Balk Shipyard has started the comprehensive rebuild of the 36.40-metre explorer yacht Lars. Named after the Disney ice bear character, Lars will take her owners on expeditions to the North Pole region starting with a maiden voyage from Spitsbergen to Nova Zembla in the spring of 2012. The project involves raising the superstructure and a wide range of other exterior and interior work, an ideal combination for a yard that has long specialised in the construction, repair and maintenance of commercial vessels as well as luxury superyachts.
The story of Lars actually started way back in 1995, when she was conceived as the ultimate tug boat by an owner who also wanted to use her for pleasure sailing. The original design was by Dutch naval architect Herman Jansen and the Dutch yard Made started building the vessel to Bureau Veritas and Norwegian ice class. Lars therefore has a rib every 20 centimetres in the forward part of the vessel plus a hull made of 40 tons of stainless steel. The corners of the superstructure have also been finished in stainless steel, minimising the chance of any wear.
Unfortunately, the boat was never completed and the yacht was recently sold to a new owner who commissioned Balk to finish the work and much more besides. All the towing equipment is now being removed and an extensive amount of stripping will be required before the new parts of the yacht can be added.
Working in partnership with designer Felix Buytendijk, Lars’ entire superstructure will be raised and restyled to give it more of a ‘yacht’ feel, especially on the foreword section where the additional shaping will also create the extra space required for air-conditioning and the like. The flybridge will be made more complete, the bridge deck superstructure lengthened to include a lounge area, and a new swimming platform is to be integrated into the traditional canoe stern. Other highlights of the ‘new’ Lars, which is due to be ready by the end of 2011, will be a sun deck area and an observation helm from which the yacht can also be sailed.
The interior will be finished to a superyacht standard, with a masculine sporty style. Wooden floors will be laid throughout as part of a no-nonsense approach designed to keep maintenance to a minimum. Lars will certainly offer a pleasant environment for the eight guests to reside on long journeys, with a lounge and fitness room on the bridge deck, a comfortable saloon and dining area on the main deck, an owner’s stateroom and three suites. There is also dedicated accommodation for up to five crew members including a captain’s cabin strategically placed adjacent to the wheelhouse. The main deck aft will store two large tenders and there is a great deal of storage and refrigeration to allow for long voyages.
A testament to traditional Dutch craftsmanship and power, the new superyacht will have a single 1500hp Caterpillar engine giving a range of 3,500 nautical miles with a cruising speed of 10 knots. Lars also has two eight-cylinder Caterpillar generators plus a six-cylinder 160 KW Gardner that can activate a stern schottel thruster in case of engine failure. They are all form part of a high-end equipment portfolio that will ensure this expedition yacht can tackle the harshest conditions.