Inside Bespoke Tenders of the World’s Largest Superyachts
For over 25 years, Vikal International has led the way in delivering bespoke, full-custom tenders for the largest superyachts in the world. The Perth-based manufacturer has entrenched its position at the top end of the tender market with unique and often daring designs that bring an Owner’s imagination to life. Lynden Vikingur, Director of Vikal International, speaks about how an unwavering commitment to innovation has established Vikal as a premier brand favoured by Owners of large category superyachts.
Superyacht tenders are integral to an Owner’s enjoyment of their superyacht, enhancing the lifestyle, connecting with the surrounding environment and facilitating thrilling adventures and activities.
Established in 1982 by Lynden’s father, Gunnar, Vikal delivered its first superyacht tenders in 1992 for the Jon Bannenberg-designed 72.5m Coral Island (now Coral Ocean). Since then, Owners of superyachts such as Octopus, Barbara and Topaz (A+) have all trusted Vikal with the creation of custom tenders. Lynden has worked alongside his father at Vikal since 2013, and the family-run company continues to set standards internationally for quality superyacht tenders.
“We consider ourselves a flagship brand,” says Lynden, “a premier and low volume brand at the top end of fully customised, bespoke tenders for the largest superyacht deliveries. Our point of difference has always been in our innovation and ability to take on the difficult jobs that push technical boundaries.”
Just like superyachts themselves, tenders have become innovative Owner-driven creations, tailored to individual preferences. “The tender market really took off in the late 80s and early 90s, as superyachts really started to increase in size. The yachts from Feadship and Lurssen were bigger, bolder and better with every delivery, and it’s still the case, thinking about how we can push the envelope with the main yacht. The function is that there is more space in the yacht, more garage space, and with more money spent there’s an appetite for the tender to be a statement of what the yacht is trying to impart.”
Vikal’s finesse for the creative is most evident in the tenders delivered for 147m Lurssen superyacht Topaz, now A+. Gunnar and Lynden share a passion for cars and automotive design, something which translated into an innovative solution on this project. The Owner requested a convertible tender, something which had never been done before, and the outcome was ground-breaking. Initially, the team looked into a fabric convertible inspired by the MG cars, but this proved to lack robustness and functionality on a boat. It wasn’t long before Vikal returned to the Owner with a perfect solution.
“We went back the client and showed them a BMW coupe, which has a triple-folding hard panel roof, that slid into the boot, we said we could achieve such a roof, on a boat. After that, the Client just asked, ‘how much?’ and the project started from there. It had never been done before and it may never be done again, but it is out there as a mad-hatter idea from a client that a builder was bold enough to take on. It captures people’s imagination when they see the video and ask, ‘who was crazy enough to build that?!’”
The importance of superyacht tenders in facilitating the Owner’s enjoyment of activities and hobbies while on the ocean is paramount. The motherships provide an opulent lair for adventures, however they often have limitations in accessing remote or shallow areas. This was especially relevant for the late Owner of renowned 126m explorer yacht Octopus, an avid diver who required a tender that could be used to explore far-out reefs. Vikal met the demand with a specialised 19m long-range dive vessel, complete with luxurious interiors for comfortable weekend stays.
“That was very tailored and integral to the superyacht,” says Lynden, who reveals that the superyacht was even re-engineered to retrieve and load the vessel through a rear transom submersible dry dock. “It was a specific request that the client wanted a remote access dive vessel that could take guests with a full galley and be 100% comfortable.” The resulting tender was much more than just an elegant carrier. It could accommodate up to 7 guests overnight and had a range of 400nm to reach remote dive locations, where guests could spend a few days diving and return to a tender with levels of comfort and luxury reflective of the mothership.
One example of shrewd engineering was inspired by an unlikely source. When Vikal were approached by an Owner who needed a tender with easy access for their dog, Vikal drew up the first multi-stage bow door to allow smooth access to the beach. “The Owner asked if we could make a doggy-door because they had a small Shih Tzu,” recounts Lynden. “The Owner said, ‘I want my dog, if it’s on the tender with me, to be able to head off onto the beach to do his business’. We realised that the dimensions and hydraulics would be expensive, so we made it a little wider so that a person could use it and that’s where the multi-stage bow door came into being.
“There are a lot of bow doors available now, but ours is the only type using a multi-stage system where the door shifts off a seal, drops down and then folds out with hydraulics. It is comprehensive, very robust and provides the greatest width and depth of access so that one can walk seamlessly off the deck and out onto the beach. That’s what we had to achieve, what the customer wanted, a seamless exit for the dog. A Shih Tzu with arthritis driving innovation!”
Vikal’s speciality for innovative designs was born not only out of a devotion to creating the client’s perfect yacht, but also out of a need to distinguish itself in a global marketplace. “What really drives innovation is need, the need of the customer and of the manufacturer,” Lynden explains. “Our need is to have an edge, to have a point of difference. For us to be noticed in Perth, we have to be doing something unusual that is catering to and delivering value to the customer.
“Our culture is one of pushing the envelope and taking on risks that others may hesitate to tackle. We manufacture tenders to a level that is pretty extreme, in terms of innovation and quality. We have to do something different to differentiate ourselves, in a competitive and value driven marketplace.”
Staying at the summit of an innovative market means constantly working with and embracing new ideas. So, what next for Vikal? Of course, it depends greatly on the briefs given by Owners, however there is one segment of the market that Lynden is particularly eager to develop.
“I think the future is heading into electric and that is where we are very keen to head as well,” says Lynden. “A lot of people are building electric tenders in a semi-production and production fashion, but the bespoke custom end of the market is doing little, perhaps due to its conservatism. We are interested and already highly active, in that space.”
Over nearly 30 years of designing and building high-quality superyacht tenders, Vikal’s philosophy has remained constant. The company’s attention to Owners’ desires and in-house capability to quickly prototype new pioneering designs has ensured that Vikal is a brand well-known and admired by Captains, crews and Owners alike.
"Our point of difference has always been in our innovation and ability to take on the difficult jobs that push technical boundaries"