The latest launch from the newly minted Royal Hakvoort Shipyard, the 61 metre Top Five II is the real deal, says Cecile Gauert
The new Top Five II looks regal and commanding at the end of a long dock at Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach, Florida. I take a minute to admire her profile. Geometric bands of glass with a bluish tinge define the decks within a gleaming white superstructure that rises high above me.
A pleasant symmetry accompanies her substantial heft. Her exterior design is by Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design, as is her interior, both tailored to meet the owners’ request for what they describe as “a traditional boat with modern lines”. The main driver for the first yacht Hakvoort has delivered since receiving a Royal warrant marking its 100 years of history, however, was function.
“The focus for the owners was on the interior and on the usability of the boat,” says Paul Costerus, senior yacht designer and project manager for Sinot. In terms of the space, “The most important thing was how many people can you sit on each deck,” he says, as hospitality was foremost on the owners’ minds. “It’s a very big boat for its length, but I think we found a good balance between elegance and usability,” he says.
The owners’ previous yacht, prized on the charter market, was a 48-metre Christensen built in 2005 as Liquidity. They enjoyed it for many years before they started looking for a yard to construct the next Top Five with help from their long-time captain, Johannes Buys, and their broker, Tom Fleming of Moran Yacht & Ship. The Fort Lauderdale-based brokerage firm has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the Hakvoort shipyard (having worked on the sale and project management of nine Hakvoort yachts to date). The family-owned Dutch company earned the business during an extended vetting process.
Captain Buys says he liked the quality and personal attention the owners’ team received at a yard that only handles one large project at a time. They also had a chance to see one of Hakvoort’s previous builds and were satisfied that the family-owned shipyard produced the type of quality they wanted to achieve and that they would be attentive to their wishes.
Top Five II is a custom yacht from the bottom up. Her lines draw some inspiration from a previous Sinot design for Hakvoort. Still, she is beamier, taller and fundamentally of an entirely new design, starting with the hull by Dutch naval architects Diana Yacht Design.
“It’s a huge boat,” says Albert Hakvoort Jr with a tinge of awe. “I saw an Amels a couple of weeks ago, also 61 metres, and it was, I believe, around 800GT – and we are almost 1,300GT, also on a 61 metre.” Top Five II is only a couple of hundred tonnes more petite than the Dutch shipyard’s 64-metre explorer Scout, delivered in 2019.
Hakvoort subcontracts the hull and superstructure construction and then brings them to its shipyard in Monnickendam to construct the yacht to the highest standards. In this typical Dutch village, visitors can see herrings drying on racks among the ornate gable roofs of centuries-old buildings when it is the season. The shipyard’s owners successfully negotiated rights to raise and extend their sheds – right across the street from their office. However, when Top Five II arrived, they had to do some creative work to fit her under their roof.
All that volume comes with some nice advantages. The side decks are wide and comfortable to walk, but the first wow comes with the lounge on the aft deck. It’s vast and hospitable, with multiple seats well protected from the sun.
A tall and wide cabinet that stretches across the back of a large custom sofa is the perfect spot to set down trays of hors d’oeuvres or glasses. The second wow is the deck height, which carries into the interior. This height and a mostly covered bridge deck topped with an observation lounge largely account for the gross tonnage. “The height on the main and upper deck is 2.3 and 2.4 metres,” Costerus says. The main saloon begins with a lovely foyer set with a bar on the port side. The height allows for terrific view windows, elegantly framed with columns dressed in textured metal, oak, leather and wall lights.
A central bar/television console divides the space visually into an elegant saloon with generously sized sofas and armchairs from a formal dining area with a custom-made 4.3-metre-long table that seats 14 guests. Costerus describes the design as contemporary but also American classic. “The idea was not to focus on trends but to emphasize timeless elegance,” he says.
Shimmering fabrics, sparkling bevelled chandeliers and a few panels with a high-gloss finish add a spark to the muted colours – bronze, silvery greys, natural woods as well as tinted ones – that form the primary palette.
The owners have a wide range of business interests. And it was the lady of the yacht, who is well versed in handling interiors, who worked closely with the interior designer and selected all furnishings. Her husband’s primary input was the large main deck bar, which complements one on the owner’s deck inside the upper deck saloon and an exterior one of the bridge/pool deck.
Again, on the interior, comfort was the guiding principle. Most guest cabins (five of them) are on the main deck, forward of an attractive guest lobby and the glass lift that rises at the heart of a feature staircase. The suite closest to the lift is accessible by wheelchair – something still frustratingly rare enough on yachts to warrant a special mention. “The elegant design of the guest cabins has subtle luxury accessories by Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, and Brunello Cucinelli,” Costerus says. All it takes is opening the door to get a sense of how comfortable each cabin is – the colours are soothing and the lighting inviting.
While the owners intend to use the boat privately, Top Five II will also be available for charter with Worth Avenue Yachts. All cabins have extra-long beds, and several have bathtubs. “It’s great for kids,” observes the captain, and so the yacht caters to all ages.
A sizeable galley – with large windows, neatly organised workspaces and a guest-friendly centre island for casual meals – takes up the balance of the main deck.
The pace is easy-going, the tones relaxing and the details numerous but discreet. I ask the designer about his favourite feature. “I find it a difficult question,” says Costerus. “Architecture-wise, I really like the high windows. I think the layout works very well and I like the private owner’s deck. And as for the interior design, I like the staircase with the full-height handrail, leather panelling and wooden cleaving. It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing,” he says. “It’s the sum of everything that happens on board that makes the design.”
One of Top Five II’s most pleasant aspects is its consistency, from the attractive wheelhouse to the elegant guest cabins and the owner’s area. The owner’s deck offers privacy and ample space in which to entertain. The panoramic suite with his-and-hers bathrooms – both spectacular but with a bonus for her in the shape of a free-standing tub and feature marble wall – yields to a light-filled saloon with a large bar, television, games table and lounging space. Outside of the sliding glass doors is a private outdoor dining area with room left over for lounge chairs. In addition, the owners have access to a spa pool and a big sunpad on the forward end.
As the aft section of the bridge is designated, the pool deck will likely prove a favourite space. A large bar complements a worktop attached to the glass-sided blue mosaic spa pool. The deck is semi-enclosed but bright, thanks to three large skylights in the ceiling covering a section of the deck, which is also protected from wind and rain by side structures. A classic sauna, redolent of fresh wood, and space for a massage table are in an area off to the side. Best of all, stairs connect the pool deck to a cosy observation lounge, making this area a fabulous outdoor duplex. The owner came up with a neat idea for this observation deck – a table that converts into a gas-fed firepit. The captain has to point it out for me to notice that this is more than just a coffee table. “At first, we were wondering how we could do this regulation-wise, but it’s not a problem,” Costerus says.
Extra entertainment space is on the lower deck, where a comfortable lounge, ideal for movie nights, could be converted to a seventh cabin with a king-size bed and en suite. Also on this deck are the top level of the impeccable engine room, an oversized garage with room for two 7.5-metre tenders, a beach club with fitness equipment, two side platforms for boarding water toys and most of the crew quarters. These were not an afterthought. The owners gave this area a lot of attention, just as they did the guest accommodations. “We looked at material selections to see if it matched the [guest] interior. But I know the [owner’s team] spent a lot of time on and paid a lot of attention to the crew area,” Costerus says. The chief engineer and first officer each have their cabin, and the crew mess was designed for all 19 crew to sit and share a meal.
As is usual on a yacht of this size, the captain’s quarters are on the bridge deck, stretching across the beam and comparable in size to a guest cabin. The adjacent wheelhouse reveals a remarkable confluence of design and technology.
A displacement yacht with a bulbous bow, Top Five II has an ice belt and was optimised to use as little fuel as possible at cruising speed, says Hans-Maarten Bais, co-owner of Diana Yacht Design. Captain Buys says the primary mandates in terms of the yacht’s cruising ability were “global cruising” and “limitless”.
Top Five II, which complies with IMO’s Tier III regulations, can cruise far and wide with a long range of 5,000 nautical miles. She also has a Class 2 Dynamic Positioning System, Total Ride Control by Naiad Dynamics, and the ice belt makes cruising in the northern latitudes – and potential encounters with ice – safer. Also, her bulbous bow contains a FarSounder sonar with a 1,000-metre range and 3D imaging, giving a captain ample notice of potential obstacles ahead.
Diana Yacht Design, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021 and has worked with Hakvoort for 35 years, did many calculations for this hull (up to 40, Bais estimates). This new design is specific to the yacht’s particular attributes, her volume and the large fins of the Total Ride Control system.
The fins work independently or together to mitigate rolling and pitching. Unfortunately for the team, Bais says in jest, the sea trials happened in calm weather. However, as they tested the equipment, he noticed the hull trim and fuel consumption change with various settings. So optimised, they improve guests’ comfort and enhance the yacht’s overall performance. “When you stand next to them, the fins are immense, and the dramatic effect that they have is pretty impressive,” he says.
Covid-19 ensured in-person visits to the yard during construction were limited. However, in addition to detailed and realistic 3D renderings that helped the owners visualise the finished product, the shipyard built full-scale room mock-ups at its top-notch carpentry shop in a nearby town. The owners saw the mock-ups and had real-time visuals of the interior spaces as the construction progressed.
As a result, there were few, if any, surprises when the yacht emerged nearly finished from the shed in April last year. When the boat made it to the US, a few months later, Albert Hakvoort Jr was delighted to hear the owners say she was just like the renderings they’d approved. But one (pleasant) surprise for the experienced builder was how quiet the vessel was. “We didn’t do anything different than we do on other boats. We had no problem, no vibration. During sea trials, we could not tell the engines were on,” he says. Of course, a lot of science goes into calculating things like exhaust pressure and how sound travels, but no matter what, Bais says, there is always a bit of magic that happens.
Comfort, technology, handsomeness, a little magic – Top Five II is the complete package.
First published in the March 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.SHOP NOW