4YOU, the third in a series of 154-foot motoryachts from Heesen Yachts, recently joined sisterships Sirocco and Celestial Hope. Like the other triplets, and like many other Heesen yachts before her, 4YOU rides on a semi-displacement hullform, has an all-aluminum structure for light weight, and is fitted with enough power to boost her top speed well above displacement speeds. In this case, 4YOU tops out at 24 knots.
Designing and building large yachts to achieve such speeds is not uncommon these days, but it was fairly unheard of when the Dutch builder pioneered the niche more than 30 years ago. In fact, the persistence of a single yachtsman drove the development of such yachts at the beginning. Florida yachtsman Blas Casares approached several companies in America and Europe for a yacht that would offer him a blend of the comfort and fuel economy of his current displacement yacht, combined with the speed, handling — and exhilaration — of a smaller runabout. After being rejected by some of the foremost designers and builders in the business, Casares found a sympathetic ear in Frans Heesen, and a new type of yacht was developed.
Heesen’s design was not the heavy steel-hull displacement yacht that was the standard of the day, nor was it a stripped-out shell of a boat meant purely for speed. Rather, the yachts developed for Casares, and later for many others, enabled a considerably higher top speed coupled with the ability to undertake long cruises with reasonable efficiency at displacement speeds. As always, creature comforts and good seakeeping remained priorities. Heesen has evolved and mastered this niche in the intervening decades, but the demands of speed and comfort often conflict with one another, sometimes making an acceptable middle ground seem impossible to find. That’s why Casares first met a stone wall, but Heesen, with its naval architecture developed in-house, works very closely with outside designers to assure that both the engineering package and the styling and interiors are completed with a minimum of compromise.
Heesen started by testing the hull design of 4YOU at the Wolfson Unit, a part of the Southampton University in England that specializes in small-craft research. Then they carefully spec’d the propulsion system, choosing Schaffran five-blade propellers to utilize all the horsepower delivered by the powerful MTU 16V4000 engines. In essence, it’s the classic one-two punch: first, minimize the power needed, then maximize usage of the power installed. It’s a simple, basic idea, but one that builders too often overlook.
Once these foundational pieces of engineering had been completed, Heesen turned the design over to Omega Architects, a longtime design partner headed by Frank Laupman, who formerly was an in-house designer for Heesen. It was then Omega’s task to complete the best possible design within the confines of weight targets set by Heesen and style preferences as indicated by the owners. Working with Omega on 4YOU’s interior was decorator Kamini Ezralow.
In a summary of the designer’s brief, Laupman indicates, “The interior design vision of 4YOU was created to evoke a contemporary feeling, yet not too modern. The theme and layout was partially designed around the work of August Klimt, [with similar] etched-glass interpretations used in the skylounge and lower-deck atrium. The texturing of the etched-glass pieces are blue in color, with gold-plating, and use a back-lit mounting to enhance the aesthetic quality of the panels.”
Ezralow complemented Laupman’s work with specific attention to the detailed wishes of the owners. “We were asked by the owners to add that extra special layer to the interior design of their yacht — in specific artwork, accessories, linens, towels and soft furnishings,” says Ezralow. “We wanted to create an environment that was unique to the client and enhanced the interior design already present, so we set about sourcing some special pieces of art and accessories, as well as embellishing the living environment with luxurious linens, towels and throws. [For] the skylounge, we found some rare Russian ammonites that we mounted into the two niches—these pieces take on a completely different feel depending on the time of day. At night, under the spotlight, they glisten like jewels.”
Of course, the scope of the interior designer’s responsibility extends well beyond just colors, materials, styling, and accessories. It includes spatial planning to make the most of what are limited volumes aboard any yacht, even a yacht as large as 4YOU. Omega’s Laupman continues, “Included in the unconventional elements are the sliding doors for the en suite owners’ stateroom, connecting the main area with the wardrobe and study in order to allow the spaces to communicate with each other, and so that they may, if desired, act as one entity.”
4YOU carries up to eight guests in four staterooms belowdecks, forward of the engine room. The two twin cabins forward and the two queen staterooms aft share a central foyer, where a wide octagonal spiral stairway leads upward to the main deck and then to the skylounge. The owners’ stateroom, forward on the main deck, is fitted with a split king berth that can quickly be converted to two twin berths, an arrangement that is particularly beneficial in charter situations. As noted by Laupman in his comments above, there is an adjacent study to starboard, which can be opened completely to expand the stateroom when appropriate.
In similar fashion, the sliding doors from the salon and dining area can be opened to the views and breezes, and to combine those areas with the spacious covered afterdeck. On the bridgedeck forward of the wheelhouse is a large U-shape lounge area with two tables. It is a delightful spot for relaxation, sunning, and conversation, whether underway, at anchor, or moored stern-to in the Mediterranean. Aft on this deck are the skylounge, with its Russian ammonites, and another sheltered afterdeck. Capping off 4YOU is the top deck, where a glass-enclosed gym sits amidships, with a bar and dinette forward, and a spa and sun lounges aft.
All this, with 7,300 horsepower under the hood, the waves passing beneath the hull at 40 feet per second, and sound levels that remain quiet enough to enable conversation in the salon directly above those screaming MTU diesels. It’s easy to see why other builders turned down Blas Casares before Frans Heesen signed on to build such specialized vessels, and to understand that even today, you don’t need all the fingers on one hand to count the boatbuilders willing and able to fabricate such yachts.
Displ.: 260 tons (half load)
Fuel: 15,900 gal.
Water: 5,300 gal.
Naval Architecture: Heesen Shipyard
Styling & Interior: Omega Architects
Engines: 2 x 3,646-hp MTU 16V 4000M90 diesels
Gears: ZF BW 7550
Propellers: Schaffran 5-blade fixed-pitch
Generators: 2 x 99 kW Kilo-Pak
Speed: 24 knots max, 22 knots cruise
Range: 3,400 nautical miles at 12 knots
Bow Thruster: Hydraulic, 134-hp
Stabilizer: Naiad zero speed
Heesen Yachts, +31 (0) 412 66 55 44; heesenyachts.nl