The Candela C-8
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Can an ocean be calm and choppy at once? Can stormy seas be plain sailing? On paper, the last two years have been very good to the world of the superyacht. In 2021, the industry sold a record 887 superyachts worldwide: nearly twice the previous year’s number. New orders peaked at over a thousand in the middle of 2022 — with shipyards around the globe warning gleefully of waiting lists, the likes of which had never been seen before — before swelling again at the start of 2023 to over 1,200. The pandemic has been a big factor in the boom. A superyacht is the ultimate social-distancing option, after all, while a whole generation of wealthy people, faced suddenly with their own mortality, decided they couldn’t delay the boat of their dreams any longer. The rich got much, much richer in that period, too — meaning even the most unaffordable status symbol sailed unexpectedly within reach.

But every silver lining must have a cloud. And as the war in Ukraine rumbled on through 2022, the very idea of the superyacht took on a new, more controversial meaning in the face of sanctions against Putin-adjacent oligarchs. If a plutocrat had a superyacht, you could bet it was featured in the headline and header image of any article about their demise — often with dollar amounts and footage to the fore. In July, a 10,000-word New Yorker article noted in its memorable intro: “In the Victorian era, it was said that the length of a man’s boat, in feet, should match his age, in years” — before going on to describe the recent arms race over expense and acreage, and the notentirely- wholesome rise of what we might call The Super-Superyacht.

This is the unique atmosphere — buoyant but wary; bright but opaque — with which we enter 2023. Here, JamesEdition identifies the five key trends in the superyacht industry.

This will be the year when the ‘ship’ inches towards the ‘spaceship’. The smart-home revolution is turbocharged offshore — where new-builds are tricked out with top-spec gadgets, from the living room (mood lighting and concert- grade in-built sound) to the bridge (think cloud-based platforms to replace acres of paperwork, plus smarter navigation and security software). Start-ups harnessing big data to improve ease of sailing include Yacht Sentinel, launching early 2023, which allows captains and crew members to digitally monitor all crucial metrics in real-time — including fluid levels, power, solar panels, batteries, engines and maintenance. On the builder/ charter side, meanwhile, yacht shows will harness the power of virtual reality, with immersive, realistic Metaverse tours of potential builds and future projects.

1. High tech on the high seas

This will be the year when the ‘ship’ inches towards the ‘spaceship’. The smart-home revolution is turbocharged offshore — where new-builds are tricked out with top-spec gadgets, from the living room (mood lighting and concert- grade in-built sound) to the bridge (think cloud-based platforms to replace acres of paperwork, plus smarter navigation and security software).

Start-ups harnessing big data to improve ease of sailing include Yacht Sentinel, launching early 2023, which allows captains and crew members to digitally monitor all crucial metrics in real-time — including fluid levels, power, solar panels, batteries, engines and maintenance. On the builder/ charter side, meanwhile, yacht shows will harness the power of virtual reality, with immersive, realistic Metaverse tours of potential builds and future projects.

There are techy toys aplenty, too. Swedish builder Candela Yacht unveiled its C-8 electric foiling boat at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year — a zippy launch as fun as it is eco-friendly. Candela’s Mikael Mahlberg explained how “although it’s a boat, under its carbon-fibre skin it’s actually a robot — one that performs a series of actions automatically to ensure a smooth flight in all conditions.”

Candela Yacht, C-8

Length: 8.5m / 28ft
Top speed: 27 knots
Range: 57nm
Cruising speed: 20 knots

US counterpart Navier has also just demonstrated its sleek new N-30, a 30-foot all-electric foiling yacht, which glides at a top speed of 30 knots and makes its diesel-guzzling counterparts look almost prehistoric by comparison.

2. WFY

As the work-from-home revolution settles into the new-normal, many yacht owners are twigging onto something far more enticing: WFY. People are staying aboard longer and living a more everyday, non-holiday existence as they do. Naturally, designers are swapping one-size-fits-all interiors to those that better express the owner’s tastes, as if the superyacht is now a sort of floating approximation of the home proper. Think original artworks, hand-painted wallpaper and bespoke marquetry on furniture; while outside, fold-out sea terraces and more liveable decks mimic a modernist, luxury garden.

Office space is becoming more central to the fit-out, so owners in 2023 will expect lightning-fast WiFi, acoustic privacy, larger bespoke desks and integrated computer systems that allow them to perform 99% of their work functions perfectly well at sea.

3. Going off-grid

The demand for expedition-grade yachts has also skyrocketed in recent months — something akin, vibe-wise, to the rise of technical wear as high fashion, say. (Think of the wholesome, hardy, design-led-but-beautiful successes of Arc’teryx and Patagonia). The pandemic is a factor here, no doubt, with owners no longer wishing to postpone bucket-list trips and hoping to skip out on the sometimes overcrowded marinas of the Caribbean and Mediterranean. People want unique, uncharted voyages and tell-your-grandchildren adventures — hard to come by in Saint-Tropez, perhaps.

Explorer yachts are the vessels of choice here — long range cruising ships with tough, ice-breaker hulls, vast amounts of storage, and often a sparkling toyshop of expedition vehicles and activity-centric fit-outs. Think helipads as standard, dive centres, ski rooms and Bond-worthy submersibles. In 2023, expedition yachts like these are predicted to become the second most popular type of vessel under construction.

Yaht Report 3

As far as destinations go, Antarctica is a new favourite at the more intrepid end of the circuit, closely followed by the far-flung Pacific islands of French Polynesia and the more remote islands in the Philippines. Raja Ampat, in eastern Indonesia, is frequently cited as one of the true jewels for those prepared to seek it out — an island paradise only reachable by boat, with no towns, cities, hotels, tourists, or magnums of Whispering Angel.

4. Fitter, happier, quieter

Yacht trips, once seen as a bastion of hedonism and consumption, are moving with the times towards a more wholesome, thoughtful way of life. We’ll call it the Californification of the high seas — an era where the average yacht owner (a demographic whose age has shifted rapidly downwards in recent years) expects the same wellness facilities that they enjoy in everyday life. Saunas, cryotherapy chambers, hammams, steam rooms, resistance swimming pools, massage tables, meditation rooms and personal gyms are now all the rage — while multi-hyphenate crew members who can teach a yoga class in the morning and cook up an adaptogenic diet-plan by night are heavily in demand. At the same time, new owners are increasingly requesting noise and vibration reduction methods to ensure restful nights sleep and a sense of overwhelming calm onboard.

5. Green and mean

Those fun-loving foils above hint at the general mood for superyachts in 2023: sustainability by default, and without any of the drawbacks or dullness. Back at the Monaco Yacht Show in September, a new exhibition titled ‘The Sustainability Hub’ demonstrated how electric, hydrogen, solar and wind-power solutions had moved well-and-truly into the mainstream and added cost-efficiency and power output without harming the environment. It also noted a growing movement in which yacht owners are offering financial support to conservation directives, not least as more and more of them are heading off-grid to beautiful, delicate ecosystems themselves, and realising the true fragility of the oceans.

Recycled materials have also gone luxury, with elements like synthetic teak decking and faux leather upholstery cutting the carbon and animal footprint of each craft. And while 2022 saw only six full hybrid engines installed, there’s a great deal more slated for this year — like Lürssen’s landmark Project Icecap and Admiral’s 77m Project Blue Marlin.

Yaht Report

Superyachts For Sale

 

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