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Silver Bullet: Testing Yachtwerft Meyer's Silverline tender
2018-10-10By Sam Fortescue

Elegant, comfortable and fast, Yachtweft Meyer’s Silverline is a flash of Teutonic brilliant, says Sam Fortescue

As the bow rises up and the acceleration pushes me back into the driver’s seat, I can’t help letting out an involuntary whoop. Thirty knots… 35… then touching on 40.

My reaction is strictly at odds with my surroundings. A trio of morose-looking fishermen on the riverbank glare as we pass for the fifth time that day, sending their floats bobbing wildly. I defy anyone to sit at the controls of this elegant, efficient piece of German engineering and push it up onto the plane without a whoop or two. In fact, builder Yachtwerft Meyer offers an open sportsboat version of the same hull for channelling just this sort of energy – the one in build now for a new client will be capable of 50 knots, courtesy of twin Volvo Penta DX engines.

Today, though, on a quiet tributary of the River Weser in Bremen, north Germany, it is the limousine tender that has my attention. The hull gleams purposefully, with a fine entrance to the water, but the dominant feature is the coachroof, with its line of glazing down the middle, and big windows on either side. It has something of the automotive – muscular but elegant, like the curve of a Bentley Continental.

Photography by Thomas Hellman

And the comparison is apt, because this boat is all about delivering up to 12 occupants in leather-upholstered, chilled-champagne comfort between a superyacht and the shore. The aim is to ensure that not a hair is out of place, a hat-feather ruffled nor a drop of bubbly spilled, so guests can emerge looking as elegant as the interior.

Speaking of which, the hand-sewn leatherwork is flawless and the bulkheads lend themselves to a mothership’s logo – anything from flush stainless inlay work to custom-lit art. Being German, Yachtwerft Meyer has not been content to simply put a powerful boat in a pretty wrapper. It has been hard at work on the engineering, too. The exhaust makes no noise at all, and the engine is so well insulated that the sound of waves on the hull is the loudest thing about the cabin, and even this is mitigated by a layer of sound deadening alloy plates. Oh, and the whole cabin “floats” on rubber mounts in the hull.

“It’s as quiet as a car,” says Michaela Meyer – one half of the husband-and-wife team that owns the yard. “After all, you don’t want a change after your Bentley.” The result is a cabin in which you can speak quite naturally – even maxed out at 40 knots. Other features include the three-part electric sunroof; the exclusive use of indirect lighting, including courtesy lights disguised as caulking on the teak aft deck; and a Fusion sound system controlled via iPads concealed in the armrests of the cabin. With a more technical eye, I appreciate the way the landing and nav lights have been recessed into the bow with a perfectly flush finish; and the clever carbon fibre mast, with anchor and motoring lights combined. Meanwhile, Volvo joystick docking makes the boat a delight to handle.

“During trials, she glided casually over waves, smooth and easy to manoeuvre,” says the owner’s representative Michael von der Heide of Yacht and Cruise Projects. He has been closely involved in the build of this nine metre Silverline for the owner of a 74 metre yacht that is just about to hit the water. “And what impressed us the most: she sails extremely quietly – a real luxury experience.”

One of a package of three tenders destined for the same owner, this is the 10th limousine to leave the boatyard since 2016, when the new design marked a radical departure for the family-owned yacht builder. “Formerly, our tenders were practical and reliable – just what Germans are good at delivering,” says Jan Meyer. “We wanted to move into something more sexy, so we got the talented designer Hamid Bekradi to help us do something new.”

The brief was for a semi-custom tender that embodied modernity and elegance, without compromising the all-important reliability and safety. “Having gained such a valuable reputation, it was time for them to be more proud of their boats and ‘sign’ them,” Bekradi says. “That signature element was a blade-like shape running through the entire sheer line from the bow to the stern.” He also built in the yard’s three-circles logo as air intakes to cool the engines – “nothing is superfluous in a German approach”.

Shrewdly, the design is based around a variable platform that allows the tenders to be from 6.5 to 9.5 metres in length, and gives a wealth of choice around finish, fittings and equipment. Michaela shows me a recently delivered open Silverline with special racks for stowing dive bottles. “We did another one with racks for wakeboards,” she says. “And a D-Line tender for an owner who loved to cycle with two frames to hold road bikes.”This flexibility is a key part of the yard’s appeal, Jan believes.

“I like to get customers in to look around the yard,” he says. “Being small, we can make decisions quickly.” Almost everything is on site, from the CNC milling machine that builds the moulds and cuts out the woodwork, to the design team and the stainless-steel fabricator. Sister company Fibretech is also here, building cutting-edge composite structures for the air force and navy, and there is a fully equipped testing lab. “There is a constant technology transfer between the boat business and the composites business,” says Jan.

All this is important when you’re talking about a multi-million euro project to build a mini-superyacht. While a semi-custom Silverline tender can be ready in as little as nine months, a fully custom Signature boat takes rather longer. The four-strong design team begins with sketches based on the aesthetic of the mothership, then works up full design plans, painstakingly rendered and engineered to perfectly fit the tender garage. With owner feedback at each stage, the process can take two years.

Back at the dock, the limousine tender bobs on the current. You can’t tell by looking at it that this is a construction of glass and carbon, or that it involves around 100kg of electrical cabling. Like all good design, it looks simple. And fun. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sportsboat version when it hits the water.