Heesen 164

The trideck Man of Steel from Heesen offers a custom, comfortable escape for a yachting enthusiast and his wife.

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Many yacht owners spend much of their time in workaday lives only to escape to weekends and vacations on the boat. And no wonder they do: The time aboard can let a yachtsman get out of a rut and exercise control over his fate. The pilothouse offers a transformation, à la Superman's telephone booth-well, maybe not quite to that extreme, but you get the meaning: It certainly is empowering to take in that view from the helm as you leave the dock without a look back.

The yacht Man of Steel has some superhero attributes in its own right. The custom-designed and built 164-foot trideck motoryacht, the recent and largest-yet delivery from Holland's Heesen Yachts, is strong and protective of those aboard, yet has a soft spot for children.

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Of course, the DC Comics hero Superman is the original "man of steel," and subject of countless live action and animated film and television adaptations-an homage to him exists aboard the yacht in the form of a large mural, as well as a stylized logo on the transom that is reminiscent of the superhero's symbol. The yacht's name, however, refers to the North American owner Barry Zekelman's steel business, and the logo bears not an "S" but a "Z" within the boundary of the familiar shield.

Man of Steel rides on a displacement hull constructed of-what else?-steel. She shares a family resemblance to Heesen's smaller, series-built yachts, owing to their common origination from Omega Design, but her reverse pilothouse windshield and other details distinguish her profile from these earlier designs.

Her owner, moving up to this new Man of Steel from a 120-foot Heesen 3700 of the same name, was obviously happy with the team's work, continuing with them for the new yacht, and bringing in Ausberg Design for the interior. In a joint statement following completion of the yacht, owner and designer reported, "For the good of the project, the lines between owner and designer were blurred, egos were non-existent, and eras and cultures were investigated. It was our goal from the beginning to have a great time together while creating this dream project. From the inception of this yacht, family fun was always at the forefront for this 'home away from home.'"

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The team's success is evident in Man of Steel's familyfriendly arrangement and her playful décor. The lower guest accommodations are devoted to the young family's children, with each of the three staterooms having a layout and character specific to that child's interests. The fourth stateroom is fitted as a dedicated television and playroom, so the children have a self-contained world of their own to enjoy when more formal adult activities occupy the main and upper decks. It is here that "the man of steel" rescues overwhelmed parents and watches over the children, as they relax on wide Art Deco lounges in shades of mango, raspberry, and lime, or avail themselves of the two computer-game stations located along the centerline bulkhead.

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With the children occupying the lower deck, guests are accommodated in style in a spacious VIP suite forward on the main deck. The full-beam stateroom has a queen berth, cabinetry, and private head to starboard, as well as an exercise room where the owner's office is normally located. To port is a seating area that overlooks the sea through three large windows. If the windows don't provide enough of a view, a large hullside panel can be folded out to create a balcony with unobstructed views to the horizon.

At the center of the main deck are a guest foyer and the open central circular staircase, appropriately constructed of free-standing steel, that spans all three interior decks. A stunning display lies underfoot here and in the passageway to the VIP stateroom. Thousands of individually selected black river stones are mounted under clear structural glass and backlit in blue. The otherworldly motif continues into the day-head where it adorns both the deck and bulkhead. Glass is also used to advantage in the lower foyer, where a giant, stylized oyster shell, rendered in shades of blue, white, black, and clear glass, adorns the bulkhead facing the stairs.

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Abaft the main-deck foyer are the dining room and salon. There's also a large bar area that, via large movable glass panels, can be opened to the aft deck. The dining area, open to the salon but defined by low cabinetry, has a large square table that can host up to 12 in comfort. The salon features an assortment of sofas, chaises, and ottomans for the utmost in seating flexibility, and the bar seats an additional six guests.

The spacious VIP stateroom, forward on the main deck, could easily serve as the master suite, but that's located up one more deck, abaft the pilothouse. It's a magnificent space in both concept and execution, with a kingsize berth on a rotating platform at the center of a circular stateroom. When facing forward, the berth's view is oriented to a widescreen video center. Rotated 180 degrees, the berth faces an aft deck with a waterfall whirlpool spa, sunpad, settee, and bar, as well as a view of the sea beyond. A folding hatch at the stairway from the main deck assures privacy when desired-the owners' "Fortress of Solitude"-or can be opened to welcome guests to this area.

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A second lounge area forward of the pilothouse, with a large settee, two tables, and a folding clamshell awning for shade, guarantees that the guests will not suffer when the owners' area is off-limits. All navigation is done from the pilothouse on the upper deck-wing pods enable docking and close-quarter maneuvering-so the entire top deck is also devoted to family and guest relaxation. Under the shade of a large hardtop with an opening panel, the top deck carries a bar for six forward, a day-head to port, a dinette with seating for up to 12 to starboard, and aft, another whirlpool spa, this one twice the size of the owner's spa on the deck below. Tenders are carried forward and aft, a RIB and two personal watercraft are on the foredeck, with davit launching, and a diesel tender and two more personal watercraft are on launching tracks in the stern garage.

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One feature of Man of Steel that is not readily apparent, but vitally important, is her gross tonnage. Most yachts of her length-the 50-meter class-are designed to admeasure just under 500 gross tons. This is done to avoid the more onerous regulations that come with increased tonnage. But Man of Steel comes in at 637 gross register tons. This was a deliberate move on Heesen's part, as they hope to use this design as the basis for a new 5000 series of semi-custom yachts. By complying with the regulations for the higher tonnage, they can offer yachts that, like Man of Steel, carry a lot more interior volume than other yachts of similar length. Additionally, should Man of Steel's current or future owners want to lengthen her, not an unusual eventuality, they won't have to face the complications that would come with transitioning from under 500 to over 500 tons, nor would Heesen face those same complications if someone wants a sistership that's just a bit longer or larger.

What a super idea: Special requests are no problem. But you understand that from your powerful perch at the helm, where you don't need to wear a cape to make decisions on the fly!

_ _Heesen Yachts, (011) 31 412 665544; **www.heesenyachts.nl**

Thom Conboy, International Yacht Collection, (954) 441-6131; **www.iyc.com**