BY ANDREW PARKINSON - SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015
Second and Long
An owner returns to Lürssen for a bigger, brawnier take on luxury living afloat.
For many Americans, watching football is as much about the venue as the game itself. Whether that’s at the stadium with 80,000 like-minded fanatics, in a sports bar bristling with flat-screens and beer taps or in the stay-at-home “man cave” littered with pizza boxes and beverage cans, everyone has a favorite milieu. Mine was the intimate environs of the cave—until I set foot aboard 312-foot (95.2-meter) Lürssen Kismet. Given that the yacht has an LOA roughly equivalent to an NFL field and was commissioned by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, one might expect at least a nod to the gridiron. What I didn’t expect was the veritable sportsman’s paradise that awaited me inside.
Delivered by Lürssen in late 2014 as a 90-foot (27.2-meter) upgrade to replace Khan’s previous yacht of the same name, Kismet was commissioned to be among the most spectacular luxury yachts ever launched. The contract was signed in fall 2008—a time in the United States when the average Joe might have considered such an endeavor a stroke of madness. Apparently, there are two certainties in this life: one is taxes, and the other is Shahid Khan being anything but the average Joe.
With the initial design beginning soon after delivery of the first Kismet, the stakes were high. His first Kismet was already an award-winner and rapidly gaining popularity in the charter world. The next one would need to be superior in every way.
Khan rostered his veteran team from the first Kismet, including his longtime captain, Kyle Fultz; his project management team of over 16 years, Moran Yacht & Ship; and two of the hottest names in contemporary yacht design, Espen Øino for the exterior and Reymond Langton for the interior. According to Pascale Reymond, the vision for the yacht’s style was Champagne and caviar. “Balance awesome with welcoming,” the brief stated—a notion that Kismet should be the perfect venue for elaborate parties and entertainment, and at the same time a comfortable family retreat.
A two-story atrium spanning the aft main and upper decks immediately had my attention—or maybe it was the IMAX-esque array of 42 50-inch flat-screen TVs that rose from floor to ceiling and produced a sexy luminosity reminiscent of the swanky 40/40 Club in New York City. If you’ve never been, imagine 12,000 square feet of pure sports entertainment in a lounge that combines the lavish warmth of a high-rise penthouse with the vivacity and glamor of 50-yard-line luxury box seats at the Super Bowl.
Then there’s the most masculine part of any boat—the engine room—and Kismet doesn’t disappoint. Shiny and bright, the Khan-dubbed “Moran cathedral,” after the firm that managed the project, is a two-story, veritable city of lights with an engineer’s room and workshop. Kismet is capable of around 17 knots wide open on a pair of 2,682-horsepower Caterpillar engines. Also here are an advanced stabilization system that reduces rolling motion at anchor and underway, and a dedicated sea cabin strategically placed at the position of least roll for anyone feeling the weather.
Football is a delicate balance of brutality and beauty. It’s the quintessential American sport—on one hand, a grueling man’s game soaked with blood, sweat and glory, and on the other hand, a beautiful chess match. Such is Kismet, whose real mastery is her delicate balance of masculinity and grace. She’s a queen with the throwing arm of a quarterback, and those dynamics are on full display inside.
“In essence, I wanted to design Kismet with others—not me—in mind,” said Khan.
Grit, meet grace.
Beyond the embers of the LCDs, the feel is earthy and welcoming. Elegant tones of wood, leather and stone spill into the guest accommodations, where each suite has its own theme, with influences from Art Deco to Art Nouveau. The Coco Chanel-inspired owner’s suite—deck would be more accurate—shows a softer side of Kismet, with Lalique lighting, floor-to-ceiling windows, an office and a bedside fireplace. The suite has its own outdoor veranda with a hot tub and sunpads overlooking the forward deck, and the owner’s private access to the helipad.
On the lower deck, Kismet’s hammam spa is as fit for a princess as it is for a pro athlete and raises the bar for Turkish baths everywhere. Kissed with a Persian-inspired motif of handmade textiles, embossed leather, exotic woods, carved stone and commissioned artwork, it’s an onboard temple of relaxation spanning a hot tub, cold plunge pool, steam shower and massage room.
On the outside, her lines are unmistakable: a blend of elegance and edgy on the horizontal and vertical planes, respectively, with pops of the hull color echoed in the superstructure to add distinction. On the bowsprit, a striking, removable jaguar sculpture with glowing eyes garnishes Kismet most Sundays.
There’s no shortage of great outdoor living and entertaining spaces aboard Kismet. The sundeck has an alfresco dining area next to the barbecue with protective glass doors opening to a wide forward area with a heated swimming pool and integrated hot tub, mosaic-tile showers, forward-facing pilot seats and a rock garden, which doubles as pool-water overflow containment. An innovative heat-recovery system recycles heat loss from the generators to heat the pool. The cherry on top, literally, is a secluded observation area accessible via a spiral staircase that can be locked for privacy, providing the perfect bird’s-eye view to watch the world go by.
The bridge deck has a beach club-esque lounge that transforms into a disco nightclub, where the bar protects an aft deck posing as a helipad by day, dance floor by night. The yacht’s main dining area is on the upper deck flanked by sliding glass screens, forming a winter garden that can be open or enclosed depending on the weather. Forward on the main deck, the mooring station is fully enclosed, permitting massive square footage above on the upper deck to accommodate the other of Kismet’s two helipads, a tented dining area and a basketball court—which had me thinking out loud, “I wonder how many basketballs they’ve lost overboard.”
“Not as many as you’d think,” a passing deckhand quipped. It would seem that some of Khan’s guests might have a pretty good stroke.
Custom yachts represent the most personal act of industrial and aesthetic expression, yet I can think of no one, male or female, to whom Kismet wouldn’t absolutely appeal. For me, she will always be my fantasy of the ultimate man cave, minus the pizza boxes of course.
For more information: +49 421 6604 166, lurssen.com