“We are not yacht designers. We are custom boat builders,” says Hill at Lloyd Stevenson. We began taking on custom tender projects 10 years ago after recognising the market opportunity for our expertise in this growing market. Take for example the unique and complex Sail Yacht A tenders. They are a work of art, that showcases our truly custom boat building services that we are especially proud of.”
Limousine tenders are the water taxis of the superyacht world. Perhaps it is here that the truly custom tender has found its niche. With a spacious saloon for up to twelve guests, they generally feature soft leather and warm wood interiors in order to create an environment that radiates luxury and serenity, moving guests from shore to ship even at a top speed of around 30 knots. They should be built without compromise when it comes to luxury, build quality and seakeeping.
Built as a tender to an 88m superyacht, a limousine designed by Cornish boat builder Cockwells was the winner of the 2017 Showboats Design Award for best Tender & Support Vessel Design. Powered by a single Yanmar engine. Being a custom built craft she is also equipped with a Fusion marine stereo, heating, air conditioning and a custom touch screen, enabling all on-board electrical systems to be pre-set and easily controlled. With her sculpted hull, distinctive reverse bow, elegant interior and extensive choice of layouts, the Invictus 370 GT limousine took the yachting world by storm when first introduced. A new 370 GT Special Edition of that award-winning yacht is taking things to a whole new level of innovation, sophistication and performance, completely in its size category. Fashion stylist Anna Fendi has been commissioned to give this well loved luxury guest carrier a customised facelift and she has accomplished that with great aplomb and style.
Gunnar Vikingur, the Managing Director of what is now the Australian Vikal International, started trading in 1976 working on new boat constructions and repairs. By 1992 he had won his first contract to build two 7.5m tenders for Coral Island, designed by the late Jon Bannenberg. The completion of these early tenders heralded a new era in customised limousine tender construction. The bar had been lifted.
The tender for Coral Island had features that included a laminated glass windscreen, borrowed from a 1959, 62 series Cadillac Convertible. Its windscreen wiper was a single blade, articulated unit taken from a 500SL Mercedes Benz. The screen wiper washers were from a 911 Porsche. The anchor winch was a Muir, concealed below the foredeck and the anchor was a custom made stainless item fitted to the bow. The steering wheel was a billet Budnik, made by an American hot rod parts manufacturer. The transom view of the tender, shared much with the McLaren F1.
Jon had gifted Vikal a detailed brochure of the McLaren F1 as an inspiration for the build. Hence the central driving position and the split rear window were both employed on this tender as per the F1 vehicle.
The level of design, build quality and detail set new standards in the industry. For the first time a Limousine Tender was presented at the level of finish offered in the yacht. As one captain commented, “It’s not just a tender, but a true baby motor yacht.” Since then Vikal have delivered nearly 60 tenders to motor yachts over 75 metres.
Richard Faulkner, a Director of Compass tenders in Hamble UK has discovered his firm is spreading its appeal to superyacht owners. He says, “They are clearly seeing the appeal of personalising their tender to capture accents of the mothership’s design and make their tenders fit a specific list of requirements for their usage. Our speciality is to give our clients what they want within reason! Our variants of open tenders in the 8.5m – 10.5m range has been successful in terms of numbers sold. Our Latitude Limousine Tender has been extremely successful, with hull 4 being fitted out currently, after its introduction at the Monaco Yacht Show last year. I mustn’t forget the customised landing craft tenders we have built, which have proven very popular with clients.”
Perhaps however, the only true customised tenders are those built by Fassmer a company in Germany who was dragged into tender building by default. Peter Schmidt, Head of Sales at Fassmer’s Boat and Davit Division explains, “As yachts were getting bigger in size there was also an increase in passenger carrying capacity. This means the largest of superyachts need to carry lifeboats.” Fassmer with its reputation in the lifeboat market (especially for lifeboats carried by cruise liners) were the obvious place for yacht building yards to look. Schmidt adds, “It has to be admitted that the design of a commercial lifeboat is not very yacht like and customers were asking for something looking better. We did so and are today quite successful in this market niche where our speciality is the combination of a tender or rescue boat with the life saving function.
Our boats are fully certified life saving appliances and as the average length of yards increases we expect to see a steady demand for these custom boats.”