Phoenix — By Diane M. Byrne
— February 2005
Like her mythical namesake, Phoenix embodies a determination to rise above the ordinary.
Everyone was sad at the end, me included,” admits Capt. Nick Ruiz. In fact, he confesses, he even shed a few tears.
While it might sound like he’s referring to the latest theatrical drama or three-hanky movie, he’s actually referring to the delivery of Phoenix, the 200-foot Lürssen under his charge. Ruiz is more than just her captain; he was the owner’s project manager during construction, visiting the Bremen-based yard in Germany every two weeks for the first year of her build and living full-time in Bremen for the last year and a half of the project’s completion.
But shedding a few tears—isn’t that being melodramatic? Not in the least, when you understand just how passionate Ruiz was about the concept and completion of Phoenix, literally from her top decks right down to her bilge deck. He describes the importance of ensuring the nearly all-Raytheon pilothouse was user-friendly in the same way as he describes convincing the owner that the number of washing machines he had in mind really was sensible. (There are five instead of six, by the way, because while there’s “a tendency to throw machinery at a situation,” the true issue is manpower—or, as Ruiz puts it, “the limiting factor is the ability to iron it all.”)
Ruiz isn’t alone in his sentiments for this yacht. Andrew Winch, principal of Andrew Winch Designs who created the yacht’s exterior and interior design, is also quite pleased with how the yacht turned out, peppering his recollection of the design and build process with descriptions like “very proud,” “phenomenal,” and “great.” Not only does Winch praise Ruiz for being “a great project leader all the way through,” but he also says that because the owner’s vision inspired everyone at the design team, it made them “push boundaries and raise the benchmark for custom yachts.”
So what exactly was it about the owner’s vision that had everyone so charged up, straight through to delivery? A comfortable, large world cruiser was certainly on order, as he’d previously owned a 116-foot semidisplacement yacht. (In fact, according to Lürssen, some of the discussions about this project began aboard that yacht a handful of years ago at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.) A beautifully outfitted, floating home was also understandably part of the vision, given the art deco-inspired concept for the interior and his plans to enjoy cruising and diving around the world. But beyond that, he wanted a well-engineered, individualistic yacht that struck a balance between providing several private areas for him and a handful of intimate gathering areas for friends and family.
Lürssen’s technical prowess is well documented, from the military projects it’s been building for decades to yachts like Limitless, whose diesel-electric propulsion system is still a rarity in the pleasure-craft world nearly a decade after her delivery. Ruiz describes the owner as being “a very technical man” whose knowledge goes beyond understanding what at-anchor stabilization means—he wanted to know to what mathematical degree Phoenix could sway before the fins would need to be engaged for comfort, and what extra percentage of stability those fins would lend. This is one reason the owner appointed Espen Øino as a consulting naval architect. Øino, who had collaborated with the yard on previous projects such as Skat and Queen M, additionally oversaw tank tests performed in Hamburg to establish efficiencies in different conditions, speeds, and headings. Lürssen’s final hull lines are based on those results as well as its own experience in optimizing comfort; among other features, the round bilge hull form includes a bulbous bow to reduce resistance at cruising speed.
To be fair, other custom-yacht yards have excellent reputations for engineering and cooperating with naval architects, and other yards were asked to bid on the project, which had Winch’s design concept already as part of the plan. But the owner ultimately chose Lürssen because it “was willing to build what he wanted, [it] didn’t try to sell him an existing design,” Ruiz explains. He points to the fact that no two Lürssen-built yachts look alike. Even if you’re not familiar with all of the yard’s offerings, a quick glance at builds like the militaristic Ronin (ex-Izanami), the curvaceous Pelorus, and the expedition-like Octopus underscores the point.
Next page > Part 2: The overall feeling of spaciousness is amplified by a nine-foot-high, barrel-vaulted ceiling. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.