Stroke of Genius


When Dutch shipyard Feadship delivered superyacht Savannah in 2015 she came with a list of firsts. Most notable is the fact she was the world’s first hybrid superyacht. The pioneering electro-mechanical propulsion platform placed Feadship firmly ahead of the pack and shipyards the world over rallied as best they could in a bid to catch up. But at a length of 83.5m, Savannah’s exterior paint job also stretched the limits of aesthetic capabilities. With 3,200msq surface area to cover, Savannah emerged victorious from her custom-built paint tent as the largest metallic painted object in the world. And this is how Feadship did it…

Feadship tells us that, “There are yachts, and there are Feadships”. The complexity, skill, quality of finish and sheer scale of SAVANNAH’s remarkable paint job alone qualifies that statement. But when the paint job accounts for between five and ten per cent of the total new build cost it becomes startingly clear that there’s more to the complex process than meets the eye. This is, no doubt, why Feadship has an entire in-house team dedicated to getting it just right.

All Feadship yachts are fully custom, which means every element of the build brings its own set of unique challenges. But, an exterior paint job, which represents around one third of the total build time on an average four-year project, is laid bare for all to see. The small margin of error is acute. Compounding the issue is the raft of increasingly stringent environmental legislation which requires certain components to be left out of paint, again making the painting process more difficult. When you throw into the mix the popular trend for metallic paint finishes, the task set in front of you is no longer merely arduous but near enough impossible.

All things worth having don’t come easy, and the best paint results are achieved by taking your time. Of course, on a superyacht build, there is never enough time. So, it’s a fine balance between moving fast without cutting corners. It also helps to have all hands on deck, so on a yacht the size of Savannah (whose painted surface area is the equivalent of eight basketball courts), that means 21 paint sprayers, 21 paint assistants, three managers and one paint mixer.

Again, nothing about a Feadship is off the shelf. When it comes to guaranteeing the perfect metallic paint job, Feadship leaves nothing to chance. Instead, the Haarlem-based shipyard has developed its own electrically-charged spray nozzle guns to ensure a perfect spread of metallic flakes in the same direction. This is what gives the flawless finish depth of colour. On Savannah it was a striking sea foam green. On 46.0m Como a dazzling silver, while 46.0m Kiss emerged in iridescent black.

It takes a trained eye and a steady arm to apply layer upon layer of primer, coating, clear paint, metallic paint – all with exactly the right thickness. There’s even a show coat to make any dents visible to the human eye, which are then repaired before finally, the top-coat. This is the special seawater-proof yacht varnish with the highest degree of shine. Because nothing eats away at surfaces better than salty seawater. If the paint is over-diluted it absorbs into the surface and scratches become visible. If the sanding and fairing isn’t up to standard, wear and tear will soon show.

To paint a superyacht like Savannah takes vast experience, over 3,000 litres of paint, and a dedication to perfection like nothing else out there. And that is the Feadship way.

“ All Feadship yachts are fully custom, which means every element of the build brings its own set of unique challenges.”

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Savannah copyright Feadship 2
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