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How terribly fitting - ISOLAtion

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat.World 5 May 15:00 PDT
Project ISOLA - 50m and under 500GT © Bannenberg & Rowell

And such good use of time, too! Now as a word, ISOLA could mean a lot of things. Obviously there's "island" in Italian, and it's also a girl's name as well, which are all very fitting when it comes to boats. Island was also appropriate as a result of her large aft deck that she sports.

However, I like to think that in this instance the pendulum may have swung more towards something else entirely in terms of meaning, and yet seem so very apt in the process. Now given that Bannenberg & Rowell are London-based, I felt it related even more to a truncated version of ISOLAtion after the time the bulk of the world has endured for the last 12 months or so.

So I asked Dickie Bannenberg the following series of questions....

Q: Specific reference of the name?

A: "We liked the split personality aspects of ISOLA - ISOLAtion, reflecting the lockdown during which she was conceived, and island, for the sanctuary that she represents."

OK. So no great leap was required there, for they had even used 'solitude' in their own release on the project, but ISOLAoffered some very nice nods, both forwards and backwards, along with an air of subtlety, distinction, and purpose.

Now apart from all of that, one line in particular piqued my curiosity more than anything, and that was, 'To take on that challenge of reconciling length and space within that all-too-familiar 500GT limit.'

Q: More and more often 500GT is passing over into common yacht parlance. Are you seeing this too? Why do you think the magical number is becoming such a significant reference point? Why did you aim for it?

A: "There are a number of factors that change if the vessel exceeds 500GT, such as the systems design (i.e. electrical, bilge pumping and safety management), and slightly more rigorous rescue boat requirements, which I don't profess to know, but the principal changes more apparent to us designers are:

  • More onerous structural fire protection that includes more prescriptive fire insulation and means of escape (such as more defined stairwell trunks from watertight and fire zones)
  • Inclusion of an emergency genset in its own room, which in theory should be above the main deck...
  • The crew accommodation areas and facilities align with MLC, which are supposedly going to be enforced to below 500GT imminently, but as yet haven't because they have a much greater effect on the percentage of overall space allocated to the crew

"So, that 500GT figure still represents a bar under which many clients want to fit and we wanted to meet that challenge.

N.B. and by way of reference, the 105m Lady Moura we featured in Going LARGE has an interior volume of 6,359 GT, or 4,908m2 of interior space.

Q: Now would also be a really good time to introduce their partners in the exercise, Azure Naval Architects of Haarlem, in the Netherlands not NYC, because the next one is, hybrid/green also very en vogue. Do we have some more detail about what you might be reflecting upon in this ever-changing space? Will the black cabin tops become solar arrays?

A: "For sure Diesel/electric is becoming much more mainstream, although falling short of 'standard fitment'. As in the automotive industry, the convergence point with conventional propulsion is narrowing, and the issues are broadly similar - space, battery capacity, range etc. No plans, currently, for solar arrays. We are working on a larger new build in Northern Europe that will have some solar array capability, but it's not going to be able to do more than some limited interior contribution to loads."

Q: Please reflect about this project in terms of how she looks a bit like a hybrid of a yacht and an explorer? This too is becoming more and more familiar as going further afield from the Med becomes more de rigueur.

A: "I think it's probably that open and extended aft deck which implies explorer, not incorrectly as it is a platform for uncomplicated tender deployment as well as a base for watersports. One interested client was keen to use the area as a kitesurfing hub."

Q: She retains a marvellous elegance, and is somewhat architectural with her angular lines and flying buttresses. Did cathedrals come to mind, or was it something else that was the genesis?

A: "Actually, there is an infusion of Bannenberg Snr and the Oceanfast days in this design. That heritage was also deliberately carried through in some of the presentations: a couple of famous Bannenberg backgrounds, and I encouraged some retro use of the Magic Marker as an antidote to the more familiar fully rendered views."

Q: Definitely open and clear, is leaving the aft so open a function of 500GT, or more about being convertible to suit purpose?

A: "We wanted to explore more unusual layouts, and one of the studies resulted in the current final layout, with the far forward positioning of the half-deck wheelhouse and the panoramic owner's suite above.

"The only variable in the GT formula is volume, so a defined amount of space equates to 500GT, into which everything has to be juggled and squeezed, including the engines, drives and all the technical spaces.

"By compressing this interior space forward naturally frees up the aft end of the yacht, allowing a gentle terracing down to the waterline with more open and expansive exterior areas from which waterborne activities and toys can be launched and accessed. With relatively large aft decks for this size of yacht these spaces become more useful multifunctional areas for lounging, socializing, and storing without compromising the interior prime real estate.

"The 'open and clear' aft end is both a function of the 500GT and being fit for purpose: form and function are inextricably linked."

Q: Can we touch on some of your other visions that are now in steel and alloy...

A: "Well we try to develop concepts that are exciting, well apart from the pack, but firmly rooted in reality and buildability. Our three most recent ones: Estrade (43 m), Telex (65m), and Kappa (112m), straddle a whole spectrum of lifestyles and design directions. Estrade is intended to represent a post-hedonism approach to life (inasmuch as that is possible in yachting...). Kappa will never wear the non post-hedonism label, but instead offers spectacular spaces and architecture. Telex is an unashamedly assertive yacht with expansive areas of glazing and outdoor living. A robust character to suit the yacht's dynamic global capability."

Q: So I may be totally biased, and happy to admit it, but I would hate to think we can't do a little bit to alleviate this - 'Bannenberg & Rowell', said Hollywood agent and aesthete Michael Ovitz, 'are the best kept secret in yacht design.' Thoughts, comments, addendum?

A: "Shucks. You know how it is. We're not averse to being something of an outlier, and we don't tend to use a megaphone when it comes to telling everyone what we're up to. We keep our design heads down, but perhaps ought to shout a bit louder, and more often. I think our spread of yards and work isn't always picked up: 11 Feadships, 10 Heesens, 3 Lürssens, 3 Benettis, 2 Abekings...."

Q: Why did you select Azure? What other jobs have you done with them?

A:" We have worked alongside them on our 55m new build at Lürssen, and were impressed by their approach - thoroughness from a compact team. Sounds familiar."

Q: What does Moose (Dickie's dog who is also on staff) think of it all?

A: "He approves, so long as he is fed by 4pm latest..."

The renowned Lürssen yard

What a segue Dorothy Dicks! They have just launched said 55m Project 13800 three years after the exacting client signed the contract with them. Bannenberg & Rowell gave her very distinctive lines, along with a fearless use of colours and textures, as well as museum quality interior furniture pieces. The overall concept was heavily influenced by the frigate-esque lines of Bannenberg Senior's ultra-distinctive and line in the sand vessel, Carinthia VI.

Worth a good long look

ISA Yachts, part of the Palumbo group, also just released detail on their new Ayrton line of vessels, and more specifically this 63m gem. When we notified them of the story going live we wrote, '....very impressed by how the Ayrton line is both incredibly contemporary, yet still exudes a beautiful air from yachts of the 70s and 80s - and all with a virtually plumb bow!' Not really a lot more to add to that for now, so we won't.

See you coming all right

Amels/Damen Yachting gave us the SX105 expedition vessel. I had just been talking with a colleague about gaming on board, when this image of the outdoor cinema came up, and I sent it to him with the line, 'Now this is a screen for gaming on board!' The reply was, 'Very cool!'

Indeed it is, yet it all belies some amazing things. 6,500GT over eight decks, 1,776m2 of deck space, 2,112m2 of expedition, technical and service areas, 1,887m2 of luxury spaces, a for'ard observation deck with unimpinged views in addition to her 123m2 Observation Lounge. Then there's pod drive, a plethora of tenders, two choppers, subs, cars, and even camouflage paint if you want it. Still saying wow...

Bring it on!

We had thought that Vanquish Yachts' VQ80 design and construction was something special, and it still really is. We could not help thinking that this 50-knot weapon's surface drives may make it sushi for everyone when backing down, but the dump pipes for the C32 Cats are just so cool, and it is actually in-build, so ready for action in 2022.

However, then came Royal Huisman's Project 406 designed by Vripack. Also all-alloy, this one is over double in size at 52m and has six decks, with just the one image enough to make you send it to everyone you know, which seemed to be the case for many a soul in my circles.

Now for something more approachable...

Sharing a lot of the accessibility to water of the swooping lines and vast spaces of the modern superyacht is the brilliantly marvellous new Maritimo M55. As a mark of what a vessel she really is, our review is still averaging 25 reads an hour. So as we say at the end of the article, if you happen to want a vessel such as this, then don't be backwards in coming forwards.


Brabus and Benz goes back into the 80s. Brabus and Axopar is not as long, but with the World Premiere of the Brabus Shadow 900 Cross Cabin at Sanctuary Cove Boat Show later this month, we are definitely going to see what crossing over from land to sea has delivered. I am tipping it will be a lot like the new Brabus G V12 900 in terms of style cues, functionality, and brutality. If nothing else, they both share 900hp as a mark, albeit that one has a worked twin turbo Benz V12, enlarged to 6.3l, and is limited to 280kph, whereas the other sports a pair of Mercury Racing's 4.6l bent eight 450s for 60 knots WOT.

OK. Today you will find that the website has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of any page, above our logo.

So as you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other parts of the group, go to the top of the Powerboat.World home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the site you want to see and, voila, it's all there for you.

Finally, please look after yourselves,

John Curnow
Global Editor, Powerboat.World

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