Sunrise: the homegrown yacht
A hands-on owner explains why he enjoyed realising his vision on a yacht designed for his family.
For the owner of Sunrise, what first began as leisurely summer holidays spent cruising the Turkish coastline on board traditional gulets has today transpired to be a lifelong passion for building superyachts. In July 2020, Sunrise, built by Yildiz Gemi shipyard in Istanbul – the same yard that built the iconic Maltese Falcon – was successfully delivered. It bears an exterior design by Ginton Naval Architects and a custom interior by Hot Lab, but the hero of this new build story is the owner himself, for he made the unusual choice of renting a shipyard and going it alone.
Sunrise is his fourth yacht, and the fourth example of a boat he has built in a rented shipyard. His first foray into this brave new world occurred in 1988. “I decided to build my own motoryacht in İstanbul with a boatbuilding friend who imports wood and teak into Turkey,” he says. Two more boats followed – a 26 metre in 1991, and a 34 metre in 2005 – enabling family fun cruising the waters of Turkey, Croatia and Montenegro. “It’s been my hobby for 30 years,” he says simply, but it’s a hobby that benefits from his growing shipbuilding expertise and a deep and confident knowledge base.
“He likes to have full control over the project,” says Deniz Yilmazer, owner’s representative and captain of Sunrise. “He chooses the builders himself and carries out all the negotiations, even selecting the suppliers and materials that will be used for the yacht build. He knows what he wants, and he likes realising his vision.”
Like most yacht owners, his needs and wishes have changed gradually over time – his family has grown, as have his list of onboard pursuits, such as scuba diving, fishing, videography and sailing. With his heart set on a substantial 43 metre to better cater for these interests, he embarked on the Sunshine build in Yildiz in 2016, this time with the design expertise of Milan-based studio Hot Lab.
“Hot Lab had some other projects running in Tuzla at the same time that I visited the yard,” explains the owner. “I am accustomed to an Italian designer from my previous boats, and Hot Lab is a young team with flexible ideas, client-oriented and very easy to work with.”
“In less than an hour we had agreed on all the design and contract principles,” says Antonio Romano, Hot Lab co-founder. “He was looking for a family-oriented motoryacht for personal use and thanks to his previous experience was able to provide a detailed brief, which was a great help for both us and the shipyard.”
Sunrise features an unconventional interior layout, with the master stateroom overlooking the open aft deck on the upper deck. She is also fitted with a lift that services all three decks, while the tenders and toys are stored ‘explorer-style’ on the open foredeck, allowing for a beach club in the stern. Walnut, Macassar ebony and honey afzelia woodwork in checkerboard panels in the interior are paired with chrome, nacre and woven leather finishes. It’s an interior that reflects the owner’s culture and tastes while satisfying three generations of family members’ needs.
Central to the owner’s brief was the ability to drop anchor in every possible bay. He spends long periods of time on board, typically cruising each week during peak season. “He wanted to create a private space for himself on board, so we built an upper deck area in front of his cabin,” says Yilmazer. “We also included a room dedicated to his hobbies, which contains a diving compressor, all kinds of fishing equipment, and there is enough room on board to accommodate a laser sailboat and a jet ski.”
The southern coast of Turkey
The southern coast of Turkey
It’s little surprise that the owner’s favourite place on board is the beach club, along with his private balcony. But his desire to keep learning has not abated. “He loves to spend time with me in the wheelhouse, as he is so curious and interested in the boat’s capabilities,” says Yilmazer. “We hold our meetings there when we are cruising between destinations.”
While the shipyard’s expertise cannot be overlooked, for an owner to seize control of the major decisions, including hiring subcontractors for the job, is undoubtedly an unusual and risky business. But for the owner of Sunrise, it is where his enjoyment derives. “I was involved throughout the entire design and build stage, and did the whole process together with the shipyard,” he says proudly. It’s a level of commitment and capability that can only be admired.
“The level of attention the owner dedicated to the project was quite extraordinary,” says Burak Akgül, CEO of Yildiz. “As always, the interiors commanded a substantial proportion of his attention and Hot Lab’s ability to render his family’s vision was exemplary. The result is a very happy owner.”