Now listed for sale with Moran, the 95-metre Lürssen superyacht was commissioned by an owner in the market for a new plane, as well as a boat. Madsummer is equipped with a dedicated deck for the owner's seaplane, ensuring he got both. Sam Fortescue learns how Madsummer took off.
Madsummer could have been a plane, rather than 95 metres of German superyacht. That isn’t meant to be flippant; it has nothing to do with her interior design or her lines. Designer Peder Eidsgaard’s first meeting with the owner was actually about a plane. “He came into the office and said, ‘Wow, you do boats!’” recalls Eidsgaard. “The whole meeting turned into a boat meeting.”
As fate would have it, Moran Yacht & Ship, the brokerage and project management firm behind Madsummer, had been in the process of developing a brief for the yacht with the owner and captain. A request for proposals went out to several studios and Harrison Eidsgaard won the contract.
“We have had a close working relationship with the owner of Madsummer for over 15 years and previously completed another Lürssen project with him,” says project manager Sean Moran, “and as with all of our projects, our involvement began the moment he began considering building a new custom yacht.” Once the client had chosen Harrison Eidsgaard it took nearly 18 months of work by Moran’s project team and the designer to get the details agreed. “We did 34 different floorplans,” Eidsgaard says in a voice that quivers only slightly at the memory. “There were various modifications and developments, so the design that started at 85 metres grew to 95 metres.”
As Moran notes: “The list of yards that can build a vessel of this size and complexity to the quality we expect is a short one.” Lürssen is the top-ranking yard in the world for supersized yachts (in our Top 101 list of the biggest yachts in the world at the end of 2018, the German yard had 30 entries – more than double that of its nearest rival). “We have a planning team who support the whole process,” says Thorsten Göckes, Lürssen’s project manager on Madsummer, while describing the company structure that allows it to build so big, so often. “You’re not surprised by something going wrong – you know for weeks in advance and then you can try to find a solution.” He also notes that this project’s experienced and committed owner’s team was an invaluable partner.
It was after Lürssen was signed as builder that the bulk of the work was hashed out by the project and build teams. This ranged from big picture – as Moran puts it, “how to achieve the designer’s vision while understanding, from the shipyard’s perspective, what is practical and achievable” – to minutiae: “On a very granular level you need to understand how many lighting points a certain size yacht should have and how much each lighting point costs.” On a 95 metre, that’s a vast job.
On such a project, Moran also says: “It’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming number of systems on board a yacht when searching for efficiency gains that will have the largest impact on overall performance.” But this, he believes, is very much an “outside in” approach to problem-solving. Over Moran Yacht & Ship’s 55 builds in 31 years, it has come to prefer a “middle out” approach. “We begin with the power plant demands and the fuel burn as a result of that demand, and we work our way down the list of potential ways to reduce this demand and thus reduce the amount of fuel burned.” On Madsummer that amounts to waste heat recovery, condensation collection, peak load levelling, advanced power management and specially insulated and treated glass to reduce heat transfer.
The result of these efforts, a rapid two and a half years later, is a boat that is efficient, subtly masculine on the outside and a riot of colour inside. Italian Laura Sessa designed the boat’s interior – by far her largest project since splitting from the Alberto Pinto studio – and she incorporated a feast of primary hues. Moran calls it “a modern beach house vibe with ample entertainment areas”, which is apparent up to a point.
Moran sheds more light on the styling when he tells me: “It’s the owner’s opinion that too many yachts feel like mausoleums, and that nothing can be touched or enjoyed on board. He recognises some of the best things about owning a yacht are the unique experiences you can share with those that matter most to you – your close friends and family.” Göckes agrees, noting that whereas some very large superyachts leave you feeling “small” and “worried you’ll scratch the furniture, if you come on board Madsummer you feel comfortable, you can lay down or sit down and you feel right away at home”.
A blaze of colour strikes you from the moment you enter the main saloon, where a lavish Tai Ping silk carpet greets you with stripes of white and a rich blue that is a struggle to find a proper name for; azure is as close as it gets. “Blue is the colour of the owner,” Sessa says – something that is to be amply confirmed later on.
The six guest cabins on the main deck each exhibit a different colour theme – scarlet, orange, aquamarine and so on. Each one follows a similar pattern, with silk carpets setting the tone. This is then picked up in the cushions, bed linen, the border of the headboard, the heavy woven fabric wall coverings and the gleaming lacquered cabinetry. The finish is pristine, with a range of textures that beg to be touched.
Bathrooms attached to each cabin add to the effect, with a mother-of-pearl mirror frame stained the appropriate colour and lacquered. Alongside the soft stripes of the Calacatta marble, stainless steel fittings and rich sycamore cabinetry, the effect is stunning. Sessa is particularly proud of a latch on the shower door, which is concealed within the otherwise unbroken line of a stainless-steel rail.
The theme of concealment crops up throughout the boat, mostly in wood. “All the door handles are custom designed and built into the panelling,” Sessa says. Looking down the central corridor of the main deck, the eye sees dark strips of mutenye wood laid over a gleaming mirror – but no handles. Sessa knows where they are, though, and once you learn to spot them, you realise that the whole corridor is lined with cupboards.
On the upper deck, the two VIP cabins stick to the colour theme, but there are subtle variations. Instead of lacquered wardrobes, Sessa has used geometrically patterned sycamore. Around the large windows, she has created a striking effect by taking heavily grained wood and covering it with bronze. “It is a co-operation between Germany and Italy,” she says. “Only an Italian company could produce this finish. The structure of the wood is kept on top. It’s really beautiful.”
In the owner’s suite on the deck above, colour is everywhere. Access from the circular lift is through his-and-hers dressing rooms, where the azure is concentrated tenfold. The effect is created by covering fine ash panelling with a thick layer of coloured, semi-translucent lacquer. Sessa has set it off with a large red painting of a woman. There are his-and-hers bathrooms, too – hers with a bath, and his in fragile fault-ridden quartzite, which reflects the light differently according to the time of day. “It is very difficult to work with,” Sessa confirms.
A key requirement of the GA was to make this owner’s deck as private as possible, although the front section is given over to the captain’s luxurious suite and a wheelhouse that has been finished as if it were a guest area. The captain laughs when I ask about this. “Yes, the owner will sit down with his friends for lunch, then bring his plate through here and talk. He loves boats.”
As a nod to that privacy, there are no stairs down from the owner’s aft terrace to the upper saloon below. “At some point we had a fold-down staircase, but he deleted that,” says Eidsgaard. “He wants to be able to look down and see where everyone is, while being able to retreat and have his privacy.”
To this end, the owner’s deck has a pair of wings that allow him to gaze down on the pool area two decks below. And there is another special feature that you don’t understand until you are standing right at the top or right at the bottom of the boat. Eidsgaard has repeated a 2.5-metre diameter skylight from the well-equipped spa on the lower deck, through the seating area on the main deck, the fire pit on the upper deck and into the owner’s terrace. Naturally, there is an awning that can open or close the view. “That means that you could stand in the spa and look up through the decks at the sky,” says Eidsgaard. “That is unique.”
The light connects the decks, but Eidsgaard has also been very clever about the way he’s used levels around the stern. He’s created oval-shaped social pods on the two main guest decks, focused on the skylight. And around that, he insisted on removable glass windscreens. You actually step up to the pool area, to create more space in the beach club below, and again, there is more glass here. “There is a glass bulwark on main deck, surrounding the whole open deck area; that is something we haven’t done before,” says Göckes. “They protect you from wind and also hide you from photographers with a mirrored glass effect.”
With family life and entertainment driving the owner’s brief, there is plenty of space devoted to toys. Most unusually, perhaps, is the seaplane berth on the sundeck. It required the superstructure to be strengthened to support the 590kg empty weight of a Husky A-1C 200 seaplane, and the crane that stows in the bulwark when not required to lift the plane on to the sundeck. There’s a fully certified helideck at the bow, capable of supporting an EC135 (around three tonnes). The tender garage forward can accommodate a 10-metre Ocean 1 RIB and an 11-metre Maori Yacht limo tender, plus five jet skis and a jet board. A second side-opening tender garage aft holds a seven-metre Super Air Nautique G23 wakeboarding boat.
Moran looks back on the new-build project with quiet satisfaction. “The success and speed of this build comes down to two things – a great plan and a great team,” he says, listing Captain Chris Beirne, Harrison Eidsgaard, Laura Sessa and the talented craftsmen and employees of the shipyard as key to the success of the project.
Leaving the yacht via the swimming and spa pools, which are separated by a sheet of glass, the masculine-feminine combination is striking. Designer Eidsgaard confirms that the owner is a tall man, who wanted wide side decks, large handrails and even a hint of sharkiness, provided by the exposed stainless steel of the six vast exhaust pipes behind the mast. But there are curves everywhere in the exterior, and not a single horizontal line.
Then again, perhaps this is no coincidence, given that the owner has had plenty of practice in refining exterior design. Looking back over the previous Madsummers – the 78-metre Lürssen now called Roccinante, and the 55-metre Feadship now Cynthia, one thing is sure. As Captain Beirne puts it: “They’ve gotten more and more colourful as we go along.”
Photography: Jeff Brown/ Breed Media (exteriors); Giorgio Baroni (interiors)
First published in the October 2019 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.