At the Monaco Yacht Show, I attended a press conference for Icon Yachts, a one-year-old megayacht builder. Normally yards that are this young tend to have great goals and, unfortunately, even greater mountains to climb if they’re going to achieve half of what they plan. But something about Icon has had me researching it more since I came home. It was how this Dutch yard is incorporating a different, sensible approach to custom construction.
In a nutshell, Icon believes it can–and should–offer owners a fully custom yacht, yet not without setting a few parameters in stone. Most of it comes down to employing 3-D engineering software to evaluate every part of a yacht’s design, well in advance of when the first steel plate for the hull is cut. And when I say “every,” I mean every: construction drawings, piping and cable runs (even the trays holding the cables), the way technical spaces such as the wheelhouse and fender lockers are situated, you name it.
It’s not a new technology, but this software has, to my knowledge, been embraced mostly by yards with roots in the commercial and military sectors, more than straight-up yacht yards. So it comes as no surprise that Icon’s founders have commercial roots and that construction is taking place in a former commercial facility in Harlingen, Holland. Of course, that’s not to say that fine yachts can’t be produced without this software. But, having seen for myself how engineers and designers can examine 3-D computer-generated piping runs along an entire deck length to see if the layout of just one room aboard interferes, I understand how Icon’s stated goal of eliminating waste, of both materials and time, is achievable. It’s akin to the carpenter’s mantra of “measure twice, cut once.”
Icon has even more plans to eliminate waste, such as producing the mounting clips for pipes, cable trays, etc. and packaging them in a ready-to-install assembly; and designing engine-room systems as prefabricated modules. The 3-D software plays a part in all of this, too.
The best way to truly understand what Icon is trying to achieve is to see it for yourselves. The yard has a short video showcasing a wheelhouse in 3-D; see below. Note how not only a helmsman is placed at the controls, but also how an observing guest can be accommodated–and how they and the areas they use are viewed from aft, the side, and even above.