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
Following the purchase of Mulder’s fourth facility in Enkhuizen in February last year, a team of the Mulder craftspeople was put together to start constructing the seventh hull of the ThirtySix series, which is now well on its way.“Now having entered her typically efficient building time, she was ready to be turned on 3rd February, and the process went off without a hitch,” states the shipyard on social media. Hull seven of the series is expected to be delivered in 2024.Like her predecessors, she has the exterior design by Claydon Reeves, and naval architecture by Van Oossanen Naval Architects. She can accommodate up to ten guests across five cabins, and seven crew members in four cabins.She is equipped with twin Caterpillar engines and has a maximum speed of 17 knots and cruise at 15. Mulder Shipyard was established in 1938 by Dirk Mulder. With a Mulder still at its helm, this traditional family business can attribute its excellent reputation to the classic Super Favorite Cruisers, the later Favorite Superieur and a wide range of custom and semi custom motoryachts. Welcoming our newest edition to the Mulder series, the Mulder ThirtySix, in the Summer of 2017, adding yet another Superyacht to the Mulder fleet. Credits: Mulder
February 7, 2023
Sanlorenzo will bring a fleet of five to the Miami International Boat Show, which will be held from 15 to 19 February).SD96 (Photo by Thomas Pagani)The SD96 will be presented at the event as a testament to the unmistakable style of the semi-displacement navette, the historic yacht line of the shipyard, whose distinguishing feature is its balance between design and volume.SL96AThe range of planning yachts on offer is more extensive: SL96A and SL120A, asymmetrical, are present, alongside the more classic SL86. Last but not least, the innovative crossover SX88. SX88 (Photo by Leo Torri)Sanlorenzo was founded in 1985 in Viareggio by yacht builder Gionvanni Jannetti. In 2005, Massimo Perrotti became the majority shareholder in the shipyard. Sanlorenzo builds yachts ranging from 28.60 to 62 meters in length. Credits: Sanlorenzo
February 7, 2023
The 46.8m high-performance cruiser sloop Nilaya departed from her construction hall at the builder’s Vollenhove facility last week. Royal Huisman project 405 aka Reichel / Pugh – Nauta 154 was transported to and launched at the shipyard’s deepwater location in Amsterdam on Monday.Panamax sloop Nilaya is the highly anticipated superyacht that is the first to utilize Royal Huisman’s new Featherlight™ design and production method. Continuous weight monitoring throughout the build of Project 405 aka Reichel / Pugh – Nauta 154, confirms the Dutch builder has achieved its goal of slicing 11% of the weight of its typical advanced aluminum cruising yachts. Most importantly, it has reduced weight without sacrificing stiffness or cutting corners on quality for this high-performance cruiser. The shipyard’s revolutionary Featherlight™ method for this 46.8m /sailing machine is not a single process or construction technique, but a holistic lightweight approach combining various weight-saving solutions. Royal Huisman Project 405 Nilaya will be delivered to her owners in the coming months.Royal Huisman is a Dutch shipyard established in 1884 in Ronduite, building and refitting custom luxury sailing and motor yachts at its shipyard in Vollenhove, the Netherlands.Credits: Guy Fleury; RedCharlieMedia/Royal Huisman
February 7, 2023
Turkish yacht builder VisionF Yachts has unveiled a new flagship model: the VisionF 100. The new catamaran is constructed entirely of innovative kevlar composite for high strength-to-weight ratio, meaning a very light structure that is at the same time extremely strong, rigid and durable. The first hull was sold and will be delivered in early 2025. “I’m happy to announce that we have sold the first VisionF 100 in kevlar composite and we are going to deliver the catamaran in early 2025,” said Coskun Bayraktar, Founder and Owner of VisionF Yachts. “And we plan to start building the second unit that will be launched in March 2025.”At 30.5 meters overall, the flybridge catamaran shares the same in-house design DNA and many of the features of its smaller siblings, but on a superyacht scale. Catamaran has a max beam of 12 meters and a 1.2-meter draft that makes it perfect to explore shallow waters, for example, in the Caribbean and enter secluded bays.The aft cockpit has dining facilities for a full complement of guests with an ingenious sofa design whose backrest can be shifted to face the table or a folding terrace suspended over the stern. The foredeck has a large glass-bottomed hot-tub (2.4m x 1.6m) above the water below. The expansive sundeck offers 116 sq. m of open-air space with yet more sofa seating, sunbeds, dining table and a bar unit.Inside on the main deck is a huge 100 sq. m saloon with a dining room. Clients can also choose to have a forward-facing master stateroom of 30 sq. m with private access to the foredeck. In the two hulls, which can be configured to suit individual owners’ preference, there is space for up to six ensuite guest cabins, a fully equipped galley and, depending on the choice of guest cabin layout, as many as three crew cabins with separate access.As for the propulsion, the VisionF 100 will be fitted with four Volvo Penta IPS 1050 engines for the maximum speed of 22 knots.VisionF Yachts in Turkey was set up by Coşkun Bayraktar in Istanbul in 2019, but despite the shipyard’s relative youth it is a brand that is going places in the power catamaran world. In November 2020, VisionF Yachts debuted its first vessel, the VisionF 80. Credits: VisionF Yachts
February 7, 2023
47m high-performance cruiser sloop Nilaya and her Panamax carbon fiber mast and boom by Rondal on the move to Royal Huisman Amsterdam. Last week Nilaya has departed from her construction hall at the builder’s Vollenhove facility. Exploring all the options for a luxurious performance cruiser also capable of podium finishes at superyacht regattas, the team made full design studies for the yacht in both carbon and aluminum using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to optimize hull shape and balance. Royal Huisman used a Featherlight™ method, an evolution of nearly 60 years of aluminum yacht-building experience melded with the latest carbon technology, providing her owners the best of both materials for a no-compromise yacht. <iframe width=560 height=315 src=https://www.youtube.com/embed/tNEPsHprwug title=YouTube video player frameborder=0 allow=accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share allowfullscreen></iframe>“While the new Nilaya is meant to take the owners world cruising, they also asked for a boat with all the ‘good habits’ of their previous racer, meaning responsiveness and excellent handling. Alustar aluminum is the right material for an advanced, quality superyacht for global cruising. It deals with noise better and is a better choice for cruising in comfort to remote locations. However, we also thought it was possible to build a lighter aluminum high-performance superyacht. Royal Huisman was not afraid to invest in research to explore and develop all manner of innovative weight-saving possibilities. They really chased the details,” says Nigel Ingram of MCM Newport who serves as the owners’ project manager on the build.Royal Huisman is a Dutch shipyard established in 1884 in Ronduite, building and refitting custom luxury sailing and motor yachts at its shipyard in Vollenhove, the Netherlands.Credits: Tom van Oossanen/Royal Huisman; Royal Huisman YouTube
February 6, 2023