In the last year, the marine industry has seen the introduction of some interesting-looking yachts. The Ferretti 1000, Wally WHY200, Prestige X60 and X70, and
Princess X95 and X80 all represent departures from the companies’ previous offerings in terms of looks and mission. The new models have been met with strong reactions, both pro and con.
“The funniest event I witnessed was when we first showed [the X95] to David King, who founded the company in 1965,” says Will Green, chief commercial officer at Princess. “He nearly fell off his chair, saying ‘Oh my God what is that?’ ”
Horizon Yachts is generally regarded as the originator of this new approach when it partnered with architect Cor D. Rover on the first yacht in the FD series about 10 years ago. “I told them what we wanted with displacement comfort, but higher-than-displacement speed with the increased volume,” says Roger Sowerbutts, director of Horizon Yachts USA.
Fast forward a decade, and it could be argued that the X95 is the most radical of the new boats, with a fully enclosed sky lounge on the upper deck and a reverse-raked pilothouse windshield that looks like it came off one of the crab-fishing boats on Deadliest Catch.
Radical looks aside, you can’t argue with the numbers. Princess introduced the X95 in 2020 and has already sold 20. There are also 10 X80s presold for a model that will be introduced at the Düsseldorf boat show in Germany in January.
While many of these yachts look like they are designed with a wider beam, it’s an optical illusion. Take the X95. Its beam is narrower than on the model it’s replacing, but the beam is carried farther forward because the goal for the majority of the builders was to increase interior volume, which enhances the boat’s overall versatility. Many of the models share other design elements, such as a plumb or axe-style bow that also permits more volume forward. Here’s a look at how individual builders achieve this.
At Princess, Green says the concept of the X Class was to move the helm from the main level to the upper deck and have an enclosed sky lounge. This let Princess and partner naval architect Bernard Olesinski make use of the whole main deck by pushing the superstructure forward to create the extra volume. Green estimates that the X95 has 30 percent more interior volume and 10 percent more space on the exterior decks. Princess also collaborated with Italian design house Pininfarina on interior design.
Green says that a change in how customers use their boats drove the focus on expanding interior volume. “With the popularity of stabilization, we saw that customers are looking to cruise at slower speeds,” he says. “Range became more important; space became more important. More of our customers are spending more time not just enjoying the destination, but enjoying the journey, and X Class was created to address that change in tastes.”
The X models replace the M series that was being built in the company’s south yard in Plymouth, England. Princess had recently purchased the southern end of the Devenport Dock Yard that has deeper water access and enough space that Princess can mold large yachts on-site. The series is being built using a platform approach with a hull and accommodations plan that will also be used for the new Y95 that is coming next year.
Pushing the Limits
The Princess X95 has an overall length of 95 feet, 4 inches; the Ferretti 1000 spans 98 feet, 10 inches; and the Azimut Grande TriDeck exceeds 125 feet. They’re built to what’s known as the 24-meter (78 feet) rule in CE standards. Without diving too deep into the specifics, the rule permits the construction of a boat to Category B standards, and it’s based on a measurement of the boat’s load line from the rudder stop to a position at the bow.
There are other reasons why these vessels do not exceed 24 meters at load line. A longer yacht would require the complexity of a full charter vessel that needs to be staffed at all times, and that can add significantly to the cost of a yacht that will only be used privately. In addition, the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee’s IMO Tier III engine emission regulations for vessels exceeding 78 feet at load line — deferred in the United States — require the installation of selective catalytic reducers that scrub emissions using urea.
With the 1000, Ferretti says it needed to find “tricks to be considered a vessel smaller than 24 meters.” The new model replaces the Ferretti 960, and Ferretti says the galley and pantry have 20 percent more space than the market average. The master stateroom covers 290 square feet, while the 1000’s crew area and garage have 194 square feet of space, compared with the industry average of just under 120 square feet. The 1000’s garage has space for two water toys, while the 960’s could handle one.
The Ferretti manufacturing facility has hull No. 3 of the 1000 in the lamination and structural phase. One process the company developed for the new boat is called “spider-framing,” and it’s used in the superstructure to make it possible to install sole-to-overhead windows that take advantage of the added interior volume. (It has a patent pending in the United States and United Kingdom for the process). Ferretti also focused on reducing noise and vibration, which involved “re-establishing the naval architecture foundation of the project.”
Another company in the Ferretti Group, Wally, recently unveiled its entry into this new category with the WHY200, the most-radical looking of the breed. Naval architecture for the boat was drafted by Laurent Giles, and the interior was done by Vallicelli Design Studio. Wally says the WHY2000 provides up to 50 percent more living space than other yachts of the same length, providing 2,153 square feet of indoor gathering areas and 1,550 square feet of exterior decks. Fold-out wings expand the stern, and two concealed garages provide storage for tenders and toys. The master stateroom is in the bow, and the main deck is wrapped in windows to provide virtually 360-degree views. The WHY200 measures 200 gross tons, under the aforementioned 24-meter rule.
At 125 feet, the largest of the new models is the Azimut Grande Trideck, and the Italian company says the decision to build this sky lounge motoryacht was to give existing customers who wanted to move up in size a way to stay in the Azimut family.
The Grande Trideck’s exterior was designed by Alberto Mancini, and Achille Salvagni arranged the interior. The Grande Trideck replaces the 35 Metri as the Azimut flagship. The new model has 30 percent more interior volume than the 35 Metri and has multipurpose areas that place an emphasis on more casual living. An owner can customize the yacht with a sixth VIP cabin and alternate layouts. By using carbon fiber extensively in the laminate for the superstructure, Azimut can create a larger flybridge than other boats in the class. This also creates a lower center of gravity, which improves overall performance.
Azimut says the biggest challenge to building the Grande Trideck was fitting the side garage between the four en-suite guest cabins and the beach club. Other updates include adding dedicated storage for a lithium ion battery bank that can run all the main systems overnight or for six hours during the day with the generator turned off. The system has no emissions or vibration, and it can be charged by running the engines or from shore power.
Right the First Time
One thing that all the manufacturers say is that this new generation of high-volume yachts didn’t produce surprises during construction. Using such technology as computer-aided design and computational fluid dynamics pretty much assures that the engineers have a good idea of what they’re going to see when a boat hits the water.
“The surprises that used to pop up in the old days don’t happen these days,” says Princess’ Green. “We can’t really afford for that to happen these days.” Especially when the boats have such opinion-inspiring looks.
This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.