Over the years, it appears that we’ve all been captivated by the powerful and intrinsically functional appearance of new explorer yachts. And why shouldn’t we be? The brutish exteriors of modern explorer design are a celebration of functionality and going off the beaten track to fulfil a passion for marine adventure – or is it?

Having looked at a number of new explorer concepts that have emerged over the past year or so, it appears that the heavy lines that stem from the commercial market have been incorporated to such an extent that, in some cases, it could actually hinder the true functionality of the vessel. So, does the market know the real reason why explorers look the way they do – or are explorer yachts being planned to fit an aesthetical trend rather than a functional one?

“Ten years ago, when people started talking about explorer yachts, they were really just normal superyachts that had long-range fuel tanks,” says Rob McCallum, founding partner of EYOS Expeditions. “But for someone like me this is completely useless, as you might have more fuel, but it’s no good having enough fuel to cruise halfway around the world if you’re going to run out of food on day 12 and be awash with garbage on day 14.” There are so many considerations that take priority over aesthetics, and these set explorers apart from tough-looking superyachts.

With this in mind, for real exploration superyachts, the purpose of the yacht needs to be decided from the start, with an open mind and a blank piece of paper. “You have to build from the ground up,” explains McCallum. This is part of the reason that a full conversion or refit is likely to experience some form of compromise in its functionality.

Find out what it takes to design a real explorer superyacht in issue 179 of The Superyacht Report.

Have you subscribed to The Superyacht Report? If you are a captain, owner, yacht manager, chief engineer, first officer, broker, designer, senior shipyard management, an owner’s representative, investor, or a family office, you are eligible for a complimentary annual subscription to the only superyacht industry publication worth reading. To apply for your VIP subscription, click here.

Image: Columbus Tomahawk 52 by Marco Casali Too Design