Despite the fact that she has already completed three charter trips with Camper & Nicholsons following her launch in April, the converted ice breaker was back in the 150m dry dock at Icon Yachts for a christening party on Friday 28 October, 2016, as she made final preparations to spend the winter 2016-17 season in Antarctica, complete with mini sub and snow scooters on board.
Her owner, Jan Verkerk of Verkerk Yachting Projects, has worked as a captain and marine engineer most of his working life. As the owner of the charter motoryacht Sherakhan and sailing yacht Lady Thuraya, he has been a pioneer in promoting expedition charters to far-flung destinations.
“I’m not your regular superyacht owner,” says Verkerk. “This is my business and every cent I put into a project I have to earn back.”
Legend began life as a Soviet ice-breaking tug in the 1970s, but after breaking down in an American port she was abandoned and eventually converted into the explorer yacht Giant. A major fire on board later destroyed the owner’s deck and the wheelhouse and the yacht was out of commission for years – until Jan Verkerk identified her as a suitable candidate for refitting.
“We had run charters to Antarctica with Sherakhan, but I was looking for a no-nonsense, Ice Class vessel that could also have a certified helideck, a swimming pool, a mini submarine, and still carry at least 24 passengers.”
Giant arrived at Icon yachts in 2014 and work began to extend the stern by nearly 4m, restyle the exterior profile with Diana Yacht Design, completely refit the interior and re-class her under SOLAS and Passenger Yacht regulations. The conversion was realised in record time and last spring Legend left the yard for her first charter trip to northern Europe without time for an official send-off.
“A client once told me that yacht ownership is not rational,” said Jen Wartena, CEO of Icon Yachts, during his address. “But Jan Verkerk brings rationality to the process. This was not by any means a straightforward refit, but Jan always had the final goal in sight. Backed up by a very special team, he started and finished it.”
Also moored in front of the Icon shipyard is the empty hull and superstructure of 75m Project 250. The yacht (formerly known as M25) has had a checkered past after construction at Cantieri San Marco in Genoa stalled with no indication as to why. The owner reportedly sold his interest in the project and the yacht was removed from the shipyard under tow, but was impounded in Gibraltar en route. It then turned up at the Nobiskrug facility in Rendsburg.
In 2015 Icon announced it had been commissioned by an experienced owner to extend the bow and stern under the guidance of her original designer, Tim Heywood, and add new features such as a swimming pool and foredeck helipad. The project is scheduled to be completed in early 2017 with interior design by Studio Massari.
Other projects include the 28m Icon Islander, designed by Ken Freivokh and currently for sale with Northrup & Johnson, and the 46m Gotham Project with Bristow Holmes. The black-painted Gotham Project, designed by Ivan Erdevicki with naval architecture by van Oossanen, has been styled to resemble something out of Batman to match her owner’s matte black Lamborghini.
(portrait and yard photos by Justin Ratcliffe)