What was your most challenging design request, and how did you overcome it?
The most challenging design request was undoubtedly when – very much at the 11th hour – the naval architect for Maltese Falcon announced that he needed me to raise the top bearing of the aft mast about a metre above the deck. The deck was fully designed, and I had sudden visions of a horrible structure sticking up through the main external seating area. However, after a few sketches, I believe I turned a problem into an opportunity and the result was an attractive and totally logical structure that ‘received’ the mast much better than without it!
What technological advances can we expect to see on the yachts of tomorrow, and what areas of the yacht require fresh thinking?
Definitely glass — it is the material of the future. Gorilla glass, similar to that found on smart phones, has structural strength, retains full transparency, does not require painting or major maintenance, and will help ensure full enjoyment of the sea from within a yacht, rather than have to look out through small portholes! Bulwarks will become all glass, doors will consist of frameless glass, skylights will be larger, removable storm deadlights will become a thing of the past, as authorities begin to accept that the glass on portholes and windows is as strong as steel.
An area of the yacht that requires fresh thinking is definitely in the layout in terms of circulation. It is essential to resolve efficient circulation through the full length of each deck. There should be no need for crew to have to go up and down stairs to avoid guests when trying to reach any area of the vessel, particularly to access cabins when the guests are up having breakfast and so on. Equally as important is to have good and segregated vertical circulation for guests and crew. The team on board should be able to discreetly go about their business without interfering with guest circulation.
On larger yachts, always consider a person or trolley lift, rather than a dumbwaiter. The cost and complexity is to some extent comparable, and the dumbwaiter simply doesn’t work. It requires crew to wait for food at each level, the food needs to be stacked within the dumbwaiter and then transferred back to a trolley on the delivery deck. As a result dumbwaiter shafts end up being used for fishing rod storage and other such objects. It is essential to have pantries strategically located to easily transport hot food to external and internal tables, and indeed even for room service.
With your 141m Dream Symphony design in build, what advice would you give to owners approaching a new build project?
My advice to new owners is not to be tempted by deals that seem too good to be true, as they simply do not exist. It is important to select a well-known yard, with the required infrastructure, engineering team, experience, and the right location in proximity to key subcontractors and suppliers. It should be easily accessible to the design team, surveyors, subcontractors, and all essential people involved in the project. This is the only way that a project will run on time, with everything planned and engineered. I would suggest to new owners that they should think of a large new yacht as having similar demands as a private jet. After all, they both require comparable levels of technology and should therefore ask themselves, ‘would I trust the build of my private jet to such a yard’?