The 30-50m market: in need of a design overhaul?
Is there a need for a more innovative approach to this vast sector of the market?
According to The Superyacht Intelligence Agency, 84.9 per cent of the delivered superyacht fleet are between 30 and 50m. Interestingly, despite its size, it’s the 70m plus market that sees the most activity in terms of new concepts and designs hitting the market. This makes me wonder if the 30-50m market needs some fresh thinking to encourage new owners to enter the superyacht industry.
“When the ambition is to do something different, it’s relatively easy in the 70m plus market as you have so much space,” says Bart Bouwhuis, co-director of Vripack. “A smaller project is much more difficult to reimagine, because you don’t have the space. But in the end, it is actually far more important to do so because the 30-50m market is a serious portion of the entire superyacht sphere.
“From an industry standpoint, we should focus on this market,” Bouwhuis continues. “A large majority of large yacht owners started small. In order to engage clients and drag new, younger clients into the superyacht industry we need to come up with more innovative boats."
Having just unveiled the new 50m concept Maharani, Vripack is hoping to invigorate this sector of the market with their human-centred approach to design, which focuses on how owners really spend their time on board. The idea is that the ‘standard’ general arrangement is something that certainly doesn’t suit every owner and there is a huge opportunity to create something different than concepts currently seen in the market.
"A large majority of large yacht owners started small. In order to engage clients and drag new, younger clients into the superyacht industry we need to come up with more innovative boats."
- Bart Bouwhuis, Vripack
It appears that there is room within the 30-50m market to re-think the standard layout based on how each client spends their time on board. “We need to really listen to what the client wants,” Bouwhuis explains. “The industry should try and get away from industry-centred design to human-centred design. It all starts with listening to the client and asking the right questions. For instance, ‘Where on the yacht do you spend the most of your time?’ and then making that the centre of the design.”
In the case of Maharani, Vripack has reworked numerous aspects of the yacht’s layout in favour of this approach. “We wanted to seriously disrupt," says Bouwhuis. “Maharani’s main deck has 50m of clear deck space offering ten dedicated areas. From the layout, it’s obvious that each of these spaces have their own intimacy and function. This allows all family members to enjoy their own time on board, while still being together all on one incredible deck stretching from stern to bow."
Furthermore, this approach has resulted in a shift away from certain fabrics, materials or styles, such as the high-sheen finish, that we see so often in the superyacht industry. It’s interesting that the extremely elaborate and complex interiors that are often associated with the superyacht industry may not promote a comfortable environment on board. As a result of this, Vripack have created a more ‘beach house feel’ that focuses on comfort.
“Here, we have looked at exactly what the client wants,” says Bouwhuis. “When you go to their house or chalet, you don’t see high-end finishes or super glossy lacquered interiors, typically, we see very liveable environments. But when we step into the yachting industry, we see very glamorous interiors. While with certain cultures it resonates well and they really appreciate this glamorous high glossy interior, there is definitely a group of clients – especially the younger clients – they see the yacht as a tool to spend their free time in an amazing way and in more of a very sophisticated interior style. They want it designed in a more toned-down manor.
“A boat is not a showroom; the boat is a tool to spend with the people that are dear to you,” Bouwhuis concludes. “So, why is this environment then so poorly developed, from a layout perspective? For us, to offer an alternative creates an interesting spread in the market.”
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