15 September 2014
The Personal Touch - Riza Tansu
Riza Tansu has been designing and building yachts for almost 20 years. A belief in pure, open and spacious designs translates to all his yachts, including the award-winning 36.4m M/Y NOMADE and 33.9m M/Y ONLY NOW. With three projects in build at the Tansu Yachts yard, future plans include designing and building a yacht of his very own.
When speaking with Turkish yacht builder, designer and owner Riza Tansu, it is clear he is full of passion for life, and for his job. Tansu has been building yachts since 1996 when, with great foresight, he saw the potential of the Turkish yacht market and began building yachts to his own designs. His first yacht, 23.6m M/Y TROY EXPLORER, launched to great acclaim in 1998 and was followed by nine more yachts, between 9m and 26m, before the launch of Tansu’s first ‘superyacht’, 35.2m M/Y CEYLAN, in 2010. After M/Y CEYLAN came 36.4m M/Y NOMADE (now M/Y BARTENDER) in 2011, and 33.9m M/Y ONLY NOW in 2012. “I thought that if Troy Explorer was successful, then my yacht designing, and building, would turn into a business...the market developed as I was expecting it would and here I am, still doing this,” he says. It was when M/Y NOMADE was exhibited at the 2011 Monaco Yacht Show that the superyacht world really sat up and took notice of Tansu Yachts. Sold within 15 days of being listed for sale, the luxury yacht was a hit, and extremely well received by all of her visitors at the show. “I think the simplicity and the honesty of M/Y NOMADE made her successful,” says Tansu. Although confident that the market would respond well to M/Y NOMADE, even Tansu was surprised by the speed of her sale. “It was a professional success but a personal disappointment, as I had been looking forward to enjoying her for a season or two until she sold.” Today the Tansu Yachts yard has three projects in build. Two – 37.6m M/Y SO’MAR and 38.7m M/Y THUNDERBOLT – are on order for private clients, and the third, 39.3m M/Y CUTLASS, is being built as a spec boat, just as M/Y NOMADE was before her. The yacht will be similar in look and design to M/Y NOMADE, with the same popular open decks and beachhouse- style interior, but with 3m of extra length, many of her dimensions will be enhanced, including the interior space. New features will include a sky lounge, convertible into a master cabin, and interior stairs linking the main and upper decks. Tansu expects that M/Y CUTLASS, which is listed for sale with Fraser Yachts, will be sold during the construction period. “The project is all our own investment, with no debts, so there is no rush to sell the boat, but I think this time we may sell her even faster,” he said. If the yacht doesn’t sell during the build period then he is looking forward to using her upon her launch. “It’s good experience for me to spend a season or two on board my boats and see how my designs work in reality,” he explains. “Being a good designer or having a certain taste is not enough when you are designing this very complex piece of equipment: you have to live on board and observe the pros and cons of your designs.” Working as both a builder and designer has afforded Tansu a unique advantage and perspective on the build and design process, which he believes results in a better overall product. “Some designers just brainstorm and do nice renders of spaceship-type boats, but when it comes to build them, there are lots of complex engineering problems that are time consuming and costly to solve.” By seeing a build from every angle, it is easier for him and his design team to optimise their designs to ensure a smoother build, and to come up with solutions to problems before they even arise. A firm believer in pure designs, and in yachts with ample open spaces and low volumes, Tansu sees himself as one of the pioneers of this style of design. “It is my interpretation of what is good on a yacht, and I think it works, which makes me really happy,” he says. With growing numbers of people directly entering the superyacht market without any previous experience in yachting, Tansu believes the role of the designer is more important than ever. “Moving into yachting is a normal thing if you have money and life to live, and for those who haven’t had time to experience the evolutionary route up through yacht ownership, it is our mission as builders and designers to show them what the optimal size and spaces on board a yacht should be.” Tansu enjoys a good relationship with his broker David Legrand and the rest of the Fraser Yachts team. In fact, he credits Legrand for changing his opinion of brokers entirely after having sworn off working with brokers early in his yachting career. During the build of M/Y NOMADE, Legrand got in touch with Tansu and their working relationship grew from there. “Over the phone you could understand that he [David] was a decent and nice guy,” he says. “He came to Turkey to see my boat in build and he liked it, and he believed in me, and we became very good friends.” Legrand brokered the sale of Nomade and now has M/Y CUTLASS yacht for sale. “Fraser Yachts is like a family member to me, especially David, and I am very happy in this regard with my friendship and business relationship with them,” he says. After so many years of designing yachts for other people, Tansu has set about designing his own yacht, 35m M/Y VIXEN, which is now entering the first stages of naval architecture studies. “I am keen to launch this boat in two years for myself, not to sell,” he says. M/Y VIXEN is a low-volume design that will carry an 8m fast tender, with light and open spaces and reduced crew numbers. Crew is a part of yachting that is very important to Tansu and which influenced the design of Vixen. “My approach to crew is that they are all my friends, I want to be in such a relationship with my crew that I can eat dinner with my captain,” he says. Subsequently, crew numbers on board M/Y VIXEN will be low. “Crew for me are not workers, they are friends, but you can’t deal with 15 friends on board; they should be a limited number.” Tansu is clearly excited at the prospect of building and using his own yacht. “There is a saying ‘the best yacht is your friend’s yacht and I thought that was true when I spent my first vacation as a guest on board a friend’s yacht,” says Tansu. “But later I realised that achieving the perfect yacht is a total design issue and I have worked on this over the years. Now I believe ‘the best yacht is my own, designed to meet my requirements’.” With the Tansu Yachts order book satisfyingly full, and the prospect of M/Y VIXEN launching within a matter of years, there is much to look forward to and be excited about. This article and images originally appeared in Fraser Yachting Magazine.