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La Passion: The inside story of Sarp Yachts’ 46m debut

Emre Sandan is a man obsessed. The shipyard manager of Turkey’s Sarp Yachts is rattling off the ISO standards his yard has achieved (all very impressive), but the big news is the classification he used to build La Passion, Sarp’s first superyacht: ABS, known and trusted the world over. It was a deliberate choice and a clear statement. “They are a tough class to work with,” he says, “but for us it is important that we can substantiate our claims.”

Those claims are all about quality. We’re sitting in Sandan’s airy, low-key office, adjacent to Sarp’s 10,000 square metre factory in Antalya, which is empty owing to the recent launch of that first boat, 46 metre La Passion. It won’t be empty for long, however. There are plans for a 58 metre motor yacht, a 40 metre classic, a 28 metre trawler and even a 40 metre sailing yacht. The four-year-old company has the backing of Eti Group, a massive commercial concern in Turkey, and it has big plans.

Tanju Kalaycioğlu, the naval architect on the La Passion, is just as effusive. “Normally, building a custom yacht in Turkey is good value for money, but this is not enough for us. We have set ourselves a philosophy to pursue the best quality and attain the top possible finish.”

La Passion is a showcase of those ambitions, so it was important that it embodied that concept to the fullest. It starts with the construction materials. “Steel was the obvious choice for a strong and reliable hull with ample capacity,” continues Kalaycioğlu. “However, we opted for epoxy composite to construct our superstructure.”

The benefits of this include freedom of form, reduction in weight, plus superior heat and noise insulation. “We benefit from a weight reduction of between 15 and 20 per cent,” claims Sandan. He believes La Passion is the largest yacht built this way in Turkey and points to those ABS standards as proof of concept.

In the flesh, La Passion is an interesting meld of solid-looking hull topped with a surprisingly curvy and elegant superstructure. The divide between the two materials is marked by the colour scheme: a sombre dark grey for the steel hull, while the superstructure is pure white, which helps keep the visual profile — and the centre of gravity — low.

What it’s not is flash. “As the kick-off project, we had to create a motor yacht that would stand the test of time,” explains Kalaycioğlu. “The intention for the design was to give character to the vessel in every possible setting she may sail to. For this, her lines had to be nicely flowing, well-proportioned and fresh.”

Well-proportioned also neatly describes the deck spaces on board La Passion. Topped with 18mm-thick teak (the upper decks are 16mm to help lower the centre of gravity), side decks are expansive rather than pinched to eke out interior volume. Composite construction helps out here.

“An aluminium superstructure requires frames every 15 to 20cm,” says Sandan. “We gain about a 15 per cent uplift in interior volume with composite construction so we can keep the deck space without compromising the interior.” He points to the elegant steel framing on the inside of the substantial bulwarks. “It would have been quicker, easier and cheaper to box them in but we wanted to demonstrate the attention to detail from the moment you board.”

You get that same sense of space and quality on the upper deck of La Passion, with its sheltered 10-place dining table (the main deck exterior tables can extend to seat 16 for more extensive dining), and on the sundeck, with its large German-made superyacht spa pool, well-catered bar and vast lounging areas.

Thick and flawlessly welded stainless steel and details such as the backlit seascape bar countertop reinforce the message. Like the exterior profile, there’s nothing flash or aggressive or indeed even particularly avant-garde about any of it. It all just flows.

The interior was designed by Adam Lay Studio and the tone is set straight away. As you enter the main lobby from the starboard deck, there is a huge centrepiece of pale driftwood surrounded by silk wall fabrics in earth shades. “Blending loft apartment styling and mountain chalet influences with a combination of high-end natural timber and metal finishes” is how Lay describes it.

“The aim was to produce a sophisticated and elegant interior, interwoven with clean simplicity of design that results in an inviting, comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.” Sandan says they deliberately avoided the “wow factor”. “We didn’t want an interior that impresses for two minutes. We wanted a more natural vibe that lasts.”

The main saloon of La Passion has a calming forest theme. From the aft deck you’re greeted by a brushed steel tree sculpture bordered by glass etched with leaves. Custom-made textured green carpet echoes the grass of a woodland glade, the dark leather and wood ceiling inviting a feeling of shadow and intimacy, and even small metal surfaces such as light switches, wall plugs, ceiling lamps and the Bowers & Wilkins speaker grilles are brushed and painted to remove the sharp contrast of polished steel. Furniture by Minotti, Glyn Peter Machin and Giorgetti is homely and comfortable, tied in with sumptuous fabrics from companies such as Armani Casa and Rubelli.

A closer look at the occasional tables reveals that they’re dip-galvanised steel, with all the imperfections left as they developed rather than ruthlessly honed to artificial perfection. Lined in naturally finished ash and dark grey oak, and gently lit by multifunction, fully controllable and programmable mood lighting, it’s an environment that creates an aura of cool, soothing serenity.

The owner's cabin, forward on the main deck, is similarly natural, but this time with a beach theme. “We wanted the bathroom to be the beach,” says production manager Piraye Orhun, pointing to the pebbles embedded in the floor (sourced and chosen by Lay), “hence the pale sand tones and natural sanded feel of the marble on the bath and sinks.” Head out into the body of the room and the colour scheme changes from pale beige to mid blues — from beach to sea.

On the lower deck of La Passion the four guest cabins are asymmetric — all slightly different in size and décor, but the common theme of natural living remains. The upper deck saloon, meanwhile, has a more informal feel, with light oak lining the walls and a retractable 65-inch Samsung screen. It’s a terrific daytime family space.

At some point during the tour lines are slipped and suddenly we’re heading out to sea. Sandan is keen to expand again on that strong engineering bent that underpins the fabric of La Passion. Up on the bridge the view is almost 180 degrees through the wide sweep of vertical windows. Twin Caterpillar C32 engines are turning over at a lazy 1,300rpm, sipping fuel at a miserly 140 litres an hour for a stately 12 knot return and a maximum range of almost 5,000 nautical miles.

But the overriding impression is one of hush, both internally and on deck, a result of Sandan’s obsession with high-quality engineering that also runs to engine exhausts that switch to underwater outlets over 1,000rpm to eradicate exhaust emissions on deck and greatly reduce noise levels on board La Passion.

Dig deeper and you’ll find dedicated air-conditioning for technical areas such as the pump room, steering room and fire room so that these remain efficiently cooled no matter what the temperature of the interior. The vast engine space goes one step further.

Two massive fans deliver vast volumes of air chilled via a seawater-cooled heat exchanger so efficient that even in 50 degrees Celcius of ambient heat and with engines and generators running, they will pull the temperature down to 35 degrees to the benefit of combustion efficiency and equipment longevity. Meanwhile, the engineer’s office at the aft end of this area is so well insulated that noise levels drop from 100dB(A) to 65dB(A) once the door is closed.

It’s clear where Sandan’s heart lies as he pulls up floor sections in cabins to demonstrate the immaculately routed and labelled plumbing. “All mapped in 3D,” he enthuses. “If anyone has a problem we can send them accurate three-dimensional plans of any section of the wiring or plumbing systems.” He points out the grease trap that stops grey water pipes from furring, and the HI-FOG fire system throughout the vessel.

The space on La Passion created by the composite superstructure is impressive, the calming influence of the natural materials used is certainly noteworthy, and at just a little more than €22 million the price is attractive. But most important of all is the fact that this finely built boat gives the owner the precious peace of mind that his total relaxation won’t be punctured by concerns over build integrity. Not on Sandan’s watch.

First published in the September 2016 edition of Boat International

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