completed the narrow margin of the result became apparent: 51.1 metre MySky from Heesen Yachts had been chosen as the winner.

The judges had particularly noted the comments of the owner – a three-time Heesen client – who explained how his philosophy and use of the yacht had influenced its style and layout. The yacht also introduced the work of interior designer Erick van Egeraat whose interior was greatly admired, as was the quality of all aspects of the yacht’s construction and performance, including the stated range of 5,400 nautical miles at a cruise of 10 knots.

Builder: Heesen Yachts
Naval Architect: Van Oossanen/Heesen Yachts
Exterior Design: Omega Architects
Interior Design: Erick van Egeraat

Judges' Commendation: Saramour

Just a single, solitary point separated MySky and Saramour in the final standing, so in recognition of this, the judges agreed to present her with a Commendation.

Displacement Motor Yacht of Below 500GT of 44m and Above: Elena

Following the screening of pictures of all the yachts in this class the judges entered a lively debate on the merits and otherwise of each of the five finalists. But it was the result of the secret ballot that determined the winner and this showed a clear preference for 46.7 metre Elena, which covered the widest range of judging parameters.

This yacht, the judges felt, provided well balanced and extremely pleasant living areas, both on deck and inside, for the owner and his guests while the crew, for whom good living and service facilities ensure the proper running of a modern yacht, was equally well provided for. Particularly admired were the fully featured sundeck and the spacious master suite.

Builder: Heesen Yachts
Naval Architect: Heesen Yachts
Exterior Design: Omega Architects/Heesen Yachts
Interior Design: Omega Architects

Judges' Commendation: Logica

While Elena was the best all-rounder, the highest-scoring yacht for her exterior design was Logica, which receives a Judges’ Commendation.

Displacement Motor Yacht of Below 500GT of 30m to 43.99m: Onika

Award sponsored by Royal Huisman

To determine the winner in this, the smallest of the Displacement classes, the judges found it necessary to examine each of the five finalists in the smallest detail. Appearance, general arrangement of the yacht’s interior and exterior areas, together with the ambiance provided by its interior design, its construction quality, and mechanical and technical issues were all discussed and taken into account on the individual marking sheets completed by each judge.

While noting that some aspects of this yacht, such as her tender storage on the bridge deck aft, might not fit European ideals, the judges nevertheless chose 40.5 metre  Onika, which they described as a superbly built yacht with an elegant and stately classic appearance. Her efficient hull shape, and hence fuel efficiency and long range, perfectly suited the oceanic and coastal cruising ambitions of her US owner, for whom the spacious exterior living areas and the Edwardian-inspired interior are perfectly suited.

Builder: Delta Marine
Naval Architect: Delta Design Group
Exterior Design: Delta Design Group
Interior Design: Delta Design Group

Legacy Award: Lord Irvine Laidlaw

Few have achieved more on the regatta circuit than this year’s winner

The winner of this year’s Legacy Award very nearly didn’t progress beyond his first experience of sailing – aboard a sailing school yacht in the English Channel during a gale. Lord Irvine Laidlaw remembers it as “rough, cold and a bit scary!” but it taught him that sailing was sufficiently demanding to be of interest, while it had the added benefit of forcing his mind off his demanding job.

A year later, he and a partner bought an unfinished Varne 27 that was languishing on wasteland near Tower Bridge in London. It took another year to get the yacht ready for launch, but in 1976 Tower Maid splashed into the Thames and was soon cruising the south coast of England. It wasn’t too long before he caught the racing bug, and the Varne 27 was followed by two fully owned Westerlys: a GK29 and GK34, the latter becoming the first of his now internationally famous series of Highland Fling yachts.

Moving to Hong Kong and then Singapore didn’t mean his racing career suffered – far from it. He competed in the 1981 Admiral’s Cup, and placed second in the 1985 One Ton Cup with his third Highland Fling. He later captained Singapore’s Admiral’s Cup team and was a member of the winning British team at Sydney’s Southern Cross event. A second visit to the Southern Cross in 1987 was less successful, but still notable: while there he met his wife, Christine.

A move into Swans meant he could still compete and drive his own boats, and a long association with the brand began. His Swans crept upwards in size from the 14 metre Highland Fling No. 4 to the 18.3 metre Highland Fling No. 7 as he raced at every Swan event and most of the world’s “serious but fun” regattas. A foray into the Wally Class saw him racing a 24.4 metre Farr design, after which he built the Reichel/Pugh 82, Highland Fling No. 15 – the incredibly fast sailboat that he currently owns, along with a Ker 46 that he keeps and races in Cape Town. He also has a Swan 112 in build.

This sort of sailing history would mark anyone out as a dedicated yachtsman, but this owner has a second arrow in his quiver: motor yachts. By the 1990s he had started working his way through a series of motor yachts, all named Lady Christine. First came a 23 metre Azimut, then a 38 metre Heesen and a 55.6 metre Oceanco, before building his current Lady Christine, a magnificent 68 metre Feadship that is currently in the Maldives. He has also owned the 34 metre Sunseeker Frivolous, and the 40 metre Seaflower, another Feadship, which he sold and has just repurchased.

There cannot be many yachtsmen who have achieved so much in the dual fields of sailboat racing and motor yachting over the past 40 years, and for this, our deserved winner of this year’s Legacy Award is Lord Irvine Laidlaw.

Semi-displacement or Planing Three-deck Motor Yacht of Above 40m: Polaris

Award sponsored by Esenyacht

This class, made up of large, fast semi-displacement yachts, was contested by five famous, well respected yards known for their semi-custom, series-production designs. While each yacht displayed a selection of excellent features and facilities, an overwhelming proportion of the jury homed in on 49 metre  Polaris, the second vessel in the new and exciting Prince Shark 49 design for Rossinavi by Enrico Gobbi’s talented Team for Design.

With her gross tonnage optimised at just below 500GT this militarily styled yacht delivers a top speed of 24 knots despite the nine tonnes of marble that adorn her, while she can cross oceans at 9.5 knots with her 3,800 nautical mile range at this speed. The judges were particularly impressed by her spacious, fully featured deck areas and a well laid out interior that meets all the needs of the owner and his guests as well as the comfort and working requirements of the crew.

Builder: Rossinavi
Naval Architect: Arrabito Naval Architects
Exterior Design:  Team for Design – Enrico Gobbi
Interior Design:  Team For Design - Enrico Gobbi

Refitted Yacht (tie for first place): Alumercia

Tied for first place in the Refitted Yacht award category, 37.9 metre  Alumercia, a 14-year-old Heesen expedition yacht, had, in the judges’ opinion, been transformed into an attractively decorated young person’s Mediterranean family cruiser, with disco sound and light on three decks, and a very practical dual purpose beach area/garage in the stern – all in three months.

Original Builder: Heesen Yachts
Refit Yard: Borancili Marine/Istanbul Tuzla Shipyards Area
Naval Architect: Vripack
Exterior Design: Vripack
Interior Design: B.M.L

Voyager's Award: Arctic P

Award sponsored by Feadship

This year saw two entries to the Voyager’s Award. One was a lengthy action-packed cruise on a roundabout route from New Zealand to New Orleans by the sport fisherman Mea Culpa, sailing via French Polynesia, Hawaii and Alaska. In most years this would have been enough to secure the trophy, but not this year, as the cruise from the second entry, the converted tug Arctic P, was as daring as it was adventurous.

Having visited the Antarctic Peninsula the previous year, the owners of Arctic P yearned to go back for an even more audacious cruise. Headed for the inhospitable Ross Sea, they first called in on Macquarie Island, and the Balleny Islands, where they crossed into the Antarctic Circle.

Their course, often in extremely rough seas, took them onwards to Victoria Land on the Antarctic mainland, skirting the ice-covered shore southwards to Ross Island. Here they visited Scott’s base for his tragic polar expedition and Shackleton’s Hut, preserved as a monument to this intrepid Antarctic explorer, before going on to the USA’s vast McMurdo Research Station. Thereafter, they skirted the 400-mile long, 50 metre-high Ross Ice Shelf heading eastwards and further south towards Roosevelt Island.

The highlight of their voyage came at this point when they took Arctic P to the most southerly location reached by any vessel, be it commercial, military or a yacht – a remarkable achievement now logged in Guinness World Records. On the voyage they observed the Antarctic sea life, both above and below the surface, and they were educated in the local history and biology by embarked lecturers. This was not a spur-of-the-moment cruise, but an immaculately planned expedition in every respect, equipped with all the gear possible, and safety and exit plans to cover every contingency.

This incredible record-breaking voyage is a most worthy winner of this year’s Voyager’s Award.

Builder: Schichau Unterwesser, 1969
Interior Design: Owner’s family
Fuel Capacity: 1.4 million litres
Range: 17,000 miles

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