The Ocean Alexander 35R utilises smart layouts, forward-thinking design and interesting materials. Kevin Koenig steps aboard two of the builder’s most recent deliveries
A yacht christening can be a heady experience, especially when the champagne is flowing and the photographers’ bulbs are popping – bright-white halos in the hot, black night. Such was the scene at the Fort Lauderdale Pier Sixty-Six last fall for the official launch of Ziggy, hull number one of Ocean Alexander’s new 35R series. The owners stood proudly at the top of the high, plumb bow and, with a few sweet words, let a bottle of bubbly on a rope swing freely to break itself upon the yacht’s forward section. It was a memorable sight, save for just one small problem. The bottle, built like a tank, refused to break – because this isn’t the movies, and things don’t always work out perfectly. The sale of the first two 35Rs, though, makes a pretty good run at flawlessness. Hull number two, built on spec, arrived in Fort Lauderdale for the boat show, where she was snapped up by a client who named her Entrepreneur.
Ziggy’s story began at the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival, where Marine Max’s broker Scott Roberton met her future owners, Bonnie and Harold Zeigler. “They knew they were looking for something new,” he says, “and as much as they liked the (previously introduced) 90R, they wanted something a bit larger. I told them we were working on something bigger, and when we got back to the States, I could show them some ideas. So, in October, we met at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, and that’s where we introduced the project to them in animation form. And it went really well, to say the least.”
“They really took the plunge,” Evan K Marshall, the yacht’s London-based designer, says. “When I met them for the first time, all we had was just a rendering as the boat was in development. First, they saw the 2D line drawing, and they liked it. So we broke out models, renderings and animation. We had fly-around CGI, an outside-to-inside thing set in the Bahamas, and they loved it. They left with Scott, came back the next day and signed a contract. And that’s how Ziggy got off the ground and became their boat.”
Harold Zeigler had been keeping an eye on Ocean Alexander for some time. “We were coming out of a 85 Westport, and I started looking at OA a while back and saw them constantly improving, and we eventually chartered one with some friends,” he says. “We were thinking about getting another Westport, but then we saw the designs of the 35R and fell in love. We had looked at some other builders, but the video OA put together for us is what really sold us. It was hull No 1, so without that video it would have been hard to know what we were getting.”
Zeigler and his wife are experienced cruisers who knew what they wanted from their boat. They prefer cruising the US East Coast, from the Bahamas up to Maine. And with this experience came some build preferences that Ocean Alexander was happy to accommodate, one of which had to do directly with the chilly climes in the dark gray waters off the Pine Tree State – the design of the beach club.
For some time, the Taiwanese builder had been looking for ways to expand that feature everyone seems to want nowadays: an interior lounge at water level. OA’s 90R already had a beach club, with glass doors that open onto a fixed platform and keep the inside space bright when they’re closed. The Zeiglers liked that idea. “One of their first requests was sliding-glass doors like the 90R has (the animation had a fold-down transom door); they liked the idea of the glass doors because they cruise up north where it’s colder, but they could still have light come in,” Marshall says.
Ocean Alexander had planned instead a transom door in solid fiberglass that lowers hydraulically to form a larger swim platform and reveal a neat beach club with seating and a bar tucked inside the lower deck. This solution was what they adopted for the second 35R, Entrepreneur. Seeing the two yachts side by side offers an interesting perspective on two different solutions.
The designer and the shipyard devised a clever way to keep light inside the beach club even when the solid composite door is closed – an impressive, curved skylight installed as a nice feature in the aft deck lounge just above. So that when guests sit on the sofas on the aft deck, they can also have a view down to the beach club; an excellent way to visually link the two spaces, which are otherwise connected with two sets of stairs.
Ocean Alexander also included a good-sized sauna on both hulls, accessible from the beach club, plus space for a small gym. Future hulls will enjoy even more space. OA has done more engineering and found a way to move the engine exhaust trunk forward to allow the beach club to gain an extra 18 inches of beam, or just enough space for a second bike.
The treatment of the beach club is just one of many customisations on board Ziggy. It does not take long to see her interior is entirely different from that of Entrepreneur, from the colours (easy to do) to the layout (more challenging). One of the striking design details in Ziggy’s interior is a wave pattern cut by a CNC machine from a composite material. It decorates a centrally located sideboard that sets the dining room apart from the saloon and then repeats like a fractal on door inserts, furniture and panelling throughout the yacht.
“I included it in the renderings we made, and the owners saw it and loved it, so we decided to do it for them,” Marshall says, although the yard decided not to repeat this design for the entire line.
On Entrepreneur, the sideboard, with a wet bar, is to the side, and the layout creates one flowing area from saloon to dining space, which is off to the port side, in front of floor-to-ceiling windows. In addition, it leaves room for a lovely staircase that loops its way to the other decks and a wide passage to the owner’s suite. It’s a layout that Marshall and OA rightly see as having a more European vibe – and it’s not the only one.
The yachts’ respective galleys also draw a sharp contrast between what could be described as American and European boating styles. Ziggy has neat, little pocket doors leading from the saloon to the country kitchen, which has a breakfast dinette to port so that guests can interact with the chef.
However, OA wanted to show something different with the newer hull. Entrepreneur’s galley reflects the European aim of the saloon, and is separated from it by an efficient, single door. Although well-appointed with full-size refrigerators and freezers and a generous counter for food prep, it has no dinette. Instead, there is another door leading to the side deck where the crew can discreetly enter and leave.
Regardless of the layout, Marshall is particularly excited about the residential feel aboard the OA35R, which he attributes to its huge windows. In the salon alone, a 10ft-long piece runs from floor to ceiling.
Marshall sought to emphasise the open and homey feel with the furnishings. “We didn’t use traditional boat furniture. The look is akin to what you’d find in a household, and that’s a quality you often get on much larger projects,” he says. “Yacht furniture [in this class] is starting to be on a par with house furniture in that it’s more freestanding. We’re also using a combination of materials. For example, the tops of the furniture might be stone, but that stone goes down the sides in several pieces to create what we call a waterfall effect.”
Marshall also points to the use of Alpi, a stained wood product that mimics whatever species is called for, from ebony to eucalyptus. “Alpi is becoming like Cambria,” he says of the composite stone that is popular on yachts in this class. “Maybe 10 years ago, people would have turned their noses up at it, but now it’s everywhere. People think it’s for cost, but it’s not. It’s for the consistency, which is excellent.”
Another exciting use of glass is found in the spacious walk-in closets in the owner’s stateroom. Though a more ornamental usage of the material, it is key to this model’s focus on luxury. Namely, the closets have jewelry and watch cases, much like a jewelry store would, so that the antique Patek, or that little trinket you found under the Christmas tree in the Van Cleef & Arpels bag, don’t waste their shine in some dark drawer.
“Some production builders might build you a shoe rack,” Marshall says with a chuckle, “but I don’t think you’re going to see something like this in too many places.”
Another exceptional space here is the owner’s bathroom, large and full of light, thanks to another big skylight above the tub. Two seats can take advantage of stunning views in the bedroom itself, and a desk can be positioned on the other side, looking out for inspiration.
On Ziggy, it’s worth noting one last glass-oriented feature – the impressive wine glass storage. “These owners have 100 wine glasses on their 35,” Marshall says. “They wanted them on all the levels of the boat, so they didn’t have to move them. We were able to accommodate the request by making safe and discreet storage for all of them on every deck.”
The Zeiglers like to entertain, and they find the 35R more than up to the task. “We have had cocktail parties with 25 people on board, and the night we had the christening, we had about 60 people on the boat, and we thought she handled it exceptionally well,” Zeigler says. (I was there, and the 35R could have fitted another 20 people on board, in my estimation.)
A big reason for the boat’s space is her full-bodied design. Of course, the R in the model’s name stands for Revolution, and it’s OA’s nod to the recent motor yacht trend of building boats with big volume, starting from the bow. The gross tonnage on this 35 metre yacht is just below 300GT.
“The wide body allowed us to put a spacious master [suite] on the main deck, and helped with overall interior space as well,” says Brian Ku, Ocean Alexander’s engineering department manager. A wider bow with no or little flare can mean a wet ride, but Ku had the antidote. “We gave this boat a wave-piercing design that breaks water before it hits the hull, so there is very little splash when under way,” he says. The quasi-vertical bow design and quickly increasing beam make room for a generous forward lounge. And the sundeck is another large outdoor recreation space, which can be set up in any number of ways, with or without a spa pool.
The style, volume and luxury of this new OA make for happy owners. For the owners of Entrepreneur, the happiness came from buying a turnkey yacht. As for the Zeiglers, who were so involved, they enjoyed the build. “I’m sure we will stick with OA for our next boat,” Harold says. “From a service standpoint they’ve been incredibly solid the whole way.”
Even with the distance and significant time difference from the US, to say nothing of Covid-19-related disruption, the build process went smoothly. “Ocean Alexander was amazing to work with when it came to answering questions thoroughly and within 24 hours. Whether it was modifications to the galley or the closets, the turnaround time was unbelievable,” Roberton says. “I think the engineering and technical side of OA is further ahead of other manufacturers. This boat took a few years to build, and we’d get pictures every few weeks – you’re not going to find that at many places.”
And for Marshall, the 35R is a particularly sweet accomplishment. “I’ve had this dream that I’ve been envisioning for a long time,” he says. “When I first came on with OA some years ago, I was just kind of tweaking existing models, but the 35R [along with the 37L] is a brand-new design. This evolution is what we were brought on board to deliver. And it’s not a finger snap, you can’t do this kind of thing overnight, but we’ve now done it, and I think we’ve helped establish OA as a major player in the industry. And it’s just nice to see that dream come true.”
And isn’t that something worth raising a glass to?
First published in the May 2022 issue of BOAT International US. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.Shop Now