For Feadship, this yacht represents the ultimate victory in the synthesizing of two complex technological challenges: the axe bow and quadruple power. The captivating exterior aesthetics also appropriately reflects the exclusive creation of the elegant interiors, designed to be a masterpiece of luxury yachting.
Constructed by Koninklijke De Vries Scheepsbouw with naval architecture and exterior design by De Voogt Naval Architects and interiors by Bannenberg Designs, Predator 238’ is destined to go down in yachting history as the first Feadship designed with an axe bow. Yet this nearly 73-metre-long beauty has also held several other records since its 2008 launching.
As one of the quietest yachts ever to be constructed by Feadship, Predator has the highest engine room, the longest uninterrupted interior views, the largest draught, and boasts an unprecedented four-engine propulsion package.
The origins of the conception of a yacht with an axe bow by Feadship can be traced back to 2003, when a designer from outside the world of yachting urged Feadship to study the feasibility of designing and constructing a superyacht based on a semi-submerged concept.
In-depth technical research carried out by De Vries shipyard and De Voogt Naval Architects had concluded that the best way to reach this objective would be to base the hull design on axe bow designs developed during the late 1800s. Some prototypes were analysed in collaboration with the Marin research institute, but the project was soon shelved. Towards the end of 2004, Feadship opened a dialogue with the Owner of Predator, who had commissioned a new yacht with a modern yet aggressive look that had power written all over it. His primary requirement was for speed around the 25-knot mark, but he nixed the use of jets or gas turbines. This became a major challenge for Feadship. In fact, reaching such high speeds on a 70-metre-plus yacht with conventional diesel-propeller engines would inevitably result in high propeller blade loads, thereby giving rise to excessive levels of noise and vibration. In order to limit required propulsion power to the bare minimum, Feadship came up with a particular solution for a hull form that presented the lowest possible resistance. The Owner was then asked to choose between a bulbous bow or an axe bow: having understood the hydrodynamic advantages of such a cutting-edge solution and having been won over by the aggressive appeal of the design, he did not hesitate to opt for the latter, thereby confirming the Predator project. Seakeeping tests soon followed and resulted in an optimization of the hull lines, including the bow and foredeck sections. Similarly, steel construction solutions were developed so as to further refine the bow lines with a view to gaining accessible space inside; furthermore, Predator’s hull was constructed on a longitudinal frame system designed to ensure maximum rigidity, thereby avoiding the torquing and flexing along the horizontal axis that long, slender yachts are prone to. The chief designer of De Voogt, immediately took it upon himself to constantly supervise the engineering to guarantee that the axe bow concept would be completed and integrated into the image of a highly fashionable yacht. With no trace of the industrial look so often typical of the reverse bows developed for commercial vessels, the forward profile of Predator slants elegantly backward to emphasise the yacht’s dynamic lines, a sort of blue-blood casual look that is eye-catchingly enhanced by the Owner’s striking choice of red, white, and blue paint. While Predator was under construction, the idea of the axe bow was further developed by Feadship under two extraordinary design concepts identified as project codes X-stream and F-stream, which were later presented in 2006 and 2007 respectively, to demonstrate that the axe bow affords greater advantages in maintaining cruising comfort and high speeds in rough seas. Now both these qualities have been experimented first hand by Predator, which easily surpassed its contractual speed in absolute comfort. Predator’s skipper Greg Drewes, with more than three decades at the helm of four Feadship yachts and superyachts, was impressed by Predator’s winning performance and easy handling. In fact, the yacht proved to be highly stable and manageable even in rough seas with high waves that failed to throw bow wake, thanks to its having added sufficient displacement in entering the wave with only a very mild rise through the sea and no pounding on the sea surface. In contrast to normal flared bows that dip into the water with increasing resistance until they come back up, causing pitching, Predator has a narrow entry angle combined with a less-resistant form that makes for incredible stability. Surprisingly, with hardly any vertical movement, the yacht makes headway under prohibitive conditions without jolting; while in rough waters with average waves, it holds as steady and level a course as it does on smooth seas. In Feadship’s research, this factor plays an important role in overall passenger comfort, allowing them to cruise on the new Predator in unprecedented comfort and calm, also thanks to the welcome silence made possible by perfect soundproofing and stringent vibration absorption specs. [...]