Skat — By George L. Petrie
— May 2003
Covering All the Angles
|Lürssen’s 71-meter Project 9906, Skat is designed and built with mathematical precision.|
If custom yachts are an expression of their owner's personality, then it comes as no surprise to learn that the owner of Lürssen's Skat has a technically brilliant mathematical mind. Dominated by planar surfaces, straight lines, and angular corners, the crispness of her exterior styling suggests a geometrical precision that permeates every facet of the yacht. What may be somewhat of a surprise, however, is that the 232-foot Skat is the owner's first yacht and that she was conceived, designed, and constructed precisely in accordance with his specifically delineated requirements.
This is not to suggest Skat was a do-it-yourself project. On the contrary, with the help of Stuart Larsen of Fraser Yachts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the owner engaged a team of naval architects, designers, and stylists to develop a design and specification that would satisfy his requirements. Espen Øino was selected as the naval architect and exterior stylist, charged with the task of transforming the owner's concepts into a functional, balanced, properly proportioned yacht. Marco Zanini was awarded the equally daunting challenge of developing an interior design that captured the owner's preference for minimalist decor. Last but by no means least, Lürssen Yachts of Bremen, Germany, was contracted in November 1999 to transform the designs and specifications into reality.
Unconventional in appearance to say the least, Skat's most striking feature is the angularity of her exterior surfaces. There are no curves, save for the forward portion of her sheerline, which sweeps from the bow to about a quarter of her length aft before melding into her topsides. High atop the deckhouse, her bridge deck is a semihexagonal fortress with large glass panels standing proudly beneath a protective brow, slightly resembling the bunkers that were long ago dug into the cliffs of Normandy. That same semihexagonal form is echoed in the aft end of the deckhouse, with her saloon, seating, and entertainment spaces rimmed by walls of glass.
Purposeful, her form is clearly driven by function, but with due deference to aesthetics. Angular and finished in pale gray, Skat presents an almost military bearing, even to the point of having her Lürssen project number, 9906, painted on the hull in bold battleship-style block lettering. And her distinctive gray color works, not only aesthetically but functionally as well, cutting glare and being much easier on the eyes than the usual stark white color.
The absence of conventional deck overhangs gives a much more open, spacious feel to the side decks; more like strolling down a sunny lane rather than the boxed-in feeling created by the overhangs on most yachts. For inclement weather, there are alternate passages fore and aft through the yacht's interior. Accenting her exterior, gleaming stainless steel handrails are positioned not only for the customary role of ensuring passenger safety, but also to provide a secure place for crew to stand while cleaning the yacht's numerous windows. All are fabricated from sections of identical length and diameter, joined by small black rubber flanges that complement the look of the stainless steel. But more importantly, if a section of handrail is damaged, it can be easily removed at the flanges and replaced from an inventory of spares carried onboard.
As on many yachts, large sliding glass panels let guests step outside under the aft bridge-deck overhang. On most yachts this is to the consternation of the captain and chief engineer due the common propensity of guests to leave the glass panels open to enjoy the yacht's heating or air conditioning systems outside. But during the design of Skat, her chief engineer proposed an innovative solution. Recessed overhead, heating lamps provide warmth when it's chilly outside, while tiny nozzles expel a cool mist around the perimeter of the deck when it's warm.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.