ACY 72 — By Jeffrey Moser
— October 2005
Bauhaus & Ballyhoo
Yellowbird draws her inspiration from the functional art movement and big-game fishing.
Recently, I’ve had a string of bad luck with South Florida weather. The past few times I’ve been on the water there, the skies have opened up, the seas turned snotty, and I’ve been subsequently drenched by quarter-size raindrops. Although this doesn’t bother me so much—moderate chop’s good for a sea trial—I prefer not to be in a constant state of panic about keeping our plethora of electronic test gear bone dry.
Finally my luck changed, and I had a day I’ll remember for a long time, especially the next time I have to face strong thunderstorms and steady eight-footers. Copious sunshine played off a pod of dolphins surfing our chase boat’s wake and we saw the occasional tarpon rising in flashes of brilliant silver in an azure Biscayne Bay. Best of all, I was aboard a special lady: American Custom Yachts’ (ACY) new 72-foot Yellowbird.
I generally approach a sea trial with some skepticism, as every builder will tell you their boats are the most seaworthy, comfortable, beautiful, and fuel-efficient on the seas. But after spending the day on Yellowbird, I’ve pictured myself at her wheel, relaxing in her saloon, or even turning wrenches in her engine room. I’ve envisioned her stern-to at a dock on my hometown’s Navesink River, loaded up for a bluewater fishing excursion to the Hudson Canyon. That’s because her combination of modern interior, big-game-ready cockpit, and impressive speed is pretty close to nirvana for a fishing- and modern-design enthusiast like yours truly.
Yellowbird is a collaboration between ACY and owners Carlos and Rosa De la Cruz, international art collectors and fishing fanatics whose 15,000-square-foot Key Biscayne residence is home to one of the country’s most extensive private collections of modern conceptual art. The couple previously owned a 65-foot production battlewagon but needed something bigger, and, as Carlos put it, “I thought I’d get a kick out of working with a custom builder.”
In addition to more LOA, the De la Cruzes sought more control over the boat’s interior that what was offered by a production boatbuilder. A boat’s interior generally follows two routes of design, Carlos explained, one that adheres to the tradition that was established in the Golden Age of boating, and the other based on European interiors popularized by yachts from Azimut, Ferretti, etc. The 72 follows neither of these and instead carves its own design path. “The interior of Yellowbird is [inspired] by the Bauhaus school,” he said, referring to the German avant-garde art and design school whose synthesis of art and architecture with an emphasis on functionality has infused itself in the work of such masters as Mies van der Rohe.
This was evident to me immediately upon entering the saloon via the electronically actuated door, as the 72’s design is miles away from a typical battlewagon interior, be it production or custom. The odes to billfish and overtly masculine color schemes are largely absent, replaced by a saloon that looks and feels more like a New York City loft profiled in a slick interior-design magazine than a hardcore sportfisherman.
It’s gorgeous. Furniture designed by architect Eero Saarinen complements an L-shape settee to starboard that’s finished with Knoll upholstery, a company whose architecturally inspired furniture and fabric collections can be found in the Museum of Modern Art. Ceramics, light fixtures, and fabrics are all one-of-a-kind, custom-made for Yellowbird by well-known conceptual artists. These furnishings provide a nice contrast to the honey, grain-matched teak in the galley and dinette. Overall, the feeling is open and spacious, with the galley boasting sparkling, high-end brands like Gaggenau, Fisher & Paykel, and Philippe Starck.
This article originally appeared in the November 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.