World-renowned naval architect, designer and Vitruvius Yachts creative compass Philippe Briand has a lot of experience in the yachting industry. Under the Vitruvius banner, Briand has developed a recognisable aesthetic that is efficient, practical and beautiful, covering the full spectrum of motor yachts from conventional lifestyle cruisers to exceptionally adventurous expedition vessels.
Below, Briand reflects on what he has learned from the past ten years of designing some of the world’s most adventurous motor yachts, and what the future holds for the market.
On the needs of clients
We have historically split the yachting market into an oversimplified, condensed range of categories for owners. In order to design the best yachts for our clients, we need to understand what they want to do with them, and appreciate that this might change throughout their ownership journey.
Galileo G. Philippe Briand's sketches.
In the luxury car industry, there are approximately ten different categories for buyers to choose from, ranging from sporty Ferraris to sumptuous Bentleys to robust 4x4 Range Rovers, with intermediate categories like SUVs in between. By subdividing the market into these niches, the car industry has been able to expand the market by identifying clients more precisely; this is something we need to do in yachting.
Nautilus in New York
At Vitruvius Yachts, we believe that the motor yacht market fits onto a spectrum with three major categories: lifestyle yachts sit at one end, highly autonomous and specialized expedition yachts are at the other, and versatile explorer yachts sit somewhere in between the two, depending on their owners’ requirements for equipment. Naturally, all the yachts, whatever their category definition, need to be comfortable, seaworthy and efficient.
On lifestyle yachts
To be a gamechanger in the lifestyle yacht category, which is by far the most prolific, you need to find ways to improve efficiency and provide a lifestyle suited to young-minded owners.
Lifestyle yachts make up around 90% of the market today. When it comes to designing these ‘Superyachts,’ like those we usually see cruising in the warm climates of the Mediterranean and Caribbean, in order to stand out you need to be able to tailor the offering to owners’ lifestyles and preferences, with the utmost level of comfort.
Najiba. Photo: Tom van Oossanen
Our yachts 58m Najiba and 73m Nautilus (ex Grace E) are great examples of this. They provided their owners with wellness facilities, vast amounts of outdoor space, superb views throughout their interiors thanks to large amounts of glass, and all the desirable water sports toys and technologies to entertain the family.
On explorer yachts
Exploring the world brings you a richness in knowledge and culture. Explorer yachts – which are capable of visiting more remote waters – need to be even more seaworthy and practical than lifestyle yachts, with a wider range of autonomy.
Exuma. Photo: Giuliano Sargentini
It is our job as a designer or naval architect to improve or refine these qualities, bringing our knowledge of hydrodynamics and engineering to create a yacht that complies with the owner’s intended cruising programmes. We also need to take into account additional stowage requirements within the hull for large, specialist equipment such as submersibles or land vehicles. This thinking led to the concepts of Vitruvius’s earliest projects,45m Exuma and 55m Galileo G.
Galileo G. Photo: Giuliano Sargentini
When Exuma was delivered in 2010, she was a completely unique offering. Everything that came before her was more like a trawler, a type of yacht that was a fixture in the market for a long time. Trawlers have a long range of autonomy but they are usually quite small – within the 20-30m range – and are not generally comfortable or modern enough by today’s yachting standards, particularly in regards to the space provided for accommodation.
It is safe to say that the solution we came up with was an explorer yacht that positively encouraged a desire to cruise as much as possible. Since her delivery, Exuma has logged more than 100,000 nm, which is more than two complete circumnavigations and quite exceptional for a pleasure yacht; her owner counts his visits to remote islands in the Pacific Ocean as one of the best experiences he has ever had. Galileo G has also travelled extensively, including to the high latitudes, taking in Antarctica and the Northwest Passage.
Exuma. Photo: Giuliano Sargentini
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and we feel heartened that there has been a growing trend in the use of many design features and capabilities that first appeared on our explorer yacht Exuma, including the plumb line bow. Of course, before Exuma there were luxury yachts that travelled the world extensively, such as Octopus, but their scale needed to be much, much larger to achieve the kind of autonomy required for a global cruising programme with this degree of comfort and lifestyle onboard.
On expedition yachts
An expedition yacht is distinguished from an explorer yacht in that it needs to have very specific qualities and capabilities for a particular purpose or goal, with corresponding tools, tenders or equipment on deck. The purpose of the vessel is usually to take the owner to a particular spot or to carry out a specific activity – the destination being more important than the act of travelling itself – and, once the vessel is onsite, they can then execute the purpose. The entire design concept therefore revolves around these highly specialised owner requirements. It is not unlike the approach for creating a scientific research vessel – much like those adapted and used by Jean Cousteau in his time – except with a much higher level of comfort and detail.
Vitruvius No. 8.
For our Vitruvius No. 8 55m expedition yacht, which is currently being built at Feadship in the Netherlands, all our design work stemmed from the owner’s requirement to have a 6.3-t, three-person submersible onboard, launched and retrieved by a hefty 8-t Palfinger knuckle-boom crane. The yacht’s open aft deck needed to house the submersible and crane, as well as a Toyota Land Cruiser and two tenders, including a 5.6m multipurpose tender and an 8.0m limousine. All this had to fit on the rear exterior deck of a 55m yacht, while still providing ample luxury guest space inside to enjoy the degree of comfort you would expect on a superyacht, including a large owner’s suite and four further guest cabins alongside accommodation for a crew of fifteen. The owner wants to experience the kind of comfort we see on traditional superyachts, so we effectively needed to fit the interior real estate of what would be expected on a 55m luxury lifestyle vessel into half of the yacht.
Vitruvius No. 8.
We are in exciting new territory when it comes to offering truly ‘luxury’ level expedition yachts of this kind. There almost always has to be a trade-off in volume for luxury spaces when you want more functionality, more equipment like SUVs and submersibles, and more opportunity to explore the world. However, less volume does not have to mean that the yacht is less functional or comfortable, and it is down to the designer’s skill to optimize the yacht’s potential. As long as the client understands the realities of the trade-offs, they can gain so much more in terms of the experiences they have with their yacht.
On adventurous yachts for a new generation
The profile of clients buying explorer and expedition yachts is evolving, which is thrilling as a designer. We can offer a modern luxury yachting solution that is not at odds with the values of a newly emerging generation of owners.
In the past, clients for explorer and expedition yachts have tended to be more experienced, perhaps having owned several vessels and expressing more interest in specific design details and technical performance. But I believe that explorer and expedition yachts are becoming less niche, and more first-time buyers will be starting their ownership journeys with them in the near future. It has been reported that the explorer and expedition yacht market has experienced a two-digit growth since 2008, and that it currently represents around 10% of the entire superyacht market, which is not far off the proportion of sailing yachts at this size level. I believe it is not a stretch to suggest that clients who in the past would have bought sailing yachts are now transferring their interest to more of an explorer- or expedition-type yacht, because, just like a sailing yachts, they are ideal for longer journeys, and they can bring you closer to nature.
Exuma in Fiji.
These new clients also want to minimise the impact on the environment from their yachting activities by choosing vessels that offer higher efficiency and lower emissions. The greatest influence you can have on the sustainability of a yacht starts with your approach to its naval architecture, through the development of an efficient hull, supported by technologically advanced propulsion systems. Through collaborative efforts initiated by the Water Revolution Foundation, the yachting industry is making great advances in quantifying the relative sustainability of yachts through the creation of the Yacht Environmental Transparency Index (YETI, for short). This allows us to indicate and provide guidance on what constitutes an environmentally responsible yacht in a more precise way.
Nautilus (ex Grace E). Philippe Briand's sketches.
Although I maintain that the Mediterranean Sea is an exquisite option when it comes to cruising, our oceans have the potential to offer much more. Today’s yachts visit just 3% of the planet’s coastlines; there is still so much left to discover and experience. This can be a point of attraction for both experienced owners who have extensively cruised the typical waters in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, as well as newcomers to yachting who have a respect, curiosity and appreciation for the natural wonders of the world. With the technology and design tools at our disposal, we can deliver the experience that these new owners desire without the yacht’s operation being at odds with their environmental sensibilities.
Najiba. Photo: Tom van Oossanen
Philippe Briand is the founder and designer of Vitruvius Yachts Ltd. He made his name designing award-winning sailing yachts under his own brand name and building on that experience has led him to create a revolutionary range of motor yachts: Vitruvius Yachts with a range in size of over 100m in length.
With over 12,000 boats built to date, Philippe Briand could reasonably be considered the most prolific yacht designer of our time.
Credits: Vitruvius Yachts
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March 5, 2021
Italian shipbuilder Overmarine has shared the video of the new Mangusta Oceano 39. This 39m yacht has three decks, a lot of glass on the superstructure, an infinity pool at the aft and another one at the sundeck. Alberto Mancini stands behind the ‘minal, warm and cosy’ interior design, but they can be customized according to the owner’s wishes. A seaside glass villa, as the shipyards noted, the new fast displacement model of the Mangusta Oceano 39 can reach 21 knots and the displacement version can reach 16 knots. Overmarine Group was founded in 1985 by the Balducci family. The shipyard builds open and displacement power superyachts under the Mangusta and Mangusta Oceanco brand names.Credits: Overmarine
March 5, 2021
Northrop & Johnson has announced the sale of the 35.97m Westport motor yacht Isabella by Yacht Brokers Joe Foggia and Paul Daubner, acting on behalf of the seller. The yacht was launched by her renowned American builder in 1999. After a 2017 refit, the yacht presented beautifully. She boasts impressive interior space and a well-thought-out on-deck layout providing abundant spaces for her new owners and guests to relax and socialize.Isabella’s interior was designed by Pacific Custom Interiors, which created a welcoming and elegant main salon outfitted with bespoke furnishings and seating, a full bar and an entertainment center – all of which was built using the highest quality materials by expert craftsmen. The yacht’s formal dining table is located forward of the main salon. Large windows provide abundant natural light and incredible views.She can accommodate ten guests in five staterooms. The yacht’s master cabin is located on the main deck. It is outfitted with a king bed and an impressive ensuite bathroom with a tub and shower. Four additional staterooms are located below deck, each with an ensuite bathroom. The yacht carries a crew of four in two ensuite crew cabins.The exterior decks of Isabella are stylish and were designed by Anderson Yacht Design. The yacht has a large aft deck and foredeck sunpads. Her flybridge is outfitted with a wet bar, barbecue, jacuzzi and lots of space to unwind.Credits: Northrop & Johnson
March 5, 2021
The German based manufacturer of electric yachts and floating solutions Alva Yachts has signed contracts with environmentally conscious yachting dealers from across the world. Alva Yachts has seen strong interest from dealer partners in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. However North America is particularly strong. This is driven by incredibly strong consumer demand for luxury solar-powered catamarans.Alva Yachts dealer networkMathias May, Alva Yachts co-founder and managing director“We are very proud to announce our global network and look forward to further growth as a company with newly gained partners all over the world”, says Mathias May, Alva Yachts co-founder and managing director.Dennis de Roos, Alva Yacht’s Interim Commercial DirectorDennis de Roos (Alva Yacht’s Interim Commercial Director) says: “The main focus is on the growth of the Company and network expansion, with the implementation of a strong dealer structure around the world. To support this mission, the Alva management has established very important partnerships with distributors and dealers in the key yachting areas of the world, where electric and emission-free sea travel has become a key requirement.”Alva Yachts OE60Alva Yachts was founded in Germany in early 2020 by Mathias May and Holger Henn. It was built on the former PICA yachts, which launched more than 40 boats. May brings with him many years’ experience in boatbuilding, and is managing director of a new company based in Bad Pyrmont, Germany. Henn, on the other hand, is a celebrated yacht designer with numerous award-winning designs from 26ft to 82ft under his belt. He has taken on the role of CEO of Alva Yachts.Credits: Alva Yachts
March 4, 2021
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March 4, 2021