Portrait of Tammy Strobel


My Reading Room
My Reading Room

DOMINATOR CERTAINLY BELIEVES IN doing things in style, so the launch of the first 28M Ilumen, Kalliente, was held in Monaco’s exclusive harbour, a famous setting for what was a major event. After all, the Ilumen is a yacht like no other.

Andrea Agrusta, Head of Engineering at Dominator, summed up the company’s view about the Ilumen when he said: “I believe we have defied the rules and created a new milestone in the yacht industry.”

For the Ilumen, Dominator was determined to start with a clean slate to come up with a genuinely ground-breaking design concept – megayacht features and space in a 90ft yacht.

Italian Alberto Mancini was brought in to design the exterior and interior, and the result is a yacht with innovative engineering solutions, advanced materials and technologies, and exciting styling solutions both inside and out.

“Design is more important than ever. Today, owners want a yacht that offers the ultimate blend of performance, style, luxury amenities and comfort,” Mancini said.

“In satisfying the demand for an elegant motor yacht that harmonises classic yachting tradition with modern technology and design, we designed the Dominator Ilumen to far exceed our clients’ expectations.”

However, from the exterior, the design takes some getting used to. It is a mixture of striking curves combined with hard-edged features that at one level looks confusing, then you look again and it all seems to slot into a cohesive whole.

The confusion comes mainly from the combination of a flowing superstructure with a rather staid-looking, almost-vertical bow, with the angular bulbous bow adding to the confusion by lying mainly above the waterline. And as for the rails, some are square and upright while others fit into the flowing curves.

My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Top: The Ilumen has an eye-catching design.

Middle and bottom: The foredeck sits in front of the master suite.
My Reading Room

Raised foredeck

Whatever the visual appearance, the Ilumen is a yacht with a practical layout. The foredeck has been raised to the level of the bottom of the windows of the flybridge pilothouse, creating massive internal space.

From the generous cockpit on the main deck, narrow side decks lead to stairs up to a sunbathing area on top of this raised section, forward of the helm station. The passageways then drop down to a foredeck area that has a private door to the master suite.

The cockpit also has stairs leading up to the huge flybridge, which is dedicated to taking full advantage of sunny days on the sea.

Inside, the main attraction on the main deck is the forward master suite, which has two-tier side windows and a sliding door leading onto the foredeck area. The suite is awash with windows to give great outside views, although the en-suite bathroom is a little disappointing in size.

Aft is a saloon but surprisingly there’s no inside dining area on Kalliente, so for eating you have the options of the cockpit table or the one on the flybridge. It might be a challenge to get all of the 10 guests seated at one of these tables without squashing up, but there is the possibility of replacing the bar counter in the saloon with a dining table.

Below decks, the layout is much more conventional, with two double guest cabins and two twins, all of them en-suite.
My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Top and middle: The flybridge features sunpads, jacuzzi, dining table, bar, sofas and a helm station.

Bottom: The main-deck cockpit also has a dining area.
My Reading Room

Stability at sea

The Ilumen is based on a semi-displacement hull that was developed after extensive tank-testing. This hull runs fairly flat aft and this is what helps the yacht to reach a predicted top speed of 29 knots when the largest of the option engines is fitted.

This is a high speed for a semi-displacement hull, but on Kalliente, the smaller 1,200hp MAN diesels were fitted and consequently the top speed is a more modest 19 knots.

To achieve performance from a semi-displacement hull, the designers were conscious that weight would be a critical factor. To keep the hull light, a combination of glass and carbon was used for the moulding combined with an epoxy resin using vacuum injection techniques.

This creates a strong lightweight hull, but a glass-carbon-fibre hull can be noisy, so a sandwich construction was applied. The weight saving of the composite was rather negated by having to smooth the hull finish with filler and rubbing down before painting with Awlgrip. This is an expensive solution, but the reward comes in the depth and lustre of the finished paintwork, something you don’t get with using a gel-coat finish.

Extra weight was also added by installing a Seakeeper gyro for stabilising. This is claimed to reduce the rolling by 80 per cent and on the Ilumen further stabilisation was achieved by installing a set of Humphree interceptors.

These are fast-acting units under computer control that are used to control both the pitching and the rolling at higher speeds. This is a proven combination for vessel motion controls so it should be possible to throw away the sea-sickness pills when you go the sea on the Ilumen.

On the sea trial, the motions were well under control, but then the Mediterranean was behaving itself with just minimum waves, although we did seek out the wash of other craft.

The weight saving the designers tried to achieve was rather spoiled when the owner decided he wanted a sophisticated sound system on board. This includes a screen and projector on the flybridge and it added three tonnes to the yacht’s weight, cutting back the top speed. And you certainly do not want to be alongside the Ilumen in harbour if the sound system is going full blast.

My Reading Room
My Reading Room

Top and middle: The saloon has a lounge area and a bar for breakfast or drinks.

Bottom: Side decks lead up to a sunbathing area then down to the foredeck.
My Reading Room

Hidden technology

Much of the technology is hidden away. The engines are close coupled to the gearboxes of the Reintjes pod drives. Dominator has pioneered the use of these drives in yachts where, with their push/pull propellers, they are claimed to offer greater efficiency than a single propeller.

The drive shaft to the propellers is horizontal so the thrust is very positive and the two propellers on each drive work in unison for greater efficiency, rather like spaced out contra-rotating propellers. On Kalliente, there was still work to do to find the right propeller combination as speed had been lost with the fitted propellers and there was vibration at the stern of the yacht, issues the yard said it would resolve.

On the main engines is a new compact exhaust outlet with Gold Standard warranty which was developed together with hydrodynamics specialists Profjord.

The Fischer Panda iSeries Generators employ the latest variable speed technology to offer top range effectiveness in all power requirements, particularly with the varying loads of the climate control that avoids costly start-stop cycles.

Solar control interlayer film in the glassed areas lowers direct heat transmittance from the sun by 40 per cent to further aid energy efficiency, making the Ilumen more environmentally friendly and economical to run. Every Ilumen yacht can be prepared to meet the MGN 280 compliance certification that enables them to be operated commercially.

<b>This page: The iconic master suite has steps up to the foredeck and a
large skylight.</b>
<b>This page: The iconic master suite has steps up to the foredeck and a large skylight.</b>
My Reading Room

Interior by Mancini

Regarding the interior, the highly experienced Mancini explained: “We set out to challenge limitations and provide the same sensation of space, elegance and luxury in a 28m format that you would expect in a megayacht. When I first saw the hull, deck and superstructure, I realised it was the beginning of a new era.”

The features such as the master suite, the beautifully curved glass frontage, the beach platform cum garage door, and the impressive fly deck are unique, even industry-leading. From the garage door can rise Opacmare Transformer steps and a platform, making it easy to step ashore. Alternatively, this platform can also be lowered underwater for swimming.

The interior can be fully customised, with the specially made furniture and bulkheads finished in the most opulent materials such as backlit white onyx, ebony, white oak, silk, Zimmer and Rhode fabrics, suede ceilings and satin-like nubuck leather.

Giulia Sigismondi, head of the Dominator Bespoke Office, said: “The interior dressing of each yacht is a highly personal affair, so we work with the owners to make it a bespoke design that fits them like a glove in terms of taste and preferences.

“The interior distribution is such that it creates a sense of being on a much larger ship, a sensation realised in part through tall ceilings and the use of glassed areas that allow natural light and seascapes to illuminate the luxurious cabin spaces. Nowhere is this approach more impressive than in the skylight and private deck of the master cabin, and it helps to create a truly privileged private space.”

My Reading Room
My Reading Room
<b>Clockwise from top: Vanity desk in the master suite; en-suite bathroom;
guest double; stairs to the lower deck.</b>
<b>Clockwise from top: Vanity desk in the master suite; en-suite bathroom; guest double; stairs to the lower deck.</b>
My Reading Room

Driving stations

The interior pilothouse is a very compact space, with a Captain’s chair occupying most of the limited area. This faces a row of four large colour displays that can be tailored for individual use. The switches, smaller displays and controls are all on the horizontal surface in front of the seat.

The vital view out of the windows is compromised by very wide mullions, particularly at the point where the windows curve round at the edges. In response, Dominator has said the mullions have been modified on the next hulls. A gull wing side door gives access to the side deck from the pilot house.

Up on the flybridge the view is wide open from the starboard helm. Behind it is a bar counter that incorporates a barbecue and several stools, then a dining table followed by a hot tub and the sunbed. This is the pleasure area of the yacht and in sunny weather, this will be the focus of the activity.

The Ilumen opens up new ideas and a new perspective in this crowded MCA 24m sector. It offers a great deal of yacht for its size and it can be used for extensive cruising with a 3,000nm range at 8 knots. Dominator still has some problems to solve with this new design, but it also has the possibility to become a game changer in this market sector.

My Reading Room