Approaching Monaco from Nice, the cab driver tuts at his satnav and tells me there’s a snarl-up on the main road leading into the principality. “Le bouchon,” he sighs wearily, as if used to it. It would be quicker, he suggests, if we go right round and approach from the east. I grumble my assent and settle back into my seat, impatiently checking my watch. Half an hour later we’re climbing down the zig-zag road towards my destination and I get a glimpse of the anchorage outside Port Hercules.
Having never entered Monaco from this direction, I’m unprepared for the panoramic view it affords of the yachts moored outside the harbour in open water. I ask the driver to slow down as the distinctive shape of my target comes into view. She’s a few hundred metres below me, fresh to the Med, but there is absolutely no mistaking her: long, lean, and metallic blue, Jubilee has arrived.
I make the rendezvous with the tender and am soon up close and personal with the 110 metre Oceanco, the largest yacht ever built in the Netherlands, topping both length and volume tables. We motor all the way round in the Wahoo tender to take her all in. We’re not alone — there are three or four more small boats circling Jubilee, full of people furiously hashtagging. “She’s all over Instagram,” the tender driver tells me. “It’s been the same ever since we got into the Med two weeks ago.”
Looking up, it’s easy to see why Jubilee is a star of social media: Igor Lobanov’s design is very special. His intention was to hide the true height of the yacht by introducing “fake decks” in the superstructure. “This particular platform had unusually big deck heights, so I started to think about a visual trick to hide the above average height of the yacht,” the designer explains. “So we decided to imitate more decks than there really are. I hoped many thinner layers would give a feeling of a larger vessel.”
It might seem counter-intuitive to hide the height of a yacht by adding the impression of even more decks, but it has worked: Jubilee looks low for her length. The illusion has been created with smoked glass panels between the decks that run the length of the superstructure and areas of teak decking inaccessible to guests, but which from a distance look like genuine deck spaces. Two kilometres of LED lighting in channels under deck overhangs — both fake and real — mean the deception is maintained even when the sun goes down.
It’s clever stuff, but complicated. “The superstructure was indeed challenging to execute due to the curves dictated by the design and the combination of materials, along with the hidden recessed lights,” admits Paris Baloumis, Oceanco’s group marketing manager. “But we think the result is quite extraordinary.”
The owner started talking about a new yacht back in 2005. Burgess’s Rupert Nelson, sales director at the company’s Monaco office, recalls that back then he was looking at something around 80 metres, with the key requirement being that the yacht have a car garage for his Bentley. The financial turbulence of the next few years put everything on hold and it was only in 2011 that he showed renewed interest in building Jubilee.
The owner looked at buying Oceanco hull Y708, which would become St Princess Olga (now Amore Vero), but eventually settled on building new. Lobanov, fresh from designing Y708, was chosen for layout and exterior styling. For the interior, the owner’s team selected Sam Sorgiovanni after a visit to 88.5 metre Nirvana, which was in build at Oceanco at the time.
“Then in spring 2012 I got a call to come and finalise the plans and negotiate a contract with Oceanco,” Nelson remembers. “During negotiations, the length increased to 110 metres and we were told the project had to be fully turnkey — in other words, fully outfitted for the owner’s immediate use with all owner supplies included in the contract price.” Burgess Technical Services (BTS) was brought in to manage the project, which would be one of (if not the) largest turnkey yachts ever delivered.
“That is something that is very unique and also provided its own challenges through the build,” adds naval architect Ed Beckett from BTS. “Having a fully turnkey project of this size and complexity — with everything from tenders to knives and forks, crockery, linen, charts, crew, crew training material and fenders included — was a big undertaking.” But a plus for potential buyers — Jubilee is tanked up and ready for sale with Burgess. Which is why she’s holding station off the richest shoreline in the world (and went on to star at the Monaco Yacht Show 2017).
I’m welcomed on board Jubilee by Captain Roy Dance, formerly of Amaryllis and Zenobia, and we head up to his office just aft of the bridge. He oversaw the last two years of her build in Oceanco’s enormous new 140 metre build shed in Alblasserdam, near Rotterdam. “Jubilee had great sea trials in Holland, really good,” he says. “Five days; absolutely brilliant, with no serious issues. We had a slight singing prop, which was subsequently optimised. No noise and vibration issues at all — she is very quiet. She handles a bit like a warship.”
Jubilee looks a little like one, too, with a hint of destroyer in that long raised foredeck. “I think she’s a bit like an old Leander class frigate,” counters Dance. “She’s got quite a fine entry, so if she does pitch it’s quite gentle. And there is no banging like you get with 50 or 60 metre boats.” The freeing ports aft on the bridge deck suggest she’s ready for anything out on the world’s oceans, but the skipper hasn’t yet pointed her into anything too heavy.
From the bridge we both spy the classic 74.5 metre Zeus, formerly Enigma, in the distance, which shares a feature with this much bigger, newer boat: an unusually located bridge. A traditional layout would have placed Jubilee’s master suite where the bridge is currently, where it would enjoy more beam and less movement. But the owner wanted a “private owner’s deck with restricted access by other guests”, says Sorgiovanni. “[This arrangement] also places the owner’s suite in the most commanding position of the yacht for a more spectacular view.”
That’s certainly true: the view from Jubilee’s master bedroom is peerless. The bridge, meanwhile, looks out over the commercially rated helideck, but Captain Dance says despite some early reservations about visibility, he no longer has concerns. “It’s a pleasant place to drive the ship and it felt quite natural quickly. In fact, I would say I was used to it in a few hours.”
The Passenger Yacht Code (PYC) has played its part. Built to the strict new standard, there are lots of two things on Jubilee: cabins and escape routes. On the bridge deck are four VIP cabins, which means the owner would have had to share the deck if he had placed his berth here. On the main deck are a further 10 suites, bringing total guest capacity to 31.
Vertical escape routes from every watertight compartment, meanwhile, are mandated by the PYC. The code is also tough on flammability — but there’s no problem with that on Jubilee since so much marble has been used it feels like half of Carrara is on board with me. The gilded interior has been superbly executed throughout by the two interior outfit companies used: Oldenburger and Sinnex. Nelson estimates that it’s the most marble and stone ever installed on a yacht.
It’s certainly the most that’s ever been installed on an Oceanco, Baloumis confirms. It all sits on honeycombed aluminium panels, not plywood — PYC again — and where there is wood veneer used, such as on bulkheads, it’s less than 500 microns thick. The marble throughout Jubilee lightens as you ascend, the dominant Golden Spider stone on the bridge deck giving way to Iranian white onyx on the owner’s level.
Sorgiovanni says his inspiration for the interior was the “cosmopolitan and vibrant city of Casablanca, with its unique blend of Arabian and European culture”. The chic fusion detailing runs throughout the interior, from the window mullions in the cabins with their bubbled Crystal Caviar insets and stone capitals, to the large round lighting fixtures made by Ben Demmers in the master suite and main lounging areas. The custom silk carpets in these spaces were supplied by Germany’s Oliver Treutlein and crunch like fresh snow as you pace the yacht, testifying to Jubilee’s factory freshness.
The main saloon is a huge, open 135 square metre space focused around a large television at one end and a throne-like lounge chair at the other, sitting underneath a ceiling covered in golden aluminium ribbons. Floors throughout float in rubber foundations to dampen noise.
Outdoor life revolves around the aft main deck, where an 8.5 metre pool vies for attention with a 14-seat dining table, and the intimate sundeck with its superyacht spa pool. There’s a lot of beautifully worked detailing on Jubilee, but there’s something incredibly appealing about the simple, cosy sundeck seating area. The elegant steps up to the spa pool take you to the most exclusive perch on board, offering a view forward over the long foredeck. “The windbreak here works well,” the captain reports, “even when under way.”
Looking down from the rear of this deck reveals Lobanov’s illusion: you can see clearly how much “fake” deck has been constructed. Some of it is quite expansive, and laid with 12 millimetre teak, compared with 20 millimetre on the genuine decks. The curving, complex shapes of the superstructure are covered in metallic blue paint from Awlgrip called “Speed Blue”. “One of the biggest challenges was the application of paint on the multiple curved surfaces,” says Baloumis. “When you spray paint on a flat surface, it is easier to make it look seamless. With curves, extra special attention was essential to give the same flawless appearance.”
With this many curves, stress levels must have been high. “It gave everyone a few headaches,” concedes Ed Beckett from Burgess. “Igor was very precise in what he was looking for and almost every surface has curvature in every direction you can think of. There was a huge amount of construction effort and not just basic flat plate metal bashing. It’s very precise work.”
The funnel structure is a true piece of architecture, and is a favourite of the exterior designer’s: “It gives the feeling of a ship, not a yacht. Personally I love it. It’s huge, massive and cool.”
At the other extreme of the Cayman Islands-flagged yacht is Jubilee’s beach club and tender garages. She carries a fleet of small boats and toys — twin Wahoo SOLAS rescue boats on the bridge deck and a further three launches — two more Wahoos and a Pascoe limousine tender — on the lower deck. A 35 square metre transom door folds down to extend the comfortable superyacht beach club over the water, which also houses a hammam, gym — and large aquarium that looks into the pool above.
The quality of the finish extends to the cathedral-like engine room, which is laid out over two levels, and the crew accommodation, which occupies the forward half of Jubilee’s lower deck. “The engineers are happy,” Captain Dance says as we walk through the beautifully polished engineering areas. The engine set-up is uncomplicated: straight diesel mechanical. Twin 4,800hp MTUs provide the shove through a pair of shafts, with four Quantum XT zero-speed stabilisers keeping things rock steady.
“It’s very easy to get excited about building a yacht with podded propulsion or with a diesel-electric set-up, often for no particular reason apart from wanting to do something modern and cool,” says Beckett. “But doing something tried and tested that is efficient and that is proven to work very well… that has its own benefits.”
So far, so good, therefore, on the mechanical front. But what usually sells boats isn’t what’s below decks — it’s that tickle of emotion when your tender rounds the breakwater and you see a yacht lying at anchor for the first time. On that measure, Jubilee scores very, very highly. “She’s a cracking looking boat,” says the captain. I can’t argue. My only regret as I leave is that I’ll be heading west out of Monaco in the cab, denying me one last look from on high.
First published in the October 2017 edition of Boat International