Imperial Princess: the new British 40m superyacht
by Tim Thomas
Princess – based in Plymouth, UK – has established a reputation for building solid and top-quality production boats, but has never been a company that likes to shout from the rafters. This relatively low-key approach has served the builder well, developing a devoted following of owners who have progressed through the Princess range as it has grown.
The 40 metre project began at about the same time as the 32 metre, which was launched at the London show in 2011 to wide acclaim. But even so, there are significant differences between the two – not only in length and volume, but also in the systems, build methodology, layout and regulations that have to be met. It was an ambitious project. Key for Princess was that it had an existing Princess owner on board from the outset, and with Peter Levine (serial Princess owner) it found its man.
Princess Motor Yacht Sales sold Imperial Princess to Levine, who had early input into the project, which took over two years. During this period, Princess were able to take his experience as a previous Princess owner and a client of Princess Motor Yacht Sales to integrate some of his ideas into the design of the yacht. Princess Motor Yacht Sales maintained a close relationship with their client from inception to ownership of Imperial Princess.
‘My primary concern,’ Levine says, ‘was that I didn’t want a flybridge on steroids. Princess are extremely good at flybridge boats, but the step change from a fly, even with a raised pilothouse like the 32 metre, to a true trideck is a fundamental change in all areas. My primary concern was to make sure it looked modern yet wouldn’t age, and that it would have all the qualities and characteristics of a boat of this class.’
If the challenge was steep, it was met head on by all concerned. Walking over the yacht, it is clear to see that this is no production special, but a true semi-custom yacht fitted out to a high standard, and with several elements that are more usually found on 45 or 50 metre yachts. The main deck saloon and dining area is spacious and bright thanks not only to large windows, but also to twin opening balconies to port and starboard.
The guest cabins too offer space and luxury in equal measure. Aft is a full beam VIP cabin, although this can also be specified as two doubles; forward the guest cabin has been changed into a gym on hull number three. The bathrooms follow the master’s en suites, with a high degree of finish – including a lot of stone – and heated floors.
The original planning concepts for her interior were drawn by Bannenberg & Rowell, then adapted and progressed by the extensive design team at Princess, but it is also obvious walking though the yacht that the owner and his advisors – marine engineer and surveyor Keith Willis, and interiors specialist Chantal Gaudreau – have also contributed.
That quality is evident throughout. Doors are super heavy, and a lot of work has gone into making sure that all guest areas are triple insulated against sound and vibration. Of course, this often means a large weight penalty, but in the case of the 40M this is mitigated by her construction method. She is fully vacuum infused – the largest hull currently built using this method.
The deck spaces and technical areas continue the trend of quality installation and well thought-through planning. The main deck galley is large, with an enviable view through hull windows, and was designed with the help of a top French chef. Power comes from twin MTUs giving a top speed of about 23 knots, although Imperial Princess is likely to cruise at 12 to 14 knots, which gives a fuel consumption of 250 to 300 litres per hour and a range of 1,500 miles.
The aft garage houses a jet ski – with a lifting rack mechanism so that an additional unit can be added – and a custom designed 6.5 metre Rib-X RIB for watersports. The crew/rescue tender is housed in a giant foredeck locker along with other toys, just in front of a seating and sunbathing area that itself nestles in front of a Portuguese bridge. The aft garage space also doubles as a beach club, with privacy screen, and this whole area has the potential to be utilised for a truly prodigious guest relaxation area right on the water.
If Imperial Princess is a measure of what Princess is capable of building, there will no doubt be many more like Levine, enjoying this little ship for exactly what she is – the chance to enjoy cruising in a yacht built to a standard that would put many more expensive yards to shame.
This is an abridged version of a feature that was published in the October 2012 issue of Boat International.