Six Launches That Prove 2020 Was Yachting’s Year

The superyachts from Benetti, Bilgin, Amels, Feadship, Royal Huisman and Abeking & Rasmussen demonstrate the creativity and versatility of each builder.

By Julia Zaltzman, Michael Verdon 04/01/2021

Despite a trying year for the rest of us, the world’s best shipyards completed a group of fresh, boundary-breaking superyachts. They range from the long, graceful and eco-friendly Lana to the go-anywhere explorer yacht La Datcha, to the highly technical sailing vessel Sea Eagle II. Even with 2020’s turbulence, the designers and builders continued to push ahead with larger hulls, smarter interiors and improved propulsion. It’s a good start to the next decade of yacht-building.

Benetti's Lana is a hybrid yacht of extreme size, with some of the best open design plans in the superyacht sector

This 107-metre vessel not only has one of the coolest beach clubs on the water but hybrid propulsion that dramatically reduces emissions. Courtesy Benetti Yachts

This 107-metre hybrid-powered superyacht is a breakthrough design in multiple ways. Beyond her carbon-reducing battery-diesel powerplants, Lana’s plumb bow, low-riding five-decks and open stern give her an immediately recognizable look anywhere in the world. The one-of-a-kind exterior continues on the sundeck, which has dozens of seats ringing an 8-metre pool and an eight-speaker audio system to deliver front-row sounds. The foredeck is empty, so it can be used for socialising, sports like golf or basketball.

The 120-sqm beach club includes foldout side decks, teak flooring, plush sofas, 65-inch televisions and, best of all, a full gym and spa, with a mosaic-walled hammam, massage room and even full-spectrum chromatic lighting for therapy. Night life is a specialty aboard the Benetti, with the 70-sqm cinema room that delivers a surround-sound experience, thanks to a Faber Olympica sound system.

On the upper deck is a sky lounge measuring 80sqm, with games tables and a baby grand piano. The owner’s suite is arguably the most impressive in its class. Measuring more than 1000 square feet, it has foldout terraces, his-and-her walk-in closets, and a full-beam en-suite, with a shower and bathtub. Benetti built custom décor like a breakfast table with a crystal base and craquelure surface, and mother-of-pearl bedside tables.

Benetti's Lana is a hybrid yacht of extreme size, with some of the best open design plans in the superyacht sector

Lana‘s one-of-a-kind design includes a central swimming pool on the upper deck, ringed by lounges. Courtesy Benetti Yachts

The yacht is available for charter for about $3 million.

Sea Eagle II is the largest aluminum sailing yacht in the world

Sea Eagle II is now the world’s largest aluminium sailing vessel, with an open-deck exterior that is matched by a wood-clad minimalist interior. Courtesy Tom Van Ossanen

This magnificent sailing vessel—the world’s largest aluminium sailing yacht—was built by Royal Huisman for a repeat client. The 81-metre yacht has 60-metre-high carbon masts and a sweeping 3347-sqm sail plan. The yacht is a “Panamax schooner,” which means that it’s designed to cross the Panama Canal, with the masts just clearing the Bridge of the Americas on the canal’s Pacific entrance.

Mark Whitley’s interior design mingles sustainable, alpi-walnut panels and natural oak floors for a calming effect, while the owner’s collection of modern art on the walls adds vivid colour to the woodwork. Whitley was cognizant that the yacht would be under sail for much of its time on the ocean, so he designed handrails across the cabin for times when the boat heeled. But to keep the luxurious effect, he wrapped the handrails in leather. Sea Eagle II, which the owner also plans to use for business meetings, has a 16-seat dining table and plenty of seating around the salon.

Beyond the salon, there are accommodations for 11 guest and 14 crew. Sailing a visual masterpiece like this involved integrating many functions like furling booms, automatic deck winches, mainsail furling systems and load-sensing the rigging to make sailing with a shorthanded crew possible. The yacht also has a first-of-its-kind carbon-fibre rudder that includes load sensors, adding to her technical prowess.

Abeking and Rasmussen launched Soaring in the summer as an expedition yacht that can also be chartered

Soaring has graceful lines and soft curves on the superstructure, with an owner’s suite on the upper deck that affords privacy and exceptional views. Courtesy Abeking & Rasmussen

The 68-metre Soaring from German shipyard Abeking & Rasmussen has an unusual layout mandated by the owner. The master suite is located aft on the upper deck, giving way to a private deck through large sliding doors, and also a library that is positioned forward. The remaining five staterooms are on the main deck—an unusual arrangement since typically most guest staterooms are on the lower deck. But this arrangement also provides exceptional natural light and views for everyone on board. The yacht, which is available for chartering, also has a gym with Technogym equipment, sauna and steam room, swimming pool and a hot tub, and an expansive beach club.

The stairstep look of the profile allows for sweeping outdoor experiences on each deck, all the way down from the sundeck to the transom beach club. The water was a big focus for the owner, who mandated the yacht have two large tenders—a 9-metre Compass limousine and 7.6-metre Pascoe—as well as Jet Skis, Seabobs, kayaks and paddleboards. Like the exterior, the interior has a minimalist feel with a premium on open space, floor-to-ceiling windows, large lounges, high ceilings and customised lighting (including a futuristic-looking chandelier over the dining table.) Seventeen crew members are on hand to tend to assist both the owner’s party and charter guests, when the yacht is under charter.

Feadship's Moonrise is the largest Feadship ever built

Moonrise is Feadship’s largest-ever build, featuring a vertical bow, layered decks and windows across the hull for exceptional natural light. Courtesy Feadship

The 100-metre Moonrise, unveiled last February, is the largest build to date by the storied Feadship yard. The exterior by Studio De Voogt is long and svelte, punctuated by vertical bow and five decks. Moonrise will have eight staterooms for 16 guests as well as unusually high-end quarters for 32 crew, thanks to Rémi Tessier Design, which created the interior.

This stunner is designed to reach a top end of 19.6 knots, with a comfortable, efficient cruise speed of 16 knots. Despite her expansive interior volume and length, Feadship worked hard to lower vibration and keep Moonrise as quiet as possible. The yacht was spotted last summer in Croatia on her shakedown cruise.

La Datcha has two helicopters, a submarine and an onboard hospital

Built to travel to the world’s most distant cruising grounds, La Datcha was designed for extreme sports, with two helicopters, submersible, snowmobiles, and a sophisticated dive centre. Courtesy LaDatcha

La Datcha was designed for exploration, and not just a trip around the Caribbean. The six-deck SeaXplorer from Damen Yachting has an ice-breaker hull, staterooms for 12 guests (and accommodations for 16 crew), as well as a Turkish bath and sauna, massage studio, gym, jacuzzi and even a glass elevator to connect the floors.

The owner is into extreme sports like heli-skiing and underwater exploration, and his goal was to visit some of the world’s most remote regions for long periods. The Polar Code-compliant boat is capable of being autonomous at sea for up to 40 days.

La Datcha is also the first yacht to carry two commercially certified helicopters in separate garages that are used for heli-skiing. Designed to be chartered, La Datcha has an onboard hospital emergency room, with remote connection to a 24/7 doctor on call, and crew with medical training.

La Datcha has two helicopters, a submarine and an onboard hospital

La Datcha also has a warm, light-filled interior. Courtesy LaDatcha

For water sports, she has a three-passenger submarine, four jet skis, and a sophisticated diving centre equipped with a decompression chamber and enough compressed air and Nitrox to allow all 12 guests to dive together for up to seven days.

Bilgin 262 is the largest yacht ever built in Turkey

Courtesy Bilgin Yachts

Bilgin launched Turkey’s largest-ever superyacht, an 80-metre tri-deck design that was delivered in early summer. Unique Yacht Design’s exterior is sleek, using the 12.1-metre beam and 3.3-metre draft to maximum effect.

“We designed a very attractive yacht with a sleek and sexy profile while avoiding high-dosage design clichés,” says Emrecan Özgün, CEO of the Istanbul design firm, referring to the often-boxy shape of other high-volume motoryachts in its class. “The increase in living areas normally results in bulky designs.”

Interior designers H2 Yacht Design used Macassar ebony, eucalyptus and multiple marbles to create strong contrasts. “The yacht is contemporary in layout with generous salons and a huge spa and beach club aft,” says H2’s Jonny Horsfield. “The theme of the interior is based on a light but rich palette, while the design is definitely crisp and contemporary in feel. We also brought this philosophy to the exterior decks, which closely follow this rich warm theme.”

Bilgin 262 is the largest yacht ever built in Turkey

Turkey’s largest-ever yacht was built for an experienced yachtsman. The interior by London-based HO Design is flowing and modern, but with a soft, muted colour scheme. Courtesy Bilgin Yachts

The displacement hull delivers a top end of 20 knots, while her cruise speed of 12 knots transforms the yacht into a fuel miser, consuming only 250-litres per hour.

Built to comply with IMO Tier III certification, Bilgin says its new launch is not only Turkey’s largest superyacht, but the “most environmentally friendly yacht in her class.” Its exhaust system features a filtering system that delivers 100 per cent emissions-free exhaust. That new technology promises to push the rest of the superyacht world forward when it comes to sustainability.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Watch This Space: Justin Hast

Meet the game-changing horological influencers blazing a trail across social media—and doing things their own way.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

In the thriving world of luxury watches, few people own a space that offers unfiltered digital amplification. And that’s precisely what makes the likes of Brynn Wallner, Teddy Baldassarre, Mike Nouveau and Justin Hast so compelling.

These thought-provoking digital crusaders are now paving the way for the story of watches to be told, and shown, in a new light. Speaking to thousands of followers on the daily—mainly via TikTok, Instagram and YouTube—these progressive commentators represent the new guard of watch pundits. They’re actively swaying the opinions, and the dollars, of the up-and-coming generations who represent the new target consumer of this booming sector.

JUSTIN HAST

@justinhast

Credit Oracle Time

There’s something comforting about Justin Hast’s watch commentary. It could be his broad English accent; a soothing melodic chime that hits all the right notes. But rather, it’s probably his insatiable thirst for all the little things in and around watches. It jumps right off the page with anything he’s ever written, and it’s infectious if you tune into his Instagram reels, where he speaks to over 50,000 followers almost daily.

Above all, he simplifies what, for the everyday enthusiast, can sometimes be a dry, jargon-heavy topic.

“I never really trained as a writer, photographer or producer of any kind,” says Hast. “It was very much, get stuck in and see what sticks. It’s not lost on me what a privilege it is to have access to these brands, these watches, and to the shows and events. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning every Monday.”

After spending a decade researching watches, enduring the drudgery of his office job, Hast’s big break came when he met Frank Geelen, owner and CEO of the influential Monochrome Watches website, at a Bell & Ross boutique opening in London.

“I can’t remember how much Frank drank that night when he agreed to allow me to write a story for him,” he quips. “That was the starting point that allowed me to pick up a camera and explore the watch world.”

From that chance encounter, Hast has gone on to contribute influential words to the likes of Hodinkee, Mr Porter, Revolution Watch and Forbes. He is the author of The Watch Annual, which was created for watch enthusiasts in 2020 as a means of cataloguing the best timepieces of the year.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Justin Hast (@justinhast)

Listening to Hast, it’s fair to say that he lives and breathes watches, and it’s been this way for a large chunk of his life. He recalls two formative moments: the first, age 10, when he received his first red G-Shock watch from a schoolfriend; the second came with the passing down of his grandfather’s Omega Constellation Day-Date —a watch designed by Gérald Genta.

That experience goes a long way to explaining Hast’s affinity with vintage dress watches. Unsurprisingly, then, his top four picks from the recent Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva are all vintage-inspired pieces designed for the modern watch consumer: the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept Tourbillon, the IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony 39 mm in rose gold, and the Laurent Ferrier Classic Moon.

Hast’s motto for life is “win the day”, one that he lives by as he continues on his journey to “inspire the next generation of watch enthusiasts”. And it’s clearly a mission already accomplished.

Read more about the watch industry’s horological influencers Bryan Wallner and Teddy Baldassarre.

 

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Watches & Wonders 2024 Showcase: TAG Heuer

This year at Watches & Wonders TAG Heuer continued on its path towards high-watchmaking status.

By Josh Bozin 09/07/2024

There was a moment last year when TAG Heuer surprised the watch world (and naysayers of the brand)—you couldn’t have missed it. At Only Watch, the biennial charity auction of luxury one-off timepieces, TAG Heuer dropped the proverbial mic with its release of a unique Monaco Split-Seconds chronograph; a piece completely left of field for the otherwise mid-entry level luxury watchmaker.

It was then inconceivable to arrive at the Palexpo in Geneva, day one of Watches & Wonders, to find the very same Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph as TAG Heuer’s hero release of 2024. Don’t mistake TAG Heuer’s intentions; this is a big moment for the brand, particularly as it endeavours to reach cult high-watchmaker status.

 

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph

 

This new $200,000 Monaco, which is aptly released in its 55th anniversary year, is an absolute workhorse of a timepiece. Retaining all the hallmarks of its legendary racing history, the new Monaco features an open-worked aesthetic that completely draws the eye to its intricate design details and mechanics. This is, folks, the first mechanical split-seconds (or ‘Rattrapante’) chronograph that the brand has made, essentially allowing the wearer to measure two separate events that start simultaneously but have different durations.

Of course, powering such a watch is no small feat; TAG Heuer has called upon the expertise of Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier—a specialist manufacturer of high-end mechanical movements—to help craft the new TH81-00 caliber.

Available in two colour ways, red or blue, the watch also features a grade-5 titanium case (allowing for its lightness), a sapphire dial, and a neat 41 mm package that makes this a truely “wearable” timepiece—if the price tag doesn’t deter you.

If this is an indication of things to come for TAG Heuer, we’re all in.

tagheuer.com

Read more about this year’s Watches & Wonders exhibits from Rolex and JLC.

 

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Property of The Week: Swing Into Seclusion in Otago

Looking for the perfect marriage of seclusion and sophistication? This home’s proximity to world-class skiing and wine region makes it an irresistible asset.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 12/07/2024

Located in the charming hamlet of Arrowtown this six-bedroom country home offers plenty of room to breathe. With its proximity to pristine ski fields and world-class wine regions, the two-acre estate will appeal to active city-slickers seeking a sustainable tree change.

Just a putt away from the social life of the renowned Hills Golf Club, 214 McDonnell has private access to a world of laidback leisure.

Manicured gardens and luxurious minimal interiors makes 475 sqm of house feel even more expansive and cinematic. Adding to the dream is the property’s sunny north-facing position. Each of the main rooms has breathtaking views up to Mt Soho and Coronet Peak, then across to the stunning Crown Range. 

A grand entertaining terrace centres on a log burning fire with a layout that encourages indoor/outdoor dining.

Residents will never be lonely. They can expect to welcome children home for the ski season each winter, and to welcome friends to Otago’s excellent wine regions in summer.

The home’s interior has been kept minimal and maps perfectly to the awe-inspiring location. Modern integrated technology, heating and convenient fixtures deliver a fresh take on country style. Open-plan living invites easy contemplation of the mountain views, while interstitial spaces help to keep life uncomplicated.

The opulent master bedroom, with ensuite and walk-in wardrobe, enjoys a chilled L-shaped layout with commanding views of snow-capped mountains beyond the window frames. The master’s inviting nook not only caters to owners who are fans of 5-star hotels, but also situates the love nest in a sun trap perfect for reading.  

The three extra guest bedrooms and two bathrooms are meticulously presented; the fixtures and fittings recede from view with materials that meld flawlessly with the nature-first vibe.

The piece de résistance is the stand-alone guesthouse, featuring its own private entrance and terrace. Here the interior mimics the main home, with pleasant open-plan living, separate dining, kitchen and bathroom. And it boasts its own private, outdoor zone. 

The village itself is equally inviting. With a tree-lined main street featuring heritage row cottages and a good selection of restaurants, shops and cafés—you’ll never want for attraction beyond the front door. 

With the Alpine tourist hot spot of Queenstown just 20 minutes away by car, you can be at the airport in under half an hour: Either taking off on your next adventure, or collecting treasured guests to deliver back to your private estate.

Learn more from Sarena Glass at Sotheby’s New Zealand. Email: sarena.glass@nzsir.com

 

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

Why BMW’s First Electric Cars Are Future Classics

Many things still feel contemporary about the BMW i3 and i8.

By Raphael Orlove 11/07/2024

In 2008, BMW committed to a multi-billion euro plot. It would retool its Leipzig plant to assemble two of the most environmentally-conscious cars ever designed, with carbon fibre passenger cells holding electric, plug-in hybrid, and gas-powered range extender drivetrains. Not until 2013 did they begin production. You could say they were a decade ahead of their time, but we’re still not ready for cars as daring as the i3 and i8.

Years before cries that EVs are too heavy and that plug-in hybrids offer a better compromise for the average car buyer, BMW poured resources into making an EV without the typical downsides of a battery electric vehicle. The idea was to make an electric car that didn’t require a gigantic battery pack, one that wasn’t perilously heavy. To do so, BMW would make the i3 into the world’s first mass-produced car made out of carbon fibre. This was no small feat.

The earliest uses of carbon fibre in cars go back to British race cars from the 1960s, and the first complete chassis to be made out of carbon fiber dates to the early 1980s. It wasn’t until the ’90s that we saw a carbon fibre chassis in a production road car, and that was with the Bugatti EB110, which cost around 3.2 million and required outsourcing the carbon work to the rocket division of French aerospace company Aerospatiale. Even in 2008, BMW’s plans for what it ultimately called the i cars really were at the leading edge.

The first of these to make production was the i3, a hatchback city car that would look at home parked in front of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Big windows gave great visibility, and while the car was too short for four full doors, BMW squeezed suicide doors behind the fronts. With both opened up, the i3 was outstandingly bright and airy. The light interior, seats finished in wool and the dash finished with eucalyptus, certainly helped. BMW also used a plant called kenaf in the interior trim; it’s a natural fibre similar to jute. Kenaf had been used as a backing material underneath a synthetic coating. With the i3, BMW put it up front, lighter and more sustainable.

Photo: NurPhoto

BMW even sourced its carbon fibre from Washington State, where the factory could rely 100% on local hydropower. The company was using technical solutions to make a more sustainable new car.

Its styling was daring, as was how BMW put the i3 together. BMW effectively split the car in two. All of the car’s essential systems – battery, motor, suspension, crash structures, and the optional range extender – were carried on an aluminum skateboard called the “Drive module.” The “Life module” that housed the interior and framed the body panels was what was made out of carbon. The top and bottom halves were glued together, or “chemically bonded” if you want that to sound less scary.

BMW did successfully make the car pretty light for what it was, coming in between 1200 and 1300 kilograms depending on the trim. A Nissan Leaf weighed hundreds of kilograms more, a Chevrolet Volt nearly 400 kilos more.

Sticking to low-weight principles meant that the i3 was never going to have a huge battery, and the biggest available pack was still only 42.2 kWh. The EPA rated it at 246 kilometres of range. The “REX” range extender boosted that figure to 320 kilometres, with a two-cylinder engine from BMW’s motorcycle division shoehorned under the trunk. For all of BMW’s investment in the i3, these weren’t earth-shattering numbers.

Photo: picture alliance

All of its innovation was costly, and BMW’s city car ended up relatively expensive. It started at €34,950 in Germany, $61.300 AUD. That went up to $67,000 for the Range Extender model. The most expensive versions of the i3 topped out at nearly $89,000.

(Rather curiously, all range-extended BMW i3s have 10.9 litre petrol tanks. In the U.S., however, to legally qualify as a range-extended electric vehicle, the i3 could not have more range available from its internal combustion setup than its pure battery. At that point, the government would have classified the i3 as a plug-in hybrid, not unlike the Chevy Volt. As such, all range-extended i3s initially sold in America were restricted by software alone to use just 8.6 letters of that 10.9 litre tank. Only in 2017 when BMW introduced a longer-range battery could BMW digitally unlock the full 10 litres.)

Its high price meant the i3 asked a lot of compromises of a luxury car buyer just to have the most environmentally-friendly vehicle possible. A regular 3 Series cost about the same and was much easier to live with, unless you were regularly parking on dense urban streets. Most Americans don’t.

If anything, the rather practical i3 was too good at its job. All the money that BMW had invested in its technical innovations cost it its chance to make a dent in the car market.

That would have been fine if BMW continued to roll its high development costs into future models, perpetually bringing down its own prices, but BMW wasn’t interested in keeping its i thing going. Chief executive Norbert Reithofer stepped down early in 2015 and BMW canceled the car in 2022 with no second generation. The company has gone back to completely conventional ICE, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV options. All of its EVs share their platforms with gas-burning equivalents, saving costs in development and on the showroom floor. They sell better than the i3 ever did.

BMW i3 Photo : picture alliance The i3 Brought Carbon Fiber to Mass Production

The only follow-up BMW did to the i3 was the dramatic i8, with butterfly doors opening up into a low slung cabin, flying buttresses directing air around its mid-mounted three-cylinder turbo engine. A dedicated PHEV, the i3’s engine did actually drive the rear wheels, and an electric motor drove the fronts. What shattered the illusion was that the front motor only made 97.6 kilowatts and the rear engine only 131. It might have looked like a supercar, but it didn’t drive like one. Like the i3, its carbon construction set it apart from its contemporaries, but also made it much more expensive than they ever were. In the U.S., the i8 started at a hair under $136,000 (AUD 200,000), which was a big ask for a car with three cylinders.

Following the same troubles as the i3, the i8 looked like one thing but was priced like another. It went on sale in 2014, not far behind the i3, and soldiered on through 2020, dying without a successor. An open-topped Roadster came in 2018 but didn’t change the car’s fate. Americans bought a grand total of 6,776 i8s through its entire production run. We buy that many Porsche 911s in a single year. Sometimes twice as many.

Photo: picture alliance

Taken at face value, the i8 is still a remarkable machine. A Porsche might be better on track, but the i8 is a dream realized in production form. It looks like nothing else on the road, even now.

And there is something that still feels contemporary about the i3. Its focus on low weight and low-impact manufacturing remains honorable. The electric car vision does us little good if it only reproduces the same more-is-more excess of internal combustion that clogs our roads with oversized vehicles.

As we now watch Tesla Cybertrucks lumber down the road at over 3,129 kilograms, GMC Hummer EVs pounding the pavement at over 4350 kilograms, BMW’s post-Recession vision is as relevant as ever.

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected

On the Crest

Surfing superstardom came early for Jack Robinson. Now Australia’s humble hero is chasing Olympic glory – keeping his head down.

By Horacio Silva 09/07/2024

There is a video on the internet of Jack Robinson at 15. In it, the pint-sized, towheaded Robinson, who was already considered the best young surfer on the planet, sports a cheeky gap-toothed smile and blunt bob to rival Lindy Chamberlain’s. Asked what he likes most about the sport, the shy grommet struggles for words, eventually offering, “Barrels, big hacks and airs.” 

Even at this age, Robinson prefers to let his surfing do the talking. But, as his interviewer surmises, don’t mistake reticence for unpreparedness: “When this young gun hits the surf, even the seasoned pros shake their heads in dismay.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

Sixteen years later, Margaret River-born Robinson still beggars belief with his ability to seemingly walk on water. The bowl cut is gone (replaced by a new do that Robinson got for a recent photo shoot and that he jokingly refers to as “the full GQ”), but the difficulty in getting his point across remains, though not from a lack of effort. “Sorry, I’m trying to get my words together,” says Robinson, now 31 and based on the Gold Coast. “I didn’t sleep much last night and I’m hurting.”

He quickly explains that he was not out on the town with hard-partying surfer mates—far from it. These days, Robinson and his Brazilian wife, Julia, have a five-month-old baby boy, Zen, whose behaviour did not live up to the serenity of his name.

Beatriz Ryder

“I just woke up from a nap, actually,” Robinson adds. “At this stage, I get sleep wherever and whenever I can.”

He would do well to get some shut-eye. Robinson heads to Teahupo’o in Tahiti next month, where this year’s Olympic Games surfing competition is being held. Though he is currently ranked number three in the world, he has mastered some of the most challenging big-wave conditions, including a win with a late barrel at the Tahiti Pro in Teahupo’o last August, and is tipped as one of Australia’s best chances for gold.

With good reason, says Tom Carroll, the two-time world champion and Quiksilver ambassador. “That wave is up his alley,” says Carroll, who is now a meditation teacher on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. “He knows that break in all its various moods and forms. If the conditions are not favourable on the day, when some of his biggest rivals fall apart, he can still feel it out. He assesses the conditions in a nanosecond.”

It’s that fearless ability to be in the moment, to paddle out in anything and feel at home, that Carroll first noticed when Robinson was 11. “He has an innate sense for the water and the way it moves,” Carroll continues. “It revealed itself from the get-go and to see it expressed is quite extraordinary.”

Beatriz Ryder

These days Robinson is more focussed on the ordinary. “I’m trying to keep it simple,” he offers, “to stick to the same routines, and make sure that I am in a good headspace going into the Olympics.” Beyond countless hours in the water and gym, this means time spent on meditation, yoga and breath work. “It’s a super mental sport now,” he adds. “You have to be a smart competitor. It’s not just about surfing.”

Aside from the boards, gym equipment and yoga mats, the Robinson household is all prams, toys and nappies. “It doesn’t leave room for much of anything else,” he laments. “I love fishing and cars, and really want to get into flying planes but that will have to wait.” His role as a father has given him a different perspective on his sport and his own upbringing. Robinson, like many sporting phenoms, was coached by a domineering parent (his father Trev) and concedes it wasn’t always a swell ride.

“It was challenging growing up for sure,” he says. “But to reach this level you need people in your corner. Even if he was looked at as a little crazy by some people, he gave 100 percent and then some. I have a newfound respect for that.”

Aaron Hughes for WSL

He has the same regard for his competitors. When asked about the chances of his biggest rivals, Americans Griffin Colapinto and John John Florence, he is diplomatic to a fault. “I haven’t really thought about the other guys too much,” he demurs. “I’ve just been inspired by them. Even the last event with John John”—when Florence defeated Robinson in his native Western Australia—“I was just really inspired by his performance. It makes me want to do better.”

Perhaps if the whole modelling caper doesn’t pan out, after he retires from the sport he may want to consider a career in politics. “Nah,” he admits. “Leave that to others. Maybe that’s a path for Zen.”

The Olympic Games surfing competition begins July 27. 

 

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe today

Stay Connected