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Review: Burger 151' Fantail Cruiser "Sycara IV"

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Review: Burger 151' Fantail Cruiser "Sycara IV"

Burger 151' Fantail Cruiser 'Sycara IV'
The Dawn of a New Era in Old World Craftsmanship.

by Capt. Chuck Gnaegy & YF Publisher Carl Camper

True Beauty is Timeless; hallowing an iconography that echoes,
reverberates unendingly through the ages. Though brief fads and passing
fantasy developments may alter capricious tastes, classic art and design sedately
continue to elevate our mind’s appreciation of extraordinary beauty.

Introducing, Sycara IV! Timeless Fascination...

In yacht design this becomes an ultimate truism: While the latest luxury fleets pursue their sleek resemblance to space ships, space travel; a lovely, capricious, classic model springs forth to capture its most coveted prize. As other designs flaunt their ultra-modern metals and unlimited rocketry of the universe, this demure lady of splendor sparks a return to Art Deco; a time of radiance, warmth, comfort, gaiety and merrymaking. Yes, a time of “Flappers,” “Ragtime,” Bobbed hair, Rumble seats; also Prohibition, Rum Runners, Gangsters; plus that brand new invention, Crystal Radios. Here’s looking at you, magnificent young lady: the 1920's. Live!

One other important turn of the tide here; a retroaction now long lost in yacht making: noble, handsome – wood – yes. Wood, augmenting her classic design from the golden years of yachting, with intricate veneer layouts thoughout the vessel. But, one moment: When this rare, singular “wood” reveals its spellbinding secret; it will astound you.
Patterned after the classic and Presidential yachts of the 1920s, Sycara IV’s owners, Ray and Elsie Catena – whose previous yachts have crossed many a frontier – cast a fascinating challenge to her Naval Architect Bruce King, Yacht Designer Ken Freivokh, and Project Manager Steve Narkawicz. Theirs would be a “family yacht” patterned after a fan-tail schooner, to visit America’s waters such as the Great Lakes, Erie Barge Canal and many mighty waterways. This extraordinary ship would incorporate interior and hull designs reflecting the stellar comfort and style, the glamor and merry humor of that long-admired American era, the Roaring-20s. Yet, her Alustar aluminum construction; featuring extensive exterior joinery, would omit nothing of today’s advances; modern amenities, equipment, appliances, paraphernalia.
Their Design Team applauded such an ambitious goal. Then Burger’s skilled, state-of-the-art Crafts-Workers readily took up the gauntlet – ensuring an entertaining, happy outcome – and all delivered. The cleverness, the romance of yachting long ago, would charm with a stellar reappearance, sparkling in its newly reactivated, show-stopping appearance. Burger’s ages-long presence has ranged far and wide, most recently including the noted high-speed To-Kalon; the soon to launch Sea Owl – with Vripack; a 153’ tri-deck in-build; plus a massive Sparkman Stevens sailboat on the drawing boards (see YachtForums press release). Over the span of many productive years, Burger has built and marketed every boat style except an Express, and boasts many return customers, including this; another for the Catenas. Talk about satisfied customers...
Shown here, portions of Burger’s aforementioned, outstanding “woodwork”. She displays significant use of wood composite to achieve her classic exterior styling. The most notable example highlights her mast and bowsprit, yet this is not wood; it is carbon fiber. While Burger’s yacht productions since 1863 focus on custom yachts in aluminum, and/or steel up to 200’ – and garner international recognition for seaworthiness – the highly respected yacht builder now pioneers a new, peerless work; fashioned to be indistinguishable from highly finished wood. This glamorous, stunning motor yacht in all her glory, becomes a showcase in the tradition of famed “Corsair,” the spectacular yacht of J. P. Morgan, a legendary 20’s American financier.
Working in tandem, Awlgrip – with Burger engineers – developed a three-sequence system using the firm’s products to create a faux wood, paint finish for Sycara's mast and bow sprit, shown here pointing the way. It looks astonishingly genuine and will stay in service for an unlimited time, equal to any of the company’s remarkable coatings. Guiding the preparation/planning sequence were Jim Ruffolo; Burger President, and David Halcomb; Awlgrip Senior VP, who collaborated on the project to maintain the genuine look and feel of authentic wood on the yacht.
Sycara IV’s airy, aft party deck, again reflecting the 20’s’ dedication to fun and frolic, offers a delightful dining entertainment venue for eight, while astern a covered Ultra-leather couch makes room for onlookers; perhaps simply a wonderful spot to read, rest and relax. Or, Hey! all you Jazz-Bo’s and Fox Trotters! Clear the floor; Crank up the Victrola! Anyone for the Charleston, Shimmy, or Black Bottom? Not shown in this picture, but captured in the "details" segment following YF's review, a Nautical Structures stern passerelle. Her fantail stern features a hydraulic gangway that extends backwards for Euro-style docking. To facilitate deployment of the passarelle, a portion of the stern drops away, granting egress for the gangway. There is a Cramm side-boarding passerelle cleanly integrated to Sycara's port side as well.
Her bulwarks all around also hew to the tradition of timeless fashion. Above the bleached teak decking, highly-finished white sides rise up to the well polished mahogany tone of Madrone Burl, providing a handsome topping as well as a sturdy rim. Burger’s flag heralds a placid day at sea while the bowsprit urges full speed ahead. Notice; no discernible difference between the real wood on Sycara's caprail and the imitation wood (paint) of the bow sprit.
Sycara IV’s bow pulpit is dominated by an Ideal highly-polished and engraved, windlass anchoring system for hoisting a pair of stainless hooks into bow pockets. To keep rust from running renegade, a wash down system sprays the anchor chain in the hause pipes. Oversized for Sycara’s 151 feet, coupled with the aft boarding passarelle, the equipment would indicate the Catena’s plan to hang-on-the-hook, med-style, for extended stays.
Her exterior helm on the foredeck, seemingly carved into, or perhaps out of, the rich blending and period construct. It exhibits a fully activated forward post for the helm, or to control anchoring, as well as monitoring of anchorage performance. Sycara’s upper deck and bow deck air intakes are functional and like everything else, true to the era. Speaking of... check out that compass!
This aerial shot from high above the bridge deck emphasizes Sycara’s perfect balance of modern amenities and homage to yachting's past. Richly balanced harmonics – mahogany and teak against sterile white. Note the three-step-up jacuzzi spa tub. Quite civilized, for the Roaring 20's, yes?
Because Sycara's design doesn't lend itself to a hard top, a close-up of the bridge deck points out the use of materials to weather time; a perforated, teak table that won't hold water, outdoor furniture that never needs pampering; cabinet doors on the sundeck CNC routed from Eco Cell that are impervious to the elements - all very light for up-high weight control. Notice the transparent cut-out in the dining table. More on this later...
WHOoooop! A battery of Kahlenberg horns, trumpets if you will, formed from bronze and chrome plated, announce whatever the captain vehemently desires to say to the world. Just aft, Sycara’s sunpads flank the forward access door, while stainless rails wrap the area for safety. Come on now, it's not like anyone would come near those horns!
Here, a close-up view of the bridge deck's center couch and table, for taking in the horizon bathed in the freshest of sea air. Behind, the mammoth funnel is actually quite light. Fashioned from carbon fiber, it weighs in at an astonishing 80 lbs. And while it's period specific, it's not truly functional. It houses only the generator exhaust. Both the funnel and the mast are removable for low bridges.
Nesting her spotlight, camera, radar and nav lights high off the deck, here’s an added close-up of the mast with its clever "faux wood" paint application covering yet another desirable finish, the carbon fiber that forms the spine of the structure. See 'Details' following the review for close-ups on the finish.
Sycara IV’s tender, also fashioned in authentic Roaring 20’s style, is a genuine, varnished facsimile of the speed boats a smuggler might use for a few jugs of then-forbidden hooch. “Miss Sydney” is a very unique build in her own right, as she was hand-made by retired workers from another famous boat builder, Elco, specifically for Sycara. Period-correct, dark brown & burgundy seating faces a good old-fashioned analogue gauge cluster centered on the dash.

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