Captain of 1954 Feadship ISTROS on Rebuilding a Classic

By Jenna Mehdi

The 1954 classic Feadship motor yacht Istros caught the industry’s attention as she emerged from a major rebuild just last year. In possibly the most extreme example of a superyacht rebuild, Istros gives new meaning to the phrase ‘modern classic’. Retaining only the original 1954 hull and form, Istros is equipped with all-new state-of-the-art systems and an innovative, eco-friendly ethos. Now available for charter with Cecil Wright & Partners, we heard from Captain Tristan Le Brun on the remarkable experience of rebuilding Istros from the ground up…

At first glance, it is difficult to reconcile Istros’ elegant form and exemplary modern-classic appearance with the abandoned hull towed into the Feadship yard two years earlier. ‘From a technical point of view, there is nothing left from the 50s,’ Tristan tells us. ‘Everything is new from A to Z.’ 

Take a closer look though, and you may notice there is something different about the way Istros looks. She does not look quite like a ‘modern classic’ built today.

‘It was a big challenge to have the whole boat comply with modern safety and construction regulations,’ says Tristan. ‘Most modern classics built to modern regulations will end up being higher, wider - bulkier, without the same elegance.’ 

And the challenge certainly paid off. As her owner put it, for guests looking to charter a truly authentic modern classic with ‘an immediate feeling of boarding a gentleman’s liner from 1954’, there is nothing like Istros on the market. 

But how did the project come about?

Having worked together for 11 years now, Istros is the fourth refit project taken on by owner and captain. Each project growing more ambitious than the next, Tristan tells us both men are in it for the love of engineering (the owner being an engineer by trade) and desire to be as efficient as possible on every level. 

‘We were both fascinated by some ideas that we had, that classic yachts are truly timeless and will always appeal to people with their elegance,’ Tristan says. ‘But we were also very aware that most of the classic yachts nowadays, even if they have a refit, never go far enough in the process. There is always some old equipment left on board - old piping, old wiring or insulation.

So when Captain Tristan was browsing the internet one afternoon while at anchor in the Bahamas and spotted Istros listed for sale at a reasonable asking price, he knew he had found their next project. 

‘I had first spotted her back in 2015 - she was berthed in Malta and left unattended and rotting. Later when I saw her for sale, I was convinced she was a Feadship - but she was advertised as De Vries Lentsch.’

Owner and captain had almost proceeded in 2014 with another project, also a classic Dutch hull, but had stopped because the stability of the boat was not compatible with the weight distribution brought on by new systems and insulation. Istros, as it turned out, would be just right. 

With a good knowledge of the complex history of the four Feadship shipyards, Captain Tristan became more and more certain the hull was Feadship-built. He did his research, checked the archives and put his case to Feadship. It was accepted. 

‘From the very beginning I had Feadship in mind for the rebuild,’ he told us. ‘It would be a mistake to do what we did to Istros without a good brand name. I’ve seen a few “unknown” projects like that and I think they are much more difficult to market when the time comes.’

As it would turn out, Feadship was an excellent choice for the rebuild. Utilising the very best in Dutch engineering, the innovative eco-friendly systems onboard Istros would be considered remarkable even on a new build. 

A zero PPM water filter means Istros’ crew can wash the boat down with minimal to no soap, without need to dry after washdown. The benefits of this are twofold, as Istros will need much longer intervals between resprays - which is itself highly pollutant.

‘There are lots of examples of eco-friendly solutions which required some investment, but which will prove financially beneficial to us in the long run,’ Tristan tells us. 

Another is the yacht’s diesel turbine which operates with very low emissions. Maintenance is much less frequent than on a diesel generator, Tristan says, anticipating a return in four or five years. Add to this the yacht’s intelligent heat recovery system and various onboard operations - swapping plastic for glass bottles for example - and Istros proves a match for the most sustainable of new builds. 

And Tristan’s favourite part of the experience? ‘When I come into a marina and see the reaction of the people there. It can be a linesman or tourists walking on the docks - they stop what they are doing and get their phones out to take a picture. 

If someone working on a boat all day long stops to take a picture of another boat - that’s very rewarding to me.’

Istros will be available for charter in the West Mediterranean with Cecil Wright & Partners this upcoming season. 

The yacht has already generated significant interest even as we only just begin to come out of lockdown. Enquire now to secure your booking.

"From a technical point of view, there is nothing left from the 50s. Everything is new from A to Z."

Captain Tristan Le Brun

"From a technical point of view, there is nothing left from the 50s. Everything is new from A to Z."

Captain Tristan Le Brun
By Jenna Mehdi
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