Imagine this: the owner of the yacht has requested a new custom tender, and has asked you, a crew member, to come up with some ideas. Now imagine designing and building it. As crew, we understand that the owners we work for are some of the world’s most accomplished and discerning people – understanding their requests and preferences is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the job. As an extension of the mothership, yacht ownership is incomplete without a tender, the pressure to attain the right one can be challenging. Vikal International have created a legacy around delivering products that some deem too challenging to approach, all while respecting a client’s needs and wants and honouring their own values as a company.
Gunnar Vikingur, Managing Director of Vikal International, has spent 30 years working with the owners of some of the world’s largest Superyachts. He has delivered more tenders to large yachts than any other bespoke tender builder in the world. In his own words: “Owners of Superyachts, against all odds, often achieve what appeared to be impossible and are not afraid to make requests for the same“.
Vikal International is, and has always been, a family focused company. The family’s boatbuilding skills stem from Vikingur’s father, who worked as a boatbuilder in Icelandic shipyards, before moving a 15-year-old Gunnar to Australia in 1969. Following in his father’s footsteps, Vikingur cut his teeth during a 5-year boatbuilding apprenticeship in Australia. Fast-forward to 1976 when Vikingur began independent operations as a sole trader and contractor, working on new boat constructions and repairs. In 1982, the family company was formed. Vikingur’s son Lynden, also a trained boatbuilder, joined the company in 2013, after gaining a double university degree from the university of Western Australia in Science and Economics.
Vikingur’s relationship with the innovative yacht designer Jon Bannenberg brought about another opportunity in 1991, when he asked Vikal International to build two tenders for Lürssen’s 73m Coral Island (now Coral Ocean), often deemed as one of the most groundbreaking vessels in the industry at the time of build. Bannenberg’s daring Superyacht designs had a major impact on the European market and Vikal’s execution of the two original tenders is what Vikingur believes launched the company into success:
“The delivery of the two Coral Island tenders launched Vikal into the tender business, while re-setting the bar for European builders. Painted in a BMW burnt metallic orange with leather finishes and a Budnik steering wheel, these were wild looking boats. They were not for the faint hearted or conservative yacht owner.”
Often inspired by the world of motoring, many design aspects of the two tenders were taken from cars, such as the laminated glass windscreen on the Limosuine, borrowed from a 1959, 62 series Cadillac Convertible, and the screen wiper washers taken from a 911 Porsche. Bannenberg also gifted Vikal with a brochure of the McLaren F1 to insight inspiration for the builds, subsequently the transom view of the Limosuine tender has many similarities with the vehicle. The tender also features a central driving position and split rear window which were designed to echo the McLaren F1.
“We deliver an honest product, we innovate.”
Vikingur describes the company’s core values as: “Taking responsibility. Be that for quality, innovation, meeting deadlines or for warrantee. Vikal does not hide behind the small print. We deliver an honest product, we innovate”. This level of quality and innovation has been repeatedly recognised by customers such as Lürssen – Vikal have built tenders for many Lürssen builds, such as Pelorus, Octopus, Al Salamah, Dilbar, Darius, Oasis, Radiant and Topaz. Vikingur states that forming a longstanding relationships with customers is of the utmost importance, stating that: “The customer that you have is much more valuable than the one you want. It makes sense to do everything you can for the customer that you have been with for the longest”.
Not only do Vikal have impressive longevity in the relationships they have with their clients, it is also important to Vikingur to maintain stability with Vikal’s employees: “It is important for our employees to know we are stayers. We value our employees like we value our clients. Clients also value stability”. It is clear that loyalty and consistency is key to Vikal’s success, building a team of dedicated experts is often crucial to the operation of any good business, and being a multi-generational operation is clearly another area of pride for Vikingur:
“Vikal is a mature company because it is multi-generational. We take the responsibility that comes with being an employer seriously. Our employees are as critical to Vikal as is the customer. We have some multi-generational employees. This is what makes up the quality story that Vikal is. Today we have 15 people in the company who have been in our employment from 12 years up to 35 years. The corporate memory that these people contain can’t be bottled.”
Conjuring up what Lynden has previously described as ‘oddball tender solutions’ is clearly the name of the game for Vikal. In 2016, Vikal delivered another world-first with the 11.25m ‘Convertible’ tender for the 147m Topaz, merely one example of the company’s track record for taking on challenging owner requests and subsequently, delivering the goods. Continuing to innovate is integral to the success of the company and offering solutions that are hard to provide are what the company strives for, Lynden explains: “the best innovations come from a tricky question”.
Like many in the industry, Vikal have made strides to find more sustainable solutions when it comes to yacht propulsion, and have designed a hybrid propulsion system for their tenders. With a new generation of yacht owner comes perhaps more of a concern for sustainability than before. Vikal are fully capable of moving with the times and have even come up with a solution to re-fit their existing builds with a diesel/electric system without compromising the design.
Refitting older models is not something the company does often, but one of their most recent projects has brought them full circle with the refit of the two original 7.5m Coral Island tenders. The tenders are to be fully transformed with a new lightweight construction and the most state of the art materials that will appeal to the preferences and tastes of modern Superyacht owners. The tenders will be indistinguishable from new whilst maintaining the style of the original tenders, for this reason build time is seriously reduced. The Sports tender is almost complete, and the Limo tender has an estimated 6-7 month build time. Due to the relationship Vikal has with Superyacht Tenders, they have been entrusted with the exclusive sale of the two models.
To learn more about Vikal International, visit their website.
To learn more about Superyacht Tenders and for more information on the refit and sale of the original Coral Island tenders, click here.
For more Tender And Toys articles, click here.