Bintador: On Board Tankoa's 50 Metre Superyacht
by Risa Merl
She might resemble her predecessor, but the latest 50-metre Tankoa Bintador proves that sisterships can be as individual as the owner desires, as Risa Merl discovers.
It would have been much easier for Tankoa Yachts to repeat the formula that had been successful with its first 50-metre instead of reinventing the wheel. Or, in this case, the engine. But when the owner signed on to the second hull in the yard’s S501 series in the early stages of production, just as metal was being cut, Tankoa proposed the option of hybrid propulsion. Never mind that they were still in the middle of developing the system at the time.
“We began developing a system because we wanted to be ready in case somebody asked for it,” says Giuseppe Mazza, sales and business development manager of Tankoa. “The client was thrilled by this idea and gave us the green light, so we developed and fine-tuned it with him.” The yard invested more than a million euros in developing a hybrid system. Its in-house engineering team collaborated with Diesel Center, an Italian MTU distributor, and Lucchi R Elettromeccanica, which supplied the electric motors.
Mazza credits the Genoa-based shipyard being debt-free with its ability to take on such challenges, or to welcome a high level of customisation of a series boat. Although still a young yard – Bintador is its fourth boat to hit the water – Tankoa was founded on a wealth of experience, with the majority of its management team coming from Baglietto. The main shareholder, Guido Orsi, was the owner of Baglietto until 2005, when he sold the company. “We are prepared to customise quite a lot, not only interiors, but also exterior spaces, and if clients want a fully custom project, or if they come with their own designer or architect, we will develop it together with him,” Mazza says.
The propulsion package is just one of a dozen differences that sets hull No 2, Bintador, apart from No 1, Vertige (delivered in 2017), despite the fact that, from the outside, the tri-deck, aluminium-built yachts appear to be identical. They share the same streamlined exterior lines by Francesco Paszkowski, with an axe-bow and white paint job punctuated by long swathes of glazing on the main and upper decks. But look a bit deeper and you’ll find that these sisterships, while closely related, are true individuals.
“They are sisterships only in terms of exterior design – the engine room and propulsion are completely different,” Mazza points out. “Vertige had six cabins and Bintador has five cabins with a huge galley on the main deck, and there is a helipad on the bow instead of a lounge.” The S501 series is designed by Paszkowski, who also created Tankoa’s 70-metre Suerte and 72-metre Solo. The yard is developing custom projects with other designers, but, Mazza says, “the first boat that we present to the client is always designed by Francesco”.
Bintador’s owners had a few reasons for opting for hybrid so readily, as their project manager, Giancarlo Mussino, attests. Comfort and quiet were priorities of the original brief, and the reduced fuel consumption and eco-friendly attributes that hybrid provides sweetened the deal. “Hybrid power would grant the highest standards in terms of noise and vibration reduction,” says Mussino, who is the managing director of the Swiss yacht consultancy Sinos. “Huge attention was also paid to insulation. Cruising on Bintador is really pleasant; sometimes it’s hard to notice you are actually moving.”
Similar to the propulsion system seen on Heesen’s Home, Bintador has four operational modes: traditional propulsion, powered by twin MTU 8V 4000 M54 engines, which provides a top speed of 16.5 knots; diesel-electric mode using only the 300kW electric motors, which still achieves 10.5 knots; hybrid propulsion with one MTU and both electric engines on for 12 knots; and boost mode with both of the MTUs and electric engines on, giving a top speed of 18 knots. The owner’s preference is the electric mode when he’s on board. The French owners have had yachts for the past 20 years, but Bintador represents a great leap forward in both the size and scope of vessel. “This is his first big one,” says Mazza. “He wants to enjoy the yacht with his family and friends.”
The owners’ dream of owning a yacht like this was finally realised when they sold their business. They met Mussino, who has experience as a marine engineer and naval architect. Bintador was the first project to be sold, surveyed and managed by Sinos. “I shortlisted a few shipyards that would be able to deliver what he was expecting to get,” says Mussino. “We immediately had a great feeling with Tankoa. The personal aspect was very important. It’s a two-year process, and you really need to find a partner rather than a supplier, someone who shares your vision and who you can trust.”
The owners visited the yard often, each time bringing a different set of friends to take a peek. “They came to the yard every 15 days,” says Mazza. “He really enjoyed the step-by-step building process, and his friends who visited the yard were giving him advice along the way.” Before the owners took delivery at the end of June, their guest list for summer cruising in the Mediterranean was already set. “His agenda was completely full,” Mazza adds.
Tankoa took a few of the lessons that it had learned building its largest yacht yet, the 1,600GT Solo, and translated them into Bintador. This includes the frameless glass bulwarks, by Italian glass manufacturer Viraver, which helped win Solo the Game Changer prize at the 2019 BOAT International Design & Innovation Awards.
The expansive glazing on board Solo was refined on Bintador. “The exterior of Solo had all these big black windows where it’s not really a window but aluminium that is painted black,” says Mazza. “[On Bintador] it is all windows, connected by a few panes of painted aluminium but with glass on top.” The glazing looks seamless from afar, and even up close when walking along the side decks it’s hard to tell what is window and what is painted aluminium.
The owner worked closely with Paszkowski, who created the interior with assistance from Margherita Casprini. “The owner wanted a cosy and welcoming interior, understated,” explains Paszkowski. “We [combined] brushed sandblasted oak, marble, glass, hard leather, suede, lacquer and fabrics.” The colour palette comprises whites, beiges and greys for a soothing effect. The ivory ceiling opens up the saloon. One stand-out feature is the forward bulkhead wall in the main deck dining area, where brushed and sandblasted oak slats are laid vertically atop a glossy painted and lacquered Venetian plaster wall. The same finishing and materials are also used at the entrance on the main deck.
At 499GT, Bintador is slightly bigger than Vertige’s 496GT. The extra volume is nearly imperceptible, but translates to the main deck saloon being a little bit wider. This space has two sand-coloured sofas with bronze bases facing one another. Flooring on the main deck delineates the sections of the boat, with parquet on the port side leading to the galley and crew area, while carpet on the starboard side leads to the owner and guest accommodation.
Subtle changes that set Bintador apart from her predecessor can be seen in the master suite. The bed, which had been set on the centreline on board Vertige, has been moved closer to the port side for a more open feeling, as well as room for armchairs to sit and enjoy the views when the starboard side balcony is open. While Vertige has two balconies that descend on either side, Bintador’s owners opted for one balcony on the starboard side, and windows that open on the port side, so that a cross-current of fresh air can flow through – which they prefer over using air-conditioning.
Removing a balcony allowed a chest of nine drawers to be added, built directly into the wall under the port-side windows. Extra storage was a priority for owners who plan to really make the most of it. “They are going to live on board,” says Renzo Chelazzi, Tankoa’s build captain, who oversaw the project. Steps covered with hard dove-grey leather lead to the lower deck. Below, there are four guest cabins with the same oak, leather and lacquered decor. The backs of the bedside tables curve to fit with the curve of the panel on the wall. “There is a rounded effect, not just sharp edges everywhere,” says Mazza.
Smoked mirrored ceilings create the illusion of a larger space, although it’s not entirely necessary, as the guest cabins are already roomy, and each has a good-sized wardrobe and double sinks in the bathrooms. The windows in each of the lower deck cabins can be opened so that guests can enjoy the fresh sea breeze. A watertight door forward of the guest accommodation allows crew to pass through and make up the cabins. Chelazzi says another improvement on Bintador is the addition of a hatch on the port side in the crew area, where provisions can easily be brought on board directly from the tender when the yacht is at anchor. “We haven’t wasted any space,” says Chelazzi. “Out on deck, we found some extra space that we have dedicated for technical equipment and storage for the crew, for mooring lines and fire-fighting equipment, for instance.”
There are nine crew, including the captain, and quarters include a crew galley and mess. “We had to build the yacht so that the crew is comfortable,” says Mazza. “Everything is a little bit oversized where it was possible.” The captain’s cabin aft of the wheelhouse, for example, is nearly the size of a guest cabin. This means the upper deck saloon is a bit cosier, but the large television hints at the use of this space as a cinema. Another television screen is outside on the upper deck – it lowers from the ceiling and faces the dining table, which is finished in grey lacquered wood and inset with bronze.
Another difference found on board Bintador is that the forward deck lounge has been transformed into a touch-and-go helipad. The owner is also a helicopter pilot, so when you see a chopper landing on the deck of Bintador, it might well be the owner at the controls. “He knows what you’re talking about when it comes to electrics and motors,” says Chelazzi.
The rescue tender and personal watercraft can be launched from the forward deck with a crane. The owners are bike enthusiasts, and five electric bicycles are stowed in a small locker on the forward deck that has electrical outlets for charging and a LAN connection for updating the bikes’ software. They also love to dive, and so there is ample scuba equipment on board, including a compressor to refill the scuba tanks in the tender garage, where the tender is launched from a port-side hatch. This garage opens onto the beach club, which has exercise equipment. The wide swim platform accessed from here can also be shaded.
A connection to the outside is fostered at all times, even on the sundeck, where the roof is punctuated with skylights so that the owner can gaze up at the stars at night. There is an emphasis on making every space liveable for large groups, even areas that are often under-used, such as the main aft deck seating area. Paszkowski says that this is actually his favourite space on board. Here, two balconies descend on either side, opening up the deck space, while seating faces aft to take full advantage of the views. “You can sit on the sofa in the shade and still have very close contact to the sea,” he says. “Thanks to the two fold-out balconies, this area looks like a raised beach club with an open view to the water.”
The third and fourth hull of the S501 series are already in build. Hull No 3 is more than 50 per cent complete and will feature standard power, while the metal is being cut on hull No 4, and another hybrid-powered yacht is entirely possible. Tankoa has the space to keep building bigger, up to 90 metres.
Bintador could have easily been a carbon copy of her sister. But, thanks to a tenacious owner and a venturesome yard that was willing to push the envelope, this sistership is one of a kind.