Blast from the past: Pushing the envelope with 26m Valyra

Boat shows often host some tantalising older yachts in addition to the latest models and new arrivals. The last edition of the Palm Beach International Boat Show was no exception. Moored at a floating dock at the northern end of the show, we came across Valyra, an iconic 85-foot (26-metre) motor yacht for sale with 1 Ocean Yachts that was custom built by Hodgdon Shipyard in 2013 at their Boothbay facility in Maine.Valyra yacht anchoredValyra was ahead of her time when she was delivered a year later. Designed by Donald L. Blount (now DLBA Naval Architects, acknowledged experts in high-performance boats) with additional styling by Pininfarina, she was built for a serial superyacht owner well known for his love of speed. Built entirely of carbon fibre, she was designed to exceed 50 knots with power from three MAN V12 1800 engines coupled to two Kamewa waterjets and a central booster. Valyra yachtValyra yacht galleyIn fact, the owner ordered two of them: Valyra is sistership to Zarkava launched in 2011 and the idea was to keep the first one in the Mediterranean and Valyra in Florida for family trips to the Bahamas at weekends.

Valyra’s vacuum-bagged and infused hull is cored with closed cell PVC in strategic locations with a forward collision bulkhead and a watertight bulkhead in the engine room. Although light in weight, the downside of carbon fibre is that it can be ‘boomy’ and the yacht features advanced technology for the suppression of noise and vibration.Valyra yacht stateroomValyra yacht bathroomValyra yacht stateroomThe original interior has two comfortable cabins, the master suite and a twin single, as well as a crew cabin accessed from the foredeck. The high-quality outfitting is evident in the Miele-equipped galley-dinette, reassuringly solid doors and rattle-free handles, although guests and crew very rarely slept aboard a yacht conceived as a dayboat – one reason why the interior is in immaculate condition.

“This was a custom build with very high specifications that spared no expense,” says José Arana Muñoz de Cote, owner of 1 Ocean Yachts. “The owner is renowned for keeping all his yachts in tip-top condition, regardless of the cost. For her last major refit in 2016, she went back to Hodgdon, the original builders, when they also installed a Seakeeper gyro stabiliser for more comfort at anchor.”Valyra yachtValyra yachtValyra yacht foredeckDuring our tour of the boat we chatted with Captain ‘Blurge’ Brown, who has been running the Zarkava sistership in the Med for the last 10 years. He was originally engaged to work on Valyra and remembers her undergoing wind tunnel tests to avoid excessive wind noise on deck, and visiting the Hodgdon shipyard during the final stage of construction.

“Performance was very important for the boss,” he points out. “Zarkava was launched with the MAN 1350 engines, but when Valyra was fitted with the 1800 units he decided to put the new 1900s in Zarkava. Whenever a new engine came out, he wanted it! 

Valyra yachtValyra yachtWith her new engines Zarkava’s redline performance leapt from around 50 knots to over 60, although Captain Brown admits that conditions have to be perfect to achieve those kinds of speeds. Valyra’s official top speed is 58 knots and at a cruising speed of 37 knots she has a range of around 400nm. 

Arana Muñoz de Cote believes there are two kinds of potential clients for a super high-speed yacht like Valyra. “On the one hand had you have the crypto guys looking for something really unique that can get them to the Bahamas quickly, and then you have the experienced owners who appreciate the build quality and are looking for a fast chase boat for a larger yacht.”

Valyra yacht cruisingThe reason for the sale of Valyra is that the owner’s busy grown-up children are using the family boats less, but by all accounts their father still enjoys pushing the envelope: 

“Not so long ago we had a race with another boat that had the MAN 2000 engines,” recalls Captain Brown. “The only reason we had to slow down was because the boss was spilling his coffee!”