I am reluctant to use the word ‘trends’ for two reasons. Firstly, most people consider trends in a singular aesthetic sense, thinking how trends come and go and are often a changing fad. And, secondly, trends are clearly not suitable for a huge financial investment that takes years to come to fruition. Circumventing the implementation of any major aesthetic trend is to put the owner at the heart of the yacht, and this then invites a broader conversation about owners’ requests.

Yachting is much like every other part of the world. As people’s opportunities and habits change, so does the way they live their life, and how they work, rest and play. This is the basis of some of the requests from yacht owners and, we believe, a general direction of development and change.

While yacht owners have more different opportunities and habits than most, they are in the unique position of being able to apply surrounding changes fairly quickly, resulting in a yacht and crew that will be working harder to accommodate the broader range of needs on board. A greater flexibility in the use of the yacht is at the forefront of these changes.

Both the private and working life of an owner are often international, across different time zones, with remote working being the norm. With advances in technology, this will only grow, the consequences being that smaller yachts become popular as they are able to dock at enough ports and enable the owner to access airport connections and facilitate meetings on board.

As the owner has more opportunities to be on board, so does any accompanying family. Space for teachers and nannies on board to accommodate children, and medics to allow for longer journeys, all help an owner design the life they want or need on board. Owners are often ambitious, driven people with several different passions they want to pursue, so a yacht has to offer a very attractive and pertinent experience, keeping the owner’s attention while maintaining its value. This can include things such as various tenders and a variation of water toys, a very creative and attentive crew, along with a flexible living arrangement – all elements which we consider when creating a design, making sure that real value to the owner is at the core.

"Owners are often ambitious, driven people with several different passions they want to pursue, so a yacht has to offer a very attractive and pertinent experience, keeping the owner’s attention while maintaining its value."

Another type of owner request we are seeing follows the new-build yacht route to serve a single purpose. For example, to indulge in a fishing, diving or swimming passion, as a (nearly) pure charter vessel or to let adventure steer the course and explore the lesser-known parts of the word. The art for us, as designers, is to provide something that will meet the demand while still retaining a resale value later on.

A visible growing requirement from owners is for a quicker delivery time for the yacht. The popularity of semi-custom options at shipyards shows that this is already prevalent and it is something that we believe will continue to grow. We now live in a world where nearly everything is produced faster and delivered quicker than ever before. There will be owners who understand the skill and expertise that goes into creating and building a yacht, will understand its value and be prepared to wait. But there is a reasonable proportion who do not; their time has a greater value and, to meet their needs, the industry will be looking to offer a broader range of yacht-building possibilities or, alternatively, will be emphasising the value of what they presently offer. Some flexibility on the part of the owner can be an instrumental benefit to achieving that outcome.

For example, we have worked on a fully custom 34m motoryacht that was completed in 22 months – an incredible achievement by all parties, alongside great faith from the experienced owner. This was feasible due to the owner accepting the risk of building a yacht with a smaller, family-run shipyard that had never produced a fully custom vessel before. The shipyard was keen to show its skills and stepped up to the challenge. This is just one case of a yacht build taking a different path to achieve the very speedy build time required by the owner.

Ultimately, we see that new owners are tending to embrace their own diversity, a process that will put pressure on existing procedures on the one hand while also opening up opportunities for owners and the industry on the other.

Don't miss compelling conversations on superyacht design and owners at The Superyacht Design Forum, held this month at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. See the programme and find out more here.

This article originally appeared in The Superyacht Report.

 


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