The first series in the Limited Editions range, the Amels 171, was planned as an enlarged and improved Seahorse (ex-Tigre d’Or) with gross tonnage taken well beyond the 500 tonne band that has become a benchmark for yachts of 50 metres in length.
Tim Heywood was chosen as the exterior designer, creating a look that he describes as ‘athletically feminine’ with sweeping curves reminiscent of Italian sports cars of the 1930s. The interior layout was drawn up by Laura Sessa.
Sessa was faced with the complex challenge of creating an interior that was attractive but also flexible so that customers’ individual tastes could be accommodated. She achieved this by using standard-sized wall panels and profiles, which could quickly and efficiently be adapted to the client’s preferences. In combination with careful material selection, colours and loose furniture, every interior can be unique.
The first five yachts in the series – Deniki, La Mirage, Were Dreams, Lady Nag Nag and Unity – were purchased for private use, while Belle Aimee (ex-Bel Abri), the sixth to be launched since 2007, is available for charter through Imperial, and another five are under construction.
Structural design and layout
In terms of structural design, the Amels 171 uses the well-established plan of a raised forebody that drops down to main-deck level amidships, the decks being connected by the fluid curves created by the windows of the owner’s full-beam suite. The bridge deck, on the other hand, has a full walk-round, which connects the Portuguese deck that wraps around the wheelhouse to the spacious open-air entertainment area aft. An extended sun deck is partly concealed by curvy raised bulwarks that swell up alongside the mast arch to create an area that is shaded and protected from the wind by glass doors. With a generous-sized pool and sun pads forward, a bar in the centre and sunloungers aft, this deck provides the full range of outdoor relaxation.
The engine room is in the centre of the lower deck, rather than aft of the guest cabins adjacent to a tender garage. Placing the weight of machinery and fuel tanks centrally gives the best fore-and-aft balance while the guest cabins are in the area of least pitching force.
Tender and toys
For tender stowage the original Seahorse put these on the foredeck for normal cruising or the bridge deck aft for ocean passages. The improvement on the Amels 171 is that the boats are stowed in tubs behind deep bulwarks so you cannot even see them from alongside, although this does rather dictate the size and shape of the tenders. The forward signal mast, which every vessel this size must have, also works as the crane to launch the tenders. This can also be done when the yacht is moored stern-to the quay, which is not possible with an aft garage. Other sports equipment such as jet skis and diving gear are stored in a lazarette connected to the aft boarding platform.
Communication and navigation technology
Entertainment and communications systems are up to the minute and integrated so that everything from television channel selection to closing the curtains can be operated by the Lantic ‘pucks’ found in each cabin and saloon.
The bridge area includes a small communications centre and an office space outside the captain’s cabin. The bridge itself is clearly laid out with the watch officer having an excellent view over all sectors except right astern. Upright windows and an overhanging brow are practical features that also do something for the overall look of the yacht. The instrumentation is all glass plus the stand-by features that the classification requires but there is also a proper light-shielded chart table for those officers who are unhappy without a paper chart.
For guests who like to see what is going on, there are a pair of seating areas in the corners of the bridge designed so the watch officer can see over the heads of people sitting there.
The Amels 171 has proved to be a very quiet, solid, seaworthy yacht that handles like a larger vessel. All the technical equipment is the best available because Damen builds commercial vessels that have very high utilisation and has learned that the best value comes from specifying the most dependable equipment.
For Belle Aimee, the first Amels 171 destined for charter, the features that are important for charter such as good crew quarters, galley and laundry were already in place. One major change was the deletion of the small cabin next to the owner’s suite, the space being used to create a larger study/sitting room. This had the effect of changing the guest/service ratio to 10/12. Other small improvements included a better-equipped pantry and larger spa pool that a private owner might also specify and a wide selection of water toys to amuse the customers.
In her design for the interior of Belle Aimee, Laura Sessa used a modern Italian style, inspired by the colour and warmth of the Mediterranean. She applied elements of sailboat interior design to enhance below-deck spaces, making them seem larger, more open and more inviting. Flat panels of high gloss wood were selected to give each deck an individual palette, using in the upper saloon, teak, anigre and zebrano with woven leather wall panels, and in the main saloon maple with dark-coloured sucupira as the contrast.
The owner’s suite is exceptionally spacious thanks to the enlarged study which transforms it into something more like a gracious library, complete with comfortable chairs and a wall of bookcases. The bedroom also has a seating area and a single large bathroom with a view out to sea from the bathtub. A most unusual stone named ‘stone wood’ is used for counters here and also in the guest en suites. It looks just like wood, complete with a streaky grain effect.
_Belle Aimee _was delivered – on time and on price – just 20 months after the order was signed.