Late in 2019, I received a surprising email. It was from Lily Li at Horizon Motor Yachts Marketing Centre and it contained an offer to come to the biennial Horizon Open House. Immediately I recalled the last time Trade-a-Boat was invited, the year I began with the title in 2014 when regular contributor Ben Keys jumped timezones for a look at the then-new RP110. Ben loved it and came back with plenty to talk about so there was no way I would decline. This year the focus was to be on the talk-of-the-town FD series, though with a little help from Horizon Australia, I also snuck a few hours aboard the soon to be released RP100 — more on that in a future issue.
The press contingent totalled seven and although we were well shepherded, we were given access to the main yard, major composites partner and key staff, starting with Horizon CEO John Lu, the man behind the FD Cor D. Rover, and the senior managers.
The history behind the FD is a fun story. Cor D. Rover’s Amsterdam based team do not work on client drawings on Wednesdays, they’re given free-licence to draw what they desire. It was a cold, wet day when Rover and his team talked about the emergence of the automotive SUV — in particular, the Porsche Cayenne. Many in the motoring press considered it to be the death knell of the traditional sportscar-only maker, but it proved the opposite with half of the company’s sales coming from the SUV in some of its first few years on sale. The significance of this was probably missed by many but not Rover, who saw it as a shift in consumer wants, particularly to that of space with prestige. The first FD was drawn at 24m (it would later become the FD87) with a floorspace-to-length advantage over most traditional hulls of about 30 per cent. This meant an FD87 would have around about as much usable floor space as a typical 100-footer.
Increasing the beam and utilising a tall, vertical bow and pilothouse style wheelhouse gave space but also created a chunky look, so Rover employed the use of near full-length floor-to-ceiling windows to break up its lofty appearance. This tall design allows all FD’s to feature four staterooms under the main deck as well as an on-deck master (the only exception is the FD75 which has two steps down to the master) as well as good volume in the bridge decks.
MAKING IT REALITY
It is one thing to pen a new boat, another to make the look perform on the water. Within Horizon’s (almost) 900-strong team are around 50 nautical engineers specialising in hydrodynamics and hull performance. They were tasked with making the vision seaworthy. All FD’s feature a High-Performance Piercing Bow (HPPB), a hard chine at the bow, a long skeg and a design that incorporates tunnels to minimise draft and add stability. Combined, it has led to great efficiency with an observed fuel burn as low as 60 litres per hour combined at 9kt when testing the FD87.
SUPPLIERS STEPPING UP
A large and loyal workforce willing to work with the contemporary ideas of an international designer is great but for a company to survive, costs, quality and innovation must be managed, lest it be surpassed by a company that does. To do achieve this, Horizon partnered with ATECH for building technologies.
ATECH are a global force in composite technologies and the only Asian manufacturer with the licence for Seemann’s Composites Resin Infusion Molding Process (SCRIMP). In all Horizon hulls, superstructures and where ever practically possible, SCRIMP gives more strength for less weight, better and more predictable quality and a lower material cost; the perfect trifecta in shipbuilding. Using bespoke high-density foam and fibreglass cloth that is specially designed to promote resin to flow, the SCRIMP process utilises injection and vacuum systems to control the flow of resin around and through CNC-cut structures.
SCRIMP is quick — a hull can be infused in around three to four hours — and being fully contained inside vacuum bags, it’s cleaner and has a lower environmental impact. Watching a hull being infused on our tour of the main yard was mesmerising and should you be considering the purchase of a new Horizon, you are welcome to experience it too.
We had our first look at an FD back in 2018 and were impressed. Two years later, it seems we were not the only ones as the global sales for the range already tops 25, with four either sold into or stocked within the Australian market so far. The main region of success is the US which has ordered the bulk and by all accounts has the majority of current and forward orders in place. Such is the success of the range that the team at the Vision and Horizon yards, the two major yards where Horizon-branded yachts are built, are considering expansion to cater for the demand.
2020 promises to be a big year for Horizon with operations set to expand and expectations of the range extending in size. Our market is buoyant with strong interest in the FD80 through FD97 models though I expect to see this expand into the smaller 75 and larger 102. Hopefully, we get to see more in a couple of years, the wait between our last visit was too long.
THE FD RANGE
The baby of the range comes in at 75 feet LOA with a healthy 20-foot beam. This gives room for a full-beam VIP plus two more staterooms under the deck along with a twin crew quarter down the back. One of the design features of the FD range, the on-deck master, is not quite achieved with a step down to the voluminous bow suite. This small step and the raised pilothouse are small compromises to maintain the FD aesthetic, the strong forward-leaning presence that invokes strength and smooth flowing lines from the rear buttresses forward. Still featuring up to four staterooms, it is ideal for owner-drivers. This is the model I suspect will see the most success locally, as it will fit most marina berths, is easily managed without crew while the open bridge suits our warm and breezy climate.
LOA 22.86m (75’6)
Beam 6.20m (20’4”)
Engine Twin CAT C18 ACERT 1136BHP
You could flick a few pages over and read all about one of the first FD80’s to grace our fair lands; you may know that it is the second smallest and the first to feature true floor to ceiling windows. Like the FD75, it features four staterooms but with the added space the 80 affords, two are true VIPs. At 80 feet seven inches LOA it is still a manageable length for owner-drivers yet features a double crew cabin. The bridge deck can be configured as either a Skylounge (enclosed) or an open bridge with plenty of space to add additional cool stores or lounges to relax around.
LOA 24.56m (80’7”’)
Beam 6.91m (22’8”)
Engine Twin CAT C18A 1136HP
The 85 is where the big-beam of the range starts to make an impact. With a beam a touch over 23 feet (7.11m), it’s the widest 85-foot monohull we know of. An on-deck master lives upfront with four staterooms downstairs, an incredible effort for a hull its size. Three come with ensuites and the fourth is configurable as a bunk room, a double or even gym or study. The 85 is the first to offer twin crew cabins aft, which has made it a popular size for charter boats in the US. The helm is semi-raised, a step down from the bridge or up from the central staircase. This allows for a large bridge to entertain on though it takes away some appeal for owner-drivers.
LOA 26.07m (85’6”’)
Beam 7.11m (23’3”)
Engine Twin CAT C-18 ACERT 1136HP
Like the FD85, the 87 features five staterooms with on-deck master and two dedicated crew rooms. At 90 feet LOA, it is substantially longer though. It also has a much more sociable saloon and main galley layout, now featuring a servery that can be left open to expose the galley to the dining area. The social focus extends to the helm which is found on the bridge deck, ideal for owner-drivers and a reason this model has been so popular in Australia. Available in Open and Skylounge variants the FD87’s added length provides space for a full Beach Club in the aft as well as the option to take a spa on the bridge.
LOA 27.45m (90’)
Beam 7.11m (23’3”)
Engine Twin CAT C-18 ACERT 1136HP
The first tri-deck design in the series, the FD92 takes sociability to a new level. The mid-deck is a full walk-around with a six-person Jacuzzi at the bow as standard. The fully enclosed bridge features a day head and endless arrangement options. The bridge deck is large enough to come with seating for around seven and has a wet bar as standard. The expansive main deck features two formal dining zones, one in the saloon and the second under the long mid-deck overhang, while still featuring the master complete with a massive ensuite. Below are the four remaining staterooms and like the 87, there is a full beach club in the aft and the crew quarters feature a double and bunk room for more crew capacity
LOA 28.66m (94’)
Beam 7.11m (23’3”)
Engine Twin MTU 1600HP
With triple crew quarters, and at 107 feet LOA, the FD102 is deep in superyacht territory. Maintaining the DNA that defines the FD series, the 102 adds appeal to local buyers through extra space in the cockpit and bridge deck. The enlarged cockpit is configurable with a relaxed lounge and bar the standard option. On the bridge deck, a second formal dining zone resides behind the enclosed wheelhouse which should appeal to local buyers. We sampled an FD102 destined for the US that featured a jacuzzi in front of the windscreen and see the appeal. The single-level walkaround allows guests easy access to the security of the wheelhouse, its day head and the vast bridge deck.
LOA 32.75m (107’5”’)
Beam 7.57m (24’9”)
Engine Twin CAT C32-ACERT 1600HP
Horizon has full drawings for a mammoth 38m (LOA) superyacht with 8m beam, the FD125, awaiting an order. From the plumb bow to the floor-to-ceiling windows and forward raked topsides, the 125 maintains Cor D. Rover’s design themes with one big visual change, it is the first to feature an extended aft section. The space down back is dedicated purely to a sun lounge, though a lot of its length is spread throughout the saloon, cockpit and bow which also features a massive sun lounge. Suitably, the initial drawings maintain a five stateroom layout with the master on-deck and four below, just like all of the FD series. The added aft sundeck has pushed the crew quarters to the bow which now numbers three double rooms plus there is a captains quarter by the bridge.
LOA 38.10m (125’)
Beam 8m (26’3”)
Engine Twin CAT C32A - 1800 HP