Feadship — Helix
Helix is the fifth launch in Feadship’s F45 Vantage semi-custom series, and she’s the first yacht from the famed Dutch builder on tour in Asia for the boat show season this spring
Force 8 conditions aren’t exactly the type of circumstances most people want to encounter, particularly when aboard a pleasure craft. But there was Helix, in moderately high waves and gale winds blowing foam and spray, as she left Royal Van Lent Shipyard in Holland for the Monaco Yacht Show last September. The 44.65-metre motoryacht, the shipyard’s fifth semi-custom superyacht, seemingly took it all in stride, though. According to her engineer, there were no problems in either her stability or her handling.
That’s the type of reliability yacht buyers have come to expect of a Feadship. When the Royal Van Lent shipyard introduced the F45 Vantage series in 2007 as its first foray into semi-custom yachts, the management team promised the same attention to engineering as its fully custom superyachts. But what buyers didn’t expect is that the series would be ahead of its time in terms of style and sophistication.
Even now, five years after the series was launched, the general arrangement of the F45 Vantage series is distinctly on the leading edge of innovative design. Consider the placement of staterooms: Everyone, owner and all eight guests, are accommodated on the main deck aboard Helix. When Feadship revealed this arrangement to the media before the first F45 Vantage was under construction, several journalists and yacht watchers wondered whether it would catch on. After all, no other semi-custom yacht builder—indeed, not even a fully custom yacht builder—offered guests essentially the same real estate as the owners. And wouldn’t the arrangement take coveted space away from the saloon and dining area?
The concerns were all for naught. Feadship asked its owners how much time they really spent in the inside dining area, and the answer was hardly any. Instead, guests and owners ate outside nearly every chance they had. So, if there was no need for a formal main-deck dining area, the galley could go below decks and the guest staterooms could come up. Just like the four previous F45 Vantages, Helix allows her guests to indulge in excellent views due to two enormous windows per cabin. Automatic blinds can cover each for privacy while the yacht is in port. In typical Feadship fashion, the blinds’ operation is whisper-quiet. One press of a button, and the blinds come fully down. If you only want partial shade, no problem; press the button while the blinds are descending, and they stop.
Of course, the master suite aboard Helix, fully forward, also benefits from the nearly full-height windows, but it further has some extra special touches. First, the already-voluminous feel of the master cabin is accentuated by the 2.7-metre-high headroom – enough for Yao Ming, one-time tallest player in the NBA, to comfortably walk about without having to duck. Few superyachts offer this much space, even fully custom ones far larger than Helix. Second, a rectangular skylight about half a metre higher spans the space from the sleeping area to the en suite bath. If you’ve been following yacht design for a few years, think back to 2007, and you’ll recall skylights were a rarity. They still are, though when they’re present, they’re typically circular. The skylight aboard Helix is an innovative way to bring in much more natural light and make the master suite enjoyable day or night. Imagine being able to lay in bed and stare up at the stars when you’ve anchored for the night at some remote location, away from light pollution of the big city.
The master bathroom also has a skylight, along with plenty of marble finishing, to create a feeling of supreme luxury while keeping the airiness that permeates the yacht.
But, let’s get back to the relocation of the dining room for a moment. Interesting enough, Helix has a small round table and chairs tucked just inside the aft-deck doors, to port. While it would be a nice spot for snacks or drinks, it’s more likely to be a conversation area or a cards-playing area. So, the primary dining area has been moved up one level, on the bridge deck. This area enjoys the shade of the overhang of the sundeck.
Another formal dining arrangement aboard Helix lies indoors, to starboard. Intended to be the main dining area on inclement days, it’s delineated by teak decking. This helps separate it from the adjacent bridge-deck saloon without the use of bulkheads or other restrictive barriers. What’s more, in keeping with the concept applied to most previous F45 Vantage yachts, the bridge-deck saloon/dining area could easily become a favored spot in balmy breezes thanks to the three full-height windows, each of which can slide open, creating a wonderful indoor-outdoor expanse with a breezy feel in a tropical setting.
Also wonderfully welcoming is the “Nautical” interior decor scheme, created by Sinot Branding & Design. Sinot was hired by Feadship when the F45 Vantage series was devised and charged with developing a handful of interior design schemes. Four were created: Miami, which has a decided Art Deco appeal; Monaco, which has French flair but is also somewhat informal and relaxed; Milano, a modern design; and Nautical, which embraces a traditional yachting style. Helix is the first F45 Vantage to feature the Nautical look, characterized by fabric-lined walls in creamy tones that are framed in mahogany, making for strong contrasts in color throughout the superyacht. It’s also quite serene, lending an airy, beach house atmosphere.
For the ultimate beach-house atmosphere, one can head down to the tender garage when Helix is at anchor. Once the crew activate the fold-down, teak-decked transom and launch the 6.4-metre Pascoe tender, lounge chairs can be set up. There’s also a sauna and a shower inside the garage, forward to port. Just opposite it is an open space that can be configured however you wish: perhaps as a gym, or a stowage space for more snorkel gear and the like.
As much as Helix is designed around making her owner and guests feel comfortable, the yacht shows that neither Feadship nor Sinot Branding & Design lost sight of the crew’s comfort. As any yacht builder will tell you, a happy crew makes for a happy owner. There are accommodations for eight crewmembers in four cabins plus two in the captain’s stateroom, all below decks. Placing the captain’s cabin on the lower deck may seem strange, as it’s a decided change from the customary location aboard most yachts these days. But, there is an alternate convertible room just aft of the wheelhouse. A bed folds down from the wall to make it a stateroom. Otherwise, it can be a lounge or an office. It can also be a nanny cabin for times when small children are aboard.
Regardless of who’s coming aboard, the stewardesses and the chef are sure to appreciate the attention to food stowage and preparation that Helix offers. Two freezers and three refrigerators lie just outside of the galley. Within the galley itself, there’s an air curtain above the stove. This helps channel odors into the exhaust and prevent them from circulating out through the decks. And, to bring in some natural light, two ports are present in the galley.
The rest of the crew gain from good work areas, too. The engineer has a control room with a window looking out to the engine room, for instance. From here, he can monitor the twin MTU engines (which permit Helix a 14.5-knot top end), plus has a main switchboard at his fingertips to keep an eye on the batteries, gensets, and more. Up in the wheelhouse, the captain has great visibility over the bow while leaning against a bolster at the helm. Five PC screens, wrapped in leather, can display whatever information is needed about the engines, the anchor, or even an alarm. Wisely, the cabling behind the scenes was routed so that if any single cable goes down, the PC it’s connected to is automatically re-routed to one that works.
Helix and her sisterships show that Feadship can successfully address the semi-custom market in ways that other builders don’t. Given this, you may be surprised to learn that the Royal Van Lent shipyard has only one more F45 Vantage in build. It’s keeping the series as a limited edition and returning its focus to fully custom craft. That lends Helix an air of exclusivity, which won’t be lost on her eventual owner (the yacht was completed on spec).
Helix runs on twin 1055-horsepower MTU engines, which yields a top speed of 14.5 knots and a transatlantic range. For owners wishing for a yacht that offers plenty of space well-suited to tropical cruising, with the option for good charter business to offset costs, Feadship’s Helix is an intriguing choice. Feadship has decided on an Asia tour for Helix, as she was built on spec and is available for purchase immediately. For someone wanting a top-notch superyacht right away, one need look no further.
Techical Specifications – Feadship F45 Vantage Helix
Year completed: 2011
Builder: Feadship – Royal Van Lent
Type: Twin screw motor yacht, steel hull and aluminum superstructure
Main engines: @x MTU 12V2000M70 - 788 kW / 1055 bhp
Generators: 2x Caterpillar C9
Stabilizers: VTNaiad Marine zero-speed stabilizers
Top Speed: 14.5 kts
Fuel capacity: 40,000 lts
Fresh water capacity: 10,000 lts
Exterior design: Studio De Voogt
Naval architects: De Voogt Naval Architects
Interior design: De Voogt Naval Architects / Sinot Design Associates
Owner’s acccomodation: Owners stateroom with separate bathroom and dressing room
Guests: eight guests in four guest staterooms
Crew: Eight in four crew cabins; two in captain’s cabin.
Water sports: 6.7-metre Nautica tender, plus snorkel and scuba gear