The 73.69-metre ILONA is aesthetically beautiful and, even more than 10 years after her delivery, one of the most technically advances luxury yachts afloat. Designers Redman Whitely Dixon used powerful automotive software to design the elegant lines and curves of ILONA's superstructure. One of the greatest design and building challenges was how and where to incorporate the owners' request for a large helipad and helicopter hangar. This was eventually
successfully achieved through innovative design and creativity and without compromising her structure, lines, look or functionality. ILONA was fitted with a fully retractable system of opening doors on her aft deck, which were installed to allow a helicopter to land and be stowed in a fire-proof hangar below deck. ILONA can accommodate a maximum of up 16 guests, in six cabins, and can accommodate up to 28 crew.
ILONA has been functioning perfectly since her launch in 2004, in which time she has sailed almost 150,000 nautical miles. However the owner wanted a major re-design to accommodate some new ideas into his much-loved yacht. Primarily he wanted to have a large swimming pool and a helipad large enough to take his Agusta 109 Grand New helicopter.
We did everything possible to minimise ILONA’s time at the yard. We plotted out the main aspects of the project well in advance of the yacht arriving in Vlissingen. The pre-construction drawings and designs of the pool had begun, as had the upper deck extensions and the new helideck. We extracted the heli-lift and hatches and trimmed off the aft upper decks to make room for their extension parts. We lifted the teak decks, disconnected the lighting and plumbing and removed interior panels and furnishings. We installed the pool’s floor movement, water-treatment and heating systems.
With the decision to create a new helipad on the sundeck, and locate the swimming pool on main deck aft, the challenge was to make these technical changes without affecting the flowing aesthetic lines of ILONA. Adding the additional superstructure for the helipad could have made the yacht look top heavy, so we extended the owner’s deck and the bridge deck by 3 metres in order to bring the aesthetic appearance back into balance. We also used metallic grey paint to reduce the visual impact of the helideck, and the result is that ILONA looks every bit as streamlined and well-proportioned as before.
The simplicity of ILONA’s subtly enhanced lines around the new helideck belies the enormous engineering challenge involved to ensure safe helicopter operations. In fact, to handle the maximum take-off weight of the helicopter, 3,200kg, AMELS installed hidden steel pillars right down to the engine room bilges. So when the owner’s Agusta 109 GrandNew helicopter approaches the extended sundeck high above the waterline, it not only makes for a spectacular sight but it is also a marvel of AMELS engineering.
It was when the owner sent a short SMS message from his mobile phone that everyone involved in the project knew it really was ‘mission accomplished’: “Thanks! Just completed 50 laps of the pool!”