As superyacht rigs become more complex and advanced in terms of technology and performance, the rising cost of such components is constant point of discussion in the sailing yacht sector. One shipyard representative recently explained that the yard lost a new build sailing yacht project based on the estimated cost of the rig package. The figure often thrown around in informal conversation is that a rig and rigging package can account for up to 35 per cent of the overall cost of a new build project, which is a cost likely to deter even the most avid sailing yacht client. But where has this valuation originated from, and is there any truth to it?

While such a cost largely depends on the project, and so should be something that is measured on a case-by-case basis, from speaking to the manufacturers it seems that the 35 per cent figure is in fact exaggerated in terms of what the rig and rigging will actually represent in a new build. Research and development, specialisation and the latest technology advances are all values that clients are demanding more and more, and have subsequently increased rig project costs substantially. However, the overall figure appears to be lower than many believe. 

“35 per cent seems a rather high number,” critiques Bas Peute, sales manager at Rondal. “In the early days of carbon spars, 10 per cent was the bench mark figure. Nowadays, with carbon standing rigging instead of nitronic rods and yachts designs that have higher rig loads in general, we see that number moving between 15 and 20 per cent.” 

Southern Spars’ Andrew Hollis also agrees on a similar, lesser percentile. “It appears that a figure of 16 to 18 per cent seems more accurate,” he explains, adding that the demands of a modern mast justify the nevertheless substantial cost: “Carrying the sails is only the beginning of the story. Our masts also carry air-conditioning ducts, radar and radio equipment, navigation aids and more, all tucked neatly out of sight so that superyachts can look as good as they do. And that’s before we even get onto the performance characteristics of a Southern Spars rig package.”

For Carbo-Link, however, the overall cost of a yacht is driven by so many variables that it is almost impossible to pinpoint a typical percentage for the rig. “For example, a fully carbon yacht will cost more to build than a steel yacht but the mast and rigging package would be the same price for both, subsequently giving two very different percentages,” explains Carbo-Link’s James Wilkinson. “There is no ‘typical’ mast package price: every desire can be achieved with modern day carbon technology leading to huge variations in cost.” 

Wilkinson adds that the mast and rigging is a critical structural component of a sailing yacht, and therefore will always represent a fairly significant percentage of the overall budget. But with developments in technology and desire for performance, is the increasing cost of such components contributing to a lack of interest in the sailing yacht sector?

“Sailing yachts are bought by clients because of their passion and love for sailing, not because they are more affordable than a motoryacht,” Wilkinson concludes. “Of more importance is educating prospective clients about these advances in technology, and it is the responsibility of mast and rigging suppliers to offer innovative products that truly add value to a project. Without this education and investment in modern technologies, the sector could potentially be off-putting for a prospective client.”

The Superyacht Forum, taking place from 13 to 16 November in Amsterdam, will include compelling technology-focused discussions. To find out more and secure your place, click here.

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