Speed and style make the new model from Danish Yachts a show stopper. By Alan Harper
At the northern tip of Denmark lies one of those mysterious places that you find on Europe’s outer fringes, beloved of artists for the light, of poets for the solitude and of a certain type of traveller for that mercifully temporary sense of bleak abandonment afforded by the sight of an empty, iron grey horizon. With its wide open landscape of dunes and a sandy spit sinking beneath the waves of the Kattegat on one side and the Skagerrak on the other, this windswept fastness looks like the end of something and feels, if you’re so inclined, like the end of everything. Germany’s Frisian Islands offer similar rewards; off the far north of Norway the Lofotens bring mythic grandeur to the mix; even pretty St Ives, in the south-west of England, can add a flavour of foreboding to the luminosity of its light during a winter gale.
But Denmark is a small country packed with busy, sensible people, where they have neither the topographical nor the psychological space to submit to such romantic indulgence. Just a mile or two from this point of no return sits the bustling and productive port of Skagen (population 8,515), home to one of the most technologically advanced shipyards in Europe.
Danish Yachts was founded in the late 1980s, and has since carved a reputation for innovation and quality, as well as a certain fearlessness. The yard’s team made its name with one-off sailing superyachts conceived by Fontaine Design and Tony Castro, then placed itself firmly on the map in 2004 with its beautiful recreation of Harold Vanderbilt’s 1937 J-Class Ranger – 41.6 metres overall, with a towering sloop rig. It managed to mix an authentic profile and long 1930s keel with hydraulic sail handling and a carbon deckhouse, as if to do so was the most natural thing in the world.
While the company was harvesting enthusiastic column inches in the yachting press, it was also making quiet waves in naval circles. A squadron of six Holm- class vessels was designed and built for the Danish navy, combining training, minesweeping and survey roles. Six larger Diana-class armed patrol boats followed, also built of fibreglass, powered by MTU 396s and capable of 25 knots. These comparatively modest craft are highly successful examples of their type, but Danish Yachts has yet loftier ambitions. The 45-metre Protector class will be a 35-knot multi-mission warship, constructed of carbon fibre and capable of carrying a helicopter, while the shipyard’s newest design is for an all-carbon, 50-knot patrol craft with a fast cruising range of 700 nautical miles – the Guardian class.
Which brings us to Shooting Star. Outwardly it looks like a direct descendant of Moon Goddess, a 35-metre speedboat built by Danish Yachts in 2006 as a tender to Princess Mariana. This was styled by Espen Øino and, maybe deliberately, looks like something out of Gerry Anderson, powered by 4000-series MTUs and jet-drives and capable of over 50 knots. But in fact, at 38 metres overall, Danish Yachts’ stunning new motor yacht is significantly longer, as well as broader in the beam than Moon Goddess. It has more powerful engines and a greater fuel capacity. In all essential particulars, it has less in common with its pleasure- craft predecessor than with the as-yet-unbuilt Guardian, making Shooting Star in effect a luxurious, high-speed warship prototype.
Even on paper, very few yachts can offer this level of performance. Those few that can are one-off specials like the smaller, gas-turbine Wallypower 118, or Stavros Niarchos’s Brave Challenger (ex Mercury), which was also based on naval technology. Clocked on sea trials at just under 48 knots, this massive carbon- fibre muscleboat can maintain a cruising speed of 40-plus all day, and thanks to the high-speed efficiency of the jet-drives there is little incentive not to: the big MTUs burn 1,831 litres per hour at top speed and 910 litres at 25 knots, so slowing down adds very little to cruising range. On anything other than a completely flat sea, of course, a cruising speed of 20 to 30 knots will be a lot more relaxing than hammering along at full chat.
While you might imagine that the 4000-series V16 motors would represent some kind of performance pinnacle for the Danish Yachts naval architecture studio, in fact they are merely the standard units. The engineroom is designed to accommodate the considerably longer and more powerful V20 engines, which would give the yacht a maximum speed of over 50 knots, and there are even plans for a gas-turbine version for speeds up to 65 knots.
While Shooting Star’s impressive machinery installation occupies the aftermost 10.5 metres of the hull, there is still room above the jet compartment for a substantial tender garage that can accommodate a jet-RIB of up to five metres, or a four-metre tender to leave space for a PWC. If you prefer your tenders a little more hi-tech, the shipyard has teamed up with light aircraft company Lisa to offer a two-seat Akoya seaplane as a kind of supertender, which folds its wings for storage.
There is also plenty of volume forward of the engine room. This yacht boasts unusually spacious crew quarters for a vessel of this size, set amidships to provide extra soundproofing between the guest cabins and the engines. There is a large square galley and sociable, comfortable mess area, with two twin-bunk crew cabins leading off to starboard and the captain’s roomy double ensuite aft.
Berths for six guests are provided in ensuite cabins of a similar size – one double and two twins – while the owner’s suite occupies the bows, with a central double berth and an excellent shower and WC compartment forward. In place of a fourth guest cabin on the starboard side, Shooting Star is fitted out with a comfortable television lounge, with a long sofa and soft white wall panels.
Overhead glass panels allow daylight down into the owner’s suite. More intriguingly, overhead glass panels also allow daylight down into the central corridor – an achievement of some complexity exemplified most clearly in the extraordinary wheelhouse structure, with its glass aft bulkhead, space-age curves and open sides, which let light pass right through.
None of this would work quite so well if the yacht’s superstructure were not assembled almost entirely from glass, providing natural illumination that filters down into the rest of the vessel. The main deck is large, light and open plan, and with the galley installed down below there is nothing to interrupt the sightline from transom to windscreen. A curved bar, a square dining table and a raised seating area on the port side all benefit from superb all-round views. The sliding sunroof overhead is enormous.
Styled by Dutch studio Art-Line, Shooting Star’s interior combines a pleasing mix of tactile finishes with select signature pieces and – for all its cool, Scandinavian reticence – the yacht has a certain opulence. There are light fabrics from Dedar and Sahco Hesslein along with white lacquer and leather, as well as beautifully executed panelling in teak and maple. A Stefan Heiliger question-mark chair in the master stateroom raises a quizzical smile, while the salon seating area is dominated by a huge sofa by Neuer Wiener Werkstätte. The distinctive cantilevered coffee table looks as though it has been lifted straight from a Modernist furniture handbook, but it is in fact custom made to an Art-Line design. In the bathrooms, blue LED lighting highlights mother-of-pearl mosaic tiles.
As an interior, it is nothing short of magical – because for all its swooping curves, vast areas of glass and look-at-me furniture, Shooting Star is extraordinarily restful to be aboard. It may be a hi-tech 48-knot motor yacht, but there is nothing frenetic about the inside. Whether in port or at anchor, its interior will be able to provide the owner with the ultimate on-board luxury: a calming, comfortable and sympathetic space.
The yacht’s colouring as well as its textures make full use of the sea and sky, inviting them in on all sides. The wood seems to glow in the sunlight, providing more than visual warmth; the cool of the lacquered surfaces and stainless steel detailing is no less literal. It’s a scheme inspired, according to Art-Line, by the light of the Skagen peninsula where the Kattegat meets the Skagerrak, and its unique mix of sea, sand, sky and that windswept fastness that feels like the end of everything.
As inspiration goes, it served them pretty well. In fact, it might be the start of something. SyW
This feature is taken from the November/December 2011 edition of SuperYacht World. Click here to buy the issue for your iPad.