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.

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