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Trickle-Down Design

As the largest custom yachts are launched, designers of yachts at every level have a look at what's new, and find creative solutions to design challenges.

October 23, 2009
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The process of having a custom yacht designed and built can be broken down into many, many small parts, each of which can be phrased as a question that the builder and designer put to the owner: “Would you like it this way or that way?” When these questions are answered, the yacht begins to take form. And in fact, mid-build change orders are ofen the result of an owner deciding he answered one or more of these questions incorrectly.

As these designs are built and unveiled at international yacht shows, naval architects, stylists, and designers the world over take notice and ask themselves some questions. What is it that sets these yachts apart? Or Why do these designs work? And, most importantly, Why didn’t I think of that? And as the challenges of their own designs loom, the solutions they hit upon may be inspired by some of these beautiful and remarkable yachts.

Power Management__

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Yacht designers are turning to clever power management systems, using hybrid technology to make yachts more efficient and reduce environmental impact.

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WHY stands for Wally Hermès Yachts, a joint venture between the cutting-edge yacht builder and the luxury fashion house. The first project of the partnership, depicted in this rendering above, will certainly catch the eye, but it’s the rays she’s after. The yacht has an integrated, retractable photovoltaic array that will shrink not only your carbon footprint, but also that of all your friends, hanging out on the 36-meter wide afterdeck and swim platform called “the beach.” Nine hundred square meters of solar cells will power most of the ancillary systems, while three times more energy is conserved through the recovery of lost thermal energy. The power management of WHY keeps with the general concept of the yacht: Slow down and enjoy the ride-having the time to do it will be the true luxury of the future.

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Looking for something a bit more down to earth, but still earthfriendly? Mochi Craft has launched the Long Range 23, a hybrid propulsion yacht that uses diesel engines, electric motors, battery banks, generators, and a handy touchscreen control system to offer four different modes of energy use at sea. Get where you need to go with full diesel propulsion, which charges the system while you cruise around at semi-displacement speeds, or switch to zero emission mode, which runs everything off the batteries, and dials down any guilt as well.

WHY Yachts; www.why-yachts.com Allied Marine Group, (954) 462-5527; www.alliedmarine.com

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Closer to the Water _ _

Remember what it was like when you first started out? Reclaim your past and get your feet wet.

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The larger the yacht, the farther we seem to get from the sea, both literally and figuratively. Literally, because most of the exterior deck space on 100-plus-foot yachts is often high above the waterline, the better for sweeping views and crashing waves. And figuratively because much of the design and décor of the most opulent yachts takes you away from the water and makes you feel you’re in a sleek penthouse apartment or an English manor’s drawing room. The new Sunseeker Predator 130 has a seriously spacious swim platform to better enjoy the refreshing waters. But what really brings you back to looking at the water are the balconies-four of them, two each in the main-deck salon and the owner’s suite. These aren’t the first deployable balconies that we’ve seen: Other yachts also have used them to open up the yacht to fresh breezes and, most importantly, bring you back to the feeling that you’re on the water-as in right out over the water, gazing into the inky depths.

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The Marlow 86 CMY is not as intimate with the water as a small center console, to be sure, but it has a flying bridge, as well as a station on the Portuguese bridge to get you out of the pilothouse for in-close maneuvering or pleasant conditions. More importantly, the yacht goes one step beyond the swim platform, also offering a cockpit with a deck nearly as low to the water as that of a sportfisherman. The idea is to get reacquainted with the water, but not the distant water you see when you’re at the helm. Now you’re close enough to see the surface, and all the colors and ripples that drew you in when you first started driving boats.

Sunseeker International, +44 1202 381 111; www.sunseeker.com Marlow Yachts, (941) 729-3370; www.marlowexplorer.com

View Master

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When designing an onboard entertainment system, the yacht owner’s needs come first-and last.

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Combine a large yacht’s long build horizon with an owner’s need to have the absolute latest media technology on board and you get what happened with the Feadship F45 Harle. The tech-centric owner brought in a media consultant to design the yacht’s communication and media system. Problem was, the technology that was currently available would be considered obsolete by the time the yacht was launched. The solution: Put off the installation of the system until the very last possible moment, and make certain all components are plug-and-play ready, so newer, updated technology could be installed at each end-user point as it came available. As it happened, the core server of the media system was released to the public 23 months-nearly two years-after Harle’s keel was laid.

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The design of the Sea Ray Sundancer 450 also puts media first-replacing valuable accommodation space with a full-blown media room, featuring a 37-inch flatscreen and available surround-sound, a dedicated settee, and snack tables that convert to ottomans, or vice versa, depending on if you’re hungry or tired. While the 450 Sundancer may not have had the flatscreen installed at the very last moment, media mavens will appreciate the dedicated space and theater experience.

Feadship, (954) 761-1830; www.feadship.nl Sea Ray; www.searay.com

Inside/Outside

Get the most of out the yachting experience, both inside and out.

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Yachtsmen and their guests often find the appeal of the great outdoors irresistible. Yet the moods of guests can change as often as the weather, and that’s why, as conditions shift and it gets too hot or clouds up, some will want to repair to the salon to lounge or even watch television in climate-controlled comfort. Latinou is a 172-foot Benetti that takes the indoor-outdoor conundrum and turns it on its head. Rather than forcing guests to decide whether the salon or afterdeck are more comfortable, the design of the yacht allows for unencumbered movement from one pleasing environment to the other, even mixing the elements to retain the illusion, such as using end tables and lamps outdoors.

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The cockpit sole of the the Hunt 52 matches up flush with the salon sole, making for easy movement in or out. The result is a simple way to make in and out work together, creating one seamless space ideal for entertaining larger groups. Sliding-glass doors virtually disappear and defuse the ever-popular party dynamic: ladies in the salon, gentlemen out back. Intimate groups can form and re-form without the click of a door punctuating the conversation, and the design does away with the feeling of entering the salon as the conversation lulls, and wondering what was being said about you.

Benetti Yachts, +39 0586 415685; www.benettiyachts.it Hunt Yachts, (401) 324-4201; www.huntyachts.com

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