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February 22nd 2018. By Diane Byrne.

Inside Look at Horizon Yachts

What’s it like to work with a builder on a yacht designed around how you like to cruise and live? Come behind the scenes of Horizon Yachts.

Thirty-one years ago, Horizon Yachts was still an idea in the mind of CEO John Lu, though close to opening its doors. Fast forward to today, and the Horizon Group has four yacht-construction facilities in Taiwan, along with a marina. It’s delivered nearly 600 motoryachts, more than 150 of which are megayachts. Horizon is now among the largest custom-yacht builders worldwide, and the only Asia-based member of SYBAss, the Superyacht Builders Association. What’s more, it has sales and service representatives in more than 60 countries.

Whether you’re considering a boat in the 50-foot range or a megayacht in the 150-foot range, Horizon has a series to suit the style, lifestyle, and speeds you seek. But, your decision should hinge on more than just the model. You need to see, in person, how the builder operates, and most important, how it welcomes customer input into all aspects. I did just that in January, during its annual invitation-only Open House days.

All Horizon facilities are in Kaohsiung, the third most populous city in Taiwan. They include the original Horizon yard, the Vision shipyard, the Premier shipyard (pictured), and Atech Composites. The Horizon and Vision yards concentrate on new construction, while the Premier yard performs refit and maintenance on megayachts. Atech Composites, meanwhile, is the lamination facility for every yacht bearing the Horizon name. Besides constructing the hulls and superstructures, it tests composites and other materials.

Horizon prides itself on handling essentially every aspect of a yacht’s design and construction in house. While it welcomes customers to bring in naval architects and stylists, the builder employs dozens of professionals of its own. Either way, Horizon has new models regularly entering its pipeline. During the January visit, media and VIPs saw craftspeople creating this hull mold for a new 74.

Horizon employs SCRIMP, a resin-infusion process, for all of its yachts. It’s long proven to reduce VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and result in a stronger, lighter laminate. In brief, resin runs through all of the hoses, wetting the fiberglass cloth evenly and consistently (for a sense of just how large this one component is, look toward the upper left of the image. You’ll see a craftsperson at work).

CNC milling is yet another long-standing construction practice that Horizon employs. Horizon’s five-axis router tools large and small sections alike, straight as well as curved. During our visit, the router was working on the swim platform for the upcoming FD74 series, featuring a raised pilothouse.

Horizon has a virtual armada of its hull models on display, letting you see the nuances of underwater shapes up close. Naturally, each dedicated shelf space is labeled according to the series name. Here, you see a few samples from the FD (Fast Displacement) and E (flying bridge) lineups. In some cases, Horizon created more than one hull model for a particular yacht.

Horizon’s in-house joinery shop fashions the wall paneling and custom furnishings that customers and their designers request. Those designers include famous names like Luca Dini and Guido de Groot in Europe, as well as J.C. Espinosa in the United States. One of the newest Horizon series, the FD series, features styling and interior design by Cor D. Rover. For convenience, Horizon has an interior design center on site, with samples of woods, leathers, and other materials.

Sometimes interior design features come from Horizon’s own team. This sneak peek at a detail from the new V68 is a good example. Horizon invited Jonathan Quinn Barnett, a superyacht designer, to collaborate with it on styling and interior design for the new model. Horizon wanted “superyacht attitude,” according to Austin Lin, general manager of the Vision yard. Suffice it to say the V68 raises the bar on the competition.

One of the final steps before Horizon conducts sea trials with a customer or for a dealer model is a leak test. In its on-site dry dock, the builder simulates significant rainfall, akin to that of a monsoon, over the course of a few hours. It amounts to thousands of gallons of water hitting the yacht at various angles, too.

In the coming months, expect to see the V68 (pictured) debut on the U.S. West Coast. If you’ll attend the Palm Beach International Boat Show in Florida in March, look for the premiere of the FD87 christened Skyline. And, of course, expect Horizon to announce even more new motoryachts, too. It typically has 10 to 12 yachts in build simultaneously and celebrates 20 deliveries each year.

See Horizon Yachts listings on YachtWorld.

Diane Byrne
Diane M. Byrne is the founder and editor of the daily updated website Megayacht News. A longtime yachting writer, she also contributes to Yachts International, Boat Exclusive, and other magazines. She is additionally a member of the International Superyacht Society Board of Directors and Vice Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association.