MCM unveils construction insights on the 57m Heesen superyacht project Akira

When it comes to building a multimillion-dollar superyacht, nothing should be left to chance. While the choice of designer and builder is paramount in most people’s minds, the decision of which team to represent the owner’s interests is absolutely central to the success of a project – and to a happy owner come delivery day.

For Peter Wilson, co-founder of Marine Construction Management (MCM), being an owner’s representative is not just being a face at the table, but rather it’s a complex, multi-disciplinary role that draws on everything from engineering knowledge to sea-going experience. For Wilson, whose background includes working as a superyacht captain, a boatbuilder and a technical surveyor (and which also encompasses seven America’s Cups, including the winning 1992 campaign), it’s the combination of all these facets that makes for a successful owner’s representative and project manager.

Founded in 1988, MCM has become one of the go-to companies for project management, owner representation and ongoing yacht management, and while the team’s extensive experience in the sailing yacht sector has seen it involved in some of the most iconic sailing yacht builds of the past three decades, their expertise also extends to the motor yacht segment.

MCM unveils construction insights on the 57m Heesen superyacht project Akira

“In MCM’s 36 years of operation we’ve seen a lot – and not least, how superyachts have developed in terms of size, regulation and sophistication,” Wilson begins. “I draw upon my hands-on boatbuilding experience and that is complemented by thousands of miles at sea, so I understand what can happen on the darkest and windiest of nights! As a result, we are well-versed in multiple facets and disciplines from construction and engineering, systems and equipment selection and also that which happens when the vessel is underway.”

Building the dream team

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the owners of the 57-metre motor yacht Akira – currently under construction at the Heesen shipyard in Oss, the Netherlands – chose MCM and Wilson to oversee the build. “We were introduced to these clients a few years ago when they were weighing up the options of designing and building from scratch, purchasing from the brokerage market or purchasing a yacht already in build,” Wilson says, “which obviously was the final outcome. Based on that relationship, they advised that they wished to retain MCM to represent them through the construction process.”

Retained prior to the purchase of Akira, MCM’s first tasks were to review the project’s specifications and drawings, make observations and recommendations, and to work with the lawyers in the development of the final specification and contract documents. It’s a critical aspect of a yacht’s build where the knowledge and experience of the owner’s representative is crucial in laying the best foundation for the rest of the project.

For Akira, this also meant adapting to a construction process that was already underway, while ensuring that the spec matched the owners’ requirements and the elements of engineering and design that could be changed were brought in line with the owners’ wishes.

“The bulk of the aluminium works on the hull, deck and superstructure was complete, though at a stage where the owners could still put their imprint on the design, particularly in the interior,” Wilson explains. “We had a lot of input into the technical specification of the yacht and the project was at a stage where those betterments could be implemented and included in the yacht’s system. Having said that,” he adds, “the specification was already written to a high standard and some choices come down to preferences, not necessarily right and wrong.”

New beginnings

Akira marks the start of a new series for Heesen, boasting a gross tonnage volume of 750GT on a 56.7-metre-LOA platform that delivers speed thanks to an all-aluminium build, and efficiency thanks to her Fast Displacement Hull Form (FDHF) hull shape. This means that Akira is projected to be capable of reaching an impressive 22 knots, while still offering very long range at lower cruising speeds.

Coupled to this advanced naval architecture and engineering platform is a progressive yet elegant exterior design from long-time Heesen collaborators Omega Architects, including a laterally concave transom scoop that perfectly complements the sculpted, angular and graceful profile lines. The interior has come from the boards of the Harrison Eidsgaard studio, developed to incorporate the owners’ wishes.

MCM unveils construction insights on the 57m Heesen superyacht project Akira

“There are many aspects of the design that separate Akira from the crowd,” Wilson enthuses. “Her hull design concept is the FDHF which provides hydrodynamic efficiency allowing for low consumption and long range at cruising/delivery speeds. However, the ability to go 22 knots on demand can be very attractive. Also, importantly, based on her keel laying date she is fully IMO Tier III compliant.”

Another feature that makes the yacht stand out from the rest, says Wilson, is that she is an all-aluminium build and only draws 2.3 metres at half load, which makes her exceptionally adaptable for her size in terms of accessing shallow bays, anchorages and harbours. “Further,” Wilson adds, “the clients were very closely involved in developing the Harrison Eidsgaard interior from where it was pre-purchase – now it closely reflects their design inspiration and preferences terms of layout, materials and finishes.”

Collaborative key

The success of the project comes down to several factors, but key to all of them is the expertise of the owners’ team and their ability to collaborate with and to guide the shipyard, design teams and various other parties involved in such a lengthy and complex project. Further, although Akira is the first of a new platform model, the decades of knowledge that someone like Wilson brings, coupled to the skills and experience of the shipyard, mean a relatively straightforward build process.

“Akira is indeed the first of a new series,” Wilson confirms, “however our projects are typically custom so this being the first in this line for Heesen is not really a differentiation from our normal modus. I should say,” he continues, “that the shipyard has been very inclusive and open to ideas, and welcome recipients of our experience that we can bring to bear. It has been a really healthy collaboration.”

Akira is on track for a 2024 delivery, thanks to the quality of the build at Heesen and the thorough input and oversight from the owners’ side through Wilson and the MCM team. “The yacht is progressing extremely well – currently the engine room is close to fully populated and from a systems perspective the yacht is quite complete,” Wilson beams. “The interior is being installed at a fast pace and the exterior paint process is nearing completion. Sea trials will start this summer,” he concludes, “and we are excited about putting her through her paces in the North Sea quite soon!”

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