An experience in its own right
How tenders evolved from workhorses to high-end standalone experiences…
The superyacht market seems to have reached a position of maturity where it can look beyond the vessels themselves and look ever further towards the experiences that the mothership can foster. Tenders have become an absolutely vital part of this development. In the first of a series of articles about the tender market, we explore how the perception of tenders and their uses has changed dramatically in a relatively small period of time.
“Tenders were just seen as a way of transporting guests to and from the mothership. They were largely basic ribs with nothing fancy about them. Tenders were workhorses for the superyacht. However, around 10 years ago when the yachts had already started to grow in size, the likes of Yachtwerft Meyer and others started to develop the limousine tender. While they were still quite basic, the finishes and levels of luxury had begun to rise with the simple addition of some shelter,” starts Richard Booth, senior project manager at Superyacht Tenders and Toys.
Booth believes, however, that the real step change happened with the advent of the 100m-plus market. Large superyachts had of course existed before and while they are still few and far between relatively speaking, it was the growth of this market that inspired significant change to superyacht tenders. The vast increase in usable space meant that owners no longer had to compromise by limiting the number of tenders that they had on board. As such, buyers started towards a more specialised tender model.
“As of around 10 years ago the tender market completely changed. The booming popularity of tenders, especially the limousine tenders, has led to massive advancements in the technology onboard tenders and the finishes that are now expected, as well as of course introducing a whole range of new types of tender to the market,” continues Booth. “Tenders are now as luxurious as the mothership, albeit on a smaller scale, and there is a different type of tender available for any task or pastime imaginable. It started with the largest superyachts, but once the possibilities had been explored the adaptations and evolutions filtered through the size ranges. Even 50m superyachts today have a full-size tender garage in the aft or side of them.”
With regards to the finishes now found on tenders, anyone who has spent any time on a high-end superyacht tender will understand the truth of what Booth says. In a sense, the tenders are miniature yachts in themselves with high-end technologies available for almost everything one might expect to do the mothership such as sleeping, eating & drinking, music & entertainment, sports and so on.
“The technology and level of finish on a limousine tender is equivalent to what you would find on a superyacht and many of them are now designed exactly with this in mind. They are extensions of the mothership that have been created to provide a sense of continuity from one to the other. Owners realised, especially with the larger superyachts, that the tender is the first thing that they or their guests see before boarding and when coming into a marina it is the only part of the superyacht that the public see. The levels of luxury today, therefore, are outstanding,” says Booth. “We have done a project with porcelain floors and another with stainless inserts instead of teak and caulking, TV screens instead of a front-facing window with cameras to help steer and everything in between and beyond.”
For some owners, this evolution towards luxury tenders and speciality of usage, however, simply didn’t go far enough. Even the largest superyachts still felt as though to a certain extent they were being forced to compromise by using space that could otherwise be used for guests to be taken up by tenders – queue the development of the support yacht model.
“With support vessels owners can now have speciality tenders without needing to choose between which ones to carry. One of the projects we are working on right now has 10 different tenders. Support vessels are carrying cigarette boats, specialist water sports tenders, ribs, catamarans, submarines, classic Rivas, beach landers, limousine tenders, amphibious tenders, lifeboats, SOLAS tenders, utility tenders and more! It is crazy what is possible with a support vessel and they are growing in popularity,” continues Booth. “Owners aren’t looking at tenders as just practical or luxurious additions to the mothership, they are looking at them as experiences in themselves, they want to have fun.”
It is generally accepted that owners are becoming more open to the idea that the superyacht experience can extend far beyond the superyacht in and of itself, and this is reflected in how experience and value-based superyacht marketing has become today. Superyachts are no longer the be-all and end-all of the experience, they are the platforms from which owners and guests are able to explore their various passions and hobbies. Today, tenders have become a vital extension of this development. In the coming weeks and months, SuperyachtNews will be exploring a number of topics relating to the tender market, from alternative propulsion to safety, toys, storage, training, design, trends and developments.
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