Superyachts exceed 24 metres in length. The longest superyacht in the world, the REV Ocean, is a whopping 183 metres long. Launched only recently, it is testament to her owner’s wealth. An accessory that many superyachts require is a custom-made tender boat, often more than one. While their prime role is that of a multifunctional workhorse to service the mothership, today’s superyacht tenders are expected to transport passengers, pets, equipment and food supplies at high speed, in full comfort and high luxury.
For over 30 years, Vikal International has custom-designed, manufactured and supplied tenders to some of the largest and most prestigious superyachts in the world, based out of a quiet industrial estate just 20 minutes south of Perth.
Vikal’s global customer base includes the wealthiest families on the planet, and it delivers tenders to superyacht yards such as Lürssen (Germany), Blohm & Voss (Germany), Nobiskrug (Germany), Oceanco (Netherlands), Amels (Netherlands), DeVries (Netherlands) and Royal van Lent (Netherlands).
The company is run by father and son Gunnar and Lynden Vikingur who come from solid Nordic boatbuilding stock. Gunnar was 15 when his father moved the family from Iceland to WA in 1969. On arrival Gunnar joined his boatbuilder father and went to work at a local yard at a time when fibreglass construction was taking over from traditional planking and plywood techniques. He founded Vikal in 1982 to carry out refit and repair work and build the odd sports fishing boat.
Before joining his father’s company in 2013, Lynden Vikingur had forged a career in IT and was based in Singapore as a partner in charge of Oil & Gas Commercial Services with Wesvault. In a radical career change, Lynden made the decision to undertake an apprenticeship in Boatbuilding at the local TAFE. “I’d done a double degree in science and economics and had lived a corporate life in WA and Singapore” he says. “Doing my apprenticeship was both humbling and rewarding. While it taught me how to build boats, it also gave me an acute appreciation of the craftsmanship required to build the things that I was surrounded by, as well as the people who built them.”
Lynden says, “In the luxury market, precision engineering, sophisticated design, high tech electronics and advanced materials are all symbiotic with a hand crafted concours-style finish.”
Every tender is unique and expresses status, personality and personal style. Some follow an open sports boat layout, others are waterborne limousines (covered or enclosed) or special purpose catamaran tenders. All push the boundaries of what is physically and technically possible in a small boat. They are accessory-rich with touchscreens, sensors, electronics, and custom-built interiors made from advanced materials married to traditional quality finishes, such as leather and wood. They are capable of doing speeds of up to 60 knots in the cruising grounds of the Mediterranean, the South Pacific or the Caribbean.
The 9m Hasna Limousine is one of the most technically and aesthetically advanced Tenders on the market.
“Given we’re a hemisphere away from most of our clients, service, quality, innovation and luxury are non-negotiable,” mused Lynden. “To ensure control of our product and schedule, we’ve gradually moved most of the trades in-house, including composites, fit out, carpentry, upholstery, engineering and even rapid prototyping via 3D printing and CNC.”
Vikal’s in-house 4x4m 5-Axis gantry-based CNC machine is said to be one of the largest in Australia. It was an investment that would guarantee hand-crafted luxury, using traditional shipwright techniques, combined with the precision of modern mouldmaking mechatronics.
Lynden said: “All our marine manufacture is custom, we craft truly one-off products, so we had to build in efficiencies to shape precision GRP moulds, for any component coming our way. A few years back we expanded the service to accept contract pattern mould making, Australia wide, which has rapidly grown as a result of its flexibility and exactness.”
All Vikal hulls, decks and GRP components are vacuum infused using epoxy or Vinyl-ester resin systems. We build composite vessels in fiberglass, carbon and occasionally kevlar. Nearly all areas of a build are catered to in-house, from luxurious upholstery to show-finish paint jobs.
In the world of luxury and high performance, “tech” actually aligns itself far more closely with traditional concepts of shipbuilding craft and skill than we are led to believe. Lynden is convinced that good craftsmanship “makes tech beautiful”, and that “Tech-supported manufacture is just another tool in the master tradesman’s toolkit”.
This article first appeared in:
Connection Magazine, Issue 51: December, 2019
Author: Kerryn Caulfield