A few years ago I started designing a new motoryacht for an owner I’ve come to know well. It is the third yacht I’ve created for him. While it has been a very positive experience, the fact that we know each other so well brought back all the same strengths and weaknesses, making the design project a lot more time consuming. However, we were both happy with the collaboration in the end — the yacht I’m referring to is 45m Aslec 4. She features a straight bow and a synergised rapport between the decks and sea. Low to the waterline, the extra spacious aft cockpit provides direct access to the sea in just a few steps. Keeping below 500gt, the aft hull structure above water is relatively short.
The design was innovative and today, following a season cruising in the Med, I have received quite a few enquiries from sailing superyacht owners for a motoryacht with the same connection between the decks and sea. It provides more interior space than a sailing yacht but offers the same philosophy of sailing in harmony with the sea.
What is your biggest concern for the industry today and where do you see it in 10 years time?
Where will any of us be in 10 years? I think owners with a long cultural tradition of yachting and plenty of experience sailing will be more likely to consider and desire a smaller yacht. More and more will look for a yacht that is easily managed, economic to run and most definitely more green.
The many newly rich (Russians, Latin Americans and far Eastern clients) have limited experience with this tradition and as such will still maintain a desire for bigger and bigger yachts. These yachts will have limited use due to their very high operational costs, problems related to crew and frequent rotation or lack of experience in handling crew will make the use of the yacht quite difficult.
As for the design community, the new talent coming into the market is a wonderful reality and young designers often bring new and good ideas. Unfortunately these designers forget the main elements that impact a real vessel. I will always be grateful to my father, as he taught me how to sail and to understand all the many complexities that come into play when navigating through such an active liquid, which a design has to take into consideration.
The refit sector is in very good health with many owners opting to invest in sprucing up their yacht and in many cases improving the yacht for many more years of satisfied cruising.
How much involvement should an owner have in the design process for a new build project?
After more than 35 years spent designing yachts I think that a strong collaboration between the owner and designer is almost fundamental for the success of a project. To give you an example, I built a special relationship with the owner of 70m Numptia. During a period of two-and-a-half years, we spent an enormous amount of time together. He asked for special features that he had always wanted, offered solutions and challenged me to go further and to do better. The result was an award winning yacht that, even with the fall of the yacht brokerage market, was sold with a very good profit margin and is the joy of a new owner.