The grey sky matches the muddied Mediterranean, barely visible through the frenzied wipers that work to keep my windscreen clear. It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I agreed to see SilverYachts’ 85.3-metre Bold in the South of France. Then again, this may be the perfect weather to see this new explorer.
The creation from a Western Australia-based shipyard that announced itself with some fanfare in 2007 with its first boat, an unconventional 73.3-metre yacht named Silver (now Rabdan), Bold is designed by the same owner/designer team: a European industrialist with a predilection for modern design and an award-winning yacht designer and naval architect who needs no introduction.
Bold is Espen Øino’s 50th yacht, and the fifth that this owner-and-designer duo has created under the SilverYachts banner. The first four were elegant, modern boats that, while not to every taste – and certainly not every budget – helped move the needle with their long, narrow hulls topped with streamlined superstructures. Back then, SilverYachts was one of the few yards to embrace the idea of efficiency and sustainability through smart naval architecture. To this end, while larger and more voluminous than her predecessors, Bold still has a relatively narrow beam of 11 metres.
The Silver Loft concept, which became Bold, emerged in 2012 at a time when pirates were active in many parts of the world, which may have inspired the slightly military styling, but that wasn’t the primary driver. “It was to be a real world cruiser that could operate in a somewhat economical way, could carry a helicopter and have large outside living areas and very comfortable [indoor] living areas with connections with the outside,” Øino says. He further describes it as “contemporary, purposeful and sustainable – because it is built of aluminium, which is an easier material to recycle and an easily driven hull, which means you don’t need so much power to achieve speed. And down to earth, like a Range Rover”.
Øino also had a hand in the design of the Rupert RIB cabin tender that comes to collect me from the dock. Brave, as it is known, cuts easily through rollers as we speed towards a mysterious grey figure just discernible through fat drops of rain. Soon that smudge in the distance firms into a sturdy-looking boat that perfectly justifies her name. The warm lights that shine invitingly through large windows belie the military stance of the tall vertical bow, the arrow-shaped superstructure at the front and flat, grey paint.
This tender – or one like it – was one of the reasons SilverYachts built this higher tonnage boat. At 1,551GT, it’s hardly the highest-tonnage 85-metre yacht out there (Solandge, of identical length, for instance, is closer to 2,900GT), but it is much roomier than 77-metre Silver Fast, which is a mere 952GT.
“As you know,” says Bold's owner, “I built the Silver line of sleek, elegant, fast, lightweight yachts with quite a narrow beam and limited volume. For me and my family, it was always sufficient, but the deck space for tenders was very limited.” He has spent time aboard every one of the yachts that the Australian shipyard has built.
This “sports activity vessel” (SAV), partially derived from the concept of a shadow vessel, has the capability of carrying several auxiliary craft. “You can land a helicopter, carry a 15-metre tender and lift up to 12 tonnes; we have no height limitations on this open deck,” says the owner. Even with an AW109S Grand helicopter on deck and a Rupert R6 RIB strapped to its cradle, the deck looks massive – it’s 400 square metres of open space. However, unlike a shadow vessel, Bold serves multiple purposes.
The yacht left Australia in July 2019. From Perth, it headed for Sardinia, where the owners held a dinner party for 140 after an uneventful 21-day crossing. “She proved herself, four days out of the shipyard,” says Captain Todd Leech, who took the boat across and encountered six-metre waves between the Maldives and the Gulf of Aden. The SOLAS-compliant explorer is equipped with the latest in navigation aids and cameras, including what Leech calls “the dolphin cam”, a forward-facing underwater camera.
Bold was designed to have a range of nearly 5,000 nautical miles. Based on the first few months of cruising, including ploughing through those big Indian Ocean waves, the owner estimates she burns between 500 and 600 litres an hour at 16.5 knots. “The sweet spot is around 14 to 15 knots.” But when necessary, top speed is more than 22 knots, with commercially rated MTU 16V 4000 M73L engines.
The naval architecture, hull form and construction have a lot to do with this performance. “Bold features an evolution of SilverYachts’ high-performance, low-weight hulls, with low draught and a highly optimised hull form that provides her owner with remarkably low fuel consumption, fast repositioning and access to shallow cruising grounds unparalleled in yachts of her size,” says Jona Kan, SilverYachts’ former commercial director.
“Basically, it’s a high-speed displacement hull form,” Øino says. “The length-to-beam ratio is important and a high ratio is what we are using here. The angle of entry and the shape of the bow are extremely important for the wave you generate, as well as the stern geometry of the hull. You extend your waterline to create a clear wake. That has been the concept at SilverYachts.”
It turns out this capable explorer is also a great platform for fun. The main aft deck alone is roughly 34 metres long, from the stairs that lead to a bathing platform, to a movie screen tucked inside a party space that doubles as a heli garage. The aft sections of the bulwarks unfold to provide clearance for the helicopter landing and create terraces over the water.
The owner’s son shows me some of the fun features on board as we take refuge from the rain in the hangar/cinema/disco. While a video of a spacecraft plays on a screen, a familiar refrain soon pours out of the Renkus-Heinz speakers: The Weather Girls’ unforgettable Gospel-inspired disco anthem It’s Raining Men. Accompanying the high-wattage sound is a light show that enlivens the deck with vivid colours. This has proven to be a favourite deck for late-night parties, and it’s easy to see why, even on a rainy day. “You are very close to the water and without a barrier; everyone wants to jump in in the morning,” he says.
Additional party spaces are higher up. On the very top, sunpads complement a 2,700-litre spa pool, which allows cooling off away from prying eyes. There is also a firepit and the equipment to set up another movie screen. One deck below, on the aft section of the bridge deck, removable railings allow parking for a second helicopter. Awnings and judiciously placed windbreakers expand the protection that a small overhang offers, while a bar, serving stations, two rotisseries and an induction hob make it another great banqueting space. Loose furniture by Paola Lenti can be scattered around.
The pièce de résistance, however, is aft of the owner’s deck – a winter garden with floor-to-ceiling tinted windows on three sides. These can be opened fully by hand, stacking neatly into two storage spaces hidden behind bulkheads on both sides of the superstructure. When they are opened, this entire section of the owner’s deck is like a large terrace open to the breeze and overlooking the certified helideck. On an overcast and rainy day, when the windows are tightly shut, the space is still bathed in natural light, maintaining a connection to the environment.
This winter garden was an essential component of the concept for a world cruiser that can be enjoyed anywhere in the world and at just about any time of the year. It is connected physically and visually to the saloon (although it can be shut off with weathertight doors). Its decor is consistent with the adjacent lounge/ dining/saloon area.
The owner worked with Øino on the pleasantly unconventional layout, which forgoes the habitual main deck saloon/dining combination in favour of what is a superb loft with a high ceiling (up to 2.75 metres in the centre). Brightly coloured sofas frame the perimeter of a custom carpet with bold geometric print under a backlit ceiling. All around the deck are cosy groupings of furniture pieces scattered atop a residential-looking parquet floor made of 2.5-millimetre-thick oak on honeycomb.
“I always said if you want to spend a couple of weeks on a boat, you want it to be like a Tribeca, New York, apartment or a house. That was part of the brief, to have a close contact with the water, wherever you are, but not to get the feel of a superyacht. If you look around it, it’s an apartment,” says the owner, who was also inspired by one of Øino’s earlier designs, the distinctive 71-metre Skat, built with a similar loft.
Aside from ubiquitous views through the tall windows, the focal point in the understated interior is a large screen (or rather nine screens that can be synchronised to show one gigantic image) for streaming videos or looking at navigation information and charts.
Although the owner’s suite is on this deck, it is perfectly private behind an elegantly concealed entrance. Like the rest of the yacht, the ambience in the owner’s cabin is that of restrained luxury, with light-coloured silk carpeting, light bulkheads of brushed open-grain oak and stainless-steel insets illuminated by downlights. Automated Venetian-style leather blinds quietly descend over windows. It is a sanctuary. The builder has used all known tricks in the book to prevent noise transfer through the all-aluminium boat, including dampening materials on floors and bulkheads, floating floors and soft mounts in machinery spaces.
“Like my houses, it is modern but cosy,” says the owner, who has an aversion to overdone luxury. “There is no onyx, no gold,” he says, adding later: “We don’t need to impress with golden staircases.” The stairs leading to the main deck are finished with honeycomb-backed marble and attractive light accents.
On the main deck are seven elegant guest cabins, all with en suites, plus a massage room that can serve as a hospital if need be. In the guest areas, the bulkheads and furniture are mostly in teak. Sizeable windows in the guest cabins frame the landscape in geometric shapes, visible on the outside; while in the forward VIP cabins, traditional marine portholes are attractively framed in stainless steel. The bathrooms in Corian and honeycomb marble are spacious.
The lower deck is dedicated to the crew of 22: their cabins, a crew mess and stewardess office. The space is finished with easy-to-maintain and attractive laminates. Here is a logically laid out commercial-grade galley with dumb waiter, laundry space with all pro Miele equipment, spacious engine room, a lazarette/beach club finished to guest standards and large provisions stores, fridges and freezers. An industrial-looking forward crane can lift palettes of food and lower them through a large hatch, as well as jet skis and Laser dinghies.
“We increased our storage dramatically,” the owner says. “We have enough storage probably for five months.” One of the trade-offs for this extra capacity was a smaller beach club, but with all the space above, it is not particularly missed. It has the essentials, including a dayhead and a convertible fish filleting station. And a floating platform helps expand the fun, providing temporary dockage for the toys and serving as a take-off spot for watersports. As we reach the end of the tour, the owner says: “I am happy to have the courage to have made it a bit different.”
As the tender speeds away, I look back with a newly acquired fondness for this unconventional yacht. It’s form and function in perfect agreement, rain or shine.
This feature is taken from the April 2020 issue of BOAT International. Get the magazine sent straight to your door using the link below.BUY BOAT INTERNATIONAL