Flynt motor yacht underway

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Wild Water: Test driving the Flynt 956 day boat

11 November 2022 • Written by Cecile Gauert

A first boat for a Dutch builder obsessed with details, the Flynt 956 is an attention grabber and fun ride wrapped in a beautiful package. Cecile Gauert tries it out for size.

If you’ll excuse a little familiarity, I’d like to point out that the Flynt 956 has a great nose and a great rear end. I am not just being flippant about this; they both exemplify the thinking of the person behind Flynt Yachts (named after the flat rock that ricochets across the water when thrown), a Dutchman who is obsessed with quality from the very tip of his boat to the very back – and every centimetre in between.

As a kid, the founder of Flynt Yachts, Robert-Jan Sanders, did not like school much but fell in love with boats, fast ones. He started modestly in his work life, but he was quite young when he decided to launch a business selling American-built Cobalt and Regal boats to European clients. His after-sales service established his reputation, and he did extremely well; at the age of 38 he had enough money to retire.

“What was I going to do, sit in the house?” Sanders says. “I wanted to design my own boat and I invested all money back in my product.  It was 2018 when he began to think about the boat he’d build, and he did not want to duplicate what others had done. “I wanted a sporty boat, a retro style, and a very good hull,” he says.

He went to the Dutch naval architecture and design firm Vripack to make his concept a reality.

“Robert-Jan is a perfectionist. His vision from the start was to create something high-end, to step out of the sport boat world for a bit and reach another niche clientele,” says Joost Mertens of Vripack, who worked on the boat’s design before joining Vripack’s commercial team.

One thing that was hugely important to Sanders was to break away from the traditional and easier way to build boats of this type – joining the deck and hull and gluing them together with Sika.  He wanted something much more sophisticated and sculptural. Making the 956 requires many moulds and astute attention to detail.

“You will never see a physical joining of the deck and the hull, which is advanced. It’s a super professional-driven detail on this boat,” Mertens says. “All the seams are sharp and neat with a small radius.” It makes it challenging to build.

I can tell Sanders wants to make sure I understand the difference, which eventually I do by comparing Top Gun (the name of his boat) to other craft in Lake Como’s Marina di Domaso, where he’s taken the boat for a photo shoot.

The wraparound windshield is efficient at cutting wind and devoid of distortion. Another pane of glass below the seat cushions allows peeking inside the engine room

The look is distinctive, with a high bow and high shoulders tapering down toward the aft where the boat offers a close connection to the water via a swim platform, large for the boat’s size. Elegant grilles cover air intakes for the dragon breathing inside, on this – hull No 1 – two MerCruiser Bravo Three stern drives.

When you sit inside on one of two helm seats or the comfortable upholstered foam benches along the side, you feel safe and protected, even at 50 knots. A windscreen that must be devilishly difficult to make bends around the front section and comes around the sides. It effectively cuts  99 per cent of the wind, as I am about to find out.

“I tried to focus on partly aggressive styling  that’s still timeless and pleasant to look at,” says Mertens, who worked very closely with Sanders. “It’s not aggressive like a Lamborghini would be, but it’s more like a blend between a modern and classic Ferrari, with some sharp lines but also more continuous lines. I also tried to pay attention to the female audience.”

The obsession to detail is evident on the perfect stitching of the shock-proof helm seats, which revolve to face forward or aft

That audience may especially appreciate the jewellery that decks the boat. Wrapping the front of the bow (high for a boat shy of 10 metres) is a chiselled and shapely piece of stainless steel decorated with a hexagon pattern. It encloses a light. “They make it in a mould while cooling it,” Sanders says. “It’s very hard to make.” The pattern matches that of the grilles over the air intakes.

The paint is of superyacht quality, a metallic Awlgrip with a beautiful sheen, which has been sprayed on for a perfect finish.

Sanders wanted to make the boat easy to board, and it’s a small step from the platform onto a comfortable sunpad and another down to the deck. An easy move for adult, child or pet.

Hand wrapped and stitched, the wheel includes a logo that’s always right side up

The cockpit shows Sanders’ obsession with details. The helm and companion chairs are customized Recaro seats mounted on shock-mitigating platforms from American company Shockwave. They turn around to face passengers when the boat is stopped, which makes for convivial seating. “The steering wheel is stitched by Bentley in Malaysia because they do a very nice stitch,” says Sanders, who borrowed another luxury car detail from a Rolls-Royce he saw in his neighbourhood. The inner core of the wheel is independent of the rim and rights itself as the wheel turns so that the logo is always right side up – as in the wheels of the Rolls.

You can’t see this at first glance, but Sanders eschewed circuit breakers. “The salt destroys them. We have a full digital dash,” he says, which can be controlled with an iPhone. He wants to be able to remotely access all the boats, to assist his clients with service, but an owner can also check the status of the boat from home – how much fuel and water is on board, which makes it easier to plan a day on the water.

Smart design carved out a good-sized cabin with kitchenette and comfortable seating that feels protected at high speeds, plus a big sunpad overlooking the swim platform

Also, in keeping with the boat’s sporty spirit, Sanders enclosed the engines below a sheet of glass and designed a fire extinguisher that’s pleasant to look at. It all becomes visible when lifting the upholstered foam cushions that form a comfortable lounging area. There is room for the smallest Seakeeper gyro (2), which is an option and fits in what normally is a deep storage locker.

By extending the deck, Sanders found the space for not only sun loungers that allow passengers to stretch fully, comfortable seating protected from wind, but also a cabin with a comfy bed, hidden toilet and mini galley. Built into the wall at the head of the bed is a frame for an iPad, which doubles as an entertainment screen and, of course, connects with the boat’s systems and controls the dimmable lights. There is built-in storage for glasses, a wine or champagne cooler, coffee cups, an espresso machine, and a refrigerator. And lots of light flows in from side portholes and a skylight.

A hexagonal grid which covers the engine air intake is a leitmotiv throughout the boat

We have a day captain on board for our jaunt on Lake Como, but it’s Sanders who takes the wheel. Past the marina’s limit, the coast is clear, so he revs up the engines and in seconds we’ve reached 55km/h. As we gain speed, I see a brief “86” flash on the Simrad screen before I lose track of the numbers. The faster we go, the more enthused Sanders gets. “We made a smooth ride; no other boat is like that,” he beams over the sound of the engines. “You see it’s on the rails. Look, no drift, no drift, nothing. It’s like a train. It’s crazy, huh?”

Right then, he spins the wheel, and the boat makes a tight circle at high speed. I watch incredulously the tight white scar we leave on the lake, gripping the edge of my seat with one hand and the side of the boat with the other to steady myself so I can see the complete circle. I don’t think I have ever done such a tight doughnut on something bigger than a jet ski. “What boat does this? It’s crazy,” he says, nearly shouting now. “Vripack did a very, very good job.”

At the top end, the Flynt goes 92km/h, just shy of the 100km speed limit on Lake Como. It is  a thrilling ride for sure.

The sound level comes down as he resumes a more sedate speed and I lose myself in the contemplation of the scenery. By now we have reached the famous Balbianello Villa, with its sumptuous gardens. Shuttles and private boats go to and fro and we become part of the attraction. A couple of guys and a terrier on a Primatist 23 seem quite taken with the boat and circle us at low speed. We also get appreciative glances from the passenger of a limo tender shuttling by.

On the way back to the dock, I take a turn at the wheel. It’s exhilarating to skim the cool and quiet lake water in the shadow of tall mountains.  The traffic is light as the season has barely started.  The ride is smooth as silk, and I feel completely comfortable at the wheel.

Too soon we are back at the dock where another admirer is waiting. Like most of Flynt’s current clients, he has had many boats before. That kind of experience helps to fully appreciate what Sanders has created. A ride aboard may very well seal the deal.

First published in the October 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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