$78m yacht an affair of the Hart

By Patrice Dougan, Nikki Papatsoumas

Kiwi billionaire closely involved in design of ‘one-of-a-kind’ 60-person luxury vessel, says designer

Rich-lister Graeme Hart was hands-on with the design of his new luxury superyacht, says the naval architect behind the estimated $78 million vessel.

Mr Hart - New Zealand's richest man with a reported worth around $7 billion - has been revealed as the owner of the 107m expedition superyacht Ulysses.

The vessel was launched in Norway at the weekend from a shipyard in Ulsteinvik, 570km north of the capital, Oslo.

"This is a very exciting project for us. We have been around in the yard and on board the vessel, and I'm very pleased with ... the work that has been done here so far," Mr Hart told Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv.

The yacht was designed by Marin Teknikk and constructed by Norwegian boat builders Kleven, who have a long history of working together.

Unlike most yachts, the ship has a robust design which will allow it to withstand rough waters.

The yacht's naval architect, Paul Endre Saetre, said from Norway that the sheer size of the yacht allowed for many special features.

It includes a pool house, dining area, saloon, several bars, plunge pool, gymnasium, helipad, swimming pool and wine cellar.

Mr Saetre said the boat was also designed with space in its hull for a 21-metre catamaran - with two cranes to lift it on and off the vessel.

The catamaran was integrated into the bow of the ship, and there were also four sailing boats on board, Mr Saetre said.

Ulysses, which can accommodate up to 60 people, will now undergo a luxury fit-out, with an expected completion date sometime next year. The colour of its hull will remain the same, but the rest of the ship will be painted white.

Mr Saetre said Mr Hart approached him two years ago to design the yacht. He visited New Zealand numerous times to work closely with Mr Hart.

He said the yacht was "one of a kind" as Marin Teknikk, like boat builders Kleven, normally designed offshore vessels for the oil industry.

"It is not a normal yacht design. Mr Hart wanted more of a rough, offshore design, to withstand rough waters."

According to local estimates, the boat is worth somewhere between 300 million and 400 million Norwegian kronor (between $58 million and $78 million), Dagens Naeringsliv said.

The owner of the superyacht had been kept under wraps since Kleven announced the contract last year.

Mr Hart previously owned a 58m luxury motor yacht, also called Ulysses, which was moored at the Viaduct for years before being sold.

His 77m superyacht Weta is in Whangarei, reportedly undergoing a $50 million makeover.

- APNZ

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