When it comes to superyacht builders, thoughts often turn to Europe or the United States. To overlook Horizon Yachts, however, would be a mistake. The Taiwanese builder celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Among its 600-plus yacht deliveries, about one-third are 80 feet (24 meters) and larger. With the FD87 Skyline premiering stateside this month, Horizon Yachts is affirming its reputation for flexibility in both “small” and super sizes. But, to truly understand that flexibility, you should visit the shipyard—which I did in January.
Headquartered in Kaohsiung, the southernmost port city in Taiwan, Horizon has four construction sites. The original Horizon yard still handles new builds, as does the facility called the Vision yard. The Premier yard (below) is responsible for refit and maintenance. The final site, Atech Composites, laminates every model, further testing composites and other construction materials. Most yacht builders rely on third parties for materials consultation.
Horizon Yachts is further notable for having nearly every discipline in house. This includes naval architecture, engineering, R&D, and interior design. It conducts tank tests of new hull forms in house, too. Whether a new or long-successful model, every yacht and megayacht undergoes a leak test in its own dry dock. Indeed, over a few hours, the equivalent of a monsoon pours down over the yacht and at different angles.
None of this all-in-house approach is to imply, however, that the builder resists change. It encourages customers to bring their own ideas on styling, systems, and more. In addition, clients can bring in naval architects and other professionals of their choosing.
Customers definitely take advantage of these invitations. The owner of hull number five of the FD85, undergoing testing in a floating dock during my visit (above), eliminated the aft-deck staircase to starboard and created a day head in the same location just inside. And, being an engineer, the owner of Skyline requested dozens of differences for the FD85. With his blessing, Horizon Yachts now calls all skylounge-equipped FD85 models the Skyline edition.
Horizon’s hold on the megayacht market appears it will remain strong for some time. Shortly after the New Year rang in, for example, it signed an RP110. The buyer has owned two previous Horizons, each superyachts. And, just this week, the builder announced an unusual deal involving two couples who are also previous Horizon buyers. The owners of the E88 Christine, delivered in 2016, wanted a new FD85. Simultaneously, the owners of the V74 Satori, from 2010, were eyeing a larger yacht. Horizon brought them all together. Christine’s owners therefore took delivery of the FD85, which was an inventory boat, and Satori’s owners bought their E88.
That might be hard to top. Then again, where there’s a will, there’s a way.