Owned by a Russian businessman, A is from the drawing board of legendary French designer Philippe Starck, and she was built by Nobiskrug in Kiel, Germany.
Also legendary are Starck’s (and the owner’s) demands for exceptional standards of quality. That didn’t worry Lloyd Stevenson Boatbuilders (LSB) – the yard has an international reputation for its craftsmanship – but construction of the four vessels presented major engineering challenges.

A and SYA 3

Auckland naval architect Brett Bakewell-White was tasked with turning the design concepts into workable boats, a challenge he readily concedes required outside-the-square thinking. But the results speak volumes – each of the four was a bespoke build process – and is a work of art in its own right.

They do, however, share a few common features. A key one is the complete lack of visible external hardware. Many thing pop out with electrically-operated actuators. Even the Manson submarine anchors are hidden. These drop from a pocket under the waterline, midline in the hull. And, apart from the workboat, all interiors are hand-crafted leather upholstery with teak decks.

SYA 2 Limousine

Propulsion, too, is relatively standard. Each tender is powered by twin 370hp Yanmar 8LV diesels. This simplifies the spares inventory – and maintenance – on the mothership. Three of the tenders use Yanmar ZT370 sterndrives with duo-props, while the aluminium-hulled workboat has a pair of Hamilton HJ292 jets.

But ‘workboat’ is a misnomer for the tender known as SYA 4, though she is used most often. Far from a utilitarian, cargo-carrying barge, this luxury 11.7m catamaran is built in polished aluminium with a teak-clad interior.


The aft third of the hull has a polished mirror finish which creates an intriguing optical illusion – that part of the boat seemingly ‘disappears’ when seen from the side. Brushed aluminium on the rest of the hull does the opposite, reflecting nothing off the water and hiding its shape.
Featuring asymmetrical planing demi-hulls with spray rails and chines, SYA 4 is designed to operate for up to 12 hours a day ferrying guests’ luggage, supplies – and sometimes passengers. The centre bow section lowers hydraulically, allowing walk-on access from remote beaches where the Hamilton jets enable her to operate in shallow water.


Despite her 9.5 tons she has a maximum speed of 28 knots and, with a 600-litre fuel capacity, can run considerable distances.

The two mid-range tenders are described as limousines, each designed to carry eight passengers and two crew in stately comfort. SYA 2 is a 10.75m enclosed cabin version, keeping guests cocooned in a precisely-controlled environment. Fully air-conditioned and lined wall-to-ceiling with white leather and polished teak, she exudes luxury.

Both limousines (SYA 2 and SYA 3) are built of e-glass and carbon fibre over a foam core, and in addition to the twin engines with sterndrives, are also equipped with waterjet side-thrusters and gyro-stabilisation to prevent guests feeling queasy in rough conditions.

The transom’s centre section folds down, forming a boarding platform with a built-in swim ladder. A maximum 35-knot speed delivers guests to destinations efficiently.
SYA 3 is the open limousine and, at 11.95m, is fractionally longer. She features a bimini-type roof which can be raised, allowing guests to experience the open air. If they prefer, the roof can remain closed, with the air conditioner keep things comfortable while they enjoy 360-degree views from the glass enclosure.
The two limousines share similar build and design characteristics, and the open model is finished in striking orange leather, marble bench tops and polished stainless interior.
And then there’s SYA 1.

Designed for the owner’s exclusive use, this carbon fibre, stepped-hull design reaches 53 knots flat-out. Again, she features a completely smooth exterior with all hardware hidden, including a foredeck that rises on electric actuators to form a sunroof over a luxurious leather lounger. A refrigerator and serious sound system help create a convivial atmosphere for owner and guests.

All four tenders fit into individual, custom ‘garages’ on either side of A’s hull – and tolerances are tight. In places clearance for the two longest tenders is less than 50mm – a detail that offers some perspective on the term ‘precise specification’.


Luke Hill, LSB’s marketing and people manager, says this enormous project took nearly two years to complete, all while the company continued with its more conventional Elite mid-pilothouse builds and refits. LSB doubled its staff complement during the job.


Following the project’s completion, LSB has maintained this staff level, embarking on another custom superyacht tender project for the 80m Artefact superyacht being built at Germany’s Nobiskrug Yard.

Custom-built superyacht tenders are an unusual part of LSB’s portfolio – but then the company seems to thrive on the out-of-the-ordinary.
One of its more interesting endeavours is the recent Vaka Motu project for the Okeanos Foundation, building Polynesian voyaging catamarans. Based on traditional Polynesian designs but using modern materials and technology, these eco-friendly workboats are designed for carrying freight, transportation, disaster relief and community development. The boats are helping to keep traditional navigation techniques alive across Polynesia and Micronesia.

Large premises in East Tamaki equipped with precision workshops allow the company to tackle these custom projects, refits and refurbishments – and it can accommodate hulls up to 43m LOA.