How long does it take to build a superyacht? There’s no hard and fast answer. Ordinarily, a 278-foot (85-meter) custom yacht of close to 2,300 gross tons would be in the shipyard for as long as four years. But Victorious took much longer than that. In fact, 14 years passed between the laying of her keel and the official launch in 2021.
Victorious started life in 2006 as a 252-foot (77-meter) project with exterior design by Michael Leach at Marco Yachts, a shipyard in Chile. Rumors that construction had stalled were confirmed when the project was acquired by Kiwi owner Graeme Hart in 2011. He had the unfinished vessel towed across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand for completion. Once again, however, work ground to a halt, and the yacht was eventually acquired by Turkish entrepreneur Vural Ak, who shipped her to Turkey.
Unable to find a suitable shipyard to finish the build, Ak decided to set up his own shipyard, AKYacht, near Istanbul. By March 2017, when the yard was ready to start work, the yacht had already traveled thousands of nautical miles across the world’s oceans on her own bottom with zero hours on the engines.
Ak’s social media posts mostly involve fast cars. He has competed in the Dakar Rally, raced professionally in the GT3 grand touring series and owns Turkey’s biggest car rental firm, as well as the Intercity Istanbul Park circuit that hosts the country’s Formula 1 Grand Prix. Ever since he bought his first yacht, an Azimut 103S, he has been passionate about yachting with family and friends. His last yacht before Victorious was a 164-foot (50-meter) CRN.
Taking on a half-built project, especially one that is 10 years old, is more complex than building new. The overall build time is shortened, but there is less room for customizing the design or layout. And, classification regulations change over time. None of this dissuaded the owner, who bought the bare hull and superstructure without seeing it, relying on Turkish boatbuilding ingenuity and his own business acumen to do the rest.
The first task was to increase her overall length by adding a bowspirit and nearly 20 feet to the stern, to make way for an indoor pool in the beach club. The master stateroom on the bridge deck was expanded into an apartment, and the original sundeck—the only deck built of aluminum instead of steel—was replaced with an enclosed top deck.
Two VIP staterooms on the bridge deck were converted into a master stateroom overlooking the private aft deck, and the space was extended aft to increase the size of the bathroom and walk-in closet. In addition to the captain’s cabin abaft the wheelhouse, there are two guest staterooms that can be used during charter by children and accompanying staff.
The upper deck is more or less as originally envisaged, with a sky lounge, formal dining room and cocktail lounge. An observation room overlooks the touch-and-go helipad in the bow, which is able accommodate some of the bigger twin-engine helicopters. On the aft deck, there is a guest hot tub, and the overhead was extended for comfortable alfresco dining with heating and glass windbreaks to create the feeling of a winter garden.
A highlight of the newly enclosed top deck is a cigar lounge with a walk-in humidor, wine cellar, bar, overhead skylights and openable forward windows, as well as a real, wood-burning fireplace. Recalling the smoking room of a gentleman’s club and built on top of the former sundeck, it takes the total number of decks to six, including an under-lower deck. To ensure that the yacht didn’t become top-heavy, stability tests were carried out when it arrived at the yard, and the whole structure was placed on load sensors to monitor any weight that was added during construction.
The yacht was bought with twin Caterpillar 3512B main engines and 200-kilowatt Caterpillar generators already installed. The latter were insufficient for the power demands and were swapped out for more powerful 465-kilowatt units. A second pair of Quantum stabilizer fins were also added, for a further 25 percent reduction in roll.
On the main deck, the owner requested a soundproof, 10-seat cinema, which doubles as a video gaming room for older children in addition to the playroom for younger kids. A professional chef consulted on the design of the professional-spec galley.
Four ensuite guest staterooms are on the main deck, as is a VIP suite with an adjacent living room. Four more staterooms on the lower deck are finished to guest standards, but are primarily meant to be used by staff or supernumeraries. All in all, there are 12 staterooms, so when in private use, the yacht can carry 24 guests.
Various container loads of interior joinery had been purchased along with the yacht, and the intention was to reuse as much of it as possible. But, the owner eventually decided to bring in U.K.-based H2 Yacht Design to refresh the interior concept in line with the tastes of today’s charter clients.
The new interior makes use of satin or textured finishes for a contemporary and residential feel that still has a nautical flavor. The neutral background of teak and white oak is punctuated with walnut, macassar and eucalyptus, silver travertine and calacatta marble, leather and linen, slate and onyx, rippled glass and hammered bronze accessories. The overall tone is smart, yet casual and discreetly masculine.
Water-level garages can run the risk of flooding even in a gentle swell. Instead, Victorious stows her tenders explorer-style on the main deck aft, in cradles that can be moved around by hand and launched by two deck cranes. Charter guests can choose among a variety of tenders and toys, from a high-speed catamaran to a landing craft.
Victorious bears little or no relation to the project that started life in the Chilean desert. She is a bigger and better boat in every way. She had to wait 14 years and pass through three continents to become reality, but as the saying goes: good things come to those who wait.
For more information: akyacht.com
LOA 278ft. 10in. (85m)
Beam 46ft. 7in. (14.21m)
Construction steel and aluminum
Speed (max./cruise) 16/13 knots
Range 6,000nm @ 13 knots
Gross tonnage 2,291
Naval architecture Marco Yachts
Exterior design Michael Leach Design
Interior design H2 Yacht Design
This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 issue.