Expanding Legacy

Bilgin Yachts has evolved over Five generations of family ownership, and this year the builder delivered Turkey’s largest private vessel, Tatiana.

Turkey has a centuries-old boatbuilding and seafaring culture. The country’s major city, Istanbul, straddles Asia and Europe, and touches the shores of the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn and the Bosporus. Water transportation has always been an essential part of commerce and trade.

Unique Yacht Design and Bilgin spent months finessing Tatiana’s exterior lines, which combine with the gray hull and white superstructure to look like a bullet.

What is new is an evolving boatbuilding ethos, one that has now produced the 263-foot (80-meter) Tatiana. Built by Bilgin Yachts, she is the largest, most environmentally friendly private yacht ever launched in Turkey. While old-world Turkish craftsmanship has long been valued, Tatiana shows that yacht design, construction know-how and technology have evolved light years from the early days of fishing caïques. Today, Turkey is firmly established as one of the top-tier superyacht building nations in the world.

Tatiana is built in accordance with IMO Tier III standards, has an efficient displacement hull form by Unique Yacht Design, and incorporates an exhaust system that reportedly produces 100 percent clean-air emissions. According to Bilgin’s CEO, İsmail Şengün, Tatiana cements the company’s commitment to advancing eco-friendly solutions for all its new builds. Şengün is looking forward to debuting Tatiana at the Monaco Yacht Show in September.

Istanbul-based Bilgin Yachts has operated for five generations, since the early 1900s. Tatiana, the first of three yachts in the company’s 80-meter series, is Bilgin’s flagship. With naval architecture and exteriors by Unique Yacht Design, and interiors by H2 Yacht Design, Tatiana is a benchmark.

“Our great-great-grandfather, Huseyin Şengün, started a small boat business in a boathouse on the shores of Bosporus,” says Tuğba Şengün, Bilgin’s marketing director and sister of İsmail as well as Mehmet Şengün, who is Bilgin’s general manager. “Huseyin lost his life in World War I during the Gallipoli campaign, and his son Mustafa took over the company.”

The Bosporus has a reputation for challenging conditions, and the Şengün family concentrated on building boats sturdy enough to withstand its rough seas. From one generation to the next, the Bilgin business has remained a family affair.

The lower deck beach club, which includes a swimming pool, sauna, gym and cinema, can be reached via this indoor staircase, which is unusual because it originates in the main salon.

With four shipyards and two manufacturing facilities in different areas of Istanbul, Bilgin employs more than 400 skilled craftsmen. Since 2002, they have delivered 22 yachts over 98 feet (30 meters) in length. Three of their latest projects (denoted in length measured in feet) are the Bilgin 156, 220 and 263. Tatiana is the first of the 263s. The second, which is already sold, is scheduled to launch in 2022. The third hull (with a different layout) is planned for 2023.

The owner of Tatiana is a repeat Bilgin client. He found the company online 15 years ago. After visiting the yard and meeting the Şengün family, he ordered a 110-foot (33.5-meter) yacht in 2006, followed by a 147-footer (45-meter) in 2011, both also named Tatiana. Confident in the Bilgin brand, he began toying with the concept of a much larger and more complex Tatiana. “He thought he knew exactly what he wanted,” Mehmet Şengün says. “We showed him some alternative designs, and together we collaborated on what has become the yacht today.”

A bird’s-eye view exemplifies how Tatiana’s deck layout is designed for fun, relaxation and entertainment.

Unique Yacht Design and the Bilgin design team spent three months finessing the drawings. “When we offered him our latest version of the design,” says Emrecan Özgün, principal of Unique Yacht Design, “he loved every detail of it.”

Özgün is the creator of Bilgin’s 263 series, as well as 244-foot (74-meter) and 164-foot (50-meter) yachts currently in build. He has worked with Bilgin for nearly 10 years.

“I am personally in close contact with Emrecan regularly,” Mehmet says. “We consider him and his team as a part of our family. It is quite important to have collaborators who understand completely what you want to offer to your clients.”

The sky lounge with its pool table and piano has a sports bar feel and is the place of choice for the teenagers aboard. 

Özgün says the owner describes Tatiana’s hull design as “like a bullet.” The white superstructure, gray hull, narrow beam and exterior profile make her appear long and lean.

“We combined the structural and engineering solutions together with the design,” Mehmet says. “With this platform, we succeeded in having the same luxurious proportions in a 1,700-gross-ton yacht that one normally only sees in a 2,000-gross-ton yacht.”

During the tank tests at CTO S.A. in Poland, the hull form proved that it doesn’t have dynamic trim at either low or high speeds, meaning it is an efficient hull form, Özgün says. According to Bilgin, the yacht cruises at 12 knots while burning 69 gallons of fuel per hour, and can achieve a top speed of 19.3 knots.

The main deck salon features contrasting materials of light and dark. Light dominates as witnessed by the oak sole.

Tatiana is an extremely eco-friendly yacht,” Özgün says, adding that she also has low levels of noise and vibration. “One distinguishing feature is that she has SCR systems connected to the main engines and generators. With this feature, plus the IMO Tier III compliance and being an ABS-class yacht, she has earned the right to cruise all around the world and to be able to anchor in very protected bays.”

The interior that London-based H2 created had to fit within the confines of the relatively slender 40-foot (12.2-meter) beam.

“The private owner’s suite on the top deck was challenging, because the exterior styling made the space quite tight,” says Jonny Horsfield, principal of H2. “It took a lot of finesse to get the bedroom, the lounge and everything that they wanted, but we managed. The owner’s deck is even 8½ feet (2.6 meters) high. Bilgin was very good at interpreting our renderings and implementing them. We trusted each other.”

The master suite has a clean, contemporary feel. 

According to Horsfield, the owner is involved in high-end property development, so he is well versed in architectural design. “Our brief was to develop something contemporary and smart,” Horsfield says.

He describes the owner as a family-oriented man who loves to socialize, and who likes to spend a significant portion of the summer on board. An essential part of the design brief was to have generously sized communal living areas and a large spa and beach club. Other items the owner specified were a private office on the bridge deck and a sky lounge with a sports bar theme.

Tatiana can accommodate 14 guests in eight staterooms, including four guest staterooms on the main deck and three VIP staterooms on the lower deck. She carries up to 23 crew. Each stateroom has a connection to the sea via multiple windows.

The beach club has direct access from the main salon. Its location is unusual: on the lower deck in the middle of the boat, at the end of the engine room. From the main salon, guests descend a staircase without having to go outside.

The cinema on the lower deck is a great place to hunker down with a good film.

Another noteworthy feature is the main-deck swimming pool, which is directly above an internal pool on the lower deck. Since the main-deck pool has a glass bottom, guests in the lower pool are able to see swimmers above. Two hull doors open to reveal the sea beyond. There is a gym with a sauna, as well as a movie theater, on the portside lower deck.

“The overall tone of the yacht is one of opulence,” Horsfield says of the décor. Ebony macassar veneer and light eucalyptus create striking contrasts. The interior includes multiple marbles, 3D carved stone and other strong textures. Her modern exterior set the stage for the interior.

Great-great-grandfather Huseyin Şengün would have been proud to witness the legacy that his little boathouse on the Bosporus spawned.


LOA:263ft. (80m)
BEAM: 40ft. 2in. (12.2m)
DRAFT (full load): 11ft. 2in. (3.5m)
CONSTRUCTION: Steel/aluminum
SPEED (max./cruise): 19/12 knots
BUILDER: Bilgin Yachts

For more information: bilginyacht.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.


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