Aman who has owned a 124-foot Delta and a 162-foot Feadship is likely to know a thing or two about yachts: what he wants, how he wants her built, and whom he can trust to follow his vision. Such was the case with the U.S. businessman who bypassed major boatbuilders to commission the 157-foot Flying Eagle. He took his chances with a yard that had never built a motoryacht bigger than 96 feet and a design firm whose drawings had yet to become an actual yacht.
His vision spawned a two-and-a-half-year collaboration among eager up-and-comers, with Flying Eagle now being compared to launches from Alloy, CRN, and Trinity-showing just how possible it is for dedicated individuals to rival the quality and ingenuity of big-name builders.
Flying Eagle's story begins in late 2002, when the owner's longtime sales broker got hold of plans for a 137-footer. She was being built at Izar Yachts in Spain, based on drawings by the British design firm Reymond Langton Design. The owner liked the plans but had never heard of the firm, which Pascale Reymond and Andrew Langton had just opened after working for a dozen years under the famed designer Donald Starkey.
"He said he'd give us a chance," Reymond recalls. "A month after that, we went to the Fort Lauderdale show, and he showed us a couple of boats he used to own. We looked at every detail-not just the way things looked, but how the spaces are, how he functioned, where he liked to put his keys when he came in. It's designed for him and his wife, not for anybody else. Their habits are all incorporated."
The owner also was specific about his vision for exterior styling, which was Langton's charge. "On the original Flying Eagle, there was a fantastic skylounge, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, and he wanted that," Langton says. "But on the exterior, he wanted to keep a sleek, dynamic look. With those full-height windows in the skylounge, it can look lopsided. He wanted the same large windows, but integrated into the new styling."
As Reymond and Langton sketched in England, the owner began talks in Holland with Vripack Naval Architects, a firm Langton recommended. The owner hired Vripack to coordinate the project and asked them to recommend a Dutch yard. Vripack suggested nearby Bloemsma & van Breemen, yet another fledgling firm.
The yard, owned and run for a decade by Nico van Breemen, had never built anything bigger than a 96-footer. But that boat happened to have been a Doggersbank-a Vripack design-and it had impressed the naval architects. Since then, van Breemen had been building steel hulls and aluminum superstructures as a subcontractor for yards including Feadship and Amels.
"We [met] the owner at the shipyard," explains Christian Poorte, Vripack's manager of naval architecture. "We convinced him that this was the most appropriate place for his boat to be built. [It uses] the same subcontractors that the other shipyards [like Feadship and Amels] do for the interior and electrical. It's a matter of coordinating things properly."
Much of their faith was in van Breemen himself, who served as chief engineer aboard 1,000-foot commercial tankers before becoming a boatbuilder. "The technical qualifications of this person are admirable," Poorte says. "The nearby location, the fact that we knew this owner, the subcontractors being here-there was no reason not to do it here. The owner was willing to take the risk."
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