The 95 metre flagship of Golden Yachts is designed to offer the ultimate charter experience, discovers Sam Fortescue
It may feel trite, but one of the first things I wanted to know about the brand-new 95-metre yacht O’Pari from Greece’s Golden Yachts is how she got her name. She is the eleventh in the O’ franchise and the largest to date, but what does the “O” mean to the Dragnis dynasty whose sprawling business empire built, owns and charters her?
Photography courtesy of Jeff Brown/ Breed Media; Atalanta Golden Yachts
“It heralds back to Ancient Greece,” explains patriarch Paris Dragnis, “where people often greeted each other formally with an “Ω” exclamation (the equivalent of the Roman “Ave”, meaning “hail”). And in truth, our clients love it: it’s a way to make our yachts really stand out. It’s been our trademark since the first O’Pari was built in 1996.”
Atalanta Golden Yachts is central agent for chartering O’Pari
There is an unusual business model behind the rapid rise of the Greek shipbuilder. The yachts in its O’ range are managed by Atalanta Golden Yachts, and sometimes used in a personal capacity by Dragnis before they are sold, generating income and useful feedback from clients. After the award-winning 39.5-metre O’Pati in 2011 there came 72-metre O’Pari in 2015, 56-metre O’Mathilde and 85-metre O’Ptasia in 2018 and, most recently, O’Pari. “One day we’ll be able to construct 125-metre yachts!” exclaims Dragnis. “But let’s be clear about something: Golden Yachts vessels are not all about size; they are about all-round excellence.”
The building of O’Pari certainly required all-round investment to expand capacity at Golden Yachts’ Halkitis shipyard, near Piraeus. “It was a demanding project,” admits Dragnis. And the business is in the process of equipping a second yard nearby, “so we can better segregate, organise and execute the different stages of construction,” he adds.
For all the challenges posed by growth, there is one element of O’Pari’s build that was relatively plain sailing. As with all Dragnis’s boats, the design work was done by his close friend Giorgio Vafiadis in a collaboration whose simplicity might be the envy of designers everywhere. “First of all, we’re friends,” the Rome-based naval architect tells me in lilting English. “Usually with Dragnis I know what he wants, and he knows what he can expect from me. Our brief is very, very short: such-and-such a boat of such-and-such a length; good for charter but also for private use; capable of this kind of speed – general requirements.
“Then we do a design or two. Usually they like what we present – we never have to present it twice. Dragnis is very quick – two minutes to decide and once he makes a decision, he makes it very easy. There’s no back and forth like other people do. The fact we’ve done lots of boats for the family means we know what they want.”
Dragnis says he likes to imagine how people will use the boats, scouring trade shows around the world for new equipment and design ideas. “It is never easy to please different personalities from different backgrounds. During the first design phase, we were aiming for a contemporary aesthetic all over the yacht, married with diverse details, finishes and amenities in each area so as to satisfy even the most demanding client,” he says of O’Pari. “So far, we’ve been blessed with great clients: the global business and political elite, royalty, you name it. I have no doubt they’ve enjoyed sailing in our yachts immensely.”
As well as a multiplicity of little corners inside and out where guests can relax undisturbed, charter has left its mark on the boat in other ways. There is a cavernous and well-stocked garage for tenders and toys (more on that below) and a surprising 14 cabins in various formats to accommodate the maximum of 12 guests. There are even two master cabins: a full-beam suite with an onyx bath on the main deck, and another with 180-degree views occupying the front of the upper deck. “I could not decide which is the master-master,” says Vafiadis with a smile.
Each cabin has its own range of rare or precious woods and fabrics. In a mostly darker, slightly masculine palette, they include beautifully grained wooden panelling in ebony, ash, lime and walnut burr combined with metallic detailing to beds and night-stands. Every carpet is different but, being neutral, contrast with patterned wood, wallpaper and fabrics, while en suite bathrooms showcase contrasting Greek marbles and mosaics.
“Having many colours or many woods, it takes more time,” says Vafiadis. “Instead of making the selection once, you have to do it five or six times; then match the marbles with five or six different types of wood. The balance of the interior is in the detailing: many different woods with different patterns. They are nice because many of these woods have three-dimensional textures – not just a matter of colours or looks; you can feel the materials if you touch a bulkhead or a drawer. You can feel them with all the five senses.”
The finish is flawless, with carefully designed indirect lighting drawing the eye here, or highlighting a feature there. But Vafiadis has clearly eschewed the temptation to include excessive elaborate flourishes. There is an almost northern European purity to some of the design, but the term “minimalism” seems inadequate for such a complex toy. “It is a modern interior but not the kind that is too temporary,” explains Vafiadis. “Where you invest a lot of money, you don’t want things to last for just three or four years. Many types of people can like the boat.”
The large, unfussy windows are more architectural than marine. Providing views of the anchorage from every bed, they give the sense that you are staying in a luxurious hotel by the water, rather than in a boat on the water. This bright, natural lighting effect was a key part of Dragnis’s brief, and is at its most powerful in the communal living areas of O’Pari. In fact, he describes it now as his favourite feature of the boat. “It is unmediated contact with the light and the water. When you sit in O’Pari’s upper saloon, you can see the water; you really feel you’re travelling on the high seas. I like trying to imagine what the people who will be enjoying our yachts might feel and experience on board: what would fascinate them the most?”
Vafiadis’s son and design partner Stefano took the lead on the exterior styling of the yacht. “She has strong and masculine curves but she’s elegant and timeless at the same time,” he says. “Generally, our style is cultural, so instead of making flat shapes, volumes, we try to make something that raises many emotions in the viewer, while respecting function. Balance is our secret.”
Just as the boat’s interior provides different spaces for different people and different moods, so the exterior ecosystem is broken down into lots of smaller habitats. There’s epic dining aft on the upper deck or something more intimate around a smaller, round table on the sundeck; sofas in a U-formation on the main deck, in a D-shape around a sunken firepit above that, or lounging on a large slew of sunpads around the pool on the bridge deck. Or head up another flight of stairs to the open-topped sundeck and percolate in the spa pool; perhaps watch a movie there under the stars. And we haven’t even set foot in the huge beach club with its massage room, dry Finnish sauna and Turkish hammam.
For the more active-inclined guest, there is the whole gamut of on-water entertainment. The four tenders include a 9.75-metre Onda limousine (with its own garage), a 4.4-metre Avon with a 60 horsepower outboard, a 6.2-metre Cobra Patronus and a Chris-Craft Launch 27 for watersports and a beach lander. A never-ending list of toys includes three Sea-Doos, four Seabobs, two Fliteboards, kayaks, tubes, slides, skis and boards and even a brace of four-metre Hobie stand-up pedalboards (yes, apparently that is a thing).
“Whether guests want to explore local bays, enjoy a beach barbecue or perhaps try out some watersports, O’Pari offers some of the best facilities of any charter yacht,” says captain Diamantis Papageorgiou proudly. “The guests have the ability to try something new every day.”
Papageorgiou says the new boat is more agile thanks to better handling characteristics, a turn of speed and seamless mooring operations. “It urges me to approach even the most inaccessible places – I know that, despite her length and overall size, she can follow my commands!” His enthusiasm for the yacht is clear as he describes her “grand presence”. Like the Ancient Greek empire she harks back to, she has been making waves as far east as the Red Sea. “Wherever she was spotted, she stole the show and became the Instagram star!”
First published in the February 2021 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.