Let’s play a game of “what if.” So what do you think would happen if you commissioned your new $2 million flagship from a naval architect who’d enjoyed an unparalleled career spanning multiple decades designing some of the most memorable cruising and racing yachts ever conceived, such as a long line of iconic Swans? Who was well-known in both Europe and the Americas—you know, Western civilization—as one of the legendary figures in contemporary boat design? A guy like, oh, say, Argentinian Germán Frers.
And what if you teamed up Frers with one of, if not the, most well-established boatyards in the Far East, a family-run company that’s been in business for just over four decades, an outfit where the torch has been passed down through the generations, and that’s now run on the sales side by a pair of young siblings who not only wish to make their mark, but who are also obsessed with making the product the best it could be? A firm like, we don’t know, maybe Queen Long Marine in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
What you might get—in fact, what we have gotten from this exact collaboration of Frers, the artist, and Queen Long, the artisans—is the new Hylas 60, the second of our Best Luxury Cruisers for 2021. And it’s pretty darn wonderful.
Murphy grew up on a 1970s-era Taiwanese yacht, back in the day when many an offering built on the island was disparaged as a “leaky teaky.”
Murphy said: “I went through this boat closely, taking many pictures, because I also do some work with the ABYC for their study guides, and these are exemplary, exemplary installations. They’re really showing, in many ways, the high watermark in marine craftsmanship. So, whatever ideas people might have had about Taiwanese builders before this, this company totally turns that upside down.”
And Murphy was just getting started: “In terms of design, it felt very wholesome. We’ve talked thematically about some of the ways that innovation is used; some boats felt a little bit tired, like they were actively avoiding any innovation. Other boats may have strayed a little bit too far in that direction. I thought this boat was beautiful in the way they were taking on technology and innovation in a very seamanlike way. One example is the CZone digital-switching distribution that they use for electricity. It’s a 24-volt DC system with just a handful of 12-volt appliances. But the digital switching allows you to cut down on the wiring that’s run all through the boat. At the same time, there’s a manual backup. So if you have any trouble with any of the circuits, every single circuit is backed up by an actual physical fuse that you can swap out. And under sail, it felt really good. Again, thematically, one of the things we’ve seen throughout the whole fleet this year is twin rudders. And we saw them again here as well.”
Murphy concluded: “They even used 316 L stainless steel for the tankage. The L means ‘low carbon’ so that you’re using the same metal for the plate as for the welding material itself. Again, this is a thing where Far East builders had a horrible reputation because they were using cheap equipment. You’d hear about the black-iron Chinese tanks that would sort of corrode out after a while. This is top-of-the-line quality. And it’s everywhere.”
“The Hylas was just gorgeous,” Pillsbury seconded. “From the low-profile cabin top, to the thoroughly modern-looking sprit, to the wraparound windows, it was just a beautiful yacht. There were multiple blueprints with labeling for all of your plumbing, every single pump, every single through-hull fitting, the electrical circuit, and so on. The wiring was all color-coded and labeled. The level of detail was incredible. I mean, every seacock had a label on it. Engraved! Not written with a magic marker; it was engraved as to what that seacock did. There was even a little display in the galley showing you the temperature in both refrigerators and the freezer. Truly, the attention to detail in the boat was really quite something from a build standpoint.”
And then, finally, there was the ultimate compliment: “This Hylas feels like a boat built by sailors,” Pillsbury said. And winning sailors at that.