The Elegant 180-Foot Superyacht 'Al Waab'
"Al Waab" loosely translates to "sanctuary" or "place to develop and safeguard things in English. Consider a huge garden or a fenced-in field. It's unclear whether the proprietor of the newly established Al Waab had that translation in mind. The 180-footer, constructed by Alia Yachts, was created with one goal in mind: to accommodate a family, a large extended family, and a large group of friends, according to the design team.
Vripack's Bart M. Bouwhuis, who led the design team, recalls, "He stated we want the perfect house at sea." "We're not going exploring," he said, "but we're going to enjoy our time on the lake." The owner, who declined to be identified, also demanded that the boat be 499 gross tons, barely shy of the 500-ton level, at which time any yacht must be built to bigger, ship-like rules.
"She's the world's longest yacht under 500 GT," Alia Yachts CEO Gökhan elik told. "That's one thing on paper, but putting it together in the actual world was quite a problem." The Turkish yard was able to complete the project in 25 months, from contract signing to delivery. That's a lot of time for a custom project, especially when you include in Covid and supply-chain concerns.
Owners who wish to optimize internal space are increasingly opting for sub-500-GT boats. However, if the yacht is just 100 to 150 feet long, as many are, the consequence is frequently a bloated exterior that does not look good and is not seaworthy. Vripack opted to lengthen the hull to 180 feet to give it a more sleek appearance while also increasing the inside and outside space.
"We actually had volume that we gave back to the owner since it required smaller engines and fuel tanks," adds Bouwhuis, who points out that the lower deck has six guest bedrooms and the main deck has a master suite. "We decided to take a holistic approach to the design by fusing the inside and outside into a more flowing pattern."
Large, sweeping windows and doors, various open decks, and even bamboo ceilings stretching from the main salon out to the back cockpit that serve as a bridge between inside and out were all part of the design. The owner of the boat from the Middle East desired a modern yacht with a forward-thinking design that did not reveal his culture. "He didn't want a gallery, but rather a quiet and pleasant yacht," explains Bouwhuis.
The four-deck exterior features a traditional shape with clean lines and a large amount of open space. The transom's huge, enclosed swim platform cuts deep into the stern, and the outside gunwales cover the sides, making it much larger than a conventional superyacht of this size. It also has a good connection to the beach club's gym.
According to Bouwhuis, the owner's requirements dictate that all outdoor areas have various design and purposes. "He just didn't want any of the decks below to be repeated," he explains.
There is enough room on the swim platform for a big group to gather in a circle, as well as many chairs at the bar. An outdoor galley with an ice cream machine and couches facing the stern are located on the exceptionally wide sundeck. A collection of huge sofas on the terrace below connects to an inside lounge. The designer explains, "The owner wanted people to be allowed to come and leave." "The goal is to offer a variety of settings where people may have their own personal getaways."
According to elik, blending the inside and outside, like Al Waab does, is becoming increasingly popular. "You can create wonderful utilization of spaces when you limit gross tonnage and tie it to the length, like we did with this boat," he explains. "Clients are now particularly interested in this blend of indoor and outdoor life."
The owner was also quite particular about one aspect that is sometimes overlooked: illumination. The majority of other design teams' drawings depicted the boat during daylight hours, with sunlight streaming in through the windows. The owner of Al Waab was curious about Vripack's plans for lighting the boat at night while the family slept inside.
Lighting, according to Bouwhuis, is normally a simple exercise—"one, two, three, you're done"—but this necessitated study into different types of lighting, reflection spots of various surfaces, and how to use lighting in a non-obtrusive and flamboyant manner. He explains, "We had to work with the light to generate warm glows, not spotlights." "Instead of using high-gloss surfaces, we utilized super-matte finishes."
The bamboo ceiling, for example, was designed to create a pleasant, warm feeling while also filtering light at night. Other areas, such as the wall behind the breakfast nook, include embroidered leather.
A multicolored acrylic wall that divides the main salon and stairwell was created by the design team to be both showy and understated. The yard incorporated hundreds of small LED lights into the panel, giving it the appearance of dazzling stars at night and serving as an artful conversation piece during the day.
Finally, the various components come together in what should be the shipyard's second-largest launch ever.
"The scale and sense of open space wowed the owner," says Francesco Pitea, CEO of SF Yachts, the project's owner's representative. "The quantity of outside space and arrangement variation make a significant impact in his enjoyment of the yacht." It's a home away from home."
More Al Waab photos.