Back in 2002, Capt. Ross Applebey was working for the owner of a 65-foot sailing yacht who liked his Bill Dixon design well enough but wanted to move up — in a specific way.
“We started putting together a wish list,” Applebey recalls. “The first boat he had wanted to offer for charter, but the boat hadn’t really been optimized for charter. With this new boat, it was important to the owner that it be well-received for charter.”
The owner asked Dixon to design a custom one-off because he couldn’t find a perfect combination of quality, systems and styling anywhere else. Dixon penned a boat that was lighter and more contemporary than his traditional designs — and that got the attention of the owner’s friend, who decided to base an entire company around it.
Thus, when the 98-foot Liara was delivered in April 2009, she became far more than a custom one-off with charter appeal. She is instead hull number one in the PY100 series from Performance Yachts, built by New Zealand’s Southern Ocean Marine. Dixon also designed larger models — the P109, 115 and 125 — all with similar styling and based on the premise of affordable luxury.
“Our aim is to have base specs [that are] higher than other companies’ base specs,” Applebey told me as we toured Liara’s deck, surrounded by gear from such well-known manufacturers as Harken, Southern Spars and Awlgrip. “Our sales pitch to potential owners is that you can have high quality at almost shipyard prices.”
For charter clients, Liara’s weekly base rate of $55,000 for as many as seven guests puts her, appropriately, at the top of the market for yachts in her age and size range that combine cruising comfort with a performance edge. After all, it’s not every charter yacht that can achieve a top speed of 26 knots, which Liara hit during her maiden voyage to the Caribbean.
It’s also not every charter yacht whose owner has put as much thought into construction as it pertains to guest comfort. Two of the owner’s decisions, in particular, will give Liara’s guests more space and privacy than they would enjoy aboard many similar-size yachts.
First is the interior layout. Aboard the owner’s smaller boat, crew quarters were in the bow while the master cabin was aft. The cabin looked big and comfy but was surrounded by constant noise from the engine room and working crew. Thus, aboard Liara, all three guest cabins are forward of the salon, completely buffered from the galley and crew spaces aft.
Second is Liara’s telescopic keel. “The entire keel is below the sole line of the boat, so instead of the whole keel retracting into the hull and taking up space from the guest areas, it’s more of a stub,” Applebey said as we toured the interior. With the keel down, Liara’s draft is 16 feet, 5 inches. Up, it’s 11 feet, 6 inches.
“Compared with a larger boat for charter,” Applebey added, “we can get into smaller harbors at night while still offering true performance by day. You can have your cake and eat it.”
**_To charter Liara, call Nicholson Yachts at 401-849-0344 or visit www.nicholsonyachts.com.
For more on Performance Yachts, call +44-(0)23-8045-6348 or visit www.performanceyachts.com._**