One of the most elusive superyachts in the world, Yas stirred the imagination of many people on the day when water first touched in 2011. The one-of-a-kind exterior made a stunning impression. But the day when the bold idea of the current owner of Yas was finally brought to life was preceded by a vivid background.
It all started in 1981 when the 130-metre frigate HNLMS Piet Hein (F811) was launched at the Koninklijke Schelde shipyard in Flissingen, Netherlands. The vessel, capable of 34 knots, had been in service with the Royal Navy for two decades, had travelled countless nautical miles and had participated in several international operations in the Americas as well as the Caribbean, Mediterranean and North Seas.
The frigate then changed owners for the first time and joined the UAE army in 1998. It was called Al Emarat (F 02). Under this name, he was in the fleet of the Arab Emirates until 2006. At that time, he participated in manoeuvres in Bahrain and Oman and was one of the vessels of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf during the independence of Kuwait.
«The owner was guided by sentimental feelings. He wanted a yacht with a frigate that was successfully used by his country's navy. He also wanted the whole project to be done in Abu Dhabi. He wanted a boat that had nothing to do with the frigate on the outside, but was based on it,"»says Iskandar Safa, head of the ADM shipyard behind the construction of Yas.
The project started with a visit to a naval vessel by French designer Jacques Pierrejean, who later invented the silhouette of the boat.
«Standing in front of this boat, it was very strange for me to think about a yacht that was going to work. Reinforcements, asymmetries... I was thinking of a 'military yacht',"»says Pierrejan.
Then it was just a little frigate remodeling. But later Pierrezhan and his construction team realised that the project was quickly becoming a much more complex operation, no easier than building a ship from scratch.
In search of inspiration, Pierrezhan turned to nature - to the silhouette of a dolphin. This is how the concept of the incredibly soft lines of the superstructure, finished with lots of glass, was born. At the same time, the slim, high-speed case is like a knife.
«When we started looking for this form inspired by the dolphin's image, we had to try to avoid things like "deck, above it another, and another" - like on a wedding cake. We wanted to offer the owner something unique that would serve as a reference for others,"»remembers the designer.
The rounded glazing, which covered the bow of the two decks, subsequently avoided chopped vertical lines. It also leaves room for the imagination of an outside observer who can only guess what happens under the dome and how many levels he hides. But it does not do without purely aesthetic considerations.
«When you look from the stern, it's a kind of mirror. It's magic when you see it reflecting the sea at sunset or sunrise. It's a reflection on the green glass. Why is it green? Most often it's gray or blue, but nature is green. Writing this colour was part of my dream, my vision of Yas»," says Pierrejan.
When the process of dismantling the frigate began in Abu Dhabi, the crew, led by Johan Valentijn, found that much had to be changed in the existing structure of the boat. And then Yas was completely cleaned, leaving only the skeleton, and significantly rebuilt using materials such as carbon fiber for an extra strong frame. During this period, the designers also saw the opportunity to extend the boat's aft area, allowing for an outdoor bar, pool and garage for water toys.
«We proposed to extend the aft section of the boat by 12 meters, which gave us enough space to accommodate an open bar and pool area. For me, this was an important part of the design that I wanted to achieve. For me, it was an important part of the design that I wanted to achieve. For the overall shape of the yacht, it was a significant change,"»explains Jacques Pierrejean.
So the total length of the new boat has increased to 141 meters, making it the seventh longest yacht in the world.
To build Yas in the port of Mina Zayed in Abu Dhabi, a new shipyard had to be built.
«The shipyard was built for the coast guard. We went there, we were given space: four buildings, some territory in the neighborhood. I made a plan, I said: "Okay, we can build a boat here, but we need so many workshops!" When we got the boat ashore, we spent almost a year building the shipyard at the same time as we were working on it," says»Johan Valentin.
Yas couldn't be put in the building because there was no room of the right size.
«I found a parabolic tent in the US. It wasn't tall enough, but it generally fit. We upgraded it. Nobody ever did, it was the tallest and largest parabolic canopy ever built. We installed it above the boat," Valentin»continues.
Yas was launched in 2011. The next four years were dedicated to equipping her and installing her exclusive interior.
During a phase of intense five-day sea trials, Yas was forced to show what she could do, both in terms of performance and guest satisfaction. In the shallow waters around Abu Dhabi, she has reached 29.9 knots, an impressive performance for a boat of this size.
«Thanks to its narrow body and therefore lower resistance, Yas is able to reach higher speeds with much less power. Most yachts are very wide, so they need a lot of extra horsepower to accelerate to the same speed. Very few boats can reach 28 knots. Yas is the fastest social yacht in the world,"»says Valentin.
Inside, at the bow of the upper deck, are the impressive Owner's Apartments, hidden under a giant glass dome creating a breathtaking 220 degree panoramic view. The space is fully open from floor to ceiling.
«During the day it's fantastic, magic. But at night - can you imagine what it's like? - when a yacht comes with lots of boats in the neighbourhood and all these people can see your bedroom,"»says Pierrejan.
The solution was found. Inside the cabin with the help of a soft moving curtain, the owner can now highlight the space hidden from other people's eyes, thus ensuring the necessary level of privacy.
A characteristic feature of Yas that no other superyacht has, is the ability to accommodate up to 60 guests overnight. Common marine classifiers in the large yacht segment would not allow a vessel of this size to carry so many passengers, but with new rules approved by the Yas owner, boats of this type can now be built in Abu Dhabi according to this special regulation. In addition to guests on Yas, up to 69 crew and maintenance personnel can stay at full capacity.
«She's like your baby. You look out the window and you see him playing in the garden. It's a very emotional moment. And then the child leaves the garden, goes beyond it. Yas is Yas, I am always very impressed when I see her. Now the happiness of its owner makes me happy,"»says Pierre-Jean.
The creators of Yas are proud of their brainchild. And it's hard for anyone to turn their tongue to say that they have no right to. After all, they managed to implement a project that seemed impossible and crazy to many at the development stage.