161ft Sunseeker flagship

MONACO _ It was a bolt from the blue. Sunseeker, Britain’s biggest superyacht maker, said at the 2018 Monaco Yacht Show it has asked Icon Yachts of the Netherlands to build its next 49m tri-deck flagship, the Sunseeker-161, in aluminum. (Photo)

The Dutch yard _ which only a few years ago emerged from bankruptcy _ will build 5 a year. The first will be delivered in 2021. Sunseeker’s move is a huge salute to the Dutch reputation in building steel and aluminum yachts at a time when serial builders _ like Sunseeker _ prefer composite materials.

Sunseeker CEO Sean Robertson at the Monaco Yacht Show that the challenge was to find ” a yard that shared the same progressive, innovative spirit to create something truly special … which will provide us with the flexibility to build a true Sunseeker. We have certainly found all of that with Icon Yachts.”

The deal is clearly a boon for Icon Yachts. And it enables Sunseeker to match rivals building ever larger superyachts. “Every restart takes 3 years,” says Marcela de Kern Royer, Icon’s head of business development at Icon. “We are very proud of our [post-bankruptcy] timeline. We have been through hard times. The Sunseeker deal has made us stronger.”

Icon CEO Jen Wartena sees “a growing market for refits and reconversion projects as well new builds.” His yard is building a 19-guest, 84m (275ft.) superyacht and reconverting a multi-purpose supply vessel into an explorer superyacht with a certified Ice Class A1 hull.
The Sunseeker deal is also a boon for Van Oossanen Naval Architects. The Sunseeker-161 will have its patented Fast Displacement Hull Form, a fuel-saving feature that is making great inroads in the yachting industry.

Icon Yachts recently doubled its production capacity to accommodate refits, new build and conversion projects. It will build about five Sunseeker 161s a year, starting next spring. It recently added a new floating shed (right) of 130m x 30m x 28m (426 x 98 x 92ft.), doubling its capacity. Icon will build Sunseekers from the hull up, including all finishing.

Icon Yachts was founded in late 2005. Rather than building unique, one-off superyachts that require at least 3 years to design and build, Icon developed a time-saving ‘blueprint’ hull which that lets owners customize their yachts from the waterline up.