As the world turns, the North Star holds steady over the North Pole. A point of reference in the night sky, it is a literal and symbolic guiding light. A little closer to home, the yacht North Star is a refuge, a place for relaxation and family time. Like the celestial body, for her owners, she is a constant in an ever-changing world.
A custom-built 63-metre, she was designed by Espen Øino with hull and superstructure constructed in Turkey. For the owners, who have had smaller sport boats for day jaunts in the South of France, it is a grand entrance into the world of superyachts.
“The destination of Turkey was chosen because of their reputation for hulls,” says the captain. “The aim was to build their dream yacht.” There they amassed a team of industry professionals to turn their aspiration into reality, including Øino for the general arrangement and design, RWD for the initial interior concepts, Estel Design to complete the interior design and Burness Corlett Three Quays (BCTQ) for project management.
For their dream yacht, the owners dreamt big – it was to be spacious and bright, embrace the outdoors, offer flexible and versatile arrangements and provide plenty of comfortable communal spaces for the family of six to be together, as well as plenty of spots for them to hide away.
As he always does, Øino approached the project from the inside out, conceiving the general arrangement first. With the focus on creating airy and capacious interiors, he stretched the aft part of the upper deck to full beam in order to envelope a generous upper saloon that rivals the main saloon below. Both of these rooms are fringed with full-height windows and boast head heights of 2.2 metres.
They are also incredibly elegant. The director of Estel Design describes the style as “modern deco”, a blend of art deco’s classic elements with contemporary furniture and finishes. Pops of bright colour also modernise the deco- esque palette of silver, black and white. Glass and stainless- steel accents complement rich fabrics, such as bespoke leathers, shagreen and silver leaf, which were chosen to enhance the sense of space, says Estel Design’s director.
Over the formal dining table on the main deck, 16,000 crystal beads make up the chandelier by Ben Robinson of TwentyFourDesign. Each bead is custom tinted and affixed in strands of five to a stainless steel frame. Another of Robinson’s designs shimmers like crystal rainfall in the foyer: a chandelier that descends over two decks inside the winding staircase. Affixed to a skylight above, the piece has no internal structure; instead, 4,000 brilliant cut K9 crystals are strung together using 16,000 bespoke fittings making one homogenous structure. It was a true feat to fabricate and engineer it to withstand heavy seas.
“The owner was keen to source and utilise unusual fabrications so we were challenged to look beyond our normal suppliers and source new collaborations,” says Estel Design’s director. “To meet the owner’s brief we chose a unique array of finishes rarely seen on boats.” This included the woven metal fabric by Sophie Mallebranche that adorns a feature wall at the aft entrance to the main saloon. In addition, “a specialist resin surface, Killon, was sourced from America after the owners fell in love with it. This was used extensively in all the bathrooms, main deck saloon and master suite.”
Also in keeping with the owners’ wishes, the en suites and dayheads – one by each foyer – are ultra-modern, featuring white Thassos marble trimmed in stainless steel. The sinks in the master bath are particularly sculptural, cut from a single piece of marble, and the mirrors above these vanities can slide open to let in natural light through a hidden window.
Incorporating dual-use and transformational spaces was another priority. For instance, the main saloon can be used as a cinema, with a screen and projector concealed in the overhead. In the guest quarters on the lower deck, the wall between the two aft cabins can be moved to create a large VIP with sitting room and cabin.
While the interiors are striking, the outdoor areas demanded just as much attention – perhaps more. “There was a lot of emphasis on the sundeck space,” Øino recalls. “That was the pièce de résistance of the whole boat.” To make this area as large as possible, he extended the deck to full beam and created an indoor/outdoor space with a central interior section whose bi-folding doors open fully forward and aft. “It’s really nice up here when you are at anchor with a 10-knot breeze just trickling through,” says the captain. “It’s the most stunning place on the boat, I think.”
Not surprisingly, it’s where the owners spend most of their time, the captain reports. Dressed in limed oak with pale blue fabrics, the covered midships space features deep sofas to sink into, as well as a full dining area for when leaving this haven for a meal feels like too much effort. Forward is a massive spa pool and sit-down bar, while aft is more lounging space, in the sun or under removable awnings. Above all this is a crow’s nest, a breezy cushion-covered hideaway for anyone seeking solitude.
The beach club and gym at the stern is another area that successfully makes the indoor-outdoor connection the owners desired. The transom opens to reveal a semicircular sofa and coffee table ideally situated for cocktails or coffee at the water’s edge. A starboard-side opening just forward of the beach club exposes the gym, which includes a Technogym treadmill and cross trainer recessed into the floor. And if your idea of fitness is enjoyed on the greens rather than the gym, there’s a golf tee practice machine that can be set up on the platform here or on the sundeck aft. On the opposite side of the yacht, the port shell door opens to launch the Chris-Craft and Williams tenders.
It’s hard to think of a water toy that North Star does not carry. With the transom door unfolded, a substantial four-metre swim platform is created, yet that’s not enough to handle the yacht’s complement of playthings. So the deck crew can erect a string of NautiBuoy inflatable platforms to provide a temporary dock for the WaveRunners, Seabobs, Reverso Air sailing dinghy, foiling and electric jet surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and more. Trailing this, an inflatable jungle gym with slide and bouncy “blob” can be set up. All of this is devised to tire out the family’s four children, but North Star will also cater to charter guests in the future.
Simple, clean lines define the yacht’s sharp- looking exterior, which is typical of Øino’s creations. “Really detailed and complex surfaces, in my view, tend to go out of fashion quickly, whereas simple straight lines generally tend to survive the test of time better,” he says. The full beam-upper deck and sundeck did give Øino a bit of a challenge. “It’s tricky because both of these decks are quite high up,” he says, “hence the importance of playing with tumblehome [the narrowing of a boat’s hull as it ascends above the waterline].” This, he explains, is how the superstructure appears to tuck in as it goes higher, if you’re looking at the boat from head-on or from the stern. “It makes it more dynamic and also alters and defines the way the light falls on the boat,” he says.
In terms of propulsion, North Star is straightforward, with twin screws powered by 2,000hp 12-cylinder MTUs, which allows speeds of up to 16 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.
In the flat, calm seas off Antalya, sea trials were merely procedure, the captain says. It was the journey to Malta last September, then on to Barcelona, that was the true test. Hardly the optimal time of year for favourable weather, they were faced with gales up to Force 8 on the way to Malta, with seas uncomfortably on the beam, and even stronger winds in the tropical storm force range underway to Barcelona. While the weather laid low many crew with seasickness, North Star was rock steady. “She handled it very well; it impressed me really,” says the captain, who previously commanded two Lürssens of considerable size. “I’m quite impressed with the basic construction and the seaworthiness. You like to be able to grab something and notice that it does not flex. I can feel the sturdiness in the hull,” he says.
Of course, no one relishes that kind of passage, and the owners spent their first few weeks on board this past winter enjoying the opposite kind of experience: Caribbean anchorages with all-round protection like Antigua’s Nonsuch Bay and Virgin Gorda’s North Sound, where the still water and sunshine provided an idyllic setting for an escape. It shows just where faithfully following that North Star can get you.
This feature is taken from the July 2020 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.shop now