Like A Flash
Danish Yachts builds to thrill.
There are various types of efficiency that people talk about when considering fast motoryachts. There’s the efficiency of the hull form, which must be as slippery and easily driven as possible—though without compromising seakeeping too much. There is the efficiency of the jet propulsion, which like surface drives, works best at high speed and can return surprising fuel consumption and range figures, even with the hammer down. And then, notwithstanding the previous item on the list, there is the efficiency with which the vessel consumes everything from adrenaline to diesel, not forgetting, along the way, vast quantities of cash.
In every one of these senses, Danish Yachts’ amazing new Aerocruiser 38 II Shooting Star is one of the most efficient high-speed craft ever devised. Very few shipyards have even attempted to build anything like her, and none has pulled off the feat with such aplomb. This is a 127-ton gentleman’s express with an asking price somewhere north of $25 million that’s capable of almost 48 knots (55 mph). With more than 9,000 hp and a 17-ton fuel load, she can keep up that velocity for more than 500 miles—and although throttling back to half-speed cuts fuel consumption by half, it adds only 15 percent to her range thanks to the high-speed efficiency of the waterjets. The hull is a constant-deadrise 17-degree deep-V.
This might seem like uncharted territory, but Danish Yachts has been here before: Shooting Star might well turn out to be the extraordinary one-off she looks like, but in giving the project a model name, the shipyard is not only looking forward (hopefully) to future orders but also back to the yacht’s 115-foot predecessor, the 53-knot Moon Goddess, which launched in 2006.
Before that, the yard, founded in 1988 and perhaps best known for the beautiful replica of Harold Vanderbilt’s 135-foot J-Class sailboat Ranger, which it built in 2004, cut its teeth on composite patrol boats, minesweepers, and training vessels for the Danish navy. Among its latest designs is a new 124-foot (38-meter) Guardian fast-patrol-boat design, which shares Shooting Star’s hull shape and machinery package but adds a ramp-launched RIB in the stern, accommodations for a crew of 20, and a 700-mile range at 52 mph.
Not being a big name in the luxury yacht market, Danish Yachts hired a heavyweight designer to lend the project some marketing clout. The Monaco-based Norwegian superyacht specialist Espen ino styled the exterior, working from Danish Yachts’ own hull design. He describes the new yacht as an evolution of Moon Goddess, which he also styled, but with higher bulwarks to better disguise the height of the superstructure.
For the interior, the Danes went to Holland. Art-Line of Arnhem created an innovative accommodation layout both above and below decks finished in light fabrics from Dedar and Sahco Hesslein, white lacquer and leather, and pale, curvaceous panelling in maple and teak—a scheme inspired, they say, by the sea, sand, and sunshine of the Danish shoreline. This is a yacht that will be easy to live with, whether you’re enjoying the scenery at anchor in some secluded cove or, as Danish Yachts’ marketing people are fond of saying, making the 60-minute passage between Monaco and Saint-Tropez. (That’s 45 NM.)
Huge areas of glass in the superstructure are augmented by the biggest sliding sunroof you’re ever likely to see. The glass continues forward of the windscreen in four lateral panels in the coachroof that illuminate the owner’s cabin. But the interior design’s tour de force is undoubtedly the central structural ellipse clad in slatted teak that starts at the front of the wheelhouse and swoops right round behind it, as if the ceiling of the lower deck corridor has been peeled back to let in the daylight.
A big aft sunbed sits over the tender garage, while Shooting Star’s long cockpit is shaded by an equally long and elegant sun awning that emerges from the superstructure overhang on two tubular-steel supports. Sliding doors in the glass bulkhead lead into the saloon, with a bar on the starboard side opposite the dining table and an informal, raised, L-shape seating area to port with a huge Neuer Wiener Werksttte sofa. It’s directly beneath the sunroof and on the perfect level to enjoy those giant windows or, should the view ever pall, to view the huge TV concealed in the cabinetry.
The wheelhouse is exceptionally businesslike, designed as it was by the shipyard with input from maritime nav and com specialist Radio Zeeland. The helmsman’s and navigator’s seats face an array of five monitors, shielded from reflections by a louvered screen with blinds overhead to shade the crew. Four seats, with footrests, are provided along the aft bulkhead for backseat drivers who will enjoy the space-age quality of that extraordinary elliptical curve to the floor and ceiling.
The lower-deck companionway leads down behind the wheelhouse on the starboard side, cutting forward to the guest cabins and aft to the crew area. The owner’s suite is in the bow, with ample floor space on either side and a spectacular bathroom concealed behind the forward bulkhead. Two symmetrical twin-berth cabins to each side of the corridor are augmented by a roomy double VIP suite to port. Opposite and occupying an area that could easily become a fifth cabin lies another of Shooting Star’s many surprises: a cozy, private TV lounge almost filled by a huge L-shape sofa, with its own head compartment.
Signature pieces of furniture in the accommodation areas add quirkiness and character: an amusing Stefan Heiliger “question mark” chair in the master stateroom and an intricate, cantilevered coffee table in the saloon that looks like something Saarinen might have doodled but was in fact custom-made to an Art-Line design. Blue LED lighting and glittering mother-of-pearl mosaic tiles in the bathrooms lend an air of luxury and intrigue.
Follow the corridor aft and you find yourself in a generously proportioned crew area dominated by the large, square galley with its combined island counter and dining table. There is a laundry room aft, and two twin-bunk cabins with a shared head lead off to starboard. These look comfortable enough but the biggest smile belongs to the captain who has a positively palatial (for a 125-footer) suite complete with double berth, desk, shower, and head that almost spans the yacht’s full beam.
It is a tribute to Danish Yachts’ craftsmanship that Shooting Star’s beautiful finish looks and feels so solid. From the immaculate engine room and flawless technical areas concealed beneath the floors to the quality joinery and fine, millimeter-perfect fairing of the exterior, you don’t really get a sense that weight was an issue. And yet, displacing 127 tons (empty), the yacht is constructed of a high-tech composite of epoxy resin and carbon fiber vacuum-laminated around a foam core.
Building to her design weight was crucial, of course, if she was to hit her design speed, and in fact, as the shipyard’s design manager confided, she turned out within four percent of her target displacement.
Now that’s what I’d call efficient.
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This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.