By Toby Haws
Aicon's 62 Open puts form over function in its modern design.
Over the 26 issues Boat Owner has been reporting on the trends, dreams and boats for sale in the Arabian Gulf market, there has been a gradual shift in attitude as to what are the ‘preferred' boats to bring in. On arrival I was categorically told that anything other than a fishing or flybridge boat would not sell. But has that really been the case? Obviously any yacht brought out to the Middle East needs a high degree of shade and air conditioned areas, but that's exactly what the modern open offers.
In terms of squeezing the most out of the dollar per metre, certainly a flybridge model makes sense - it offers an extra al fresco area for entertaining; gives a high platform to look around from; and, in essence what some owners are after, makes the boat look bigger than those around it. But the extra height and superstructure weight also sacrifices a flybridge's looks, performance and stability. The higher the centre of gravity gets away from the bowels of the hull, the more it will rock. This is where the modern ‘open' has filled the EU/US markets. The Open model of a series is usually sports sleeker lines, increased performance and is often more contemporary in style - more sports car than saloon.
Launched in the middle of last year, the Aicon 62 is the smaller of Aicon's two open models, introduced along the same lines of its older 72 sibling and following its exterior profile. "The Aicon Open is very different from a number of builders who start with a flybridge and then move to an Open," explained Western Marine's Jyrki Jaamaa. "The Aicon has a specifically styled Open superstructure built to maximise the feeling of spaciousness inside." Sitting stern-to underneath the austere shadow of the Burj Al Arab in Jumeriah Beach Hotel Marina, the Aicon 62 certainly held her own against the parade of yachts almost twice her size, in part due to her high, slab-sided freeboard and bulbous superstructure. Keeping only a slight rise of the sheerline along her length tames the sporty image the Open builder often goes for, while the topsides are broken amidships with a large circular porthole for the master suite, a design feature shared with all Aicons over 20 metres. A decisive dark band stretches above the waterline to add the perception of length to the hull, ending at the thick teak bathing platform, set at a suitable height for stepping onto from the dock.
Passing by the almost full-beam transom lazarette, three deep-set steps that cover the passerelle rise to starboard, bring the guest up to main deck level at the quarter, where an electric capstan has floor controls to ensure reverse docking is precisely executed. Unlike a flybridge cruiser that often uses the aft deck for a transom bench, Aicon has set up an outside dining-cum-sunpad area, which benefits from its own bimini that springs out of the built-in backrest surround to provide shade for up to eight diners, folding down again when the teak table is lowered so that loungers can catch the sun. To port of the longing area, access to the single en suite crew cabin drops down through a hatch, while a further piston-assisted hatch set into the teak sole lifts to allow access to the huge engine room. Unlike some open models that squeeze engines into an almost unserviceable area, the twin V-drive MAN V12s had room to spare in this arrangement, with standing headroom throughout the engine room allowing for extra storage of working gear without encroaching on access to all the vital service areas.
Returning to deck level, the superstructure deckhead only curves fractionally over the cockpit space, just enough to fit a number of downlights into the wooden fascia, allowing the port-placed wet bar and fridge to be serviced in failing light conditions. Atop the coachroof, a low radar arch held symmetrical communication domes and a Raymarine radar scanner, with a rear facing camera positioned to offer the helm a good view over the yacht's wake - admittedly it did also take a full view of the sunpad. Stepping up to the smooth teak side decks, the angled-in nature of the superstructure provides plenty of shoulder space, with chunky stainless side rails offering a traditional steamer feel to the passage forward. At the bow, a sympathetic prow rail seat allows a guest to sit and take stock of passage forward, or look aft along the teak lines of the side decks, which flow around and up to the double coachroof sunpad, set far back to prevent the circular forepeak cabin hatch being obscured. Chunky fairleads, a central Lofrans windlass and a simple bow deckgear arrangement is aided by twin inlaid hatches that open to the deep unfinished anchor locker, which hides a shower for washing the mooring gear.
Back in the cockpit, the stainless steel-rimmed saloon doors slide almost fully over to port to allow complete access to the interior, further intensifying the feeling of ‘open'. "The whole design of the 62 has been optimised specifically for an open boat," explained Jyrki. "From the good headheight to the huge windows that allow masses of light into the area. There is good visibility all around as well, with all the furniture built in low. That's what gives the area such a light and airy feel." With the deckhead so high, there was no real need to open the electric roof to let the clouds be our ceiling, so it was easy to take in the contemporary design, with its low bench seating for four to port opposite a low counter and flatscreen television with Bose soundsystem. Set over a dark wooden sole and under wooden ceiling strips of halogens, the saloon area moves fluidly through to a split folding dining table set to starboard across from the helm station. Served by an unsprung L-shaped bench seating so as to not disturb the white oak finish to all the woodwork, the calm of the cabinetry and tightly woven seating is contrasted with the black carbon fibre-finish that spreads under the massive double pane windshield and the bright red leather helm seats. Large automotive-style air conditioning vents push cold air up the windscreen and into the saloon, providing a cool breeze when descending into the sea of cool white oak that is the galley, set on a mezzanine floor below, at the same level as the guest forepeak cabin.
Continuing the clean-lined approach to form, function and colour, the galley curves around the starboard side of the uncluttered area, all cabinets built in to cover storage and the large refrigerator. Set into the brushed stainless counter, a single basin and hob offer adequate food preparation facilities, with an opening porthole and extractor placed over the hob so as not to give away the smell of dinner before time. Further storage is to be found under the floor, with complete access to the bilges, while a folding counter by the guest cabin door allows extra preparation and serving area.
Descending a further four steps aft to the full beam master cabin, a traditional layout is chosen, with a central island bed flanked to port by a vanity desk and starboard a small bench seat. Both benefit from the natural aqua light that filters through the large circular freeboard windows, inset with a unique porthole that opens the central segment for fresh air. Here, the white oak woodwork, cream carpet and cream wall and ceiling linings are contrasted by deep covers on the bed and bench, with freestanding Fontana Arte lamps and contemporary sconces brightening up the hard cabinetry lines. Making full use of the good headroom, hanging mirrored wardrobes are placed on either side, leading into the en suite. Furnished with a separate shower cubicle, the over-counter basin and graphite ceiling add an intriguing touch to the all-wood finish, something I wouldn't have personally spec'd for a wet area.
Returning to the galley, the forepeak also offers an island bed, with the white oak again laying a background palette to create a calm and controlled environment, offset only by the dark leather headboard and the bed covers. Portlights on either side combine with the deckhead hatch to ensure the room is bright throughout the day, halogens emphasising the full-standing headheight at the foot of the bed, which gradually slopes towards the headboard, where it is not required. A large en suite also has a dedicated shower cubicle, with a large mirror strip angled to reflect light around the room from the portlight.
Without a doubt, one of the most intriguing aspects to the 62 Open is the guest cabin, which has been fitted in to take full advantage of the freeboard and is dropped down to the level of the master suite, though accessed from the mezzanine. The result is creating a proper-sized twin cabin that is approached down a small flight of carpeted stairs, the extra headroom opening up the cabin to make it a perfect den or overnight berth for two adults. Third cabins are often squeezed in and cater for the smaller guest, but the good use of hull space, handholds and headroom mean this is no child's cabin. Again styled with the grained white oak woodwork, this cabin also shares the dayhead, which is again finished in wood and has a shower hidden behind the door.
Standing behind the port placed helm, the stylised wheel is suitably on the outside, allowing the pilot to quickly slip out to check on aft mooring lines if need be, without upsetting a co-pilot or guest comfortably settled in the red leather helm seats. To create a flat-set dash, all the analogue dials and instruments are inset, with all buttons being backlit flat touch, only the compass, throttles, thruster and trim tab joysticks standing up. The placing of the central chartplotter was well thought as it is protected from the sun's glare, providing a good navigation overview or sight through the rear-facing camera.
The twin MTUs offered an exciting kick as they bit, pushing us smoothly forward, though almost immediately I found the steering to be unexciting. But that is not to say the 62 Open was unresponsive, just not very lively. Deep rudder skegs ensured a good turning circle, but with the MTU turbos kicking in there was still no real ‘feel' to the helm, offering a more cruiser feel than a sportsboat. It soon became clear that the 62 open was more of a relaxed stylish cruiser with Open looks than a wolf in sheep's clothing, befitting the calm nature of the interior. While she may not set any passagemaking records, she will also not travel stress herself enough to cause the joinery to crack.