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Victorious: On board the long-awaited 85m flagship explorer from AKYACHT

13 January 2022• Written by Sophia Wilson


Motor Yacht


AKYACHT ·  85 m ·  2021

More than 14 years in the making, including construction that spans three continents and a new yard created to complete her build, Victorious has quite the back story. Sophia Wilson steps on board in Monaco...

"The yacht has travelled half the world without running the engines,” says Vural Ak, the soft-spoken owner of 85 metre motor yacht Victorious. “From Chile to New Zealand, New Zealand to Turkey, it is a fantastic journey.”

After purchasing the unfinished yacht, the owner decided to add a 6m extension to the stern so that it would be capable of carrying his beloved sports boats if required. He founded his own shipyard, Ak Yachts, in his native Turkey to complete the colossal project
All images courtesy of Burgess

Victorious, with her rugged exterior lines penned by Michael Leach and a Bentley Continental temporarily parked on her helideck, generated plenty of interest and queries at the Monaco Yacht Show, but it’s her backstory that is truly intriguing.

Her life started more than 14 years ago at Marco Yachts near the Atacama Desert in Chile as a 77-metre explorer, known at the time as Gin Tonic II. When the initial build ran into financial difficulties, New Zealand businessman and serial yacht owner Graeme Hart picked up the project and transported the unfinished vessel to his homeland. She spent a further two years under construction in New Zealand before she was sold in 2016 to her current owner who brought her back to his native Turkey.

The 6m stern extension also allowed room for a 200m2 beach club, home to a massage room, hammam and lounge as well as a pool with a swim current, decorated with mosaic tiles

The story of the explorer yacht that explored the world during construction is an exciting enough narrative, but the tale doesn’t end there. After transporting her to Turkey, Ak, who had previously owned a 30-metre Azimut and a 50-metre CRN, couldn’t find a yard to complete the project. The work he wanted to do included a six-metre extension to the yacht’s stern and the addition of a two-metre bowsprit to bring the yacht to a new overall length of 85 metres. Ak is a father of three with a need for speed and an off-road champion who has competed in the Dakar Rally and owns a handful of power boats. He wanted something that could transport his power boats if need be, but also give him the ability to travel the world with his children.

Jonny Horsfield’s vision was to use neutral colours so that the eye is drawn to the landscapes outside. The upper deck saloon (opposite page) was styled as an “Ibiza lounge” with nautical rope incorporated into the bar

“I spent more than six months trying to find a suitable place to finish the boat according to my needs,” he says. “Since I’m not a stranger to the industry, I decided to open and establish my own shipyard.”

Ak, who runs Turkey’s largest car rental firm and owns the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit (home to Formula One in Turkey), found a plot of land in the shipping industry district near Gölcük and established AKYACHT. “We created the shipyard, and it is a huge facility. Today we can build two 100 metre yachts at the same time,” he says. “It wasn’t difficult for us to find the people we need because Turkey is very rich in terms of human resources for the marine business.”

Once the yard was up and running, it took nearly four years to complete the project (with the Covid-19 pandemic causing further delays) but Victorious finally hit the water in April 2020. After final touches taking place over the summer, Ak was on board for her maiden 1,500-nautical-mile cruise to Monaco. “We were in no rush,” he says of the pace of construction as we drink Turkish tea in the Gentleman’s Lounge, one of his favourite areas on board.

Located on the top deck, where you would expect to find a sundeck, this air-conditioned area is probably the biggest clue to the man behind the boat. The space is dominated by a wood-burning marble fireplace (thankfully not lit on this warm Monaco day). “I wanted a real fireplace,” he says. “A lot of people don’t want an open fire on a boat, but we can sit here in winter and get really cosy. It cost us a lot of money to isolate the top of the boat, but we did it.”

The observation lounge forward on the main deck is a more formal setting for social activities

To allow for this wood-burning fireplace, the top deck had to be fitted with separate air conditioning and air cleaning systems. It was also designated as the boat’s smoking area. “Unfortunately I’m a smoker, and in the Gentleman’s Club all the upholstery, leathers and decoration have been done accordingly,” he says. “We can smoke and one hour later, any smell of smoke has disappeared. We also have a humidor to keep cigars for our guests.”

As well as huge, curved sofa, a glass-fronted wine cellar and backlit shelves displaying vintage whiskies and cognacs, the lounge also reveals another of Ak’s passions – music.  “A good friend of mine in Turkey is a sound engineer and he is a genius,” Ak says. “He built two sets of speakers for us using 1930s technology. They have a hole in the middle, like what used to be available in old cinemas, and they are the best way to get natural sound. It creates a lovely concert area to enjoy with friends.”

Victorious has a 14,000-nautical-mile range at 13 knots and 24,000-nautical-mile range at seven knots with her twin 1,475hp Caterpillar diesel engines

The top deck may indulge specific owner requests but elsewhere the yacht has been designed to have broad appeal on the explorer charter market. This is predominantly thanks to London’s H2 Yacht Design studio, which was involved with the interiors of Graeme Hart’s 107-metre Andromeda (formerly Ulysses) and joined the project at the owner’s request in 2019.

Initially, Ak had planned a lavish interior with a strong Turkish influence but H2’s founder, Jonny Horsfield, persuaded him to alter his vision. “I sold him on the idea of having a much more contemporary, casual interior,” Horsfield says. “I explained that he had to do something that is universally liked – more like a holiday villa rather than an over-the-top Mediterranean yacht, which clearly, she is not. It was quite brave of Mr Ak to trust me.”

Victorious is available for charter with Burgess from €800,000 per week

Horsfield’s vision has been translated with natural woods – teak and white oak, and occasional deeper Macassar ebony – interspersed with cream, beige, grey and brown tone textiles, following his mantra that the interior of explorer should be about the journey. “The interior should be a calming, rather than a dominating, feature. Ultimately you should be looking out the window,” he says.

Ak is pleased with the path they took: “All the colours and tones of the design are welcoming to many different cultures. We didn’t go to extremes; we followed the middle way. But everybody can enjoy it, and everybody can find something interesting in this boat. That is most difficult to achieve.”

With the charter market in mind, Ak has also added a host of additional features to his original design brief. “For this level of boat, clients are expecting extras – extra Jacuzzis, extra dance floor, swimming pools, et cetera,” he says.

Ak might have always had one eye on the charter market, but he wanted to ensure that his family and friends would also enjoy Victorious. The yacht has 12 cabins, so when it is used privately, it can host up to 24 guests. “We have a family with three kids, and I love being able to also invite my friends with kids on board. It can get crowded. That’s why we have 12 cabins; it’s very convenient.”

The owner’s suite on the bridge deck aft opens to a private terrace with a spa pool, which was added with the charter market in mind

The full-beam owner’s suite is on the bridge deck facing aft, with a his-and-hers en suite finished in Calacatta marble and dark wood cabinets and a walk-in wardrobe. Large windows on port and starboard allow light to flood in, while doors open onto a private deck complete with a spa pool and sun beds upholstered in cream-coloured fabric. Ak admits that the spa pool is predominately for charter guests – “I’d rather be in the sea” – but he enjoys having the private space for time as a family. Forward of the master are two simple en suite cabins for his children. “When my twin sons saw the cabin they said, ‘Daddy it is small, your room is bigger’ and I told them, ‘You are five’,” he says with a smile.

The rest of the accommodation is split between the main and lower decks. When Ak purchased the yacht some of the fit-out had already started on the lower deck cabins. “We had to work with what we had, and we transformed them into more of a beach house feel, with this nice natural wood,” says Horsfield. “We hand-painted the wood that was already in place, and we completely remodelled the bathrooms, installed new doors on the cabinets and chose new marble. As we went further up the yacht there was nothing built so we could obviously start fresh.”

A full-width VIP suite finished in grey tones is forward on the main deck. Featuring a private seating area, it ensures that the yacht can appeal to dual charterers. Again, it includes personal touches from Ak, who named each cabin after a different Formula One track. In the bathrooms Ak was also adamant that all taps should be from American Standard.  “I studied in an American university and the taps on campus were more than 100 years old. And I thought if they are still working after all that time I want them on my boat,” he says.

Two tonnes of wood can be stored on board to be used in the working fireplace in the Gentleman’s Lounge. Bespoke speakers, designed by a sound engineer friend of the owner’s, add to the ambience of his favourite area on board. All the upholstery used in the lounge is impervious to cigarette and cigar smoke

A further personal touch on the main deck is a dedicated playroom. “We have a kids’ club because I know if you don’t keep them busy and happy then your journey is not that enjoyable,” Ak says with a smile. Here, bright rainbow-coloured cushions hide storage cupboards that can hold a plethora of toys and activities. With a world map on the wall designed to inspire future trips, this dedicated space allows children to be children.

Horsfield, however, also made sure that the space could be multifunctional. “It can be a playroom, but it could equally be converted into an adventure room, teaching room or lecture space,” he says. “We created a big storeroom locker next to it for all kinds of wet-weather gear or clothing. So, if you are going to go out heliskiing or to climb an iceberg you could use the room to get ready and have briefings.”

Read More/How to design inspiring superyacht spaces for kids
Working on the mantra “ happy kids, happy boat”, the owner created a specialist playroom for his children. The area could also be converted into a classroom or a preparation room for expeditions

The idea of flexible spaces extends to the other living areas. The upper deck, which overlooks a forward helipad, has a curved seating area complete with a baby grand piano. Behind it is a formal dining area, with a three-tiered chandelier and an additional seating area.

“My idea was to try and make it a more formal area for an evening party or drinks,” Horsfield says. “But equally you can use it as a business area; in the dining room there is mirror television that can be used for conference calls.”

Outside spaces are focused around communal entertaining – there is outdoor banquet-style seating for 16 guests on the upper deck aft – and having fun in the water. “My family are water people,” Ak says. “I didn’t learn to swim until I was 20 but my wife taught my kids when they were six months old. They’re like professionals now.”

Their passion for the water is evidenced by the 200-square-metre beach club, which has a counter-current pool, gym, massage room, beauty salon and, of course, a traditional hammam. Three folding terraces provide water access, and the water toy storage is a nod to Ak’s penchant for speed.

The beach club may rival your classic Med white boats but Victorious is an explorer yacht at heart. Built to Lloyd’s classification, she has a top speed of 17 knots, 14,000-nautical mile range at 13 knots and 24,000-nautical mile range at seven knots with her twin 1,475hp Caterpillar diesel engines. Ak has his sights set on completing the Northwest Passage with her. “Safety is our priority,” he says. “The draught is nearly five metres, and she is a very heavy boat.” The yacht already had Quantum Zero Speed stabilisers, but Ak decided to add an extra set. “She is very stable, very safe and very comfortable,” he says.

Large freezers and refrigerated food storage and four generators also mean Victorious has up to six months’ autonomy. “In case of emergency, god forbid, you can live in open water without going to shore and keep your food stored, make your water from the sea and live under very strong winter conditions,” Ak says. To make the yacht comfortable in cold climates all the hard floors, including all the bathrooms, have underfloor heating and there are WeatherTight stacker doors on every deck.

When the pandemic hit, Ak took the additional step of ensuring one of the cabins could be used as an isolation or hospital room. “If someone is under quarantine, we can keep them very comfortable, but the room has an independent air conditioning and ventilation system from the rest of the yacht, as well as additional medical equipment.”

Ak decided to take full advantage of the yacht’s additional deck space and commissioned a 12.5-metre custom built aluminium catamaran

There is no doubt that Victorious is now set for adventures under her own steam. Her journey to the docks of Port Hercules is far from traditional, but Ak believes she is all the better for it. “In Monaco we have many beautiful boats and I have huge respect for all of them, but most of them are very similar,” Ak says. “We tried to make a different boat: friendly, easy to live in, comfortable, safe and luxurious. And I believe we have achieved this.”

Victorious is listed for sale with Fraser asking €110,000,000.

First published in the February 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.


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