To mark the launch of The 'new' Superyacht Report, featuring The Superyacht Sailing Report, SuperyachtNews speaks to Rob Doyle, principal of Rob Doyle Design, the Irish sailing yacht design studio. Here, Doyle offers a frank evaluation of the state of his core market. 

There has been a significant drop in requests for concepts and new orders. There are plenty of development concepts floating about, trying to entice clients, but very few projects that will actually develop. There are a lot of designers pitching for the same yachts and requesting pricing from yards, and then tell the press they are developing a project. Other designers do exactly the same, and thus, this gives a false view of the market! To get the real number of boats that are in build you need to get the number of rigs that are being built right now for boats over 50m and that number is near zero. Work is potentially there but when it will start is anybody’s guess.

We are seeing the same design firms getting project after project, which tell us it’s a very nervous market. Yacht development teams have turned into crony teams, and they are nervous of exploring the more adventurous side with other design studios that will push the industry forward.

We have lost a generation to speed - speed to get to places, do stuff etc. We have lost the magic of taking our time to sail somewhere and enjoying the journey rather than the destination. We have created an environment where the design of the project is about charter appeal and regatta winning. We should look back to what these yachts were designed first and foremost for - global cruising. A well-designed global cruising superyacht has amazing seakeeping characters (a phrase i don't see used used anymore) to allow you to enjoy a passage-making trip in all climates and weather conditions, in comfort and safety. The current crop of high performance superyachts are not good passage makers when they hit real weather! The constant push to make every superyacht look like a grand prix racing machine has left us with a lot of boat that you sit on top of and not in, with very little protection from the element. 

Sailing will always be a hard sell, with such a big difference between GT volumes of similar LOA motor yachts; a 500GT sailing yacht is about 55m to 60m, whereas an equivalent motoryacht will be 45m to 47m. We need to make sailing yachts more cost effective against the motoryacht range and sell the idea of sailing adventures and enjoyment of the process of sailing. I think this is not explained enough. At the moment it’s all about the high gloss and 'wow' fashion factor of the yacht, and less about the use of the yacht.

It is always good to push technology forward with the better use of materials, but we do need to realise that yachts like S/Y A, which is amazing more for its scale than its styling, are a very small segment of the market. And we need to focus more on entry-level super yachts, which give the best bang for the buck, with amazing grace and usability that fits an owner's brief and usage.

This article will be published in full in issue 175, the first edition of The ‘new’ Superyacht Report, published in January 2017. The magazine is available free for VIP subscribers. To apply please click here.


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