An Idea Inspired By Crew

How Ward Setzer watched and learned to improve yacht design.

203-foot Vestal 6200, Ward Setzer, Setzer Design Group, Admiral Yachts, Italy
The 203-foot Vestal 6200 by Ward Setzer.Courtesy Setzer Design Group

Setzer Design Group is based in Florida, but founder Ward Setzer was in Antigua seeking inspiration. While on a winter sabbatical, he rented a spot just above the customs office at Falmouth Harbour. It had a bird's-eye view of the marina, so he could see which spaces yacht owners used and how the crew liked to work. "We saw the bigger boats come in," Setzer says. "I would watch the way they dropped boats in and out of the water, and how guests did and didn't use the bow deck."

203-foot Vestal 6200, Ward Setzer, Setzer Design Group, Admiral Yachts, Italy
The 203-foot Vestal 6200 by Ward Setzer is the largest in a new line of motoryachts from Admiral Yachts in Italy.Courtesy Setzer Design Group

He came up with ideas like the one shown above: a forward garage that lowers a tender by way of a gantry crane from about 15 feet above water level. The design was one of many that he later brought to Viareggio, Italy, where he met with the team from Admiral Yachts.

“I took the 24 conceptual design works from Antigua and started rolling them out,” Setzer recalls. “[Giovanni] Constantino, the owner of the shipyard, and two translators started going crazy. There was a lot of hand-waving going on.”

It turned out that Admiral wanted a new series by a U.S. designer to target the North American market. And so Setzer’s concepts became the Vestal line that Admiral just announced. The Vestal 6200 shown here is the biggest, at 203 feet length overall. That and the 164-foot Vestal 5000 will both have steel displacement hulls and aluminum superstructures. The smallest in the line, the 138-foot Vestal 4200, will be semi-displacement with all-aluminum construction.

Ward Setzer, Setzer Design Group, Admiral Yachts, Italy
A sabbatical in Antigua led to the new Admiral Yachts line by Ward Setzer.Courtesy Setzer Design Group

"The crew don’t want tenders aft. They’re so well-trained, they know how to deploy the toys quickly."

- — Ward Setzer, Setzer Yacht Design

The forward tender garages, one each to port and starboard, at the 6200’s bow are intended to make life easier for crew, who seemed inconvenienced to Setzer as he watched them offload tenders aft. If a yacht was coming into port, the tenders had to be launched before the yacht pulled stern-to into a slip. If guests were aboard and the yacht was at anchor in the harbor, swimmers and snorkelers would bunch up on the aft deck and swim platform, eager to get in the water while the crew were still trying to prep the tenders and toys.

Setzer’s solution is to have the crew either stand inside the tenders while they launch from the bow, or hop on at water level from nearby crew doors in the hull after the tenders splash. “The engineers want them out of the way back aft,” Setzer says. “The bosuns are dealing with the personal watercraft and the 10- or 11-foot-long stand-up paddleboards. Get them out of the way. Put them on the bow.”

The forward tender stowage leaves room aft for a beach club. The Vestal 6200 also has a top-level owner’s suite and a pair of main-deck VIPs with balconies that telescope out from both sides of the hull. In other words, reconfiguring the tender stowage didn’t mean compromising anything else on the 203-foot yacht. “I don’t think there’s really a trade-off,” he says. “It’s a huge amount of real estate.”