Excellence, the latest evolution of a concept by Andrew Winch Design built by Abeking & Rasmussen, is a fantastic megayacht that perfectly combines cutting-edge technology with stylish interiors
by Maria Roberta Morso – photo by Guillaume Plisson – interior photo courtesy Winch Media
THE EXCELLENCE WE ARE LOOKING AT TODAY IS THE LATEST IN A SERIES OF ‘EXCELLENCES’, all made for the same owner. From the photos, it is immediately obvious that this is an exceptional yacht in terms of both its design and build, both internally and externally. A piece of excellence, in other words. This 80-metre boat, commissioned by someone who can undoubtedly be described as a long-standing boat owner and built by Abeking & Rasmussen, bears the prestigious name of Winch Design, another example of excellence in the world of yacht design. The owner, Herb Chambers, speaks proudly about his yachts and his passion for the cars that are the main focus of his business.
His seafaring fleet currently comprises the enormous Excellence, a Mangusta 94 and a 47-metre Feadship. The previous Excellence (his fifth) was a 60-metre boat built by Abeking & Rasmussen to a design by Raymond Langton and launched in 2012. At the 2015 Fort Lauderdale Yacht Show, Abeking & Rasmussen unveiled a design developed in collaboration with Winch Design. Chambers loved its bold style and the huge expanse of glass surfaces, and over the months that followed, the original design was tweaked and the first sketches and general plans were drawn up. The contract was signed at the following year’s Monaco Yacht Show. «My 60-metre Excellence V was a great yacht», Chambers says. «I couldn’t imagine anything of the same size being any better. So I decided to go up a size, and moved from a classic design to something very modern».
‘Very modern’ is putting it mildly. The extremely eye-catching design has a pronounced inverted bow that juts forward at the waterline like a blade, before meeting the superstructure at bridge deck level. Two other distinctive exterior features are the enormous expanses of glass that run along the superstructure and connect the bridge and the owner’s deck at amidships, and the large, circular terraces, both forward and astern of the decks. The large sheets of glass, which in total weigh approximately 1.3 tonnes, create an extraordinary effect, but it is the engineering underpinning them that is truly astounding, especially as their supporting structure is made of thin steel.
Five-metre-high sheets of glass give the yacht a mirrored outer skin. From the inside, you can see how it cuts between the two decks, so when you look over the balustrade you can see ten metres down to the main deck below.
Various issues had to be overcome, but the combination of German technology and Italian engineering rose to the challenge. From the outside, the 25 metres of glass reflect the surrounding landscape like a mirror. Nothing breaks up the exterior design, with the life rafts hidden in compartments flush with the topside and the air inlets perfectly concealed behind mirrored steel grills that blend into the glass. The aggressive bow is countered by the soft design of the circular terraces.
Nor is the sophistication limited to the exterior. The interior, which, as one would expect on a yacht of this level, offers the ultimate in luxury, includes spaces that take your breath away both for their structural complexity and their design. The atrium, for example, cuts through three decks, from the main deck to the owner’s deck, and is surrounded by extremely tall glass windows. The view this affords is tremendous, both from below and looking out over the balustrade above. «The owner’s passion for his car collection and the automotive industry played a key part in the inspiration for the iconic interior», Andrew Winch says.
«Silver weave fabric and curved leather panels nod towards the dashboards of the most luxurious sports cars in his collection, and the inspiration for the vanity units in the statement dayheads come from the curves of the seats in the outstanding Ferrari Daytona. Excellence is a new icon in the world of superyachts. The double-height windows were a challenge both to design and build, but once in place, they offer breathtaking panoramas and a unique exterior look. This yacht is a spaceship of the sea!».
Inside, Winch has imbued all the rooms with a style that perfectly combines high-tech and luxury, with a classic touch. The furniture and sofas have a soft design, with a relaxing colour palette ranging from cream and beige to dark or burnt brown natural leather. Indeed, leather is used extensively throughout. There is luxury timber everywhere, including ripple sycamore, amboyna burr, Macassar ebony and root wood, and plenty of marble – there are around thirty varieties of marble on board Excellence, of which around 30% is gold onyx, with a warm, golden honey hue that brightens up both the communal areas and the owner’s bathrooms. Although the yacht has been built with chartering in mind, the interior has a very personal feel, and the owner wanted it to reflect his taste.
The entire upper deck is dedicated to the owner and includes a suite, a lounge, a private deck with a hydromassage pool, a sunbathing area at the stern and a terrace at the bow.
People renting a yacht like this want the utmost in comfort and sophistication, which only the highest levels of personalisation, like those on display here, can provide. The mix of prized, mostly glossy timber, marble, soft fabrics and bespoke carpets is further enhanced by refined details, mirrored inserts that increase the light and feeling of space and a lighting system that brings out the curves of the ceiling, creating an evocative play of light and shadow in each room.
As well as the sophisticated style, guests have access to extremely generously proportioned spaces covering over 600 m², while the service areas and crew’s quarters account for approximately 460 m². Excellence has five decks, providing room for guests and service areas as well as a tank deck.
Working from the bottom upwards, you have the tank deck, then the lower deck, which is given over to technical systems, including the engine room and two garages for tenders, with two large doors that open to port and starboard. The starboard garage, which also contains the jetskis and diving equipment, becomes a beach club area once the tender is in the water. This deck also includes the galley and – at the bow – the crew’s quarters. As well as a sitting room and dining room, the main deck houses all the guest cabins: six VIP rooms, all the same size. There is also a cinema room on this deck, at the bow. At the stern, meanwhile, the large cockpit represents the heart of social life on board the boat, a magnificent open-air space with a pool as its focal point. Between the guest accommodation and the owner’s suite is the bridge deck, with another sitting room, the owner’s office and the steering gear, with adjoining bedrooms for the captain and first officer.
The inverted bow combined with the large expanses of glass makes Excellence one of the most futuristic yachts built in recent years.
Excellence is the sixth yacht to bear this name and brings together all the owner’s previous experience in assembling yachts.
Captain Ray Shore has been working for Chambers for more than thirty years and followed the construction of Excellence down to the last detail. One level up is the owner’s private deck which, as well as a fantastic panoramic cabin at the bow, also has a nice sitting room at the stern, which opens onto a terrace with comfortable chairs and a small pool. Higher up again is a small sundeck with a bar and swimming pool. Built for personal use but available for rent, Excellence has raised the bar for, yes, that’s right, excellence in the world of megayachts even higher.
PROJECT: Abeking & Rasmussen • Andrew Winch Design (naval architecture and exterior design) • Andrew Winch Design (interior design)
HULL: LOA 79.95m • LWL 79.45m • Maximum beam 14.45m • Draft 3.45m • Steel hull and aluminium superstructure • Gross Tonnage 2,115 GT •7 cabins (1 owner suite + 6 guest suites) • Crew 19 members
MAIN PROULSION: 2 x MTU 12V 4000 M65R • Maximum speed 17 knots • Cruising speed 14 knots • Range at 13 knots, 4,500 NM
GENERATORS: 3 MTU 575 kW + 1 Caterpillar 164 kW
(Excellence 80m, a heart of light – Barchemagazine.com – September 2021)