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Feadship Harle: Engineered Fun

A few years ago, Feadship created its F45 Vantage series. The shipyard starts building each hull on spec before an owner comes along to create a very personal vessel. Last spring, the owner of Harle invited us onboard his yacht, which also happens to be a successful charter vessel.

A few years ago, Feadship created its F45 Vantage series. The shipyard starts building each hull on spec before an owner comes along to create a very personal vessel. Last spring, the owner of Harle invited us onboard his yacht, which also happens to be a successful charter vessel.

Photos by Feadship

A few years ago, Feadship identified a “new breed of owners”: young and already successful in business, they want quality yachts at the right price and within a reasonable delivery time. To meet their expectations, in 2005 the Dutch builder developed a concept that fits squarely within the shipyard’s reputation for quality but which, through a certain level of standardization, benefits from the cost efficiency of a custom series production approach—the F45. Feadship starts building the yachts on spec, and owners can put their imprimatur on the design a few months before delivery.


Harle’s owner is indeed young and obviously successful in business (an engineer by training, he is the chief executive of a software company). His yacht had to accommodate his busy work schedule, large groups of friends, family and his hankering for worldwide travel. He chose the F45.

The F45 series’ guiding design principle is that of a beach house: lots of outdoor space, ample water views and a casual feel; there are no dark spaces on the yacht. Designers De Voogt Naval Architects threw out a couple of conventions. Unlike more traditional arrangements, the dining area is up on the bridge deck and the galley is on the lower deck with the crew quarters. The master suite and all four of the guest staterooms are on the main deck for great views. Instead of individual air conditioning units, usually hidden inside cabinets below windows, Feadship installed a centralized air conditioning unit located near the lower-deck crew quarters. With the extra room, the shipyard was able to create floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the interior with light. The bridge deck lounge and aft patio form a virtually continuous entertainment area with wide glass doors aft and side windows that slide away. The attractive wheelhouse is designed to welcome guests as well as officers and crew. Finally, an extra large lazarette, perfectly finished in teak and dubbed the “boat house”, opens aft into a large beach platform area.

Harle’s owner liked the openness of the F45, but thanks to a few key decisions he pushed the concept even further for a versatile yacht as much at home in St. Tropez as it is in St. Barths, where he hosted 150 guests for a New Year’s Eve party.


Feadship asked Sinot Design Associates to develop four design themes ranging from a classic “Nautical” to a contemporary “Milano”. Harle’s owner chose the “Miami” style, loosely inspired from the Art Deco era, and added unique touches. A technophile, he specified the use of hip Apple products, which make entertainment options nearly endless with LCD flat screen TVs, HDMI inputs and Bose surround sound in all living areas. IPod docking stations allow guests to bring along their own selection of music and entertainment as well as recharge their iPhone. WiFi, dozens of strategically placed power-over-Ethernet jacks and a state-of-the-art Cisco VoIP system ensure guests stay connected throughout the yacht. Finally, he added a vast digital art collection that provides a changing backdrop with masterpieces from El Greco to the French impressionists. The 150’ Harle fits so perfectly the owner’s lifestyle that he says he intends to keep it forever. We caught up with him during a stopover in Fort Lauderdale. Excerpts of the conversation follow.

How did you decide on this particular yacht?
I walked through 200 boats and hunted shows for four years. I am an engineer and look at everything, and I find that a lot of yachts are inefficient. They’re huge but they have little deck space, or they are dark inside. The thing that attracted me to this design was the efficiency. In order to achieve all the benefits you’d get from a 200’ yacht on a 150’ yacht, you have to do a lot of thoughtful engineering. I liked the thinking that went into this yacht initially, and for the next two years we put a lot more thinking into it. Every single detail was scrutinized (…) I was looking for that perfect design point where you have maximized your comfort and your happiness and you have minimized your cost. This yacht is almost at the perfect point where you can have everything that you want but you stop before it gets fiendishly expensive, not that this is cheap, of course, but you could spend three times as much and not get that much more.


How much input did you have?
We bought the boat six to nine months into the build schedule. The exterior hull and most of the nautical systems were in place, but the interiors were all flexible. Over the course of about 12 trips to Amsterdam (I spent about two days every trip), I pretty much “spec’d” every single thing. It was a chance for me to control every single aspect.

How did you choose your interior motif?
I like the bird’s eye maple and the mahogany feel. We started with the Miami style, but it became successfully more elaborate over time. The boat has a theme of polymorphism combined with a bit of minimalism. The driving design motif is “less is more,” eliminating as many walls as possible and opening as many sight lines as you can. One of the speeches I got from the architects and designers was that people go to the light. We knocked walls down everywhere. We didn’t use curtains (except in the salon) and there are no lamps. I find them inappropriate for a yacht and I didn’t want to clutter the interior with "tchotchkes”.


What are some of your favorite features of this yacht?
The bridge deck is probably the most inspired part of the boat. I have to give a lot of credit to the shipyard, but I added a lot of touches after that to finish the design. The big idea was to have teak inside and out with a flat floor that creates a continuous area. All the windows slide forward. You can close the doors and slide the windows open, or open it all the way. You have 270 degrees of glass views even during bad weather.

What was your input?
Normally there would have been a white bar buffet outside on the bridge deck aft, which is the conventional thing, but I hated that it impeded the view and interrupted the traffic flow. So we moved it inside and gave it a finish consistent with this Miami look with a copper strip and then a copper top. Then we decided that we needed more cabinet space, so these two end units got added and this became our buffet for dining. You can walk to it from outside; you don’t need two buffets (…) A common problem on many yachts is that each piece of furniture has a single use. Wasting space like this on a boat is a sin (…) We still did not know how we were going to handle the dining area; there we just lucked out. I went to the Summit showroom in London when they had just rolled out a modular furniture line (…) The beauty is that it all fits together: the teak chairs, tables and armchairs.


You have a pretty unique entertainment system onboard; how does it work?
Basically we used Apple TV combined with Bose. When I offered this as my idea, everyone thought I was crazy. I just had a theory that Apple was going to continue to evolve their systems faster than other proprietary vendors. If you have a system with tens of millions of users, it is likely to last. I have used a lot of Apple computers, and I could see where it was headed with Apple TV. Some of the traditional systems are very expensive, and they are very proprietary; I wanted a more open system to the extent that you are plugged into the internet you can pick any YouTube video, you can buy a TV show right off the internet, even buy HDTV, which is interesting. You can access the Apple store, preview videos. The quality is amazing, and this is all just Apple Television. I went through two to three different audiovisual firms because no one had done it before— I worked with Island Marine Electric. You can see the future of things, which is that you can never have enough bandwidth, but I am just shocked that I can do this from a satellite dish at all.

How would you summarize your experience?
Through a lot of thinking, we achieved the maximum of utility and elegance on a 150’ yacht with a minimum of compromise. This yacht is the result of a consensus of the design process between people at Royal Van Lent Shipyard and the guys at De Voogt Naval Architects and in a sense they had a free range because I never built a yacht before. We were unencumbered with a lot of prejudice, bias or history. This yacht reflects what the executives at Van Lent would build for themselves (...) The key here is to find out how you put your personality into this while taking the advice of the professionals.


Harle’s 8,000 Masters

Displaying valuable works of art aboard boats has long posed problems. Royal Huisman once built a complete mock-up of a vessel under construction, so that the owner could decide how to hang an important collection. Paintings have to be securely wrapped and stowed on ocean passages, protected from the ravages of moist salt air, and guarded against unthinking guests and visitors in port. Insurance premiums can be considerable. The owner of the Feadship F45 Vantage Harle came up with an innovative solution that we had not seen before. The vessel, which debuted at the 2008 Monaco Yacht Show, has large high definition LCD flat screens in many locations. Harle carries an unprecedented virtual gallery of high definition digital art, offering the choice to display some 8,000 masterpieces from 150 artists such as Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso and Monet. One can “freeze” a particular tableau for an evening dinner party or have the “canvasses” discretely changing every 10-
15 minutes. One can’t examine the texture of the paintings, obviously, but the composition and colors are faithfully reproduced and are very pleasing.

Feadship America’s Charter Manager DJ Kiernan put us in touch with the system’s designer, James Augustus SG van Wynen. He said: “It’s a long process to actually get the images from paper to screen. The trick is in being a good editor and artist…Images that fill the screen have significantly more gravitas then an illfitting image that leaves black space around the borders. How many paintings
do not fit their frames? Not too many, and that is the main issue with art libraries on screen. The outside of the television is de facto the frame. Any digital artwork looks terrible if it doesn’t fit the screen. Where the artistry comes in is in keeping the image true to the original, but making it fill the screen. I can’t give you too much information about the process, but Harle is certainly unique.”

Story by Bruce Maxwell

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LOA: 146’6”
Beam max.: 30’2”
Draft (loaded): 8’10”
Fuel capacity: 10,500 GAL.
Fresh water: 2,600 GAL.
Design: De Voogt Naval Architects
Naval architecture: De Voogt Naval Artchitects
Exterior styling: De Voogt Naval Architects & Sinot Design Associates
Interior design: Sinot Design Associates
Main engines: 2X MTU 12V 2000 M70
Propellers: 2 x Wärtsilä fixed pitch 5-blade propellers
Stabilizers: VT Naiad Marine Zero-Speed
Max. speed: 14.5 knots
Range: transatlantic
Builder: Feadship Royal Van Lent Shipyard