Solo exudes beauty and brawn – but, as Cécile Gauert discovers, there is more to this 72 metre Tankoa than meets the eye. As she joins the sales market, we take a tour on board...
At first sight, nothing about Tankoa’s new 72 metre superyacht Solo screams “green”. This is a large steel yacht powered by twin Caterpillar engines and triple generators, with no hint of an electric motor, solar set-up or exotic propulsion system – just a pair of traditional shafts driven by diesel, ending in two five-blade props. On board, meanwhile, is every conceivable luxury – six cabins, a beach club, saltwater pool, two spa pools, 18 crew and a tropical fish aquarium. Yet Italian classification society RINA has bestowed Solo with its Green Plus Platinum notation, the highest level of environmental certification.
Then you notice the yacht’s impressive range: 9,100 nautical miles at 10 knots – that’s expedition yacht territory. Vincenzo Ruggiero, Solo’s naval architect, explains that the yacht is even more fuel efficient with her standard diesel arrangement than if she were powered by a diesel-electric system.
This is the owner’s third yacht, and second Tankoa, and he is very knowledgeable, says Albert Mcllroy, the build owner’s project manager. “Although he has very limited time to use his yacht due to his business, his passion for yachts drives him to constantly monitor the next technologies and market trends,” he says.
The owner asked for “solid comparisons between the yard’s initial straight diesel offering and a diesel-electric/hybrid solution,” adds Mcllroy. He did not have a personal preference, he just wanted to see the facts, and those told him that a traditional propulsion set-up would be the more efficient option. For a vessel of this size, “for the same speed, if you have a diesel-electric system, the consumption is about 15 per cent more”, says Ruggerio.
Results in hand, the owner and shipyard decided to carry on with the project using a hull that had been started on spec in 2010. It had been designed to be the same length as Tankoa’s previous launch, the 69 metre Suerte, but the owner wanted changes. He asked principally for more accommodation space, with the goal to make his next yacht a great option on the charter market. Francesco Paszkowski, the designer of Suerte, was once again part of the team and worked closely with the shipyard, owner and naval architect on the development of Solo, Tankoa’s third delivered yacht.
“A couple of issues were fundamental for the whole design and layout,” says Paszkowski. “Although Solo is similar to her 69 metre sister ship, her three metres of extra length and underwater exhaust allowed a gain of volume on every deck. Both solutions enabled us to design a layout with large social spaces inside and outside.”
The hull extension, at the stern, not only helped interior volume but also had an important fringe benefit in terms of efficiency. The hull, which has an unusual shape, with a wider section amidships, also has a high length-to-beam ratio. The team left nothing to chance, and following CFD analysis, the naval architects also did extensive tank testing that helped fine-tune the placement of the exhaust vents and all appendages. The results were satisfying in terms of efficiency, but also for seakeeping.
“For stability, the boat is amazing,” says build captain Renzo Chelazzi, who took Solo to the Monaco Yacht Show in 2018. “On the way back, we had strong northerly winds, we experienced 40 knots, but we didn’t feel it,” he adds, switching on a video on his smartphone that shows her gliding effortlessly through dark water fringed with white foam. “We were going 14 knots.”
Fuel efficiency – and seakeeping – were not the only objectives, however. Strict new yachting rules around emissions and water pollution have arrived in the shape of the International Maritime Organisation’s Tier III requirements. These limit emissions and water pollution from yachts and require that most diesel-powered vessels built from 2016 (the keel laying date serving as benchmark) carry a nitrogen oxide (NOx) mitigating system in order to navigate in Emission Control Areas (ECAs). Tankoa is an ambitious yard, which from the get-go stated its goal to compete with the world’s best. Although it did not have to just yet, the yard decided to go ahead and make Solo one of the first Tier III compliant yachts afloat.
Working closely with Ruggiero on the engineering side, it assembled the best technology currently available to lower as much as possible its impact on the environment. A big part of this – and an obvious presence in the engine room – is a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system. SCR is a chemical process that significantly reduces NOx by injecting a solution of urea into the engine exhaust. Tests showed that the system by Ecospray Technologies that Tankoa installed reduces NOx emissions by an average of 80 per cent, Chelazzi says – meeting Tier III requirements.
To deal with the exhaust from the two 230kW Northern Lights generators, Tankoa installed a Hug Engineering particulate filter and a Nauticlean converter for the third, smaller generator. A monitor allows the engineer to keep an eye on carbon dioxide levels at all times. The yacht also carries systems to guard against potential water pollution. An Erma First ballast filter system removes all pollutants before any water is released. “You cannot discharge ballast within 200 miles of the coast of another country when you’re coming from abroad. In the water, there are a lot of micromaterials you don’t want to carry from one area to another,” Chelazzi explains. The yacht is also equipped with ultrasonic antifouling in vulnerable areas, such as the sea chest, to keep barnacles at bay without the use of biocides.
“What was done here was more than was required at the time of the keel laying,” says Ruggiero. “That is the philosophy for all the boats, to build them more like small passenger ships.”
Solo may be built like a passenger ship, but she does not look like one. “Modern and timeless” as her owner wanted, she is a notable new addition to the charter fleet. The view from the very top deck, a private aerie with spacious sunpads under the mast, includes a beautiful succession of decks unfolding below, complete with a helipad that doubles as a dance floor. From the shapely spa pool, one of two on the owner’s deck, the attractive arrangement of deck furniture by Summit and Tribù, to the seawater pool wrapped in curved glass on the main deck, the design is harmonious.
Paszkowski says the beach club is a key feature. Entered from the swim platform through a large watertight glass door, it is lit up from a skylight at the bottom of the pool on the main deck. The hammam features Tuscan calacatta marble and a shower cooling guests in a hurry with water maintained to a chilly five degrees Celsius. The beautiful wood in the sauna had a previous life inside a medieval castle in Finland.
That is probably the only part of the lower deck that guests will ever see. The rest of it is dedicated to the tender garage, two-tier engine room and the spacious crew area. There is nothing lacking in the yacht’s underbelly, including a galley designed by Italian restaurant professional Marrone and run by a chef with experience in Michelin-starred restaurants, a big laundry area, cold rooms, freezers and fridges and a garage well stocked with toys, to support an active charter programme.
“Solo’s owner had precise ideas about how his yacht should be used,” Paszkowski says. “Large social areas outside and inside were very important to him. Privacy was also essential.” To fulfil this request, Paszkowski designed an owner’s deck that can be cut off from the rest of the guest areas with a private access code unlocking the lift or door to private stairs.
The original owner, who chose the custom colour that Awlgrip created for the hull, expressed his preference for darker hues. Created in close consultation with the owner and Margherita Casprini, the decor is both modern and masculine. Floors are in black oak, dark grey oak is on the walls, and Macassar ebony accents custom-made furniture, along with cappuccino marble from Rajasthan. Striking forest black antique marble from France covers the beach club area floor, a stairway and the owner’s bathroom.
Balancing the dark floor and walls are lighter hued fabrics, colourful art, backlit white onyx on the bars, plus amazing windows, low bulwarks and expansive outside decks drenched in sunlight. Views and transparencies were an important part of the design. Bulwarks are low and cut in places to maximise views, and frameless glass panels replace stainless-steel stanchions around the sundeck. They provide safety and tame the wind without interrupting the gaze.
After a few hours basking in the sun, heat and salted sea air, the nicely chilled darker lounges of Solo must feel like a delicious reprieve.
A favourite in the evening will likely be the spacious sky lounge/piano bar offering plenty of seating on low and deep sofas by Fendi Casa in front of a 90-inch 4K OLED screen above the fireplace. One of the eye-catching features in the main deck dining room, meanwhile, is an aquarium by Melik – designed to keep the water still even as the yacht moves – filled with colourful fish. The crew say they do not have to worry about maintenance much as a self-filtration system keeps the tank clean, but they have easy access to all the equipment stored in a small dedicated room off the main lobby.
One of the similarities with Suerte is found on the aft section of the main deck, described as a winter garden. Access to the main deck saloon is through two side doors, instead of the more usual big central sliding door. Here is a welcome lobby and waiting area with low seating, flowing curtains, a bar and a large planter filled with cacti. It seems like a perfect place to wait before boarding the yacht’s two Dariel tenders. But then again, with all that Solo has to offer, why would anyone want to leave?