Amels – Step One
Step One from Amels, an evolution of the first ever Limited Editions series from the Dutch builder, showcases once again a yard’s attention to detail that is unmatched
Most people wouldn’t countenance the idea of eating something off the floor in a shipyard. But in the case of Amels Holland, you almost could. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but the net result of a near-obsessive level of cleanliness and order in a superyacht building company is a boat that approaches perfection in finish and technical expertise. Step One, the latest launch from Amels in its Limited Editions series, proves this point. It is beautifully designed for an owner keen to use his superyacht with family and friends (chartering doesn’t look like a possibility, sadly). The yacht also came out of the yard with minimal need for fixes on sea trials, and was ready to head out on her first voyage on time, according to her captain, Simon Truelove.
“The yacht was delivered on time, and we headed straight up to Norway. Six hours out, we hit big swells – her first real test. She proved to be a great sea boat, and she’s also got hefty fins,” said Truelove in a statement. Beyond this, Step One showcases once again just how much Amels can adapt to an owner’s requirements with its vaunted semi-custom Limited Editions series, while sticking to tight deadlines and accurate work.
Amels Holland is the subsidiary of Damen Shipyards, the Netherlands’ lagest shipbuilding conglomerate with annual turnover of over €1.5 billion and 6000 employees worldwide. Damen has a reputation for innovation and technical excellence with working boats and naval vessels built for the tough conditions of the North Sea. That experience has found its way into Amels builds.
In fact, the idea of a Limited Editions came from Damen’s management, who suggested a seaworthy yacht platform around which the added styling could be added – the semi-custom yacht. The first of these Limited Editions was Deniki, a Limited Editions 171 (featured in Asia-Pacific Boating, March-April 2008), which is a testament to the strength of the Limited Editions concept. Deniki has explored all the world’s major cruising grounds, including Alaska and Antarctica, with no major modifications, according to Amels’ Head of Design, Hans Konings.
Amels has been assiduous in getting feedback from owners and captains about their yachts, regularly holding meetings with captains to find out about owner demands and yacht performance. It is this feedback that resulted in the 171 eventually becoming the 177, and then finally the 180, the first of which is Step One. To date, nine yachts of the 171/177 series were sold (other Limited Editions series are in production). “What gives our clients a lot of confidence is knowing the proven pedigree of their yacht’s underwater body and its performance in all kinds of weather and sea state,” Konings says. Part of the seakindliness is down to the fine entry at the bow and relatively narrow hull shape, which allows her to plow through head seas with aplomb. Additionally, on the 180, as with the entire series, the engines have been placed nearly amidships on the lower deck, separating the crew space in the lower forward deck and the VIP cabins, located aft of the engine room. Normally, the engines are aft of all the accommodations, but this arrangement minimises the motion of the boat in waves, according to Konings. It also means direct access for the crew to the engineering areas, rather than having to access it through guest areas.
For Asian buyers looking to get into the superyacht game, a Limited Editions yacht is a good place to start. Not only are the production timetables strictly adhered to, but the yacht builders are also very familiar with the demands of interior climate controls. Many Asian clients (indeed, most emerging market clients) appreciate having large interior spaces with good climate control, and the fact that the yacht can be comfortably enjoyed in cold climates as well as tropical is a plus.
As the first of the new 180 series, Step One is three metres longer, and has some substantial increases in social area spaces. At the request of the owners, the sundeck on Step One comes at 155 square metres (about the size of a luxury flat in Hong Kong), thanks to space being added above the bridge coachroof. This space can also be transformed to a touch-and-go helipad as required, with a take-off weight for the pad at 2000 kilogrammes.
When not used as a helipad, the forward part of the sundeck is given over to lounge chairs and sunpads. Here, one gets a commanding view of the sea, with sweeping vistas from a vantage point that is nearly two-thirds of the vessel length forward and seven metres above the waterline. The rest of the sundeck has all the amenities you’d expect, including an aft-facing bar just behind the spa pool, then a main dining table aligned with the centreline of the boat. Settees line the sides of the main sundeck, covered by the radar arch. Sunpads are at the back. At anchor, it’s a good bet that most people will find themselves stuck at that forward area, which has custom-built furniture designed to give the space a resort-like feel.
The extra three metres in length overall have largely gone to turning the aft deck into a proper beach club, complete with gym area. Here, there is stowage for jet skis, with a tough Esthec surfacing resisting wear in what will be a high-traffic area. For those wanting fun on the water, the transom offers nice design touches, including built in swim ladders and a built-in rainshower in the folding transom door. A Turkish-style steam room completes the swimming space.
The other outer deck areas available for guest use include the Portuguese bridge sitting area, which includes stylish settees and coffee tables. Rather than being an afterthought, this area really does exude comfort and looks like a tremendous place for a morning coffee or evening cocktail.
It’s been said that on superyachts, the upper deck is where the fun tends to happen, while the expansive and extravagant spaces on the main deck tend to go under-used. Perhaps recognising this, Step One offers a slightly different take on space usage between these two decks. The upper deck has bigger, more expansive spaces, while the main deck seems to separate spaces into discrete, comfy entertaining spaces.
A wider body design on the upper deck saloon area yields more space to this lounging area, and it is here that the full impact of interior designer Laura Sessa really comes out. Sessa is a frequent collaborator with Amels and was recruited to bring the owner and his wife’s vision into being. The demand for minimalism can result in a bland monochromatic interior, while the demand for colour contrasts can result in a jarring eyesore. Sessa however, has managed to do both without either ill-effect.
The upper deck lounge makes use of sharp contrasts, with a white grand piano on white carpet, muted slightly by light wood floors and panels, and set against black furnishings and cabinetry. Even recessed lighting spaces on the ceiling have been given dark trims. The mixing of accents has the effect of easing the transitions between light and dark. Into this, Sessa has added dashes of red in the lamps and in the art to provide life. An onyx bar lights up to provide nighttime flavour.
The upper lounge opens on to an aft deck area that is large enough to entertain 20 people or more. A dining table and a huge area for loungers and settees creates a space that is both informal and elegant for sundowners and dinner. An extendable awing can be set up to keep the heat off.
Forward of this are centrally aligned day heads and pantry preparation areas. Amels makes a point in its semi-custom series of keeping systems running through the centre of the yacht. A dumbwaiter from the galley below serves this deck. Ahead, the bridge offers excellent views, and the captain is well catered to, with a large ensuite cabin and office just behind the wheelhouse.
On the main deck, a very relaxed area has been developed. The dining table is almost amidships, with the centrally-aligned galley just forward, as is standard. The lounge area is just aft, and they are slightly separated. Heading towards the relatively small aft doors, there is another bar, which also lights up in blue and features a black trim. This is perfect for the last nightcap before tumbling down the stairs nearby to the VIP cabins down below. In keeping with the theme of cozy and comfy, the main aft deck is a relatively small affair, more suited to the whims of three or four rather than a large party. The owners requested that the main aft deck doors be moved further back to create an elongated interior area.
Lightwoods and fabrics have again been given life in the saloon with dashes of purple by Laura Sessa. The dining area itself has been kept surprisingly simple in terms of styling, with a giant TV adorning the bulwark ahead, rather than a piece of art. That’s not to say that art is not important to this owner. Sessa states that she and the owner and his wife shopped around in Paris to find pieces suited to each of the cabins and entertainment areas on board Step One.
Moving forward along the starboard side passageway, one comes to the owner’s area. Here, the theme of light woods and fabrics combined with delicate splashes of colour continues, first with the owner’s study, and then finally into the full beam owner’s suite facing forward. To port, there is plenty of storage space for time aboard, plus a huge bathroom, beautifully finished in a variety of marbles and glass.
One of the interesting points about Step One is the VIP cabins below deck. Here, VIP guests find that, rather than staying in secondary cabins, they also enjoy full beam accommodation, with double ensuites and seating areas – cabins good enough to be called master suites on most yachts. However, these large cabins can be portioned off to create two doubles, thanks to sound-proofed sliding doors built by Amels. Each subsequent double gets its own ensuite. It’s a nice bit of engineering that makes this yacht more flexible and more accommodating to an owner who may have a handful of guests, or more.
As with the Amels Limited Editions series, the crew spaces have been thoroughly researched, and crew areas below deck are suitably large and work well. Step One’s two tenders are stowed up at the bow, leaving plenty of room at the stern for that wonderful beach club. With her robust design and fine finish, Amels has once again added a spectacular yacht to their fleet of Limited Editions, and with her exploration potential, we may hopefully see her cruising the tropics of the Asia-Pacific soon.
Technical Specifications – Limited Editions 180 Step One
Beam (max): 9.4m
Construction: Steel hull; Aluminium superstructure
Classification: Lloyd’s Register 100A1 SSC Yacht Mono G6 LMC, UMS in compliance with MCA
Displacement: 720 tns
Naval Architect: Amels
Exterior designer: Tim Heywood
Interior designer: Laura Sessa
Engines: 2 x MTU 16V 2000 M70 diesels
Speed (Max/Cruise): 15.5kts/13kts
Fuel: 115,000 lts
Range at 13kts: 4500 nm
Guest accommodation: 8-12
Crew accommodation: 9
Tenders: 1 x Pascoe 6.2m MOB; 1 x Yachtwerft Meijer 6.7m