Much more than a stylish dayboat, the Wajer 77 is a mini superyacht fit for a champion. Risa Merl gets her kicks at the helm
It’s a startlingly blue-sky day in the South of France as I step on board a sleek Wajer boat. It’s not the one I’m here to see, however, only a tender to ferry me out to the Dutch builder’s new flagship at anchor a distance from shore. At 23.5 metres LOA, the 77 is the biggest Wajer yet. She straddles the line between large dayboat and small superyacht, which was her builder’s intention.
“It’s Dutch superyacht quality but in a 77ft boat that can be owner operated,” says Dries Wajer, managing director of Wajer Yachts. Hull No 1, named Picolette, is for a repeat client, who had a 38 and 55 prior to this.
The Wajer 77’s flowing lines are on show as we approach the boat at anchor in the bright morning light. The sheer line mirrors the look of previous Wajers, and it has a lot of flare in the bow, a tumblehome deck and zero straight lines in the hull. Integrated windows, a hidden anchor, flush cleats and a lack of handrails make for a clean, sculpted exterior.
“One of the greatest achievements in the exterior design is that we created a very sleek vessel while keeping free-standing heights over 2.05 metres all over the yacht,” says Paul Costerus, senior yacht designer and project manager with Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design, who worked with the Dutch builder on this new model.
Sinot came on board to design the Wajer 55 and 55S before penning the 77. The brief for the builder’s new flagship was born of a collaboration between Wajer and Sinot with major input from Wajer clients.
“Dries organised several interviews with clients, and we conducted brainstorm sessions with owners, captains and designers from our team and experts from Wajer Yachts,” says Costerus. “Function and aesthetics were equally important in this project. On the one hand, the yacht needed to be a distinctive part of the family, showing typical Wajer DNA, and it also needed to be the next step in design language for Wajer – a language they could work with for years to come. On the other hand, functions such as the ability to practically store all the watersports toys and tools one could think of, multifunctional seating and a fully functional galley needed to be implemented.”
One important request from clients was that they should still be able to drive the boat themselves. A length of around 23 metres is the sweet spot chosen by the builder for this reason, because it’s the top end of what can still be easily owner operated.
“You don’t need a captain’s licence, and the joystick makes it easy to operate,” says Dries Wajer, gesturing to the joystick control on the helm, a clean high-tech user interface that resembles an iPad. A manual switchboard is hidden in the technical storage space in case anything should fail.
Seating at the helm is exceedingly comfortable as the seats and footrests can be electronically controlled to fit the driver’s body. For someone vertically challenged as I am, feet often dangle uncomfortably below the helm seat. Here, however, at the touch of a button, a footrest moves to provide the right support. The boat is full of thoughtful details like this. I notice the cup holders integrated into the carbon of the backrests and phone induction chargers in the side pockets at the helm.
The hardtop with ventilation provides shade for the helm seats and a dining table with plenty of flexible seating. Costerus points out that the central benches slide inwards and two cockpit tables come together to create one big U-shaped seating area under the shade so everyone can dine together. Just aft of this is a console hiding a bar with a fridge, ice maker, sink and storage for glasses. Seats at the bar are concealed within, popping out from its side. This console can be customised with a barbecue, television or even a DJ booth in this space. The Bowers & Wilkins audio system can be operated in four separate zones – at the bow, in the cockpit, around the aft sunpads and inside the living quarters below.
The custom-designed swim platform slides out and it raises more than 1.2 metres high above the waterline to serve as a gangway. The hydraulic swim platform is one of the few add-on options along with stabilisers, ionised black steel finishing, a carbon fibre package, water toys and a tender. Burnishing her status as a “mini-superyacht” the Wajer 77 carries her own tender – a Williams 325 sits in the garage, which can also store two Seabobs and two jet boards.
The hull design is from the performance-minded Van Oossanen Naval Architects. Wajer briefed the naval architects to create an efficient and high-speed hull design that gave a comfortable and dry ride. “Our Fast Planing Hull Form [FPHF] was applied to the design,” says Niels Moerke, managing director and naval architect with Van Oossanen. “The FPHF takes hard-chine hull design to the next level for ultimate performance, efficiency and comfort at high speeds, regardless of propulsion system or construction material. This is why many clients like Wajer Yachts came to us to incorporate our FPHF into their designs.”
Aluminium was chosen for the hull from the beginning to allow for a more sustainable material compared to composites, Moerke says.
Taking the Wajer 77 out for a spin around the bay in Cannes, I can attest to its smooth ride. Even at high speeds, it’s easy to move around the cockpit or sit out the cruise at the bow lounge with the wind whipping your hair. The acceleration is smooth, with no big lurching up to speed. Cruising at 34 knots, the ride is comfortable and surprisingly peaceful when sitting at the helm – the water under the hull is louder than the sound of the engines. “We did our best to allow for a solid feel while traveling and high speed, but a ‘light’ feeling while playing around in turns and waves,” Moerke says. “This combined with a smooth and dry ride in wavy seas was a real challenge.”
The Wajer 77 is powered by triple Volvo Penta IPS 1200 engines (Volvo IPS 1350 are optional). Another challenge was creating a layout with serviceable space around these engines while maximising the interior living area. Three different layouts are available inside, the first with two staterooms and a saloon, another with three staterooms and a dining area, and a third with four guest staterooms while forgoing the crew cabins. Picolette has a three-cabin layout with a slim but fully equipped galley and bar dining area. A VIP cabin is forward with notably lofty ceilings and the aft owner’s stateroom is five metres wide. The interior, also designed by Sinot, is finished in whitewashed oak and leather details. Wajer worked with sound and vibration specialist Van Capellen on the sound dampening and insulation to ensure low decibel levels in the living quarters. Wajer says it’s an €80,000 (£62,900) insulation package; well worth the investment.
Wajer Yachts garnered some high-profile attention in 2021, particularly in the US, when Tom Brady, the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team, took his Wajer 55S out for an on-water parade to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl victory. A video of Brady throwing the sizable Vince Lombardi trophy from the stern of his Wajer to another boat went viral. A few months later, Brady made an appearance at the virtual Wajer press conference and announced that he would be upgrading to the 77. Brady will get Hull No 8.
“I enjoyed the waters of New England, but when we moved to Tampa, with its beautiful bay, I said to myself, ‘I need a boat,’” Brady said during the Wajer event in May 2021. “I love what Dries Wajer is doing. When we first started working together, I was able to try out a Wajer 38, then I got my Wajer 55S, and now I’m looking forward to continuing my ‘captainship’ on a Wajer 77.”
At the time of writing, Wajer has already sold 23 77s, with 15 of those sold before the first boat even launched. These will go to a mix of European and American owners and will be based in places such as the South of France, Ibiza and Miami. By heeding owner feedback, Wajer seems to have scored the winning touchdown with its new flagship.
First published in the June 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.Shop Now