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What’s the difference between Heesen’s three superyacht build concepts?

12 December 2022 • Written by Alan Harper and Laura Nicholls

An owner wanting to build a yacht with Heesen will have some choices to make. One of the first is deciding which build concept in the Heesen family is most suitable. Will it be a series build, smart custom or a full-custom yacht?

“It is important to keep in mind that our business model is based on these three pillars,” says Heesen’s CCO, Friso Visser, who has seen been integral in establishing and differentiating the three separate build concepts. “The structure was formed to further enhance the yard’s dominating position in the 50-55m / 500-800 GT sector and unwavering promise to deliver on quality and price,” he adds.

Friso Visser’s pivotal role at Heesen means he has a firm grip on all aspects of the company – and here, he tells us what makes the Heesen family work.

Project Akira


Heesen is extremely experienced in the construction of speculative, or Series, yachts. This part of the Heesen family is formed of five Series models: 50m Steel Displacement, 50m Aluminium Semi-displacement, 50m Aluminium FDHF, 55m Steel FDHF and 57m Aluminium FDHF.

The 50m Aluminium Semi-displacement Series is represented by yachts such as Aquamarine. The hybrid-propulsion Home is an eye-catching example of the 50-metre Aluminium Series, while the first in the 57-metre Aluminium FDHF Series will be the 780 GT Project Akira, set for launch in 2024. The spacious, round-bilge, long-range Omaha was the first in the 50-metre Steel Displacement Series. Also due for a 2024 launch, the 55-metre Project Serena is the latest in the Steel FDHF Series, which has proved so popular in the charter market.


Each Series superyacht offers a proven hull architecture, propulsion engineering and individual interior designs. The standardisation of the hull forms and horsepower means that performance is guaranteed, and the interiors are designed by different studios to ensure that no two yachts are alike. As an added extra, customisations to the interior and decks can be made depending on the delivery time and schedule.

The Series builds usually begin on speculation on the part of the shipyard, with the idea of the process advancing once a customer comes into the picture, usually a year or two after the construction began. The reduced delivery time and saved costs in design and development has proved highly popular with prospective yacht buyers. “The feedback we get is that with Heesen’s combination of price, delivery time and northern European quality, there is no credible competition,” says Visser.


Smart Custom

The shipyard’s Smart Custom designs take the principles behind the Series concept but with many more customisation options. “These yachts also use existing hull designs and engineering, but from the main deck upwards, the client is in control and can change the superstructure shape and interior to produce a truly unique craft,” says Visser.

Smart Custom also offers major savings in time and money, since the construction of the hull can begin while the design of the superstructure is getting underway. Plus, a client can choose any hull they like from the Series yachts or from previously completed Full Custom designs. “It’s a way of offering clients the fully-bespoke yacht-building experience,” Friso adds, “but on truly efficient economic principles.”

Examples of Smart Custom yachts recently completed at the shipyard include the 56-metre Galvas, a steel FDHF yacht launched in 2019, with exterior styling by H2 Yacht Design. The 26-knot Irisha is another – an aluminium semi-displacement 51-metre, styled inside and out by Harrison Eidsgaard Design.

Project Settesettana

Full Custom

Heesen’s Full Custom projects begin completely from scratch. What develops is inspired by the owner’s lifestyle and vision and is created by the hands of the world’s most renowned designers. “We know what we are capable of – and what we can create in terms of maximum length, draught, and height – and will do what we can to get what the customer wants,” says Friso.

As of this month, Heesen confirmed the contract for the full-custom 57-metre Project Setteesettanta. The all-aluminium yacht will feature Heesen’s signature van Oossanen Fast Displacement Hull Form, with Omega Architects helming the exteriors and Cristiano Gatto Design responsible for the interior. One of her key features will be a four-metre infinity pool on the aft deck.


To inspire prospective buyers, Heesen has commissioned several spectacular Full Custom designs from some of the world’s leading studios, including the rugged 67-metre explorer XV67 concept, and the sleek 66-metre steel Avanti, both from Winch Design.

According to BOAT Pro data, there are currently 14 yachts under construction at Heesen, built in steel and aluminium and ranging from 50 to 80 metres in length. During 2023, we will see at least three new superyachts launched and added to the Heesen family.