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
Horizon shipyard has informed us about the third sale of the successful brand-new tri-deck FD92. FD Series were designed by Cor D. Rover and are characterized by a spacious interior and expansive windows to the High-Performance Piercing Bow and hull design. The latest FD92 features a five-stateroom layout with an on-deck master, crew quarters and a beach club. Outfitted in satin walnut with high-gloss wenge and oak accents, the main deck is laid out in the traditional configuration, with the main salon aft and formal dining and galley amidships. The master stateroom encompasses the yacht’s 23’ 3” beam and features a his-and-hers en suite. The television is fitted within a stylish full-height leather wall panel and a leather love seat to port invites relaxation while enjoying the views afforded by the large stateroom windows. Throughout the main and upper decks, electric window treatments provide shade and privacy when desired.The lower deck foyer is equipped with a mini bar to service the three queen and convertible twin staterooms. The televisions have all been fitted within full-height leather wall panels. The beach club offers a bar with two fixed stools and a large convertible sofa/daybed.On the upper deck, the enclosed skylounge houses the helm station, lounge seating with an organic shaped coffee table, and a dayhead. The boat deck aft houses a fully equipped bar with stools, icemaker and refrigeration, while the large jacuzzi tub with its own bar counter and stools can be covered to serve as an additional sunpad. A tender or two jet skis can be stowed furthest aft and replaced with lounge seating when launched.Powered by twin MTU 10V2000 M96L engines of 1,600hp each, the latest FD92 is scheduled to make its debut in the United States in April 2021.Horizon Yacht, a subsidiary company of Horizon Group, was co-founded in 1987 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Since then, Horizon has become the leading Asian yacht brand in the luxury yacht market.Credits: Horizon Yacht
March 2, 2021
The US Austin Parker Yachts has announced the sale of the first hull in its 27m Ibiza 85 series.The Ibiza 85 represents the shipyard’s flagship with its 27 (89’) meters in length.Sporting features encompassing class, distinctive style, innovative solutions with design and technological proposals were made in close partnership with the Fulvio De Simoni Yacht Design. Austin Parker Yachts mentioned that all these features make Ibiza 85 ‘the ideal boat for more mature owners’. The cockpit is equipped with a sundeck, and, under it, there is a hangar housing the tender and other accessories, as well as a dining area with a central table and ten seats.Under a streamlined hardtop there are sofas and furniture equipped to serve the dining area and refrigerators and freezers.A 7m beam, combined with the 27m L.O.A. of the boat, allows five independent cabins, each equipped with a bathroom and shower, a large kitchen and accommodation for three crew members.Ibiza 85 can reach a top speed of 45 knots, and her cruising speed varies between 38 and 40 knots. The first unit is scheduled to launch in June 2022.Austin Parker offers a range of vessels with more contemporary architectural solutions, with slanting sterns, low over the water, that give an even sleeker profile to the familiar Austin Parker hull with its high, solid bows. A modern, individual look was made under the direction of Italian firm Fulvio De Simoni Yacht Design. The range comprises three walk-around models, Ibiza 38′, Ibiza 44′ and Ibiza 52′; two motor yacht models Mahòn 46′ and Mahòn 52′; and the larger flying bridge line and two Palma 62′ and Palma 66′models. The Austin Parker offering is completed by two designs of larger yachts: Ibiza 85 WA in fiberglass and AL 86 flying bridge in aluminium, both with innovative, functional design, and intended for the discerning owner looking for a vessel that will respond to their passions for yachting.Credits: Austin Parker
March 2, 2021
Azimut Yachts is introducing a new channel to communicate with customers and fans of the brand. A-Room is a virtual showroom created specifically to provide previews of all its new models. Visitors to the A-Room will connect to a 3D virtual space designed to look like an Azimut Yachts stand, which they can move around in complete freedom, interacting with the content. Split into themed areas, including a theatre for presentations, corners dedicated to individual Collections, and mega screens with videos of the latest models, the main aim of the virtual showroom is to be the new stage on which the shipyard’s latest novelties are presented.The A-Room will showcase the brand’s latest models, upcoming news and novelties in the world of Azimut Yachts. Users will be offered live streamed events organised for new yacht launches, previews of innovative content and other initiatives designed to engage with the audience of customers and fans.Making the first 'digital' debut on the platform will be the new arrival in the Flybridge Collection, Azimut 53 Flybridge. A series of teasers and visual content are already online and other unpublished material will be added soon in the lead up to the unveiling event planned for March.Azimut Benetti Group is a leading builder of luxury yachts from 11.8m to over 36m in length. The Group owns the following brands: Azimut Yachts, Benetti Yachts, Yachtique, Lusben, Marina di Varazze and Royal Yacht Club Moscow.Credits: Azimut Yachts
March 2, 2021
The 145m or 140m (the length of the yacht is still in question) Solaris hit the water for the first time on a very foggy Sunday 28 February. Although there’s still not very much information about Solaris, we know that the yacht has eight decks, as well as a helicopter pad and a spacious beach club aft. Solaris can accommodate up to thirty-six passengers and a crew of sixty.The explorer vessel has become the eighth vessel in Roman Abramovich’s fleet. Credits: Instagram DrDuu
March 1, 2021
The 142m superyacht Nord has docked at Gibraltar. Previously known as Opus and Project Redwood, Nord was designed by design studio Nuvolari Lenard. The owner is represented by Moran Yacht & Ship. Explorer vessel Nord can accommodate 36 guests in 20 staterooms.“At Lürssen, we believe that to build a yacht it is vital to work as a team, and to execute such a comprehensive project, an excellent team is necessary,” says Managing Partner, Peter Lürssen. Gibraltar Yachting shows how it was. Lürssen is a German shipyard with headquarters in Bremen-Vegesack and shipbuilding facilities in Lemwerder, Berne and Bremen-Aumund. Founded in 1875, Lürssen is one of the world's leading builders of custom luxury superyachts and has launched many of the largest yachts in the global fleet, including Octopus, Rising Sun, and Azzam.Credits: Carl Groll/Lürssen; YouTube/Gibraltar Yachting
March 1, 2021