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Thrilling ride aboard Shooting Star

The aptly named new AeroCruiser 38 II from Danish Yachts reaches speeds of 47-plus knots


Something is rocking in the State of Denmark—the recent launch of the new Espen Øino-designed, fast all-carbon-fiber AeroCruiser 38 II Shooting Star. Denmark, a country comprised geographically of a peninsula and several islands, has a decidedly seafaring culture, but is not universally recognized for superyacht building. For the uninitiated, Denmark invokes the usual clichés—the occasional reference to the one-liner from Hamlet, the Little Mermaid, and Danish Modern—but in terms of the luxury yacht market, Denmark has been a bit of a superyacht sleeper in the last few years. That is about to change. With the advent of Shooting Star, the discerning yachtsman will now be reawakened to innate capabilities of this proud little country, and, in particular, to the builder Danish Yachts. Christina Sørensen Lotter, a director at Danish Yachts, premiered the builder’s stunning “new baby,” Shooting Star, to a select group of VIPs and press at a party at the chic Port Palace Hotel in Monte-Carlo last May.

“We pride ourselves in three things—which we call CAS—our craftsmanship, our architecture and our services to our clients,” Lotter says. Speaking in a strong, clear voice, with a British boarding-school accent, the lovely and charming Lotter was beaming with pride when she introduced the distinctive-looking newly launched yacht. This was the first viewing since the boat splashed in Skagen—a fishing village at the northern tip of Jutland—home and headquarters of the Danish Yachts’ shipyard. Lotter proudly announced that much of the team is Scandinavian, her family and yard is Danish, the naval architect Espen Øino is Norwegian, and the captain of the boat is Swedish. While an international effort went into the concept of this yacht, Lotter likes to emphasize its Scandinavian roots.

Lotter’s late father, Jørgen Philip-Sørensen, astute businessman and founder of the enormous international security and service conglomerate G4S, was also an avid sailor. That avocation led him to invest in Danish Yachts’ shipyard more than 10 years ago. Danish Yachts builds sailing yachts, motoryachts and military vessels for the Danish Navy. The new AeroCruiser II line at 125 feet (38 meters) invokes the yard’s earlier 115-foot (35 meters) Moon Goddess, also designed by Espen Øino and built in 2006 for the then owner of Princess Mariana (see Yachts International, March 2007). Danish Yachts is also renowned for building the exquisite Ranger in the spirit of the 1937 J-Class yacht. At one point in history, the yard belonged to a group of Danish yacht yards called Royal Denship. The shipyard’s naval architect, Michael Pedersen, is quick to point out that Danish Yachts is no longer associated with the group at all. Danish Yachts is privately managed and financed under the auspices of the Skagen Trust, a well-consolidated London-based fund. The yard, which has three production halls covering an area of 59,202 square feet, now specializes in building high-tech modern composite yachts using carbon fiber and epoxy construction in the 98- to 164-foot range.

Lotter, who was very close to her father, has risen to the challenge of continuing his legacy and creating remarkable vessels. “He respected the craftsmen enormously,” she says. A perky powerhouse of a woman, Lotter is a devoted wife and a busy mother of tweens. Yet, she is simultaneously involved with several family companies in addition to Danish Yachts. Drawing on her marketing and management skills, she has become a quick study of the yachting world. She has put all of her business acumen and drive into ensuring that the new AeroCruiser was finished to perfection. The proof is in the product. The joinery is exquisite, and the attention to detail is obvious. Lotter used her personal interior design talents and impeccable taste in choosing Shooting Star’s soft furnishings and décor. Her verve and enthusiasm is positively infectious. She is eager for the world to experience this yacht as the culmination of all that is good about Scandinavia, especially high design and craftsmanship.

From bow to stern, Shooting Star is angular and curvaceous in all the right places. The yacht is aerodynamic from the get-go and as snazzy as a Lamborghini convertible. Espen Øino points out that this design is an evolution from the 115-foot Moon Goddess, but represents a huge step forward technologically from the hull shape, the material and the weight savings, to the advancement of the waterjet system and the interior spatial design. Perfecting the deadrise of the bow and paying attention to the center of gravity was extremely important to get the boat to plane correctly. The Dutch Interior design firm Art-Line established a theme of bringing the outside in and the inside out. The result is a seamless flow. In their yacht design work, Frank Pieterse and Marilyn Bos-de Vaal, principals of Art-Line, express a deep commitment to contemporary art and architecture. They say, “We try to make each Art-Line interior represent an ideal balance between function and emotion.” With the sunroof open, you are living under natural elements by day or night, but even with it closed there is natural light everywhere. It is, simply put, a “feel good” yacht. Øino says, “There is no other boat that encompasses as much natural light from every corner, even in the cabin corridors belowdecks.” The yacht’s interior décor reflects the colors of the place where she was built, Skagen—the blues of the big sky, the whites of the clouds and the beiges of the sand dunes. The main salon is completely contemporary: a maple table inlaid with carbon fiber, cream-colored sofas and settees, a white lacquered bar, leather and stainless-steel bar stools and chairs, and a linen and silk shag carpet by the sofa to add a different dimension of texture.

Captain Picard and Commander Riker would be comfortable at the helm: The glass bridge reminiscent of “Star Trek” is state-of-the-art, and the pilothouse with its curvilinear glass is like a space station. Behind the helm is a stunning swoop of concave glass that cuts a swath through curved teak-paneled walls and rolls up and over the coach roof like a surfer’s wave on Maui. Four leather observation seats appear suspended from the aft-bridge bulkhead. At full throttle, the first impulse is to fasten your seatbelt, but due to the stability underway, it is really not necessary (nor are there any seatbelts). You can simply sit back, relax, and flex and sway in harmony with the movement of the boat.

While some may bill this boat as a high-class day cruiser, there are very comfortable guest accommodations for up to eight in four staterooms. In this case, the fourth cabin was designed as a chic theater viewing room, but can be transformed for an extra guest. All staterooms are stylish, serene and light, with hand-picked Italian marble, leather overheads and interesting art. In two of the guest cabins there are translucent gray-toned rubber sinks that reflect the purple lighting around them. Lotter points out that when the water runs from the tap, it makes no sound. The master cabin is placed, unusually, in the forward peak of the boat. Neil Cheston, Director of Sales at YCO, who is looking for the perfect buyer for this new yacht, was quick to point out that he had visited each guest cabin while the yacht was under way at 48 knots, and had sat on the beds and stood in the bathrooms to check out noise and vibration levels. “She is amazingly quiet and smooth” he says. “The build quality is so good that even at high speed, where you sense every ripple on the water, the fittings don’t rattle and nothing creaks. Quite eerie in fact!” He encouraged me to do the same when I experienced the boat underway. I complied, and sure enough, belowdecks, it is amazingly stable and quiet. No rattling even from the doors, which have all been well sealed. Part of it is due to a custom underwater exhaust system by Marquip, designed to reduce vibration and minimize drag to meet the yacht’s high-speed performance goals, a top speed that exceeds the 47 knots set in the specs.

Cheston coined the claim, “There is no faster way to from Monaco to Saint-Tropez than via the AeroCruiser.” From here to there in just one hour, one can’t get to lunch at Club 55 any faster, even if you were to take a helicopter. When we went out for a spin from Monaco to Cannes, Lotter was as excited as if it were her first time. We sat in the bridge in the comfortable spectator seats and off we went. We zoomed ahead, rocketing at 47 knots. The boat, with her powerful twin MTUs and MJP jet drives, is extremely smooth and stable underway.

Make a wish when you see Shooting Star—she could be yours. The asking price is 18.5 million euros, but that includes the Bang & Olufsen entertainment system, angora and cashmere throws, Georg Jensen cutlery and silverware, linen, towels, and of course, the Danish chocolates.

Danish Yachts

AeroCruiser 38 II

Shooting Star

Length: 124ft 8in (38m)

Beam: 24ft 7in (7.5m)

Draft (full load): 4ft 9in (1.45m)

Engines: MTU/Holm Technoscan + MJP Waterjets

Range @ 35 knots: 550nm

Classification: Det Norske VERITAS

Exterior paint:  Hempel + Excel Paint Finish

Exterior styling: Espen Øino International

Naval architecture: Danish Yachts/Espen Øino International exhaust system: Marquip Interior design: Art-Line Interiors

Engineering: Niels Hjørnet Yacht Design + CH Consult + Nautech Design

Builder: Danish Yachts