We talk to her owner about life on board the debut yacht from the Tankoa yard
When you go, go big: Suerte, at 69.3 metres, is her owner’s second yacht, a step up from his very first yacht, a 50-metre. It’s also the Tankoa yard’s debut yacht and, when she launched last year, as bold a statement of intent you could wish for from a new yard.
Suerte’s owner came to the project with that useful recent experience. “My 50-metre had been a really good deal, although that yacht needed a major refit. Michel Karsenti of Yacht-Ology conducted the total refit of the boat in Florida. I kept her for three years and enjoyed her only when I had free time, which doesn’t happen very much, and I had her on the charter market,” the owner says. “I finally decided to sell her because I didn’t have enough time on board. We sold her, and I must say that I didn’t lose much money – maybe half a million – so I was quite satisfied.”
Michel Karsenti, who’d sold the 50-metre to the owner in the first place, was to become a key player in the owner’s next yacht. “I did not know the Tankoa shipyard in detail, though I had heard the name, as I like yachts and try to keep up to date with developments in this industry,” the owner says. “I had told Michel that I would consider buying a larger boat, and I must say I felt like building a new boat but not as big as Suerte. Michel called me a few months later telling me he wanted to show me a 70-metre project that could be delivered within 20 months. This was a plus for me, because I did not want to wait four years.” Having sold his 50-metre because of lack of time, the owner found himself with a 70-metre to spec.
The Tankoa Yachts story itself began back in 2008, when two entrepreneurs (who’d previously bought and sold Baglietto), acquired a waterfront plot in Genoa with the aim of creating a ‘boutique shipyard’ capable of producing yachts between 50 and 90 metres. Early agreements were signed with naval architect Vincenzo Ruggiero and designer Francesco Paszkowski to create the first two yachts. By the spring of 2009 – even with the global financial crisis still clotting things up – the sheds were in place, and some months later the first hulls were laid up, before Tankoa’s purpose-built offices were created. The self-financing yard also took on a host of refit work at this time, putting the yacht projects on hold. Marcel Karsenti and his Yacht-Ology group came on board in early 2014 to handle commercial, product development and marketing efforts, and by March the 69.3-metre Project S693 was sold, and production began in earnest on what would become Suerte.
“My schedule was quite tight, so Michel visited me many times during the negotiations, bringing updated designs. He assured me that this could be a very nice yacht and, more than anything else, that this was a no-nonsense shipyard who would stick to its promises. Considering my past experience with Michel, I ended signing a Letter of Intent and the contract before visiting the shipyard and seeing the boat under construction,” the owner says.
Suerte herself cuts an athletic figure on the water, with the black windows on each deck adding to the sense of seriousness. She’s a very purposeful beast. “The owner wanted a contemporary yet timeless yacht,” says Francesco Paszkowski. “This was achieved through an accurate combination of curved and clear lines for the exterior, while the layout was focused on large social areas inside and outside for long, relaxing holidays and family time, as well as plenty of guests during day time.” Despite constraints on the schedule, the owner kept a keen eye as the build progressed. “I visited the boat under construction five or six times, and spent a few days working with Francesco Paszkowski, and that has always been pleasant,” he says.
With the launch 20 months away, there wasn’t much chance to make substantial changes to the hull and layout but the owner had considerable input into the interior. “I gave Paszkowski a very simple direction: I wanted it modern, but warm. I had one reference of a boat of which I liked the interiors, the 70-metre Rossinavi Numptia. Margherita Casprini, who is in charge of interiors at Paszkowski, perfectly understood our tastes and I must say it was very well translated into the finished product,” the owner says.
It’s a popular concept in yacht design these days for there to be a blurring of inside and out, and different yachts achieve this in different ways. Suerte’s blurring starts at the beach club – although you can board by traditional gangway, hydraulic boarding ladder, and even helicopter, the most delightful way of getting on board is though the beach club. “The interior landscape gives centre stage to the beach club,” says Paszkowski. Washed teak panels give the area something of a relaxed feel, in contrast to the more formal back wall in dark grey slate. The space functions as a well-appointed guest area in its own right, with a large-screen TV and bar, and with wellness spaces to port and starboard, offering a massage room, sauna and hammam with fold-out side terraces, but it’s also connected to the rest of the yacht.
The stairs from the beach club lead directly up to an enclosed main-deck reception area. With almost full-height windows on three sides, it’s a delightful lobby, featuring a set-piece bar and seating either side of the stairs. Slatted windows aft and to the sides make for a delicious play of the light (and the slats are neatly reflected in the light feature above the bar), while artworks either side add a note of colour. The materials here follow the design cues from the beach club.
Instead of an open area that runs from the aft doors to the forward guest area, the main deck salon is divided into three quite distinct areas, starting with this lobby. The back of the bar provides a dividing wall with the TV area, with the seating in a U around the port side and an 88in curved screen TV mounted to starboard. “The owner wanted to have a family cinema and TV room,” says Francesco. “This is the kind of space that needs to be protected from too much light, and forward of the bar was the best place for it.” The necessity of keeping the light out meant that the technical issue of hiding all of the AV cabling was neatly dealt with: “The technical equipment is installed along the boat’s side walls. The technical issue was the starting point for designing different functional spaces around it.” The seating area for 16 is cosy, with bookshelves backing onto the sofa.
The transition from the cinema area to the dining area (part three of the main salon) is the most spectacular of all, with an illuminated fish tank creating the division. Beyond it is the formal dining table, a suddenly light-filled area with almost floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass-fronted wine storage feature created by Paszkowski. The windows can be slatted for a more secluded ambience. This feels like a proper, private dining room, with space for 16, and perfect for those times when a more formal gathering is required. The feeling of lightness is enhanced by the teak flooring, the Jerusalem stone floor, and the bespoke light feature above.
Forward of the dining area are four guest cabins with a full-width VIP suite most forward of all. Each carries on some of the styling themes of the rest of the deck – washed teak is the predominant wood, with light furnishings, accented by darker leather upholstery, black lacquered details and black marble. “The interior had to be cosy and welcoming, to enable guests to feel at home,” says Francesco.
The upper deck is dedicated to the owner. “Privacy was an essential characteristic: the owner’s area is completely separated on the upper deck, equipped with a private pool. All the ways for the crew between decks are independent so crew members can move without interfere with guests,” says Francesco. The styling themes in the owner’s suite forward continue those of the guest areas, with teak, leather and dark leather and light grey Majilite mixing effectively. Forward, there are 180˚views.
Further aft the upper salon is a thrilling space, with so many options for guests. There’s a sofa facing a big screen and fireplace, a sushi bar, a round gaming table, and a piano to starboard. There is also the option of converting the forward part of the upper salon to an extra guest cabin. Once outside, guests are faced with more choices, with a wonderfully sheltered dining table for 16 – the sundeck overhang extends far beyond the table, and glass panels either side offer even more protection. There are sofas further aft and a coffee table, too.
It’s this area that has most struck a chord with the owner and his family. “The upper aft deck is everyone’s favourite space. I live in a cold country, and for us the beauty of a yacht is to be outside. Paszkowski designed this place in a manner that we can eat and dine outside even when it is chilly as the deck is very protected,” the owner says.
Upstairs on the sundeck – with the bridge forward – the emphasis is again on social spaces. The touch-and-go helipad (with capacity enough for a twin-turbine beast like an Augusta 109), converts to a dance floor with lights, speakers and a DJ desk. The five-metre pool with built-in stools has a waterfall element. Inside there is a gym, and up some steps (or in the second elevator) there’s the crow’s nest – the best spot in the house under way.
“The owner wanted a contemporary yet timeless yacht. I can really say that perfect teamwork was created among all people working on this yacht,” says Francesco Paszkowski. And that teamwork has resulted in a yacht that has an engaging mix of cosy and private spots, and plenty of social and inviting guest areas. Suerte is never less than an elegant modern superyacht.
For an owner who sold his first yacht because of lack of use, it’s not surprising that he has been facing a familiar dilemma throughout the previous season. “It is a shame! I don’t have time to use her as much as I’d like,” says the owner. Even after launch in 2015, he managed just one weekend before Suerte debuted to the public at the Monaco Yacht Show.
But there has been one interesting change to Suerte’s schedule over this year: the yacht has become a very desirable piece of real estate in the global charter fleet. “I had been planning on using her last summer, at least for a few days here and there, but Michel Karsenti convinced me to put the boat on central agency for charter with Northrop & Johnson. He told me that Suerte would be a very successful charter yacht, and he has been proved right – so right, in fact, that the boat had a four-month-long charter with one single client who brought her back in September. Well, at least I got chance to enjoy her this winter!”
• A version of this story appeared in SuperYacht World Issue 50