NICHOLAS DEAN, Managing Partner at Ocean Independence, shares his predictions on the trends shaping YACHT CONSTRUCTION
What trends are you noticing in the size of new build commissions?
In recent years, tonnage has increased considerably, as yachts grow ever larger. In part, this is a natural evolution as owners tend to progress to bigger yachts over the years. Whereas a 50m superyacht was once seen as the pinnacle when it came to size, today 80m-120m megayachts now make way for the vast proportions of gigayachts. However, in slight contradiction to this, there are also clients who are increasingly interested in accessing cruising areas and marinas where a 40m to 60m yacht is the ideal option. More still are starting to take the environmental impact of their yacht into consideration.
What developments are you noticing in new build commissions?
Three areas have dominated new build commissions: custom, semi-custom/ limited editions and production yachts. All have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the client’s requirements. Full-custom yachts have a longer build time but are completely bespoke. Semi-custom yachts, meanwhile, benefit from economies of scale, yet can still challenge design boundaries and cater to individual requirements. Finally, production yachts give clients options on interiors, but no input on the fundamental construction process. While the market split remains quite consistent, several shipyards have enjoyed a good level of success with semi-custom yachts due to the level of flexibility they offer.
What the current trends in project refits?
Yachting has a rich history and for some clients the challenge of a restoration project or a re-build of a piece of that history is very tempting. Bringing a classic yacht back to life, or refitting it to modern standards without losing any of its original charm, is an immensely enjoyable challenge. While more of a market constant than a trend, there are usually a good selection of potential yachts to choose from. A good starting point is to focus on either the original quality or pedigree of build or opt for a yacht with a real story to tell. Some have had famous owners, some have won prestigious races and others have a rich design heritage.
How do you envisage the future when it comes to design and craftsmanship of yacht commissions and refits?
One recent trend has been the explorer yacht concept. Many shipyards have followed this trend, but few have actually produced vessels with true explorer credentials. Designing a yacht that is capable of going anywhere in total comfort is a tough challenge and the resulting yachts have often been more on the ‘soft explorer’ side. Many other challenges face the yacht market, perhaps the most pressing for owners is sustainability and the potential green credentials that can be incorporated into a build. The huge advances emerging in engineering and technology mean that the industry has an opportunity to better balance the related environmental impact.