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Fitting out the fleet: the best superyacht refit projects of 2023

13 December 2023 • Written by Gemma Harris and Katia Damborsky

From cosmetic adaptations to complete rebuilds and technical overhauls, BOAT takes a look at the most interesting and exciting refits of 2023, starting with the mammoth transformation and rebuild of Oceanco’s Project H…

The evolution of Project H

What began as a refit project - Project H - became a complete rebuild and transformation of the 95-metre Oceanco Indian Empress (ex-Al Mirqab). Twenty-two years after initial delivery and this three-year rebuild, she was relaunched as the 103-metre H3. Described by Oceanco’s Chairman Mohammed Al Barwani as a "rebirth," the collaborative project was between the original yard Oceanco and designers, The A Group, with refreshed interiors and exteriors penned by Reymond Langton

Virtually nothing was left from the original design except her hull, which was extended by 10 metres. Far more than just a lick of paint, the yacht has a completely reimagined image, with increased window area to harness more natural light and ocean views. While she now accommodates fewer guests, this has translated into more space per guest and additional room to house more crew, elevating the service. Multiple modifications were also made to improve efficiency, including new engines and systems, now making her IMO Tier III compliant. The project has been technically classified by Lloyds Register as a new build.

Athos' award-winning extension

Fifty pairs of hands went into the comprehensive 14-month refit of the two-masted, 63.2-metre schooner Athos. The works included considerable modifications to her interior areas as well as a complex 1.25-metre extension to her canoe-style stern, optimising her increased deck space offering for charter clients. 

The refit was undertaken at Huisfit, Royal Huisman's refit arm, and brought in the original team of Hoek Design to assist with the modifications. Project manager Jeremy "Bear" Wynne from Wynne Projects praised the quality of Huisfit's work. "The multiple modifications have been beautifully done. The additions and modifications have not only improved the functionality of the yacht, they have also enhanced the appearance," he said.  This refit was so impressive that Athos won the Refitted Yachts category at the World Superyacht Awards 2023. 

Overhaul of Omnia

Beginning her journey at Amels, the 61-metre Omnia (ex-Akula) was one of a trio of pilot vessels built for the Dutch Navy in 1997 and later converted into a superyacht in 1999. She has undergone various refit and modification projects. The most recent, a 14-month project after she was sold in 2020, which combined structural, mechanical and cosmetic works of up to $14 million. Project managed by Seara Maritime, the rebuild earned a nomination in the Best Refit category at the 2023 World Superyacht Awards. 

Her commercial image was overhauled by British studio H2 Yacht Design with a new wheelhouse, new main deck, new sheerline and new exterior decks. Inside, Greek design studio Karageorgiou ensured the new interiors were brighter and lighter. Omnia now hosts two more guest staterooms, accommodating up to 16 guests. The upper deck was rebuilt with the original funnel remodelled in aluminium for weight savings. Elsewhere, more than 90 per cent of machinery and systems were replaced or upgraded. 

Emerald’s charter-friendly refit

The 33-year-old Feadship Emerald emerged from a transformative 16-month refit at Balk Shipyard in February 2023. Originally launched as Alfa Alfa, the 50.4-metre motor yacht has now been revitalised to meet the evolving needs of today’s charter client while mirroring the traditional Feadship design qualities. “We’ve not ripped the soul out of it; instead, the refit is giving the yacht another 20 years of life,” said James Hall of TWW Yachts. The refit has resulted in a 2.5-metre extension, with an extended cockpit and restyled stern, a hull repaint of ‘Orion Green’ to complement her new name and a reconfiguration of the sundeck with Jacuzzi. Thanks to Design Unlimited, further remodelling has been carried out inside. Emerald  is now available to charter with TWW Yachts.

From the deck up of Costa Magna

The owner of a 28.6-metre Couach was delighted with the refit works carried out by KRM Yacht. So when he upgraded to the 44.5-metre Costa Magna, he brought her to Istanbul for a full-scale strip-down and rebuild. Over this year, the yacht’s 240 square metres of teak deck will be pulled up and replaced, and her hull will be brought back to a bare shell to be repaired and repainted. Technical works will include modernising navigational equipment, replacing engines and gensets and installing a new automation system. 

Built in 1983 by Turkish shipyard Turquoise, she has undergone ten refits in her lifetime, with the goal now to create a more modern-looking take on the original lines. “Having embarked on an incredible 40-year worldwide journey, the yacht is now back in Istanbul for a […] full refit,” explained the captain of Costa Magna. “We eagerly anticipate seeing Costa Magna restored to her former glory,” he added.

Perking up Pink Gin IV

Six years after sailing out of Baltic Yachts, 53.9-metre Pink Gin IV is back for a refit and refresh. The 10-month refit period will mainly see aesthetic and performance enhancements, including the yacht's reconfigured "deck geometry" and modernised sail plan.  Performance-wise, Pink Gin's bowsprit will be extended by 1.5 metres, and her single, fixed backstay will be replaced by running backstays; the ergonomics and style of the helm stations will also be modernised and new Harken winches will be installed, ensuring she is ready to maintain her position on the regatta circuit. The cabin configuration will also see some improvements, with a restyled owner's cabin. Pink Gin IV is due to splash again in May 2024.

Nuri’s new upgrades

A year after her initial launch in 2021 as RJ, the 40.5-metre Cantiere dell Marche Nuri checked in to Pendennis’ Vilanova site for an overhaul courtesy of Boutsen Design. Designed to be a “modern spin on an explorer vessel”, Nuri – meaning “world” in Korean – now has a new look to match her new name, with a calm, tawny theme with coffee-coloured leather upholstery on the interior and touches of blue on the exterior. 

As well as cosmetic changes, the team also added a spa pool with bar-stool seating, a social space with a television screen, sofa seating and alfresco dining on the sundeck, putting her in a premium position for her next charter season with Y.CO. For those more eco-conscious guests, the owner has also committed to making carbon compensation payments for clean energy projects supported by RMI at no extra cost to the charterer. 

Cetacea’s technical differences

A short five-month timeframe beginning in February 2023 was all the Roscioli Shipyard in Fort Lauderdale needed to take years off the classic 40.3-metre Feadship Cetacea. The yard drilled deep into the yacht’s engine room, reconditioning the entire driveline, completing a full-electric assessment and, overhauling the stabilisers and installing a new IMO-approved sewage treatment system. Cetacea’s exterior paint was also reconditioned, and she received an upgrade to her entertainment system. Classic lines and vintage charm remain for the new buyer who took the reigns as of October this year, with an all-together younger and healthier heart. 

All eyes on Lady Jade’s aft

The 41-metre Inace explorer Lade Jade completed a nine-month refit at Lusben’s repair yard in Viareggio. After an additional six metres of length was added to her exterior decks in 2018 by Alia Yachts, this most recent refit project focussed mainly on her stern, optimising extra space by reducing the size of the quarter boards to give the aft cockpit a more open feel. The ceiling on the flybridge was also extended by a metre, providing better weather coverage. Lady Jade also benefitted from a fresh lick of paint, returning her to her original midnight blue, as opposed to white.

Concentrated efforts for Isabell Princess of the Seas

The 63.7-metre Codecasa Isabell Princess of the Seas (ex-Bash) checked out of a refit at Croatian shipyard Capax earlier this year. Around €9.5 million worth of upgrades were funnelled into the bridge deck, main deck and master cabin, giving her a more modern look while still retaining her Italian style and classic heritage. To ensure she hits 2023 standards, she also underwent various technical upgrades with new safety systems, audio-visual systems and communication equipment. The yacht has a long legacy, previously owned by the Fayads and playing host to Lady Diana. With her new lease of life, she was snatched up in June this year by a new owner who can now reap the benefits of this refit. Isabell Princess of the Seas is managed for charter by Burgess from €290,000 per week.

Catch released with a new look

A “no expense spared” 10-month refit at Feadship’s Amsterdam shipyard has left the all-aluminium 26.6-metre sportfisher Catch in pristine condition. Originally built by Feadship in 1984, she returned to her home shipyard at the end of 2022 after a change in ownership. She was initially delivered as part of Feadship’s series of Gallant Lady yachts but was completely refurbished in 2005 after a 15-month refit. This most recent refit saw a full repaint, new teak decking on the foredeck, new teak caprail aft, revarnishing of all exterior teak, new veneer on the main deck aft, new awning on the foredeck and technical maintenance and upgrades were made to the LED lighting system. Meanwhile, inside, an additional crew cabin was configured to accommodate four crew members. 

Paintjobs for Apogee

Amico’s Genoa site has been busy with the 10-month refit of the 62-metre Apogee. The Codecasa yacht was repainted from bow to stern, and her teak decks were replaced and levelled, aiming to keep her one of the charter fleet’s favourites. All stainless-steel applications and components were polished, exterior upholstery, cushion covers, and awnings were renewed, external tables and furniture were revarnished, while anchor chains and external marbles were replaced. The Limo and jet tenders were also fully refurbished and received paintjobs.

More about this yacht

Baltic Yachts   53.9 m •  2017
Proteksan   43.45 m •  1986

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