HARLINGEN – A decade after a global financial crisis triggered a global economic crisis, the superyacht industry is back. Wealthy individuals are shopping for big yachts in numbers that justify on-spec building across the Dutch superyacht sector.
For tangible evidence, look at those smiles at Icon Yachts in this centuries-old town on Holland’s wind-lashed northern shore. Itself a victim of the global recession (Icon spent a brief period in bankruptcy in 2014), the yard recently doubled its capacity. It will soon build the 49m (161ft.) flagship of Britain’s Sunseeker, does 6 refits annually, turns out new yachts _ like the 84m (276ft.) Icon-280 now in build _ in under 3 years and excels in refit and conversion projects.
In industry-speak, Icon is a ‘northern European yard.’ That sounds lame, but the term, says Ian Sherwood of Burgess Yachts, the world’s top superyacht brokerage house, “denotes the gold standard in superyacht manufacture. It describes a yard that safeguards resale value. That’s key in this business.”
Burgess has thrown its yacht management and marketing skills behind the inaugural Icon-280 _ asking price: €120 million ($137 million) _ which Icon will launch in 2021.
“For us it is important to be associated with a new project from a yard that in only a dozen years has won an awful lot of awards,” Sherwood tells DutchYachtBuilding. Icon, founded in 2006, “is already a very established yard,” he adds.
In the past decade, “the market’s appetite for large yachts has remained undiminished,” says Sherwood. “The 70m+ (230ft.+) sector is incredibly buoyant. Today we see little availability, strong order books and lengthening waiting periods.”
Icon Yachts CEO Jen Wartena credits his yard’s success to efficient building (including modular construction), a seafront location, a commitment to quality and working with top names like Van Oossanen Naval Architects and Tim Heywood who designed the Icon-280’s exterior.
Wartena and Burgess speak confidently about the Icon-280 though a client and interior designer must yet be found. The yacht has 6 decks and room for 19 guests and 28 crew. Interestingly, the engine room deck is the lowest. It houses twin 2,040HP Caterpillar engines (top speed: 16.5 knots), all generators, retractable stabilizers and massive spare parts storage.
In its short history, Icon has also established itself as a leader in converting vessels into explorer superyachts. Icon’s launch of the 77m (253 ft) Legend in 2016, set off a spate of conversion leads. One, the 68.2m. (224 ft) Ragnar, will be launched this year. Originally a commercial, ice-breaking multipurpose vessel, it has undergone an extreme, 2-year make-over and will be a superyacht with an ICE Class A1 hull and a range of 6,000 nautical miles.