Yacht the ultimate formula
Scheduled for completion in December 2013, is the 155 Sunseeker’s largest ever build. With its construction well underway, Tim Thomas talkst to owner, Formula One legend Eddie Jordan, on taking the concept of series building with personal customization that one step further…
When you are tasked with interviewing a man who has been described as having not just kissed the Blarney stone but swallowing it whole, you are not quite sure what to expect.
But talking to Eddie Jordan – former racing driver, Formula 1 team owner and now BBC F1 racing pundit – one thing is clear: there’s no gab here, just passion.
“Being on a boat is solitude,” begins Jordan philosophically. “A key thing for me is being able to look forward, and a boat has
allowed me to do that. When facing problems, my boats gave me my own space, and if ever there was a big advantage, that was it. I don’t need an exotic car – you just use a car, then leave it. But with a boat you breathe, eat, sleep and enjoy every moment of it – it’s your home on the water.”
It seems an odd comparison for someone who has spent his life around cars, but then Jordan is no stranger to boats either. “I was in Sotogrande around 1984,’ he explains, ‘and wanted a boat for the kids to ski behind. When I went into the local Sunseeker office, and walked out with what was then the smallest in the range – a 27.” It was a relatively humble beginning to what has become an ongoing love affair. “I went to a Portofino, then a 400 Fly and a 62,” he enthuses. “Then I bought the first 80, the first 105, and the first 37 Yacht.” It comes as no surprise, then, that Jordan is the owner of the first 155, the new top-of-the-range yacht which takes the classic qualities of Sunseeker – sharp looks, composite construction, a seaworthy hull and plenty of design nous – to a whole new level. “Coming from an F1 background, structure and rigidity are very important for me and I have always had huge confidence in Sunseeker design,” Jordan adds. Such confidence is backed by a fair degree of technical knowledge. With the full weight of Jordan Grand Prix’s technical design team – who were the first to use carbon as a construction material in a race car – behind him, Jordan likes to get involved in the engineering elements of the yachts he buys.
“I want a light, fast, comfortable and safe boat, and I can’t get my head around the idea of steel and aluminum boats – they carry so much weight, and are so old-fashioned,” he says. ‘Gary Anderson (Jordan’s designer) was brilliant at minimizing weight while maximizing structure.
With the Sunseeker 80 and 105, I ran the designs past the Jordan technical team to see if we could add or modify anything, although I don’t know how much made it through to the final designs! You can’t underestimate the skill of Sunseeker and the 155 has been
no exception – it was pretty much complete in terms of structural engineering. Sunseeker would say ‘this is what we’ve done’ and we would perhaps suggest minor modifications. It has been a very open relationship. ”The 155 is a marked departure for Sunseeker in many ways, not least in terms of her underwater hull shape which eschews the hard chine planing hull in favour of a round
bilge design, which is geared more toward semi-displacement cruising than out-andout performance. “The hull is optimised for speeds up to 28 knots, and for long range at displacement speeds of 10 to 12 knots,” explains Ewen Foster, Director of Design and Naval Architecture at Sunseeker. “It’s highly efficient at low speeds – more so than any other Sunseeker – and with the right engine
configuration she will have theoretical transatlantic range.”
Moreover, the method of building is almost unique in composite boat construction, employing direct tooling rather than conventional plugs and molds. There are some 64 pieces that make up the 155’s hull, and that rises to 300 parts when you include all the superstructure elements. Direct tooling allows each owner to customize the exterior style, from the transom and the sheer line to the side decks or the keel. It means Jordan’s, yacht can be a true one-off, as distinctive as the shirts for which he has become famous.
“She looks such a sexy boat,” Jordan confirms. “There are very few boats out there that have the same wow factor.”
The 155 also means a prodigious increase in volume over Jordan’s current 37 Yacht, to a snip under the regulatory boundary of 500 gross tons – an increase of interior space close to 30 per cent. It is here that Jordan has really had an impact on the 155’s design. “Even though the 155 is only an extra 20 feet in length over my 37, and a similar proportion in the beam, multiplied out it’s a huge increase. But that for me is one of the key benefits of Sunseeker – their utilisation of the space to the max is beyond comparison. What you need is volume with really clever innovation in the use of space. The 155 is in a totally different market, up against much stronger competition from established super yacht yards. I think Sunseeker can blow them out of the water in concept, design, aesthetics, use of volume, efficiency and no doubt on price too.” “We have upgraded the interior to what I think is an outstanding layout and cabin arrangement,” he continues. “This has included moving the guest cabins to the main deck, and placing the galley on the lower deck alongside the extensive crew accommodation. We have improved the aft deck area on the main deck so
that it is more private, which means I can have meetings there. We also pushed for a proper beach club in the stern, with a transverse tender garage just forward.” Indeed, this will be the first beach club that Sunseeker has ever built. “It’s a key thing for me,” Jordan says. “I love the idea of the beach club. Even on my current yacht the emphasis has moved from the top deck to being close to the water, where there’s more of a feel-good factor – although of course it’s only at anchor in a pretty place that you can enjoy that side of boating. I like to be at anchor – I’m not one for queuing to get into a marina. If I use the boat I want to be able to enjoy time with my family and friends, so with the 155 I’m really looking forward to using the beach club which I think has been brilliantly designed.” Still, there’s a bit of a wait before Jordan takes delivery of his new 155, so what does he have planned in the meantime? Quite a lot, as it happens. On the one hand, there is the constant urge to check on progress. “I have been to see the boat a few times during the build,’ he says with obvious excitement. “But I have also just taken delivery of a new Oyster 885, which takes me back to my sailing roots. I began sailing 420s – that’s where my love of the water came from. I’ve mostly been drawn towards motor yachts for the speed, but now I’m semi-retired I have more time. I am going to do the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (from the Canaries to St Lucia) this autumn, and will head off on the World Rally on 6 January next year, stepping ashore to do the season’s Grand Prix. The timing is perfect: I’ll finish that round-the-world cruise just as the 155 is ready!”
And on that count, Jordan already has plans. “There’s no reason why I won’t take her to Valencia for the Grand Prix, which is to be held every other year, and I always take the boat to Barcelona. As my home port is Golf Juan,
Monaco is very easy to get to, and moreover she will probably be one of the stars of the Monaco Yacht Show in September 2014. Beyond that, I’ll have done the world cruising thing, so I’ll primarily be looking for places that have easy access for my kids, who will be working. I’m a big fan of Corsica, the south of France, Porquerolles, Elba and Portofino. Summer is hot in southern Turkey, but I love Goçek and Bodrum and in September and October they are absolutely gorgeous. And of course,” he concludes, “there’s Sardinia, which is manic in August but magic in September. That said, I’m too old for the whole nightclub thing and getting in at 7am!” Indeed?
Maybe there’s a touch of Blarney after all…