Italian shipyard CRN lifts a corner of the veil on a splendid secretive yacht, the 62 metre Voice. The first yacht CRN built to comply with the new IMO Tier III requirements. Replete with technology and gifted with the ability to cruise far and wide in exceptional silence.
The custom yacht ordered in April 2016 and delivered at the beginning of summer 2020 is as distinctive as it is secretive. As soon as she left the yard, she began cruising and did so for the entire summer season. As she is about to embark for her second season, CRN shares some of the history behind the construction of one of the most technologically advanced yachts it has built to date.
The story began as it often does at the Monaco Yacht Show. The owners met with CRN there in 2015 and discussions began about what would morph into a made-to-measure yacht developed from the owners’ vision, from her exterior looks and colours, inspired by their favourite car – a Rolls Royce – to how music sounds on board. As the yacht’s name infers, music is an important part of these owners’ life and not only did they want audio equipment fit for audiophiles, but they also did not want any noise to interfere with their enjoyment of crystalline sound.
Early in the discussions, the shipyard suggested designers able to give life to their vision and from that select group, the owners selected the Venetian team of Nuvolari-Lenard, who worked closely with CRN’s team and a select group of subcontractors on a distinctive yacht of the highest calibre.
“Voice is a full custom yacht,” says CRN’s engineering manager. “We made the owners’ vision a reality, not only in terms of the interior but also with the naval architecture. This is not based on a naval platform.” Voice’s displacement hull in steel, with a bulbous bow below a sharp entry, was developed for her and was tested through CFD analysis first and then subjected to as close as you can get to real-life conditions in a water tank. “Obviously (the tank test) served to assess the seakeeping and propeller efficiency. The sea trials and the recent cruises of the vessel have confirmed the hull efficiency.” he says. The maximum range of this yacht that displaces 1,105 tons is 5,300 nm at 12 knots on a fuel capacity of 140,000 litres. Top speed exceeded the contract goal, and Voice can reach 16.5 knots at the top range of her twin MTU 12V4000 M63 engines.
The tank test had another goal, which was nearly as important as fine-tuning appendages for optimal seakeeping and that was to nip in the bud noise or vibration. "Everything was assessed to understand if noise and vibration could go through the yacht,” the engineering manager says. The desired decibel levels were low – lower than those that quality a vessel for the RINA classification society’s Comfort Class notation – and achieving them was a contractual obligation, as well as a matter of engineering pride. The CRN shipyard has long invested in R&D and its in-house engineering team likes to stay at the cutting edge of innovation.
Although it’s nearly impossible to detect its presence from the outside, Voice has a large beach club. It’s a space close to the engine room and shafts and propellers are just below. Even, and perhaps especially there, the owners wanted peace and quiet.
CRN did not take any chances. “Every single measure was taken; we used floating walls, floors and ceilings, dampers for every rotating machinery, no matter how small, and every single pipe and high-flow (valve) control has been tested. At the end, we reached 60 decibels underway in this space very close to the machinery space, and less than 36 at anchor, so huge results.” In all, the insulation represents about 70 tons of materials. Everything that’s above water, including the curvaceous topsides and vertical bow, started on the drawing boards of Nuvolari Lenard who interpreted the owners’ wishes for “a boat (that) should be immediately recognisable and would look to the future.”
The CRN project architect for Voice notes how remarkable it is that designers can project themselves four to five years in the future – which is how long it may take to go from concept to reality – but even beyond that, that they can conceive of a design that will look modern a decade or more after they created it.
Nuvolari Lenard have shown this ability many times in the past, but Carlo Nuvolari credits the many hours they spent with CRN and the owners to “assimilate all the inspiring ideas that led us to Voice. Her signature feature is the long cadence of her lines,” he says. “The gunwale swings along and down in a smooth unbroken curve from bow to stern; this has been a visual hallmark of ours for many years.”
Her styling is what her owners wanted: dynamic and strong. It was up to the shipyard’s welders and craftsmen to make incredibly smooth metal panels able to sustain a mirror-like Awlgrip paint in unforgiving dark and metallic tones that reveal any bump or dimple. The superstructure is shaped from sheets of aluminium. No composite parts, foam or glass, were used to mould the complex and sinuous shapes.
The bow is striking and the Voice project architect marvels at how lines and various concave and convex shapes converge flawlessly on that thin slice of steel. The benefits of a vertical bow on the seakeeping, hull efficiency and interior spaces are well proven but so is the tendency of blunt bows to allow waves to wash over the foredeck. But CRN has added a secret weapon against sea spray. “We have an automatic carbon-made spray rail, integrated inside the bow. It’s a thin carbon blade fully hidden inside the structure that the captain can bring out when he wants depending on sea conditions. The spray rail has been tested during a tank test phase to assess its efficacy,” CRN’s engineering manager says.
Many more secrets are concealed within the yacht’s shapely structure – private guest spaces such as a large pool on the sun deck, a full owner’s deck with top-to-bottom windows, a garage that has room for two custom tenders (it would fit an 8.3 metre Riva Iseo), and water toys, a hidden rescue tender accessed from the chain locker space, wing stations that slide off the bridge deck to allow the captain a better view when docking and of course the beach club.
The yacht’s paint itself is a bit of a secret, changing with the light. It’s a combination of a metallic smokey quartz custom colour on the hull (a dark shade of brown), silver sand on the superstructure and jet-black details. Blond teak decks conceal all deck equipment from view. Inside, the design by Valentina Zannier, who heads the interior division at Nuvolari Lenard, is a treasure trove of fine details. Voice’s architect cites as one example, a geometric pattern that has been repeated on a custom-made rug and the wood of a custom piece of furniture made by List. The result has to be left to the imagination as the owners don’t want to reveal anything of their floating oasis.
Plus, it is a smart yacht. The moment the owners get on board, the yacht adjusts to their personal settings – no guessing game and readjusting lights, music playlists or temperature. “Think of the new iMac, when you activate the touch ID, it comes with your configuration, this yacht works like that,” says Voice’s project architect. CRN worked with system integrator Videoworks on the sophisticated audiovisual system. It was so central to the brief that cabinets were made to fit the curvature of a TV screen, and not the other way around.
The smart layout creates separate access patterns for the 12 guests and 17 crew and staff, stemming as much from a desire for guests to enjoy privacy as for the crew to perform their work unencumbered. The crew’s comfort was paramount, and their cabins received the same level of attention when it comes to noise and vibration as the guest cabins did.
It’s smart in other ways too. Its HUG scrubbing system and Selective Catalytic Reduction reduce 70 per cent of total NOx emissions (which is CRN’s standard moving forward) and the yacht received an additional AUT – UMS class notation, meaning its machinery can operate without the continual intervention of an engineer. “It’s probably one of the best yachts that I have had an opportunity to work on. It’s really iconic,” Voice’s project architect says. But there is more to come from CRN, which has floated more than 400 vessels of all kinds to date. Currently, four more custom yachts are under construction at the shipyard in Ancona, Italy, ranging in size from 52 metres to 72 metres.