Looking for more la dolce vita in your life? J Craft has got you covered! Blending cutting-edge technology with timeless styling, each J Craft boat empowers the individual to live in the moment and experience pure boating pleasure. Hedge fund manager and entrepreneur Radenko Milakovic tells The Daily Summer how the company is creating the ultimate classic-boating experience.
What makes J Craft a dream boat?
J Craft is a boat fit for a king, and we mean that quite literally as the first J Craft ever produced was built for HRH Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden. It was delivered to him in 1999, and he still uses it to this day, some 24 years later. The Torpedo is retro in style, in that her design is inspired by the classic mahogany hulls from the 1950s and ’60s. However, while being retro in style, she’s a thoroughly modern boat when looking at the technology and materials we use to build her. After all, she’s a boat that’s built to cope with what can be challenging conditions in the Baltic and North seas, which we cross frequently. As such and while beautiful and cool, she’s an enormously capable, powerful, but also practical boat; as I like to say, Brigitte Bardot meets 007. To top this off, there’s her Viking heritage. With her striking retro vintage looks, the build quality, and her performance, she can’t help but turn heads.
What was the inspiration?
The original inspiration was boats from the ’50s and ’60s, the classic mahogany look—but in contrast to these, the Torpedos are built to handle the high seas. While she continues to be hand-built by us from the keel up, we use the latest in technology and materials with an emphasis on quality, seaworthiness, and capability.
What areas were the first J Craft boats sold in?
Most of the early units were sold to clients in Sweden, Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries. However, from 2010 onward, the majority of our boats were being used throughout the Mediterranean, but as some of them were also tenders to super yachts, you could find J Craft Torpedos across the seven seas, including in the U.S. Today, you can see them on the French Riviera, the Balearic islands, Sardinia, but also on lakes in Switzerland and in one case on a lake in the U.S. Quarter 4 of this year will see the arrival of the latest J Craft Torpedo at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.
You acquired J Craft from original founder Björn Jansson [the “J” in J Craft] in 2008. How are you keeping his vision alive?
I see myself less as the owner of the J Craft brand, but rather as a temporary custodian of Björn’s original vision. As such, my wife, Kristina, and I, and the whole team led by our chief master builder Johan Hallen, who was here from day 1 since he and Björn started in 1999, accepted the challenge of propelling Björn Jansson’s vision into the 21st century. Painstaking hours of research, design, testing, evaluation, and finally the hand craftsmanship of many members of the original J Craft team resulted in the revolutionary 12.8 m [42 foot] J Craft Torpedo. We unveiled the first J Craft Torpedo to the world in Saint Tropez at Pampelonne Beach on July 19, 2009. While completely rebuilt, both in style and in spirit, the Torpedo remains true to Björn’s original vision of marrying beautiful materials, exquisitely engineered details, distinctive design, and discreet state-of-the-art technology.
Tell us a little bit about the Torpedo!
The Torpedo is truly an exquisite combination of craftsmanship, power, and performance. Unrivalled in her timeless styling with a commanding presence under the waterline, each J Craft is anything but traditional. The Torpedo’s Swedish-made Volvo Penta IPS propulsion system in combination with her custom-designed hull allows for excellent stability and performance in any sea state, as well as an impressive 280 nautical-mile range. Powered by the IPS, it yields virtually no vibration, noise, or smell. The joystick control allows for confident and effortless maneuvering in port. The quality of the materials we use to build the J Craft Torpedo are second to none, and the build quality is best in class. The Torpedo is regularly taken across the Mediterranean in conditions that other luxury tenders or day boats in that size couldn’t contemplate. True to her Viking heritage, the Torpedo has made some remarkable trips. To give you a few examples, Torpedos have crossed the South China Sea, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Mediterranean, but also the Florida Straits and most recently has made a number of trips among the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.
You came out with the Acheron in 2020. What’s the story
with this boat?
Acheron was the first J Craft Torpedo RS that featured the then newly released Volvo Penta IPS 650 engines, which propelled the Torpedo to speeds close to 50 mph. Acheron is enormously powerful and has been featured extensively in our marketing efforts, which included us documenting by way of a time-lapse video her 8,500 (wo)man-hour build process, which you can find on our Instagram page [@jcraftboats].
You’re coming to the Hamptons this summer. What made this the right time to expand to the East End?
Caring for a fine luxury craft should be as easy as driving it, especially in the case of J Craft. This is why J Craft dedicates itself to providing a refined concierge level of service to our owners. We have learned well; with our Torpedos frequently serving as tenders to some of the world’s most impressive and well-traveled super yachts, we know what it takes to keep our yachts in pristine operating condition across the seven seas. Up until now, we didn’t feel that we were ready for the U.S. But with us moving into our brand-new facilities in Visby, Gotland, Sweden, during 2022, and with the addition of a few select high-quality individuals, both in the U.S. as well as in Europe, we now feel that we can absolutely replicate our total service approach beyond our traditional market in Europe to the U.S. This is the start of what I hope to be a long partnership in the United States. And where better to begin than in the Hamptons? We want the same beauty of J Craft on the Long Island Sound as we have in the Baltic and North seas, as well as the Mediterranean.
Can people rent the Torpedos for a day or a weekend? How do they find them?
J Craft Torpedos are rare. As such they’re hard to come by and are rarely offered for rent. On occasion they come up for rent, but that will be done exclusively through ourselves, or one of our distribution partners as our owners are protective of our beautiful gems.
You obviously love boating. What is your favorite thing about the experience of the sea?
Truly, boating is the best form of “la dolce vita”—the beauty of being one with your environment, the sense of freedom, the exhilaration of what can be a challenging environment, the escape. For me, there’s simply no better way of feeling alive.