In a joint interview in Miami both yards spoke to IBI about the benefits of collaboration

Five months after Britain’s Sunseeker Yachts announced Icon Yachts of the Netherlands will build its 49m flagship in aluminium, the two yards are in good spirits. They say their partnership in building the Sunseeker 161 yields cross-contamination of expertise, and is bound to trigger more joint projects without stopping either side from building independently.

In a joint interview at the recent Miami Yacht Show, the CEO of Icon Yachts and President of Sunseeker USA Sales Co. Inc gave their Sunseeker flagship project a thumbs-up. Icon’s Jen Wartena and Sunseeker’s Sean Robertson hope to start building the first this summer.

In 2018, composite builder Sunseeker said it was shifting to metal yachts to meet demand for larger vessels. It selected Icon Yachts, builder of luxury yachts of up to 84m (280ft), for that job.

Robertson said of the collaboration to date: “We have seen a cross-contamination, with good ideas in engineering and styling flowing both ways. This has improved the relationship and will benefit future joint projects.”

Robertson anticipates demand for more Icon-built Sunseekers. “We’ll take it one step at a time. We’re going to look at how clients look at this [flagship] project,” he adds.

That project looks audacious, as Britain will soon exit the EU. But Brexit will actually have little impact, said Wartena. “The vast majority of Sunseeker products will be produced in the Netherlands or Germany. Not much will come from Britain,” he said.

In Icon Yachts, Sunseeker has found a quality partner that builds new yachts, does refits and conversions. It will soon launch a Polar Class 5 explorer yacht – a converted icebreaker – with a 6,000Nm range. It is also building on spec a luxury 84m Icon 280 yacht.

Robertson and Wartena are confident the market “sees the sense behind our project.”

Sunseeker is not forgetting the smaller boats, said Robertson. The world’s No 3 yacht builder will soon launch a superfast 38ft sportsboat.

Sunseeker’s journey to metal has been a hard lesson. Around seven years ago, it launched a 48m pilot class boat. “We made a mistake,” Robertson says now. “We had great reviews. The market – brokers, surveyors etc – they loved the project. But it was a composite boat. It was the wrong material. Now we can get into metal build with a great partner.”