It’s become customary to hear a shipyard tout its ability to construct a yacht at a lower price than top-tier competitors. The yard is typically located in a country with lower labor costs, accounting for part of the savings. Unfortunately in some cases, however, the quality is just not there. I’ve seen unevenly fitted wood paneling, poorly installed wiring, and once even cracks in a superstructure.
Because first impressions weigh heavily in a buyer’s decision, it’s especially important for a new yard to do things right the first time. That was a key concept Sunrise Yachts kept in mind. Certainly, the management team states that the steel-hulled 45-meter (147-foot) series costs half of what the same project would cost in northern Europe. It’s thanks to Sunrise being located in a free trade zone in Turkey as well as a lower labor cost, among other things. But more important, the first launch in the yard’s series, Africa, reflects attention to detail both technically and aesthetically.
Don’t just take my word for it. During the Monaco Yacht Show, the head of sales for a leading Dutch shipyard said to me that he thought Sunrise had done an excellent job with the hull and the paint job. Criticisms over both have been levied at other yards touting lower costs. Sunrise knows the lesson well because Herbert Baum, the founder and chairman, is an experienced yacht owner himself. In addition, Guillaume Roché, the president, captained yachts and managed several sail and power builds worldwide. They also tapped the late Paolo Scanu as the naval architect, and tank tests were conducted to ensure stability and performance.
The two also knew access to equipment, particularly in the engine room, was important. Africa features a two-level engine room, which doesn’t sound unusual, given the number of recent superyachts featuring this – but remember that Africa is a good 50 feet (more, in some cases) smaller than those deliveries. Gensets are additionally housed in a dedicated compartment, and while I was onboard, I couldn’t detect them running while on the lower deck. Strict penalties were in place if sound and vibration exceeded certain levels.
Because Africa may actually venture from the Med to Africa, where her owner has strong ties, long-term storage was a must. The crew therefore can access a tunnel (above) on the bilge deck that leads from the engine room to cold rooms, near their mess. The same tunnel contains electrical panels with neat wiring and access to tanks.
Aesthetically, Africa reflects her owner’s passion for the southern continent. Franck Darnet, known for his work aboard sailing yachts, worked with him to incorporate thematic elements like oxskin, African makore wood, zebra skin, and even outlines of the continent (notably in glass in the master bath). The skylounge (above) also reflect’s Darnet’s overall “less is more” philosophy, preferring to let the wood paneling remain relatively unadorned so that it can better be appreciated. And even though Darnet didn’t design it, it would be a mistake to overlook the Harley-Davidson “tender” (below) in discussing the African theme.
To see more photos of Africa, check out the November 2009 Photo of the Month slideshow.