Herb Chambers’ New Excellence

Excellence V Profile

Herb Chambers is a name familiar to many in the megayacht business: A prolific yacht buyer, he’s the American behind the handful of Excellence yachts built by Feadship and in more recent years Abeking & Rasmussen. Because he enjoys the yacht-building process, and because he’s had great success making his yachts available for charter, many enthusiasts were surprised several months ago when word came that Chambers sold Excellence IV, mere weeks from completion at Abeking & Rasmussen.

Did he get an offer he couldn’t refuse? Or did he decide the 258-footer was too big of a jump up from his previous yacht, a 187-footer?

A bit of both, actually, according to Jim Wallace, his longtime broker from Camper & Nicholsons, who I spoke with yesterday. A buyer did approach, Wallace says, but adds that Chambers was also concerned about where he’d be able to go in a yacht of that size. “Herb likes a lot of small, intimate anchorages,” he explains, many of which these days are limiting the sizes of the yachts that can enter. Nantucket, St. Barts, and Portofino, all favorites for both Chambers and charterers, are among them.

So, what’s an owner to do? In this case, commission a new, smaller megayacht, yet one that packs the same amenities as the larger vessel. Or, to use Wallace’s words, “a high-volume yacht without looking like a shoebox on the water,” yet also one which will have some “fairly remarkable” features to make her distinctive.

Excellence V, the profile of which you see above, is being built by Abeking & Rasmussen and will measure 200 feet LOA. The styling is the handiwork of Reymond Langton Design, who are gracing Excellence V with the same dramatic, “whale tail” bow flare Chambers’ previous yachts have had. They’re also responsible for the layout and interior design, and this marking the third time they’ve collaborated with the owner, they’re well versed in his desire to make his yachts as accessible and exceptional as possible. Among the features this owner-designer team has come up with: an elevator running from the tank deck to the sun deck, all guest staterooms located on the main deck, a more private owner’s deck, and a waterside gym.

Those last two items particularly piqued my interest when I spoke with Wallace. With reference to the gym, I recalled how aboard Excellence IV it was on the owner’s deck-convenient particularly for Chambers, but if someone else wanted to use it, the owner’s deck wouldn’t fully be the owner’s domain. Wallace says that’s one of the reasons it’ll be on a lower deck on Excellence V. The other: The new location permits a side-opening hatch, so guests can dive right into the sea for a refreshing dip. As for the owner’s deck, Chambers will get to enjoy a private saloon, an office, pantry, and personal alfresco area, complete with a Jacuzzi.

Guests won’t lose out on the alfresco experience, of course. The sundecks aboard all the Excellence yachts have treated them well in this respect, and Excellence V will contain a pool and bar aft, along with a waterfall, while forward there’ll be seating and sunpads. Amidships will be the housing for the elevator, along with a frosted-glass shower so that no one has to venture below to wash off sunscreen or cool off.

While the propulsion package isn’t finalized yet, Wallace says that since the yacht will be a full-displacement design, speeds should be in the 14- to 15-knot range. He and Chambers are awaiting word from Abeking & Rasmussen’s engineering department to determine which specific powerplants will best fit the needs.

And speaking of Abeking & Rasmussen, Wallace has great praise for the yard. “It’s a superb shipyard; it’s run with a family, hands-on attitude,” he says. “They build yachts because they want to,” not because of economic interests, he adds, and because the managers have a naval-architecture background, “they can appreciate what the goal is behind the styling.”

We’ll all have to wait until 2011 to see Excellence V‘s styling in person. But something tells me it’ll be worth the wait.

Feadship’s C-Stream

Feadship X-stream
Feadship F-stream

First it was X-stream (top image), then F-stream (second image)… now, meet C-stream.

For the past few years at the Monaco Yacht Show, Feadship has been presenting concept designs for clients and yacht enthusiasts alike to view. Next month will be no different, as the creative team at Studio De Voogt, Feadship’s in-house design office, will unveil its latest, named C-stream.

X-stream, a 75-meter (239’5″) proposal, started it all in 2006. The dramatically futuristic superstructure, with a plethora of glass, and the axe-bow hull turned the yachting world on its ear, especially when compared with the classic lines of most Feadships. If visitors couldn’t get past the styling, then they at least appreciated how the design and her hybrid propulsion system were intended to use 20 to 30 percent less fuel than a conventional yacht in the same size range. Last year F-stream incorporated similarly futuristic, swooping styling, though in a 55-meter (180’4″) package and with a fantastic feature called “The Snug.” It was a cozy, open-air sundeck created by raising the roof-like, uppermost portion of the superstructure. (The working model at the Monaco Yacht Show was a blast to watch, with the panel opening and closing every seven minutes.)

Feadship C-stream

So what’s C-stream look like? Unfortunately, I can only give you the tiny glimpse here, because everyone involved in the project is keeping the full design under wraps until the show. However, Feadship did release the following details, just to make us all the more crazy with anticipation: “This year we raise the bar a notch further… incorporating the Shoot, the Wavedeck, the Float, and a host of other smart innovations.” (Italics are theirs.) Judging from the orange arrows in the rendering, it appears that seating, tables, and other sections rise, drop, and/or fold down.

Want to learn more? Stop by Feadship’s display during the show at QD10. I know I will–and I’ll give you my impressions then.

Admiring Aqua

Admiral's Aqua

Two weeks ago Lavagna Shipyards, which produces the Admiral line of megayachts, quietly handed over the 39.25-meter (128’7″) Aqua. No official ceremony, no fanfare, just a gathering of the yard’s management team and the owner–which ordinarily isn’t unusual, though considering Aqua is the yard’s largest to date, it is worth mentioning.

If you’re in the Med, where this bronze beauty is cruising, you’ll recognize the all-aluminum yacht due to a few distinguishing features. First is her sleek profile, with a swept-back radar support, courtesy of Luca Dini Design. Aft there’s not just a tender garage but also a veritable sea-level saloon, created when the stern folds down. The goal is naturally to give swimmers quick access to the water, but also to allow the eight guests plus the owner’s party an additional area to sit and enjoy an anchorage.

Aqua also will attract attention because of her speed: a reported 31-knot top end and 28-knot cruise thanks to twin 3,650-hp MTUs

Aqua won’t retain her flagship status for long. Within the next few weeks an Admiral 42 (138 feet LOA) will launch, followed by an Admiral 44 (144 feet) by the end of the year. There’s also the Admiral 54 (177 feet) debuting at the Monaco Yacht Show. Lavagna Shipyards has other Admiral yachts in the 40-meter-plus range under contract, too, and intends to continue focusing on that end of the market.

Pirates Target Tiara

Tiara sailing yacht

Startling news out of Corsica this week: Pirates pulled up alongside the sailing yacht Tiara and robbed the crew and guests at gunpoint.

According to several published news reports, the 178-foot fast cruising sloop, built by Alloy Yachts in 2004 and popular on the charter circuit, was at anchor Sunday evening when a speedboat approached. Armed and masked, the thieves ordered the captain and crew to open the safe and the guests to hand over valuables. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, and artwork were reportedly taken.

Thankfully, no one was said to be hurt (though emotionally I’m sure everyone was shaken up, to say the least), and the gunmen departed within about 10 minutes. The captain quickly notified the French Coast Guard, which is still looking for the speedboat. The agency says no shots were fired, and the captain and crew did exactly what they’re trained to do: not fight back.

While we’re sadly accustomed to hearing of piracy in African and Asian waters, the fact that this occurred in the Med is what makes it even more astonishing. Obviously thieves know no boundaries, but the French Coast Guard says that until now there have been no notable attacks on yachts in recent years. Indeed, I can’t recall of anything along these lines.Tiara‘s attack therefore seems an isolated incident, though of course that doesn’t mean anyone can be complacent–especially since the pirates are still out there. 

Let’s hope they’re caught and that this assault isn’t repeated elsewhere. I plan to follow the story and will post updates accordingly. In the meantime, the captain and crew, even the guests, deserve praise for resisting the urge to overpower the attackers. The “fight or flight” instinct can overrule better–and in this case safer–behavior.

Pendennis’ Challenging Cup

sailing yacht Adix

Even though 30-knot winds, a broken fore main gaff, and two crewmembers falling into the drink provided drama during the recent Pendennis Cup, the regatta, held in honor of Pendennis Shipyard’s 20th anniversary, brought superb superyacht sailing to the South West coast of England–a sight not seen since 1911.

Held during Henri Lloyd Falmouth Week in Falmouth Bay, England, in mid-August, the Pendennis Cup attracted seven competitors: Mariquita, Mariette, Altair, The Lady Anne, Adix (pictured here during the race), Lutine, and Kelpie. The winds were particularly strong on the fifth and final day of sailing, delaying the start an hour and keeping Kelpie and The Lady Anne at the dock. But The Lady Anne‘s crew jumped aboard Adix to go up against Mariquita, Mariette, Altair, and Lutine. And while Adix gave Altair, which got off to a textbook start, a run for her money, in the end Altair claimed victory and the Cup.

Despite his yacht being the one to suffer the broken gaff, Capt. Charlie Wroe of Mariette says the overall experience was “great.” “Our crew had lots of fun. We welcomed the experience to race in windy and boisterous conditions that we don’t typically see in the Med. We look forward to coming back.”

They should be able to do just that. Based on the turnout (the yard hoped to attract up to 10 megayachts) and the conditions, Pendennis expects to hold another Pendennis Cup in the future. “Falmouth provided the ideal backdrop for challenging sailing and entertainment,” says Toby Allies, head of sales and marketing for the yard. “It was a real highlight of our 20th anniversary year.” In the meantime, Pendennis is returning its focus to new builds and refits, such as the recently completed, four-month refit of the sailing yacht Midnight, involving a new paint job and engineering system overhaul.