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FD102 Skyline: On Board the New Superyacht by Horizon

2020-09-22By Cecile Gauert

The owners of the first Horizon FD102 Skyline wanted a usable, comfortable yacht. Cecile Gauert steps on board... 

A while ago, boat design became all about views and space. A race of sorts began as designers sought to incorporate more volume onto shorter hulls. As the structures grew, designers also increased the size of windows. At Horizon this led to the FD series, and the new and appropriately named FD102 Skyline.

The 102 has impressive outdoor spaces. All imagery courtesy of Todd Thimios.

When I see it, the new 102 is at the Horizon City Marina in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and the towers of the modern metropolis and a working harbor make for an interesting backdrop. Lining the docks is a small flotilla of Horizon yachts, most of them from the FD series, and designer Cor D Rover could not be more pleased.

“Look in this harbor, there is a navy fleet of FD series,” he says, a gleam in his eyes. “Paint them gray, and you can attack a country.”

Interior volume is a hallmark of the FD series.

The FD series – as in fast displacement – has enjoyed great momentum and Rover, whom a client once called the “designer of that ugly boat” – but later bought one – draws an interesting parallel with the car world. “Remember when Porsche came out with the Cayenne, a lot of people said that Porsche will go down the drain. And that’s the best-selling Porsche there is. People like space.”

It all started with a concept for a yacht of around 79ft drawn on a rainy Wednesday in the Netherlands. “We sketched up a boat that could have the maximum volume on the lowest waterline length,” Rover says, “and we really wanted the master on the main deck,” like on a superyacht. No owner really wants to stumble into the dungeon after a nice meal and a few drinks, Rover says with humor, so that on-deck master is a must-have in the entire series.

Exterior styling of the FD102 is by Cor D Rover.

Rover liked the concept that emerged on that rainy day well enough to start shopping yards, although he thought it might take a while to find a taker. Adding so much volume inevitably results in a look that, as Rover puts it, is “a bit chunky,” but it did not take him long to find a builder interested in giving the idea a whirl. “John [Lu, CEO of Horizon] was the first one we called  – and the last one as well,” he says.

Lu, a naval architect by training, admits to a slight hesitation at the onset, but once he dug deeper into the reasons behind the exterior design, he quickly saw the potential. With so much extra volume – 30 percent more than more conventional designs – he could get over the unusual aesthetics. “This is something very different, but it is also is our company philosophy: be different, be bold.”

The main saloon has a centerpiece sofa by Roche Bobois.

The first FD yacht born of their collaboration was the FD85, announced in fall 2015. Now the series goes from a newly introduced FD75 to the FD102, with a FD125 in final phases of design development.

The new FD102 Skyline is a voluminous yacht: 236GT, a 25ft beam, a total length of 108 feet, including a generous swim platform and a ceiling height of more than seven feet. It does have a close family resemblance to the earlier and shorter versions, but the extra length benefits the profile with exterior spaces aft and forward balancing the deckhouse with its reverse-rake windshield at the pilothouse level. The volume is distributed evenly to create a number of great spaces unfolding from a generous exterior lounge aft of the main deck to another play area, with seating, a spa pool and sunpads forward.

A jacuzzi with unobstructed views offers an excellent outdoor space.

One of the important features, however, is what goes on below the water. “This boat was designed from the keel up,” says Roger Sowerbutts, head of Horizon Yacht USA. “The entry looks like a semi-planing hull but as you go back, it transitions from a hard chine into a soft chine, like a displacement hull, so you can get to displacement speed without thousands of horsepower.”

The owners of hull No 1 opted for modestly powered 1,600hp MTU engines. “This is going to be a cruising boat. Where this hull design really excels is the performance of the seakeeping, stability and comfort,” he says. “The comfortable cruise speed is anything from eight to 15 knots.”

Floor-to-ceiling windows, extra-high ceilings and furniture with a low profile make the main saloon feel even larger.

This particular FD 102 Skyline is for a European owner who is moving up from a 66ft boat. “It was his dream to create his own boat according to his own requirements,” says Ron Boogaard, owner and manager of Horizon Yacht Europe. A combination of factors attracted this client to Horizon and the 102 in particular. “It was a little bit the styling, a little the special hull shape because he wanted to have a comfortable riding hull, and the possibility to create his own boat,” Boogaard says.

Horizon is willing to change major features within the predetermined envelope to suit a client, and that flexibility was important to this owner. The second FD102 Skyline, due for delivery this summer to American clients, is a very different boat, with more open space on the bridge deck and an alternative layout.

The bridge deck has a stylish lounge/bar. The oak floor from Listone Giordano nicely contrasts the dark satin wenge furniture.

The owners of the first hull chose to create an enclosed sky lounge/bar on the bridge deck, with a set of sliding doors separating the helm station from the social area. A second large and air-conditioned entertainment space with views is the main salon/ formal dining on the main deck.

The spacious galley, right off the dining salon, is a hybrid between formal and informal. Stocked up with top-of-the-line appliances from Miele, a Liebherr refrigerator and a restaurant-grade Rational combination oven, it is nicely finished with countertops in white cliff stone sourced from Cambria. “The owner loves cooking for guests and family. I think he will be the chef on board. It was very important for him that to have that convection oven, storage space and wine cooler to keep the wines at the right temperature,” Boogaard says. However, they did not want anything flashy. “They wanted a usable, classy boat.”

The dining room with views out to sea.

The colors are muted, and finishes range from wenge for the cabins to oak veneer and Oak Cordoba parquet flooring from Boen in the main salon. The loose furniture includes a buttery soft leather sofa from Roche Bobois with adjustable headrests.

The master suite is forward on the main deck where the full beam and large windows contribute to the pleasant environment. Four spacious guest cabins are on the lower deck, along with three cabins aft for crew. The owners, who worked with Horizon’s in-house design department to create the quiet, comfortable ambiance on board, envisioned the boat for their family but decided to have the option to charter the boat.

The master stateroom is a few easy steps away from the main saloon and galley.

The first FD102 Skyline was built to charter class, meaning it needed to have many extras that the class requires, including increased piping and safety systems, and it had to be ready by January 1, 2020 for an important birthday celebration. That gave Horizon a mere 18 months to build it.

It helps that Horizon increasingly controls production, from naval architecture, hull and superstructure fabrication at sister company Atech Composites, to the construction of the interior and furniture. The design department employs 50 designers and naval architects.

The FD102 can reach a max speed of 16.4 knots.

In the past, Horizon had built a 148ft steel-hulled explorer yacht, but Lu says that these days he isn’t so keen on building large boats that require extensive metal work to be subcontracted. “I think Horizon Group in the future will control the whole production schedule. Clients don’t want to wait.”

It seems to be the case with these owners who, as they took delivery of their yacht, were already looking ahead at the next step – another FD on the drawing board.

This feature is taken from the July 2020 issue of BOAT International US. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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