Here are five motor yacht design trends that I have been watching with interest while visiting boat shows in recent months. Not all of them are particularly new, but all indicate the way that boat builders are responding to market trends.
Liberating the foredeck
Remember those days when the foredeck was a relatively unloved space, barely accessible and equipped at best with a thin sun cushion?
This decade that inattention has been put right and all sorts of innovative ideas have emerged. Two boats that have particularly caught my eye recently in this respect are the Azimut 60 and 66 [http://www.azimutyachts.com/azimut66.html] (pictured), where the deck completely extends over the bow to create an almost hammerhead shark-like feel. Stood underneath when they are out of the water, you wonder if it’s a bit overdone. However, it’s when they are on the water that it matters and the lines blend nicely. There’s no getting away from the huge amount of space this extended deck provides, enabling a large sunbed and a secure area of settee behind.
On my old flush foredeck motorboat, weather permitting, the guests make straight for the bow, where there is little engine noise, just the feeling of wind in the hair and sound of the stem cutting through the water. Couple this natural desire for nature with the extraordinary variety of bow designs that we are seeing on new models and it seems certain that the front ends of motor yachts are likely to continue to evolve. That must already be bringing some interesting challenges to equipment makers, who will be called upon to install a wider variety of kit in a part of the boat that is always exposed to the worst of sea, sun and rain.
Connecting with the environment
not just the foredeck where designers are exploring the boundaries. There’s a real move to connect people with the water back aft. No more sitting above the waves in isolation – boatbuilders are recognising that their customers want more of an experience.
The Anvera 48 RIB [http://www.anvera.it/anvera-48.php] has one of the largest yet beach-style concepts I’ve seen yet in anything under superyacht proportions. It must be like taking your own private waterfront hotel veranda with you. Anvera describes the range as “a new way to live the sea” – which is probably not overstating it.
Expect to see much more development along these lines. It links very neatly to the onward trend for more recreationally-focused and sociable physical activity which will be an increasing demand seen among future owners and hirers of boats.
Superyacht features scaled down to motor yacht use
Another great feature on the Anvera RIBs is their superyacht-style hinge down aft sections. In a variation of that same theme I also very much like the fold-down side deck sections of several of Galeon’s range, including the 640 (pictured).
The 640 FLY [http://galeonyachts.co.uk/model/640-fly/] and its sibling, the 650 SKYDECK, were honoured as winners of the Innovative Onboard Design Solution category in the 2018 IBI and METSTRADE Boat Builder Awards for Business Achievement, held in association with Raymarine. The judges were particularly impressed with the sociable deck layout of these models and it’s great to see features like extending side decks making their way into motor yachts as small as the 470 SKYDECK.
These innovative Galeon models come from the design board of Tony Castro, a past DAME Awards Chairman, who has pushed the boundaries with many of the ideas on these models. The results appear both practical and pleasing, a great example of how attention to design can pay dividends.
Although it is right to focus on the next generations of boat users, it’s also the case that there is a decade or more where the current generation that grew into boating through the 1970s and 80s will want to keep boating for as long as they can. Plus, as a society, we have become much more aware of the needs of the disabled community.
The Steeler NG 65 S [https://steeleryachts.com/en/models/steeler-65-s-long-range/] won the displacement class in this year’s European Powerboat of the Year Awards. It has many interesting features, including a very striking bow design and a low fuel consumption hull. The features I spotted though on the show model were the wheelchair accessible adaptions made. This is of course by no means a new feature, we’ve seen accessible adaptions on semi-production boats for several decades now. But it was interesting to see Steeler promote the feature so visibly, both in the way the wheelchair ramp was shown extended and in a video screen underneath.
It’s also a reminder why the current trend for low-to-the-water access at the stern on power and sail craft will better suit not only an active younger generation, but those with physical restrictions too.
The age of the integrated dash
It’s clear that the days of the fully integrated dashboard are now upon us. The headline news in this area often focuses on larger yachts, but the example pictured here is on something much smaller – a Malibu Wakesetter [https://www.malibuboats.com].
Another integrated dash I like in the small boat sector is the BusterQ [https://www.buster.fi/en/buster-q] infotainment system, which was nominated in the 2017 IBI and METSTRADE Boat Builder Awards. It is based around open source technologies that offer upgrade paths for owners with the system installed. Buster has installed it on many of its boats built since 2017 and the quality of the user interface rivals anything you would find on the High Street. In an age of ever-changing expectations, that’s a good benchmark to judge it by.