Meet ‘Game Changer’, a 227ft exploration yacht with the world’s best dive center


Game changer is a wolf disguised as a sheep. It is an explorer’s yacht supported by a support vessel platform. She was launched in 2017 as the fourth hull in Damen Yachting’s 227ft yacht support range. But it’s the incredible onboard amenities where its strengths reside, from the customized five-star Airbus H130 and PADI dive center to the all-new U-Boat Worx CR3 submarine collected last month in Curacao.

Like many explorers, Game changer has already been around the world since giving birth. But unlike most new builds, it has already done two renovations. It’s all part of the owner’s plan. After buying the yacht when finished, he fine-tuned it on delivery, then tested it for a year before deciding on further changes during a second refit, says Captain Mike Rouse.

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“It was always planned to do the refit in two stages,” said Rouse. Robb Report. “The owner wanted to understand what he was doing and what he didn’t like, and the only real way to do that is to experience the boat firsthand for at least a year.”

The first remodel in 2018 completely upgraded the kitchen and enlarged the main living room. The most important part was the state-of-the-art dive center, with a custom air compressor. It contains 48 scuba tanks and a Hyperlite recompression chamber to facilitate extreme diving operations in the most remote locations. Game changerThe ability to function as a true expedition yacht and to undertake technical diving expeditions with both scuba and scuba diving was at the heart of the owner’s motivations behind the purchase of the yacht.

In 2019, Game changer covered 48,000 miles, much of which was spent off the beaten track in colder climates. The world tour took place in South Georgia, Patagonia, the Pacific and Indonesia; areas largely guided by research-led diving expeditions. In Antarctica, the boat was joined by a British Antarctic Survey scientist who studied the patterns of ice retreat from the fjords using the yacht’s submarine. Along with guest experts, the crew includes dive instructors, dive masters and a rebreather diver to perform underwater shoots, as well as submarine and helicopter pilots.

In terms of toys and equipment, Game changer stores serious material. An electric underwater robot ROV capable of diving to 3,280 feet operates alongside the three-person submersible. But it was the six offerings on board and the desire for better access to water that drove some of the most significant changes in the refit of 2020.

“We really needed a bigger swim platform because we have big tenders and the setup just didn’t work,” says Rouse. A 10 foot extension on the rear deck increased Game changertotal length of 236 feet and delivered a brand new beach club with a larger swim platform.

Dynamic positioning has also been adapted, which allows the yacht to stay in a specific location with anchorage. They also installed sonar systems on both Game changer and its 38-foot Intrepid annex to map the seabed to depths of 3,900 feet.

“We’ve done a lot of noise and vibration insulation all over the boat and a ton of technical upgrades to make it more efficient and easier to maintain,” he adds. There were also a number of changes that helped make the boat more user-friendly, including completely renovated cabins, bathrooms and larger windows. The yacht can be chartered by Edmiston.

“We’ve had a lot of requests for heli-skiing and the gyro-stabilized camera hanging from the front of our helicopter allows us to shoot a lot in remote locations,” says Rouse.

Thanks to its exceptional diving center and its submersible, Game changer has been called upon to serve three times as a support vessel for other chartered yachts. It would also provide a reliable platform for researchers who wish to explore the depths.

But for all who choose to praise Game changer On its own, it’s the five-star dive center and submarine capable of reaching 3,600 feet below the surface that is the big draw. “Unlike most other charter yachts, we don’t have to go diving by appointment, which means customers aren’t dependent on what the local dive company can provide,” says the captain. Rouse. “We have everything in place to operate the boat as a fully licensed dive center from anywhere in the world.”

For the owner, the next stop is Central America and the Caribbean while waiting to see when the rest of the world reopens. “He bought a boat in which he can go around the world, and that’s what he intends to do,” says Rouse.

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About Lucille Thompson

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