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Soaring: On Board Abeking & Rasmussen's Latest Launch
Step on board Soaring with Risa Merl as she discovers the brand new 68.2 metre superyacht by Abeking & Rasmussen
Many a superyacht is a passion project, but the creation of the 68.2-metre Abeking & Rasmussen (A&R) motor yacht Soaring marks a significant achievement for her owner and designer alike. German studio Focus Yacht Design became involved in its first collaboration with nearby A&R after being invited to join a design competition. “They knew our work and had the feeling that it could be a good match for this project. It turned out that they were right,” says Thomas Mühe, managing director of the Bremen-based design studio.
The owner wanted an exterior that “wouldn’t be mistaken for any other yacht on the horizon”, Mühe says. “It was important to keep the lines elegant, fluid and harmonic.” Focus’s exterior concept fitted the bill, with its modern, sporty styling that’s not too over the top. A grey hull with a vivid boot-stripe meets a white superstructure, which is broken up by the sinuous curves of black and interesting window shapes.
The boat’s name refers to the majestic flight of an eagle, but unlike the quite pronounced eagle-beak bow of 80-metre A&R Excellence, this sense of flight is found in the flowing, lofty lines of Soaring’s superstructure. Mühe was finally able to employ a design aesthetic he had long dreamt of – a sweeping line that runs all the way from the bow to the bathing platform. “This is a line I have been experimenting with for more than a decade. Now it has been built, which is exciting to see,” says Mühe.
Soaring’s proportions are enhanced with prominent shapes such as this. Other bold forms include the black, boomerang-like curve from the wheelhouse windows down to the upper deck. On the main deck, scalloped windows decrease in size as they head towards the bow. The individual windows appear to be one surface in order not to disturb continuity.
The build team was rounded out with the owner’s project manager, Andy Tree of Superyacht Technical Services, Captain Michael Atkinson and Soaring’s crew, who were on site throughout the build. “It was a new experience to discuss all the design details in our first language [German],” says Jörg Kleymann, A&R’s senior project manager, who steered the build process. “Also, the relationship with the owner was very trustful and productive, so we created the yacht in shorter time but still with the best quality.”
The owner is an experienced yachtsman says Kleymann, who asked for a family yacht that was “modern-looking with a touch of soul”. In his briefing he requested a dedicated owner’s deck with an aft-facing master cabin, a gym and spa with direct access to the sea, and sizeable tenders, the latter of which increased in scope as the build progressed.
In order to integrate the larger Compass tenders, A&R had to revise a workable crane system fitting within the dimensions of the garage doors at a very late stage. “Flexibility is actually one of the key corporate values of our yard,” says Kleymann. From a technical perspective, A&R also worked to incorporate the latest pollution-preventing IMO Tier III engine room standards.
As Focus designed the yacht inside and out, it revelled in the opportunity to create a holistic package, which aimed to avoid any contradictions between outer appearances and inner usage. Mühe says that, when tackling the interior, it was not about convincing the client of aesthetic choices, but first understanding what the yacht is for and what it means to the client. “For a designer, a high-profile project can be a temptation as an opportunity for self-fulfilment, but the result wouldn’t work as a place to feel comfortable for owner, family and friends.”
The designer and build team had the opportunity to learn about the client’s lifestyle and wishes by taking a look at his homes. “We became aware of his attitude towards life, about what matters to him,” Mühe says.
Much like the exterior, the interior blends classic ideas with a dose of drama. All public areas and cabins follow subtle variations on a unifying motif, with a muted colour palette of black, white and browns complemented by a few dashes of colour. Materials are purposefully limited, such as contrasting veneers of dark amara ebony and light-bleached tiama.
These dominate the interior yet still create a variety of eye-catching spaces, such as the striking main staircase, which looks completely different depending on where you are standing. Here, the high-gloss dark Macassar stairs are illuminated with custom Cantalupi fixtures, which give the illusion of backlit onyx on the steps.
Yet from the bottom of the same stairwell gazing up, the scene is very different – an inky, cool space is dominated by dark high-gloss wood and a curve of stairs that seem to be floating up, up and away.
All of the cabins feature natural themes, either depicting animals or plants that have a special meaning. These touches are found in bathrooms and cabins, on the floor, the doors and headboards, the latter of which were all designed by Focus and custom-made by Tai Ping. In the master suite, eagles soar over the bed, while in the guest cabins a variety of plants and seashell shapes are depicted in blue, setting apart the otherwise similarly finished rooms. Five guest cabins, including a full-beam VIP, are on the main deck, forward of the main saloon and dining room.
The light installations in the main saloon display the solar system with planets depicted as they were at the moments of the birth of the owner and his wife, seen to starboard and port, respectively. The dining saloon and outside chairs were designed by Focus. In addition to the custom pieces, Soaring’s furnishings come from Paola Lenti and Poltrona Frau.
The owner’s deck was originally envisioned as a place of privacy. The typical positioning of the cabin and upper deck lounge are transposed, with a rear-facing bedroom that looks out over a private aft deck, while a relaxing observation lounge/library is forward. But as the scope of the yacht evolved from one designed purely for family use to one that would also be offered for charter, this space fully came into its own. “This room provides a perfect atmosphere for people to unwind, have fun, watch movies or play games surrounded by 180-degree views of the ocean,” says Mühe.
Ocean Independence became involved in the project six months before its completion to manage the yacht and market her for charter. Daniel Küpfer, operations director with the brokerage house, says Soaring has many attributes that will make her a winning charter yacht. “The interior is spacious, the cabins are well-arranged and the finishing is superb. Additionally, there is excellent watersports equipment and good tenders.”
He also points out that Soaring is an extremely quiet yacht, thanks to A&R’s high standards for noise reduction. A quiet yacht is perhaps a less glamorous charter amenity, but one that clients will likely appreciate greatly. “As far back as 1999, we had our first Abeking & Rasmussen delivered with extremely high privacy values, extraordinarily low noise and vibration values – and the shipyard standard has even further improved since then,” says Küpfer.
The uppermost bridge deck hosts the captain’s cabin and officers’ lounge, but still makes room for a small outdoor space for guests with a spa pool flanked by sunpads and a rear- facing bar, which allows guests to interact with those in the spa and enjoy expansive views of the horizon. The main place for daytime play is the beach club and large bathing platform. The light and bright beach club, adorned in bleached wood and inviting teal furnishings, has
everything one could need to relax on board, including lounging areas, exercise equipment and an adjacent massage room, hammam and spa shower. Beyond the beach club and past the engine room is storage for dive gear and toys, hinting at the owner’s passion for on-water action. The rest of the lower deck is dedicated to the crew, with a galley and accommodation for 17, while the crew mess, laundry and provisioning storage is found on the tank deck below.
Soaring was delivered in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which proved a challenging time with supply chains coming to a standstill and international travel greatly restricted – but the yacht was still completed on time. “The bad circumstances of the coronavirus epidemic did not hinder the delivery of Soaring, for which we are all deeply grateful and happy.
It could have been worse as the virus affected the project just in the last two months as we were readying for sea trials and inspections,” says Kleymann, who is happy to report that no A&R employees were struck down by the virus. In order to keep work going, staff were split into two shifts with no direct contact, and the number of people on board was reduced to create more distance between workers.
The owner saw the yacht for the first time from the water on the Weser River, glimpsing her lofty lines just before sunrise. “We took a boat to go around Soaring while the sun emerged on the horizon. What a gift for us all,” says Mühe.
This feature is taken from the September 2020 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.