Refitting the new-build thinking
Building with refit in mind but also building refit into the mind…
Michel Coens, refit sales manager at Damen Yachting, says options to make changes to a yacht should be at the forefront of an owner’s mind before it’s even launched.
Building with refit in mind is probably not the number one priority when planning a new build, especially when the goal is getting the project across the finish line … reaching that yacht-building milestone of being an on-time, on-budget delivery in line with client expectations. Not a priority, that is, unless, like me, you work in refit.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully support those project goals. And yes, they absolutely apply to refit projects as well, but I can’t help but think that one project’s finish line is another’s starting block. And who wouldn’t want to come out of the gates prepared in the best way possible to deliver clients exactly what they need throughout their yacht’s lifecycle – be it technical upgrades, redesign, layout changes or even a complete overhaul and rebuild? So, as yacht builders, what can we do to optimise the refit schedule?
Michel Coens, refit sales manager, Damen Yachting
One option is to build into a yacht the provision for refit from the outset. To some extent, this is already being done. Think cable and technical infrastructures, a solid AV/IT backbone designed to support future upgrades and new technologies or an HVAC system with sufficient room for upgrade. Yet these are relatively easy to anticipate; technology moves fast and so futureproofing has become essential. The same applies to the interior. Time and use will always take their toll so building smart interiors where upgrades or a refresh can be done with, for example, new panels can save time and money down the line.
However, what about those provisions that are more structural? Making allowances during the initial design phase for the future lengthening of the vessel in relation to strength and stability can ensure refit potential is there from the outset, but this requires planning and integration from the very start. Certain build methods allow for this more freely than others, of course. There are huge advantages to standardised build platforms such as our Amels Limited Editions, where the design evolution and new-build platform itself already allow for certain modifications in layout, design (interior and exterior) and even extensions. This translates to huge refit benefits where the provision for structural, aesthetic and system modifications and upgrades has already been built-in.
The recent refit of Here Comes The Sun is a great example of this. She was effectively already set up for future growth in terms of strength, stability, extension, interior updates and system upgrades, resulting in a huge amount of complex work being completed in a relatively short space of time.
That said, I’m still not sure that building with a refit in mind is purely about laying the physical build foundations. After all, every owner is different and their use of a yacht varies, so this also impacts refit needs. Change of ownership often results in a brand new interior, although not always. Charter yachts have different refit needs from a private, family-used home at sea. So are these more generic pre-empts and future-proofing safety nets enough to cover a yacht’s actual lifecycle needs?
Even with physical preparations and access built in to allow for future technology upgrades and extension options, is it not more about making sure refit options are in the owner’s mind from the outset? Thinking about the long-term plan for the yacht, making provisions and building accordingly? Listening to what the client wants for their yacht, not just today but in five or 10 years’ time, and making sure they are fully aware of the impact certain build decisions made early on may have on those future expectations? Being mindful of what needs to be done today to deliver the yacht they want to be able to have in the future?
Of course, this isn’t easy; no one really wants to think of what they may or may not need a decade down the line, and refits, much like maintenance, can often be seen as downtime. Yet there is the potential to absolutely improve the overall experience on board for the owner and even boost the charter success and value, for example. Discussing a lifecycle plan with the client upfront to take into consideration refit, future growth, essential surveys and maintenance from the outset, and getting the captain to plan this into schedules, could certainly optimise the refit schedule and end result.
That’s something we shouldn’t forget: the end result. A refit can transform a yacht and it’s clear to me that the more we can prepare for that – both physically during the original build and mentally by bringing refit to the table with the owner and captain early on to better understand long-term expectations and yacht usage – the more successful the process will be. It then comes down to not just building with refit in mind but also building refit into the mind.
This article first appeared in The Superyacht Refit Report. To gain access to The Superyacht Group’s full suite of content, publications, events and services, click here to join The Superyacht Group Community and become one of our members.
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