In an effort to keep ahead of the game, New Zealand-based McMullen & Wing tasked Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect, Vripack and H2 Yacht Design with developing concepts that would reflect the shipyard’s heritage and aim to build the world’s most capable exploration vessels.

With the new-build market in New Zealand slowing down due to economic factors, and not forgetting the geographical challenges, McMullen & Wing has reconsidered its strategy in attracting new orders. The initiative, driven by CEO Michael Eaglen, saw McMullen & Wing invite three international studios to create a collaborative concept that would then be presented to the industry.

Michael Eaglen, CEO, McMullen & Wing

“In the past, our clients have come to us direct or have been introduced to us through yacht designers,” explains Eaglen, recalling how the project came about. “Increasingly, however, we are using the brokerage community to communicate with the market, respecting the relationships that brokers have with their clients and helping to support them in presenting our projects.”

But Eaglen acknowledges that these two fundamentals—full custom builds and the brokerage community—can be a challenging combination. “It is like any kind of art,” he says. “The more people involved, the harder it is to communicate the essence of a dream. Most brokers are quick to admit that they find it difficult to sell a blank canvas: most prefer to have a concept to present in order to start a sales discussion.”

In an effort to proactively attract new business, the shipyard sought studios that could take the existing silhouettes and lines that the build team is traditionally known for and evolve them into the next iteration of McMullen & Wing’s lineage.

In an effort to proactively attract new business, the shipyard sought studios that could take the existing silhouettes and lines that the build team is traditionally known for and evolve them into the next iteration of McMullen & Wing’s lineage. It was important that the designs embody the ethos of the shipyard and once complete, the concepts would be included in a presentation programme specifically tailored to the brokerage community.

Equipped with the same brief, all three studios set out to create a yacht between 40m to 60m, that would be constructed out of steel and aluminium, and would stand up to the claim of being one of the world’s most capable exploratory luxury yachts. The result was three quality concepts that each offer a distinctive aesthetic while reflecting the personalities of the designers.

Perhaps one of the most obvious designers to be enlisted for the programme was Greg Marshall, with whom McMullen & Wing has been friends and collaborators for many years, building Big Fish and working with him on the shipyard’s current 50m project. “Both these yachts already fit the brief perfectly, as examples of capable luxury yachts, but also as personal custom-yacht projects,” says Eaglen. “We asked Greg to update and expand that design into a range of yachts to respond to the ongoing market interest these yachts generate.”

Diamond by Greg Marshall

Talking through how he picked the next designer to participate, Eaglen explains that the shipyard looked for something different. “Selecting Vripack may seem obvious: although Vripack designs all sorts of yachts, the company is best known globally for explorer yachts,” explains Eaglen. “As naval architects, they have a clear pedigree in true ocean-going yachts, but it is their inspired approach and clear creativity that was the true driver for approaching them. Their creativity is well grounded in technical execution, which we felt would result in a truly new design with a deep connection to the brief.”

Flow by Vripack

Eaglen and his team were looking to balance the group in type, location and styling and approached H2 Yacht Design for the final design. “With representation from the Americas and ‘old’ Europe, both full-service naval architecture studios, we were looking for someone to represent Britain’s thriving modern-design community,” Eaglen elaborates. The hope was that the studio would deliver a more Mediterranean style in the interpretation of the brief.

Blade by H2 Yacht Design

In a difficult climate for the new build sector, McMullen & Wing are being proactive in attracting and securing new business. While the exercise may have been done by other custom yards before, such as Benetti with its Design Innovation project in 2012, this project stands out because of the unique message that McMullen & Wing has to communicate. Building a yacht at such a yard and in such a location is not for the ordinary client, but this initiative is a step closer to finding the right client to take one or all of these projects to the next phase.

Read about the concepts from the designers' perspectives in issue 24 of Superyacht Design here.

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McMullen & Wing Ltd

Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect Ltd

H2 Yacht Design

Vripack