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Alyssa: Tansu's perfectly balanced superyacht

20 March 2015 • Written by Tim Thomas

Alyssa: A new approach to minimalism

High above the Tansu Yachts office, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, Istanbul’s relentless traffic rolls along the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, the swirling waters below refracting the lights and bustle of this heaving city. The view is abundant, complex and almost impossible to distil into a single thought or emotion. Yet it’s from here, with this heady outlook, that Riza Tansu and his team design some of the most pared back, minimalist superyachts on the water. And they have just launched Alyssa, the yacht that, perhaps more than any other, exemplifies their one overriding philosophy: simplicity.

A superyacht designed in the name of honesty and simplicity

On board the 38.75 metre Alyssa in Bodrum the next day, Tansu’s now trademark styling immediately soothes and relaxes; the luxury is the space and connection to the water all around.

“The client is a good friend of mine,” Tansu says. “He was always interested in my boats. He came to me and told me my boats were simple. His brief was simple, too. He said: ‘Do what you want in the name of honesty and simplicity. I’m not going to put any boundaries in place.’ ”

The client visited the yard only once during the yacht’s construction. He allowed Tansu free rein to design what he wanted – “as if it was my own boat” – stepping in only to help pick the loose furniture and the decorative touches.

For many, such freedom to design could be daunting, but not for Tansu. “I tried to concentrate on something that would showcase my philosophy,” he says. “The natural surroundings are very good in a yacht and the yacht should be very close to the sea. Its design should be ‘silent’ so that’s why we used the white and pale grey colours. And that was it.”

Alyssa, styled with white and pale grey exterior to keep her close to the sea

From Istanbul to Miami

Known for espousing a beach house feel, Tansu has gone one further on Alyssa, drawing inspiration from Miami’s South Beach lifeguard stations – from beach house to beach hut. The large mural on the saloon bulkhead that reads “No Lifeguard on Duty” is testament to that influence. “We used the same wood they use to build the lifeguard huts,” Tansu explains.

“My son and I brush-painted the wood and made a nice stainless-steel stencil for the words. We also chose very comfortable furniture.” For the saloon that means a large sofa, two stools, two low poufs, a coffee table and a distressed, ornate rug. “It was all based around that theme, really: a beach house but the beach house is literally on the sand.

“The dress code in a boat is very casual,” Tansu continues. “It shouldn’t be like a city apartment where you would be with your chic outfit. I’m not saying that that’s not good, but my style and my view in yachting is emphasising the casual. My clients are not trying to impress their business partners. They want to be on the sea and most of them are ex-sailboat owners. For some reason sailors love my boats!”

Alyssa boasts simplicity at sea

Taking this casual informality as his cue and catering in this case for a client who is single but who often has family with him and who also likes to cruise with friends, the rest of Alyssa’s interior follows the simple palette of the saloon. The main finishes are lacquered white wall panels, with black window blinds and black wood built-in furniture and accessories, while the oak flooring adds a touch of warmth.

Forward of the saloon lies a foyer of sorts, with a dayhead, stairs down to the guest cabins, galley access and the wheelhouse. The galley itself is competent and spacious, while the wheelhouse – with its three vertical panes and good side visibility – is all business. Three Raymarine HybridTouch screens provide the main systems and navigation interface, served with two helm chairs for the crew. Dark leather console finishing not only maintains the monochrome feel of the interior, but also reduces reflections while cruising at night.

The suite, styled in white and pale grey in keeping with Alyssa's exterior

Alyssa is striking and spacious

The master suite on the lower deck of Alyssa feels very contemporary. A large black and white photograph of a nude model by André Brito dominates a bulkhead, keeping watch over the island double bed; Brito’s striking photography is featured throughout the yacht, forming the main decorative theme of the interior. His and hers en suites are mirrored either side of a central shower. The cabin features a walk-in wardrobe-cum-dressing room and plenty of hanging space, while the side desk, with suitably monochrome black and white chairs, serves as both a study area and a dressing table. With the crew accommodation forming a barrier between the master cabin and the engine room, noise levels are kept luxuriously low.

Two identical twin cabins – both with en suites – are staggered to port and starboard, with the forward area offering a VIP suite. The vertical topsides of the hull design mean that there is little intrusion here from the flaring of the bow.

With a deliberately low interior volume – Alyssa comes in at 242 gross tonnes – the luxury of space is emphasised in the deck areas. In fact, there is no upper saloon, with that area reserved for a spacious upper deck complete with built-in table and bench seats under the radar arch, a request of the owner. A flybridge three-seat helm station makes for easy control on passage while under way in the yacht’s intended Mediterranean cruising grounds, and the helm area is separated from the guest area by a unit containing fridges and cupboard space. A large glass screen keeps a connection between the two areas and affords a view while acting as a windbreak, although a deliberate gap at the top ensures a through breeze and ventilation to keep the edge off summer heat. Giant sunpads invite guests to relax and soak up the rays, or laze under starlit skies.

Deck space on board Alyssa

Alyssa features space for work and play

On the main deck, Alyssa borrows from earlier Tansu builds with built-in seating under the upper deck overhang, sunpads/recliners at the aft end of the superstructure and a couple of steps down to the boat deck. Here, a custom 5.5 metre Novurania RIB to port is launched via crane, while currently the starboard side is open, although a crane has been added in case a second tender or other water toys are needed at a later date. With the tender launched, the boat deck becomes a multi-faceted playspace and wet area, as useful during the day under the sun as it is inviting in the evenings as an alfresco dining area or even a dance floor, should the urge hit. Wide steps lead down to the transom, which acts as a bathing platform and, with no aft coaming or bulwark, the connection to the forward deck spaces is maintained.

Accessed via the side deck, the crew quarters offer three cabins to house five crew, with a small mess area and kitchenette to allow snacks and drinks without heading to the main galley. Alyssa's crew area also includes additional cold stores, plus access to the engine room. The technical space is vast, with high headroom and what appears to be minimal equipment, meaning the engineer has a luxurious amount of space in which to work. A further door leads to additional technical/storage space, complete with a laundry.

Alyssa's deck

A minimalistic take on traditional engineering

For Alyssa, the client specified performance of about 22 knots, so Tansu chose to adapt the planing hull platform used on Only Now, extended from Only Now’s 33.9 metres to almost 39 metres. Alyssa is powered by twin Caterpillar C32 engines to give a cruising speed of 18 knots and a top speed of 21 knots, but there have been other changes incorporated, too.

“Technically the most important thing in these boats – on So’mar and Alyssa and we are doing it on (new build) Cutlass, too – is that we have got rid of the hydraulic systems,” Tansu explains. “I was always disturbed by hydraulic pumps and the pressure in the systems, and the pipe runs used to disturb me as you have to live essentially in the technical parts. You hide the pipes in ceilings or behind joinery on a yacht of this size, but you can’t bury them like you can in an 80 metre build. They are like leashed, aggressive Dobermans and when something goes wrong they can completely ruin your interior.”

Alyssa's bow

For the latest builds, Tansu has switched to electric stabilisers and an electric bowthruster, with the only hydraulics being the sternthruster, for which the pumps and pipe runs can be contained in the engine room. “It also means at anchor at night the yacht is very quiet, as there’s no sound of hydraulic systems in the boat,” Tansu continues. “It’s very good and I’m very happy.”

Perfect harmony for sensible, stress-free sailing

Tansu has every reason to be happy. Alyssa is not only a fine-looking yacht from the outside, she offers the perfect balance between outdoor living and interior comfort without the confused sense of over-ornamentation that can prove both distracting and stressful. “My clients are people like us,” Tansu concludes. “They are very cool, very interested in everything they are involved in. They are good people, not over the top. You can easily relate to them and then you become friends with them because you share a passion. That’s the best part of it.”

Alyssa's welcoming stern

Alyssa’s luxury comes through not in the application of layers of material embellishment, but in that embodiment of sophistication – a casual, honest design that oozes quality from the standard of finish. Her monochrome palette and carefully considered spaces are the epitome of that casual, no-nonsense approach to enjoying life on the water. She is a kick-off-your-shoes yacht that just impels you to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings with friends. If only everything in life could be so simple.

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