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Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

The design of a superyacht’s tender locker is often second fiddle to maximising leisure space on board.…

With the myriad discussions that take place about the more salubrious areas of a yacht, a tender locker’s standing as an afterthought is understandable. But tenders are an important element of the superyachting experience and there are common mistakes that leave owners having to make compromises that could have been avoided with better planning.

A common mistake on full-custom projects is that tender locker dimensions are agreed in a yacht’s GA without first deciding what’s going inside. “A lot of early decisions have a huge impact on what you can get in your tender locker,” explains Josh Richardson, managing director of Superyacht Tenders & Toys. “A superyacht designer will always look to maximise usable leisure space, often to fit an owner's brief, which can leave unfavourable dimensions for a tender locker.”

Savannah [the 83.5m Feadship build], for example, has a tender garage that is about 10m long, but it’s only usable height is around 1.4m high, causing significant challenges. During the design of the yacht, every tender had to be very heavily customised to fit in the garage. This can cost an owner a significant amount more than if they ordered semi-custom or production tenders to fit that space,” continued Richardson. 

The tender locker dimensions affect the tender crane fittings and their deployment systems. Richardson says that the best limousine tenders on the market require more headroom than people think: “At least 2m is needed from the floor to the ceiling – if you then add a little more space above and below for the crane hooks, and to get the tenders in and out efficiently, you’re at 2.6m in height before you know it.”

Richardson says the owner of a Benetti he is currently working on recently requested a custom-built SOLAS rescue boat. Instead of the normal red or orange Zodiac with a 50hp outboard, the owner wanted a full-carbon boat with customised colours and an inboard jet engine. 

“It would have been an amazing boat,” continued Richardson, “but they were talking about it six months before delivery and there’s no way you can build a custom boat like that in less than a year. The owner had to end up buying a £20,000 Zodiac just because it wasn’t considered at an earlier stage, so they’ve gone from having three really decent tenders to two.”

Richardson’s advice to owners without the experience of building superyachts – and no existing captain who can account for their interests – is simple: “Look at the build time and the budget. What do they want to achieve? Do they want an enclosed limo, a landing craft, a RIB or a sports boat? Normally when people come to us they say they want a custom tender, but only have a year to build it, so it automatically selects who we can propose from there.”

Location is another important consideration. The US has a large leisure boat market, but the decline in full-custom superyacht building in the US has also been to the detriment of its full-custom tender builders. Europe, by contrast, has the healthiest full-custom tender building market, which is reflected in its order book for full-custom superyachts.

“It often makes a lot of sense to have the tenders built in the same region as the mothership builder for warranties and shipping,” added Richardson. If a tender is built in the same region, it can be delivered to the mothership within 24 hours. However, an owner must expect a shipping time of a month or beyond for overseas, inter-continental transportation. 

For access to unrivalled market data and analysis of the superyacht tender market, ‘The Superyacht Annual Report: Tenders & Toys’ will be available from The Superyacht Group at the Monaco Yacht Show in September.

The report will be available to ‘business package’ subscribers. To subscribe, click here.


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