BLACK SHARK, part 1: a shark is born

From inception to keel laying: the first steps

Project BLACK SHARK, the new 77m superyacht under construction at Nobiskrug shipyard with Imperial acting as Owner’s Representative and Build Supervisor, has something special than any other yacht currently built, or built in the past, haven’t. For the first time, the construction of a Northern-European superyacht project can be followed from start to finish. Generally kept very secret and very exclusive to a limited number of authorized persons, the build process is -as per our records, for the first time- now opened during its key moments to give a better understanding of the passion, the patience and the thousands of hours necessary to give life to such creations. “The build process is often cloaked in darkness and secrecy, so on this occasion, we are enormously happy to be able to share our innovations and processes.” says Holger Kahl, Nobiskrug Managing Director. “With two remarkable teams of designers and an experienced superyacht management company by our side, we have decided to open our doors and give exclusive behind-the-scenes access, and we are truly excited to welcome in the world to realise this bespoke project with us.” 

During the next months, and until her delivery planned in 2021, Imperial and Nobiskrug will collaborate hand in hand to give the best insights. Starting from the keel laying and the main details to know about Project BLACK SHARK, we share common goals: give a new highlight to the yachting industry through the eyes of those who are creating new boundaries, discover superyachts from a more methodical angle and break the useless stereotypes around the yachting. Together with our media partners Boat International, Superyacht Times, The Superyacht Report and Motorboat and Yachting Russia, we believe this initiative will change the vision about yachts and superyachts. We believe it will evolve to something more global and comprehensive.

In this first part, we will develop in depth the first information shared about BLACK SHARK during the keel laying ceremony at Nobiskrug shipyard, in February 2019. Shipyard, Manager and Designers are detailing their vision, the secrets behind the design and the name, and what is expected at the delivery. All the different episodes will be combined in the main BLACK SHARK project page on our website, keeping a track on the development until the final delivery. Before reading the first episode below, keep this quote from Andrew Winch in mind about BLACK SHARK during the whole journey that will last her build, to have a good first understanding: “We wanted to focus on creating the ultimate on-board experience for the guests. That has been the philosophy at the heart of everything we have tried to achieve on board.”


Quotes by Superyacht Times / Boat International / The Superyacht Report • Pictures: copyright Klaus Jordan for Imperial

Shark by name, shark by nature

When comes the time to find the right partners, there are always the same questions raising: who has the capacity to build? Who is able to meet all expectations? Who will understand the vision of the Owner and his needs? Starting from the beginning, it is all about the details of a contract, which took 18 months to hammer out. “Specifications can have lots of grey areas,” explains Evgeniy Kochman, Imperial CEO. “That’s something we’ve learned to eliminate: everything is defined beforehand. I know this project will win a design prize.” Nick Flashman, Imperial Project Manager for BLACK SHARK, says about the choice of the shipyard: “Nobiskrug is a wellknown German shipyard that combines many attributes that German shipyards are known for, specifically engineering expertise, competence, high quality and a fair and balanced price.” 

Esteemed partner of Imperial, with whom Imperial already delivered Project 783 (73.5m) in 2012, Nobiskrug is looking forward to pushing the boundaries in several areas and delivering an iconic superyacht. “The technical platform is completely custom and one of our team’s focus was to optimise the hydro dynamics and fuel efficiency,” says Rainer Stobrawa, BLACK SHARK’s Project Manager at Nobiskrug. “We have the expertise and resources to innovate in these areas and create something very unique, which is extremely exciting.”  The association make this project even more special, not only with the unique scope of this operation, but the experience of both companies working behind the scenes is unique.

Once the first key players are found, time to select the right designers. For this purpose, heavyweights Winch Design and Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design were carefully selected by the Owner to cover the exterior and interior design of the project respectively. For the entire project team, all of whom are known for having worked on some serious top-secret custom projects, BLACK SHARK presents a rare opportunity and, for the first time, some of the world’s best designers will be able to fully open up about their processes. One of the essential expectation of the Owner that Winch Designs has to respect carefully was to maintain the maximum waterline length was 77m to ensure the interior volume was maximised, so it would give a larger flexibility to the Sinot teams to propose innovative and unique interior layouts.

For the exterior side “Our initial design was never intended to emulate a shark,”reveals Andrew Winch. “The Principal idea was to create a design with pure and uninterrupted lines, with no kinks or elbows, that appeared to be low volume on the exterior, with minimal decks, but had a high volume on the interior. It was the client [who] then saw the shark within the design and added the customisation of the mast to look like a shark fin. It was fantastic to see the client also become an artist within the team.” To create a mast that unequivocally represented a shark’s dorsal fin, the Winch team had to design the structure much thinner than usual, which meant that all engine room exhaust pipes have been made independent of the mast. It is this type of design flexibility that helped to create the client’s ultimate vessel. In a further nod to the shark on the exterior, a logo of a shark’s five gills will feature on the side of the vessel. The shark’s fin will be strikingly lit at night, and the Owner is considering a matt black hull.

One thing that all parties are making clear is that BLACK SHARK will have the ‘wow’ factor, which Winch refers to as the ‘Beach Appeal’. The Beach Appeal where, as an owner, you can immediately identify your vessel when standing on the beach overlooking a crowded bay filled with yachts. Not only during daytime with her imposing presence, but also when the sun has set and her night signature takes over. The highly developed lighting scheme will be as mesmerising as observing a real shark in its habitat. “It is becoming increasingly more important to clients to have their yachts stand out at night,” adds Winch.

A look inside the beast

As her name suggests, the 77-metre superyacht takes inspiration from the king of the ocean. The Owner’s enthusiasm for this particular style stems from what the animal represents: pureness, ferociousness and strength. According to Sander Sinot, this majestic creature not only served as inspiration for her sleek exterior design but for much of the interior too. “It’s a very sophisticated, contemporary and light interior designed in contrast to the yacht’s dark exterior with much of it based around the BLACK SHARK theme. We analysed the texture of a shark’s skin, for example, and enlarged this incredible pattern from it. For the texture, we used a special marble floor which has a ripple effect to it, much like you would see when underwater.”

In the same way, Sinot teams studied the ripples created by a shark’s fin as it breaks the water’s surface and carved them into black granite flooring on the bridge deck. There is generous use of backlit white quartz, the natural triangular structure of which echoes the form of a shark’s tooth. “We are using cutting-edge yet proven production and 3D modelling techniques to create something unique” says Zlatko Imamovic, Senior Designer and Project Manager at Sinot. Other subtleties include the use of dark ceilings below the waterline, switching to dark floors above it. Woods used include lacewood, dark Macassar and wenge with bronze rubbed into the open grain. Modern furniture reflects the theme, with more Macassar and bronze trimming. Among the few critical aspects of her design, Sinot teams were describing a seven-cabin arrangement with a large VIP suite on the Upper deck with its own balcony and a full-beam Master stateroom that will host BLACK SHARK’s 12 guests in absolute comfort and style.

“She will have the ‘wow’ factor, for sure,” says Evgeniy Kochman, Imperial CEO. “It’s the same if you were a diver: if you see a shark, you are just paralysed. You will have the same feeling.” Despite the wealth of superstar design talent involved, the client has remained at the heart of the process, according to Kochman. “The general shape of the yacht was already in the mind of our client. He had his idea, we helped him to get the closest possible to his dream.” 

The keel laying ceremony

It is a tradition as old as shipbuilding itself: the keel-laying ceremony marks the official start of a vessel’s life and is said to bring her good luck. “It is a very important point of time for an owner, too,” says Nobiskrug Managing Director, Holger Kahl, “because they physically see their yacht for the first time.” For BLACK SHARK, it provides an opportunity to thank the Owner and pay tribute to the project designers, as well as to wish the boat good luck. “BLACK SHARK is an impressive name, with great intimations of strength and respect,” Kahl adds.

After the speeches, a freshly-minted euro coin is placed in a wooden block supporting the keel section, which is raised by the yard’s iconic crane. Under the Owner’s eyes, and those of Holger Kahl, designers Andrew Winch and Sander J Sinot, Nobiskrug’s youngest female apprentice, Fiona Diekert, hammers home the first nail. Then it is the Owner’s turn together with his representative, Imperial, and so on, before the keel section is delicately lowered back on to its bearers. BLACK SHARK’s Owner also chose to put some items of personal value into a time capsule, which he then welded into the keel himself. “It is a mark of the Owner’s exceptional involvement in this project,” says Kahl.

The keel laying is only a milestone preceded by various key moments such as the tank testing at various speed (using a scale model of the hull to compare the behavior of the hull, analyse the results and make optimal changes for the next steps), wind testing and obviously the steel cutting where all pieces are precisely made and assembled as per the drawings agreed. From this steel cutting, we get the first section of BLACK SHARK used for the keel laying ceremony, but the works are continuing behind the curtains!

Ending this special moment, Imperial and Nobiskrug came back to their aim of changing the mentalities about yachting. “I do believe people need to be more educated about superyachts. They are not merely toys for billionaires as many people describe,” concludes Nick Flashman, Imperial Project Manager. “There is a story behind them that involves very hard, detailed and passionate work to give life to a vision. We are proud to be involved in such a change and we hope to give a better insight into the superyacht world.”

Watch this space to keep the track on the different building episodes and info we share about BLACK SHARK.

Throughout the construction, we will share the different articles about BLACK SHARK. Use the 'black shark' tag to find them here.

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