Are we an industry of dreamers or do concept yachts really move our industry to a better place?
For many years, superyacht brands and shipyards developed concept stories and propositions to try and entice clients to commission ‘new’ yacht to builds. Twenty years ago, as a fledgling industry, this used to be the territory of long lunches with clients and owners with discussions about how to fix superyacht ‘problems’ of the time. This would inherently move the superyacht industry on at a snails pace.
It seems now that you can’t turn a page or click on the link without seeing a new ‘concept yacht’ which the shipyards design studio is trying to gain a commission for.
We at SEA Yacht Group would ask what’s the rationale? Does it really work? And how does this help to shape our industry?
Now, we are not naive enough to believe that this doesn’t do something for a yachts brand overall. Or generate a ‘halo effect’ on the existing ‘reality ranges’ of the shipyard. But how often do clients really believe these superyachts exist or could exist?
It’s true the clients who have the resources to purchase such concepts are not new to this approach. And surely, they are astute enough to understand that anything is truly possible. But what we’re asking is: are shipyards really exploring the possibilities to move the industry on? And offer proper solutions at the top end which may, like formula 1, one-day have a ‘drip-down’ effect on legacy yachts currently on the drawing-board, in production or on the water?
Often it feels like a competition of the best 3D designer with the skills to show you something which generates headlines and captures the imagination of exactly the people who won’t purchase. Of course, there is a real strategy behind generating these new concepts from a marketing and PR perspective. But how often does the ‘concept yacht’ look to progress the superyacht industry in the areas that are so desperately needed.
It seems that mostly shipyard and design studio tend to focus on aesthetics externally and to try and find ways to maximise luxury and comfort space. This, being some of the major buying triggers are always going to be the areas that shipyards will often put more focus on… As nobody wants an ugly yacht. Do they? However, this leaves operational manufacturers, propulsion brands and truly innovative developers to fight for attention with dry and technical coverage. Which often gets lost in trade journals and doesn’t get to the ‘new thinking’ clients who are craving new. And more importantly, BIG sustainable progression in their purchase desires.
This is always an area which demonstrates the value of having experienced and progressive project managers and advisors. And, at Sea Yacht Group, we would always recommend this. Supporting or advising an owner in their desires for the latest clean air purification systems. Or fitting the most efficient solar materials to generate power to the services of the yacht. This is part of the added value yacht consultancies provide.
We don’t suggest there is not good work going on with concept yachts looking at new propulsion or sustainable solutions. We just feel that there might be an imbalance in where these concept yachts sits in the minds of the customer who can really help to push the change in the superyacht industry. And at a faster rate.
The focus is always going to be where the shipyards believe they are going to capture a potential clients attention. And eventually a commission. Maybe, we are trying to be a bit too purist. Should operational developments and sustainable solutions be something that is hidden? Inherent and assumed in superyacht development? But which shipyards have the time, development resources, money and desires develop these aspects without the client demands? The major yards such as Lürssen, and Feadship are some of the few. But surely this is not where all the innovations sit in the industry.
We know that there are many innovation projects given to students by some shipyards and design studios. And also development awards in related industries that award new thinking which can be applied to the superyacht industry. But is it enough to really rely on projects, ‘competitions’ and rare client demands to change the industry for the better? If we all believe that ‘the better’ is a much more sustainable and eco relevant industry…
Where should we start developing sustainable solutions for superyacht? Please let us know what you think, tell us about your projects or what you think our industry needs to truly make a real change.