While some may say friends and business don't mix, it's good to have a friend who has your back when that business is building superyachts. Such is the case for the creators of 27.43 metre Tempus Fugit, Rob Humphreys and Erbil Arkin, longtime friends who joined forces to create a new breed of modern classic sailing yachts designed by Humphreys Yacht Design and built by Arkin Pruva Yachts in Turkey.
Their collaboration began with the intention to build a J Class yacht for Arkin, a project that Humphreys relished as a designer. But being the good friends they are, Humphreys could give his honest input that based on Arkin's desires for comfortable cruising and generous accommodation, a J simply wouldn't satiate. So the J Class ambition was put on hold, and instead of building one boat, the modern classic Tempus class was born.
Constructed in cold-moulded mahogany, Tempus Fugit is the first Tempus 90 in a series proposed to stretch to 38 and 46 metres with a choice of sloop, cutter or ketch rigs. They can also be built in aluminium, but Humphreys, who has designed everything from steel to carbon yachts, doesn't hide his preference for building the Tempus class in wood. 'People shy away from it, largely because of not understanding,' he says, 'but with wood epoxy, this boat is going to be around for 100 years.'
Humphreys built his first wood epoxy boat about 35 years ago, where he and Arkin met studying industrial design. Back then, as the UK-based designer tells it, they were more drinking than sailing mates. It would be decades spent until that friendship would culminate in a yachting collaboration.
Arkin's infatuation with the sea developed more recently; he first became an avid charterer, then decided to build his own yacht, 37.5 metre motor-sailer Daima, and then when the yard where he was building had financial difficulties, he wound up owning a shipyard. Arkin Pruva Yachts next delivered 25 metre schooner Shindela by Burnett Yacht Design and has become active in refits. _Tempus Fugit _is its third custom yacht.
'Rob convinced me not to build a J Class knowing the type of person I am and how I use my boats,' Arkin says. 'We decided on a modern classic design, which is wider and has more cabin space. He [first designed] a 150-footer (46 metre) for me, but at the same time, I acquired a shipyard and we decided to produce a series of boats and form a class. I was agreeable because I love beautiful objects and here we are producing beautiful objects.' Arkin is a prolific art collector and he describes building Tempus Fugit as an extension of his passion for art.
Indeed, Tempus Fugit is undeniably striking, with low deckhouses and long overhangs that recall a bygone era. And her unpainted, varnished mahogany hull is beyond eye catching passersby actually stop on the quay to touch the gleaming wood surface and ask if it's a real finish. She has garnered attention on the racecourse as well, performing beyond expectation at the Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez this past summer, holding her own in a fleet of carbon high-performance sailing yachts.
'I expected the modern classic fleet needing a class of its own for us to make a show, but the really satisfying thing for me is that we seem to be able to compete despite a tough handicap,' says Humphreys of Tempus Fugit's performance in Saint-Tropez, where she placed fifth in her class that included top boats from Wally, Swan and Vitters. But perhaps this is not surprising considering Humphreys' background designing high-profile racing yachts, from IOR speedsters to Volvo Ocean racers. 'She's built to be a racer-cruiser, but not at this level. It was maybe beyond the brief. But I guess it's hard to unlearn what you know from doing performance-style boats over the years.'
Tempus Fugit carried a modest cruising inventory from Doyle, making her results all the more impressive. She's a relatively simple boat to sail in that sense, with the only choice being between the genoa or blade jib when heading upwind and a single asymmetric to choose from when sailing downwind. Her 422 square metre upwind sail area and 708 square metre downwind sail area is generous, with a good ratio to wetted surface area.
Beyond being a project between friends, Tempus Fugit is also a family affair for Humphreys, with his son Tom intrinsically involved in the design and his wife Jo responsible for the interior. The most challenging design aspect came in marrying the classically long overhangs with a wider beam required for more spacious accommodation. 'The aim with the long overhangs is to pick up more sailing length when heeled over and the danger with adding relatively more beam is to roll the ends out of the water, thus reducing the sailing length and speed potential,' says Humphreys. 'To this end Tom ran an in-depth CFD study so that we could investigate subtle hull shape variations to maximise sailing length with heel.'
Another key to the performance potential of Tempus Fugit is her generous stability, with nearly 40 per cent of her 62 tonne displacement in her ballast keel giving her exceptional sail-carrying power upwind. Tempus Fugit's underbody and appendages are relatively conservative to provide an easy groove and good directional stability, to maintain the slow, steady motions and feel that characterise sailing on board a classic yacht. 'We haven't tried to turn her into an illusion of the past she's built with proper timber to RINA,' Humphreys says.
Her solid construction can be felt while under way, and seen inside, where her beautiful frames are on display per the design brief. Arkin says: 'If it's steel or plastic, why show it? But this is a work of art, so show what you can do!'
The predominantly teak interior feels light and airy thanks in part to her white painted ceilings and Jo Humphreys' choice of light-coloured soft furnishings, all in outdoor fabrics to make the crew's lives easier. The interior is classic and understated and ties in art deco styling with light fixtures and wood-cut angles. Everything was done at Arkin Pruva, from the woodwork to the stainless steel. Arkin has calculated 75,000 man-hours were spent on Tempus Fugit, but lauds the quality to labour-costs savings of building in Turkey for her price tag of 4.2 million.
The yacht has an accommodation-rich layout, hosting seven guests in four suites and three crew in two forward cabins accessed from the deck and a passageway through the guest en suite. Layouts of future Tempus 90s can be customised based on owner preference.
Her large cockpits designed for entertaining belie her cruising boat heritage, but at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, Tempus Fugit is ready to race. And so is Arkin, who has been bitten by the racing bug. After a lay day, he is looking forward to the last race of the regatta. 'I'm worried it's going to cost me millions!' he jokes of his newfound racing hobby, before saying he'd like to build a 55 metre in the Tempus class for himself, and in wood. Arkin does not seem a man to let life or grand ambitions pass him by.
This is the sentiment behind the name Tempus Fugit, Latin for 'time flies'. The sands slip through the hourglass faster than we can count, something yacht owners know all too well. 'Time flies, and people should realise that,' says Arkin. 'Do everything you need to do when you can do it. Even building Tempus Fugit is one of my bucket list items ticked off.'
Time flies when you're having fun, and during the Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez regatta, as Tempus Fugit _charged ahead of many of her high-performance competitors, Humphreys and Arkin look like they are having all the fun in the world. As a perfect photo finish, _Tempus Fugit crossed the line alongside the J Class fleet, proving she can hold her own in looks against these classic beauties, but stands out in a class all her own.
After crossing the Atlantic to compete in the Caribbean season races, _Tempus Fugit _has now further proved her racing prowess by finishing a respectable third in her class during the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous.