Trickle-Down Boat Design

Performance boats and midrange yachts are taking design cues from the superyacht sector
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The Horizon FD77 substitutes a traditional tender garage for a beach club and extends the aft platform to increase the stern.

The Horizon FD77 substitutes a traditional tender garage for a beach club and extends the aft platform to increase the stern.

Midrange yachts and sportboats are adding more and more superyacht-style touches and amenities, such as expanded beach clubs, increased glazing and luxury creature comforts.

“I’ve been using fold-down balconies, large windows and LED lights,” says designer Luiz De Basto of Miami, whose portfolio ranges from the 295-foot Oceanco Dar to the 41-foot commuter concept Onyx for Hodgdon Yachts. He has been adding superyacht concepts to smaller yachts for nearly two decades; in 2001, he designed a 62-foot Intermarine with a fold-down transom balcony that is now common among superyachts.

“Another design feature of the Intermarine 62 is the use of LED lights, also from larger boats,” De Basto says. “I used it to re-create the main lines of the profile with light, almost like a logo.”

Bernardo Zuccon of Zuccon International Project in Rome says the use of space on smaller boats is becoming similar to what he’s done with superyacht builders such as Sanlorenzo, Perini Navi and CRN. One example is finding ways to carry larger tenders on board. “In the past, tenders only played a supporting role to motoryachts,” Zuccon says, adding that today, the diversity of available tenders leaves clients wanting bigger versions. “In a customer-driven market that constantly asks for more features in less space, a different approach is needed to stay relevant,” he adds.

Increasingly large volumes in 65- to 85-foot yachts allow for features such as floor-to-ceiling windows, wide saloons and high ceilings. 

Increasingly large volumes in 65- to 85-foot yachts allow for features such as floor-to-ceiling windows, wide saloons and high ceilings. 

An example of spatial tweaking, he says, is Zuccon International Project’s design for the Sanlorenzo SX line, which includes 76- and 88-footers. He calls the line, which has a broadened stern design, a “concrete example of the yacht evolving as a means to meet the trend and guarantee full equipment to tenders.”

Cor D. Rover, whose firm has designed yachts from 40 to 450 feet, used super­yacht features on the Horizon FD85 when it launched five years ago. Since then, the FD line has expanded from 77- to 122-foot models.

“Volume has to be king, even on these smaller yachts,” Rover says. “We started with an 85-foot platform and looked at how much real estate we could put in the interior. We decided to push the main stateroom as far forward as possible, so the owner has a full-beam, big saloon and large half-deck. We also gave the boat decent-sized bathrooms. In the past, they tended to be compromises.”

Rover also used large interior windows throughout the yacht, and a sizable beach club. He designed dual staircases in the aft cockpit. Docked stern-to, it looks like a 150-footer. “The beauty is that there is more interior space, but owners need less crew than on a larger yacht,” he says. “Horizon took a big gamble with this design, but now they’re having trouble meeting demand.”

Designer Bernardo Zuccon applied super­yacht design cues to the Sanlorenzo SX76. 

Designer Bernardo Zuccon applied super­yacht design cues to the Sanlorenzo SX76. 

Doug Zurn of Zurn Yacht Design in Mar­blehead, Mass., says he sees equipment, as much as anything else, trickling down from superyachts to smaller boats. “Smaller stabilizing gyros and interceptor active ride control are finding their way into smaller and smaller boats,” Zurn says, adding that joystick controls and side-boarding doors are also becoming more common. “Other features we see include fold-down sides that can double the deck space on a smaller boat while at rest, and improved lighting throughout.”

Designer Bernardo Zuccon applied super­yacht design cues to the Sanlorenzo SX76. Rob Parmentier, president and CEO of Wisconsin-based Marquis Yachts — which built the Lexus LY 650 that premiered at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show — says a greater use of glass, expanded swim platforms and beach clubs, enhanced bow areas, larger master staterooms and higher-end finishes are all moving from superyachts into smaller models.

Curved staircases and other architectural features are showing up on midsize yachts. 

Curved staircases and other architectural features are showing up on midsize yachts. 

“The transom/swim platform area is becoming more of a usable entertaining space, as well,” he says. “Materials and hardware are the easiest things that translate across yachts of many sizes.”

On the LY 650, minimal steps in the sole, and connected cockpit and saloon spaces were designed to mimic the ambience aboard superyachts, Parmentier says. “Other large-yacht features we incorporated include the dual cockpit entry steps with a wide passage, integrated transom shower, spiral staircase to the bridge and wide side-deck passage to the bow,” he says. “The bow area with the sun beds, lounge and high-low table, and the sunshade option, is definitely something found on larger vessels. The interior was also designed by Nuvolari Lenard, a world leader in superyacht design. With that comes a level of complexity in the interior styling that is typically only found on superyachts.”

Tommaso Spadolini, a Genoa-based designer, says many longtime clients are now looking for mini versions of their larger vessels. “Owners of yachts of 140 feet and above are now asking us to design a smaller boat, but fully customized,” he says, adding that owners want to “simplify” the vessel’s management, but retain key features. “They want to ensure the owner’s stateroom, now the center of the boat, remains large and comfortable, together with a well-equipped galley and spacious saloon.”

Parmentier says more components from superyachts will end up on smaller builds as pricing comes down, or as customers buying 40- to 70-footers decide to pay more for luxury touches.

“Nearly all of the products found on a superyacht are available to builders in this segment,” Parmentier says. “The challenge is often the cost, which makes it difficult to absorb on production yachts.” 

This article originally appeared in the December 2019 issue.

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