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Into the Fox’s den

With transoceanic range and huge toy-carrying capability in a 35-metre package, Project Fox speaks to a new breed of micro-explorer client.

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With yachts in general in such short supply at the moment, when an opportunity to buy a part-built custom boat comes along it’s worth sitting up and taking notice. That’s the case with Project Fox, a 35-metre explorer under construction at the Pendennis yard in the UK – and with its rugged practicality, acres of space and long-range capability she could prove particularly tempting for an owner looking to stretch his or her legs in our Australasian cruising areas.

The project takes the forward superstructure styling and go-anywhere ethos of modern giant explorers such as the mighty 88.5 metre Olivia O, 68.2 metre Ragnar and 77 metre SeaXplorer La Datcha and wraps them in a beautifully compact package that offers serious cruising with acres of space and a long aft deck that means serious tenders and toy capacity.

The project is being completed by the yard as a spec build after her current owner switched up his plans, committing to a larger newbuild project. It means there’s still scope for a new owner to step in an influence interior design and details, although the project is being finished to a high standard with a neutral palette that will make it easy for any new owner to add their personal stamp to her well-proportioned living areas.

“There’s a shift in the way people are using boats – experience is the currency, so a yacht that can deliver you an experience that others can’t is becoming an increasingly relevant and an increasingly popular topic,” says Ian Sherwood, sales broker with Burgess. “Project Fox is 35 metres, and typically this size sector between 30 and 40 metres is dominated by the high performance composite boatbuilders – that’s the bulk of the inventory that’s for sale or open to a client to build.”

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Sherwood believes that what Project Fox offers potential clients matches closely with what Australasian clients are seeking, given the distances to interesting cruising areas and the relatively testing coastal conditions Aussie boaters experience compared to the typical Mediterranean cruisers. Indeed, he spent six years as a broker in Sydney before joining the Burgess team and is acutely attuned to the Australian buyer. But, he says, Project Fox also taps into a more fundamental trend.

“The question is, how do you define an explorer?” he offers. “Most yachts will take owners where they want to go – the personal threshold is where your individual limit of adventure lies. Every major shipyard will build a boat that will take you to the Norwegian fjords, or Alaska, or Papua New Guinea – essentially, on some pretty wild and wacky adventures.

“The problem,” he continues, “is that if you take a 35-metre yacht to those places you’re then limited because you probably only have a 5.5 metre tender. But Project Fox doesn’t only offer a 3,600-mile range at a cruising speed of 12 knots.”

“Project Fox has huge toy carrying capability – she can take two tenders of 7.5 metres or larger, or even a submersible – which means she’s not only a platform that’s going to take you to interesting places, but when you get there she’s a platform that can facilitate your enjoyment.”

Within the last five years there has certainly been an interesting shift, with, as Sherwood puts it, “a growing splinter group” within that size sector where suddenly custom metal yachts are becoming popular again. You only have to look at the success of models from Moonen, Mulder, Cantiere delle Marche or Numarine, for example, to see that shift gaining traction.

The interior for Project Fox has been drawn up by UK-based studio Q London, and she features two owner suites – one on the main deck, and one benefitting from the full beam of the hull on the lower deck amidships. “Whether to have two very good size staterooms or whether to include an additional [guest] cabin was always up for debate,” says James Ratcliffe, Managing Partner at Q London.

“We went down the route of the two large cabins – it makes sense for two business partners wanting to charter, or for two owners, or if it’s a family then for having a master suite below and a VIP suite on deck for guests. It offers a lot of flexibility.”

The layout includes a good main deck saloon that leads out to an aft deck with bar counter, which is shaded by the upper deck overhang. The upper deck includes an upper saloon with expansive glass for great views of the land- and seascapes and an alfresco dining area outside. The huge aft deck – measuring around 110 square metres – becomes a giant beach, social and party area when the tenders and toys are launched. There are two additional guest suites on the lower deck.

Q London has opted for a cool ultra-luxe beach house feel for the interior, comprising herringbone wood floors and a palette of white and warm neutrals with occasional dark accents. “We’ve taken some of the clean and slightly masculine lines of the exterior of the boat to run through the interior,” Ratcliffe explains.

“The design allows any client to come on board with artwork and soft furnishings, to change light fittings etc and to create a personal stamp.”

It was also, Ratcliffe adds, about creating a functional interior that puts the focus on the yacht’s purpose. “We view luxury as being as much about the experience, especially on a boat like this – it’s where you’re going with the boat, the beautiful views, and having the additional toys on board.”

For Pendennis, who are perhaps best known for their refit works, Project Fox represents a marker of what they can do, and a reminder that they are actually experienced with new-builds and with explorers. “We’ve built several explorer boats over the years,” confirms Mike Carr, Joint Managing Director of the yard, “perhaps most notably the 55-metre Steel.”

For Carr, Project Fox represents the youth of the Pendennis yard itself, which features an award-winning apprenticeship scheme. “Because of that scheme Pendennis is quite a young environment,” he explains, “and they are always looking for the next challenge.”

“But as a young group, I think Project Fox fits well because I could see the boat being bought by somebody perhaps from a younger generation who’s looking to go and do different things.”

“They might not necessarily be looking just to go to the Mediterranean and sit on anchor off St Tropez – although of course you could do that with this boat – but I think they’d be looking to go and do more.”

Project Fox is offered for sale through Burgess.

Head over to OceanTV to watch our video behind the scenes of Project Fox’s build at the Pendennis yard.

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