Aurora Borealis: On Board the 67 Metre Amels 220
by Andrew Johansson
An owner’s quest to find just the right size yacht with just the right amenities gave rise to Amels’ first Limited Editions 220, which he then requested in record time. Andrew Johansson tours Aurora Borealis.
Nobody likes waiting for the arrival of a new purchase. Superyachts are no exception –a quick delivery is the most common demand of a new-build owner despite the numerous practical limitations. For the seasoned owner of 67.6-metre Aurora Borealis, for example, it was important that he have his new boat in time for the 2019 summer season. This would put pressure on Amels to deliver what has become its first Limited Editions 220 in just 32 months, which is four months – yes, four months – faster than the listed time.
“I received a call from the owner mid-July 2016, which turned out to be the trigger for the project,” recalls Fraser sales broker Antoine Larricq, who was en route to meet Andrew Winch of Winch Design to discuss New Secret, one of Amels’ Limited Editions 242 projects.
“It was the second hull that was under construction at the shipyard at the time, following the delivery of Plvs Vltra, so I took him to see the project in build.” While the owner liked what he saw, it quickly became clear he didn’t want a motor yacht above 70 metres, ruling out the 74-metre 242 platform. However, the Dutch shipyard had a smaller model that would offer greater length and volume than his previous yacht, 52-metre Latitude, while remaining under 70 metres. The solution was the 65.7-metre Limited Editions 212. Well, almost.
Although the 212 was a good boat, it hadn’t been as commercially successful as some other models in the Amels range, such as the 55-metre Limited Editions 180, Larricq tells me. So the shipyard worked up new drawings with designer Tim Heywood and modified the package to evolve the 212 into something more appealing. The changes would give life to what the shipyard calls the Limited Editions 220, a 67.1 metre with a distinctive beach club – a key requirement for Larricq’s client – and slightly different exterior. “The Amels 220 draws on pedigree and in particular the design of her predecessor, the Amels 212,” explains Victor Caminada, the shipyard’s head of marketing.
“She is strong, athletic, feminine and sleek,” adds exterior designer Tim Heywood. “The fluid lines, particularly aft, flow through the design and I particularly like the long shape of the wing stations.” Caminada goes on to explain how the design captures the essence and tradition of luxury yachting. “It is an evolution of an existing proven and successful design – one that has evolved to meet today’s yachting lifestyle,” he says. “What distinguishes her is the updated and elegant design with elongated decks and large windows for lots of natural light.”
As we stand on the transom, Larricq and Captain Paul Bickley reveal some of the reasons for extending the standard 220’s length by 50 centimetres to 67.6 metres. “When we measured a sun lounger, it sat very close to the edge of the swim platform. The boss wanted a bit more length in order to allow a person to safely and easily walk past it,” explains Bickley. “We’ve opened the transom to give a greater feeling of space, which has been helped by pushing the passerelle outboard. Also, the previous 212 model had these ears on the aft extremities [of the swim platform], which we got rid of to create a smooth curved transom.”
“These customisations were also important in order to make the space child friendly, as the owner has young kids,” adds Larricq. The additional 50 centimetres have allowed for a steam room – decorated with a handmade Italian pietra dura mosaic artwork and a fibre-optic starlight ceiling – and an ice fountain spa and shower. Aft of this is a bar with a Giallo Silvia Oro stone top and a panel of subtle sycamore diamond marquetry below. These light colours, together with sycamore-panelled walls, create a relaxed space, highlighted with oil paintings by British artist Heather Duncan. “A calm, harmonious, refined and restrained Scandinavian-influenced design is enlivened with touches of glamour and intricate details,” says Greig Jolly, associate at Winch Design, as he describes the theme and vision for the interior, realised by German outfitter Metrica.
As we make our way forward into the garage, it is clear the team has included the largest tenders possible. “Initially this was built for charter, like our previous boat,” says Bickley. “We had 380 days of third-party charter over nine seasons, which was possible because the owner rarely used the boat. We wanted to repeat that success on this boat, and to be able to load up with toys. It would have been good to have more space down here.”
Tenders supplied by Pascoe International are stowed with only centimetres to spare between the forward and aft bulkheads. The first is an 8.3-metre Beachlander, while the second is an 8.3-metre Landau Open, which is finished in the same anthracite colour as the superstructure and won Best Tender Design in the 2019 BOAT International Design & Innovation Awards. “Pascoe came to us and said, ‘Can we run with this idea?’ and I said yes, and on seeing the finished boat I’m really pleased with it,” says Bickley. “She has a James Bond feel with a carbon fibre champagne bucket among a number of features. It isn’t enclosed – there is a spray hood should you need it – but this is really ideal for enjoying places such as Porto Cervo and St Barths.”
Forward of the tender garage is the engine room, home to a pair of workhorse Caterpillar 3516C engines. “Mechanically, underway, she is like a Swiss watch, silent and very fast,” Bickley says. “These engines work best at 90 per cent load and are unhappy under 75 per cent load.” This, in turn, means the most efficient way to run the boat is on one engine, achieving a cruising speed of approximately 13 knots and a top speed of 17 knots. “Being the first Amels 220, Aurora Borealis had to be comfortable,” adds Caminada. “She offers unrivalled stability, low noise and vibrations, plus the perfect arrangement for the classic yachting experience at the highest level.”
Amidships is a staircase that extends from the tank deck up to the sundeck, while a glass lift runs from the very top to the lower deck. Backing the staircase is a vertical stretch of backlit cloud-cut honey onyx, the steps and handrail finished with tan buffalo hide and macchiato cowhide. The lobbies on each floor are variations on a circular theme, with the most engaging found at the main entrance on the main deck.
“The floor is grey oak with polished almond gold inlays arranged in a circular pattern inspired by sunrays and Saturn’s rings,” says Jolly. Above this is a custom ceiling lamp with illuminated gold leaf on the inside and a straw marquetry finish on the outside. The repeated circular pattern varies along the main deck companionway, from the saloon aft to the owner’s suite and office forward. A full circle inlaid with mother-of-pearl in the owner’s vestibule visually connects it with the owner’s office. The latter has been finished with bleached rippled sycamore and includes silver highlights and polished almond gold accents.
“Foot-worn oak floors and pale sycamore timber walls create a calm, cool atmosphere,” explains Jolly of the main saloon. The circular motif in this space is achieved through a hand-tufted silk carpet by Tai Ping that defines the sitting area, mirrored above by a circular lighting fixture, and through the 14-guest round dining table, centred with petrified prehistoric wood. The saloon is also home to a pair of stunning curved, starburst straw-marquetry panels that sit opposite each other and visually separate the dining area from the saloon. In front of each panel is a European walnut credenza with Italian Botticino Fiorito marble top, while a third unit between them is finished with straw marquetry.
Aurora Borealis sleeps 14 guests, the most striking suite being the owner’s, forward on the main deck. “The full-beam owner’s suite with a central bed features two bespoke bleached-oak loungers beneath large, full-height windows,” says Jolly. “A spectacular five-metre-long landscape artwork of gold-leaf divides the sleeping area from the master bathroom.” The master suite includes an enclosed head and shower with a centrally located oval bath carved from a single block of crema liria stone. In front of it is a high-gloss capiz shell panel from Nature Squared with polished almond gold inlays, while behind it is a striking petrified wood panel concealing a secondary (emergency) exit.
Drop one deck and you find a twin and three double en suites. “Each cabin has a different theme – earth, air, water, fire – which is reflected in the subtle variations in the choice of fabrics, carpets, artwork and accessories,” explains Jolly. While these cabins feature silk carpets, good storage and marble vanity units, the VIP suites on the bridge deck are not only bigger, but they also have a penthouse feeling when combined with the upper saloon, just a few steps away towards the stern. “The two cabins are themed around the concept of the North and South Poles with subtly different colour schemes, fabrics and artwork,” says Jolly.
At the top of the staircase is a skylight flooding the stairwell with natural light. Forward is a spa pool with a gym and shower aft, leading out to an open deck area with sunbeds and Summit sun loungers, as well as a table for al fresco dining and a projector for entertainment. Another modification was the deletion of the helipad aft on this deck. Despite having met the owner’s wishes, Aurora Borealis is for sale. Now complete, she is perfect for someone looking for a new fully loaded superyacht. At the time of writing, she had an asking price of €83.5 million including the owner’s supplies – and of course that priceless attribute, the absence of a waiting time.
Photography: Jeff Brown/Breed Media and Winch Media