Jeroen Minnema of Ocean Independence, who represented the owner of Engelberg during the build, gives us the inside scoop on the 55-metre Amels
How did this project start?
“The client had a 26-metre boat, and he initially wanted a bigger boat – much bigger, 80 or 90 metres or more. I said it was a very big step from a 26-metre to a 90-metre. With the number of crew, the running costs, and the fact that you can’t just go into any port it’s a completely different world. We scanned the market and eventually decided to look for a yacht between 45 and 60 metres as an ‘in between’ sized yacht.
At first he was thinking about buying an existing boat, and was interested in the 52-metre Benetti Quantum of Solace. However, in the end an existing yacht was always going to be a compromise, because the owner’s ideas were pretty strong and unique.”
What did the owner’s requirements include?
“There were a lot of security needs that he wanted to have met. Besides this he works a lot and wanted desks in many of the living areas. In a way, that is all doable with a refit on an existing boat like Quantum of Solace. But he also had elaborate requirements in terms of telecommunications: he has to be reachable and reach his contacts everywhere, all the time. So in the end he decided to cut to the chase and build his own right away, with everything how he wanted it from the outset.”
When it came to choosing a yard, what appealed about Amels?
“Amels is a top-quality superyacht builder to start with. The platform of the Limited Editions is already there. And since the owner wasn’t interested in the engineering or redesigning the crew accommodation, engine room or anything else he could not see, it was the perfect fit. All the factors that he wanted to change were doable for Amels. In around two years he could have his new boat. Since Ocean Independence and Ocean Management had already sold and supervised five projects with Amels, it gave him the comfort he needed. We looked at several yards at the time, but Amels was the best choice.”
The yacht is highly customised. What changed during the build process?
“This 180 is the most customised Amels has built so far. To name but a few, we started by extending the platform, adding foldout balconies, opening up the bridge deck salon with sliding doors and French balconies and changing the layout of the sundeck. In fact, the changes we made refreshed the existing 177 series in such a way that the series is now known as the Amels Limited Editions 180.
The whole sundeck was newly designed. Until then, on the Amels 177, the helideck area above the wheelhouse wasn’t used as a luxury deck. The owner wanted to use a helicopter occasionally, but I told him there is no owner that uses a touch and go helipad on a daily basis or even monthly basis – it is used maybe once or twice in a yacht’s lifetime. So I suggested that we try to change this into an additional sundeck where the owner and his guests can enjoy the views from above.
It was quite a challenge to have this transformed into usable deck space because the whole deck had to be fully certified to enable helicopter operations: firefighting systems had to be installed and neatly put away so they were not in sight, the weight of the deck on top of the bridge was an issue and we had to come up with an idea to divert the wind flow so when the owner was sitting in his command chair he would be comfortable. In the end the results are stunning and you now have a fantastic open space – we gained a beautiful big deck.
Of course during the project, which took place over a couple of years, the owner wanted other items to be added and changed, some ideas did not make it in the end but many were incorporated. The huge amount of telecommunication and entertainment systems that had been added and changed during the project were quite a challenge for all involved. More than 80 kilometres of cables were put in; almost double the amount you would normally use. One element that I think is particularly nice and which was not originally in the plans was the sliding door on the sundeck. That was quite a feature: a fully customized carbon sliding door, which no other boat had, designed by Enzo Enea. It’s beautifully done and engineering wise it was a very complex piece of work.”
Outdoor spaces are very important on this yacht – what other areas on board demonstrate this?
“We extended the aft swim platform, because before it wasn’t large enough to hold a lounging chair. We extended the platform and we put in a foldable bathing platform, so the owner could walk onto the aft deck comfortably. It would also allow the owner or his guests to sit on a jetski on the platform, launch the jetski together with the platform into the water and drive away!”
Interior designer Enzo Enea is a landscape architect and this was his first yacht project. How did this affect the process and the results?
“He did a great job. We linked him up with Focus Yacht Design, who channelled his ideas into workable material for the shipyard. He is a fast learner and had a great team of designers with him. Where he lacked experience in yacht building Focus Yacht Design stepped in, and the combined effort made it work fantastically. It was really refreshing – someone might frown when a landscape architect is designing a yacht interior, but when I saw the plans for the first time I thought, ‘this interior looks stunning’. Enea’s way of thinking is exactly what the owner wanted – he loves being outside on his yacht so he wanted to reflect outside in the interior. It all worked out perfectly: the owner had the guts to think outside the box in his choice of designer and Enea gave him what he was looking for. In the end it was a great example of teamwork between builder, owner, designer, broker and management.”