Turning the Distant Future into Our Immediate Present
Navigation has reshaped history, our way of thinking and our connectivity with the outside world. It has fused with luxury in forward-thinking models that wish to progress, be more efficient, faster and more sustainable without compromising leisure.
The ocean is a compelling force full of life and unpredictable will. To design a vessel, one must understand the engineering behind it, what impact the wind will have on it, how the structure will respond to different oceanic conditions, currents, precipitations and endless difficulties that might present themselves. The only way to improve them is sailing, correcting and innovating.
Yacht designers often describe it as a “trial and error” process that begins by setting the expectations and requirements the vessel has to meet, according to what the client or shipyard has in mind. It is crucial to establish what purpose the yacht will serve, and focus exclusively on that idea. Designers work mostly by instinct and experience. They make calculations, assumptions and finally create something new based on the knowledge they have acquired in the field.
The Era of Millennial Yachting
Carbon fiber has become a popular option in yacht construction; it allows lighter weight and more strength. It also improves speed and fuel efficiency. The same happens with the use of glass. Many owners want to experience the sea and natural light while on board their yachts, without losing their privacy. In the new era of luxury vessels, the contrast between open and secluded spaces is a common request, which has proved challenging for designers. To solve it, they have created transparent barriers, often removable or retractable. Glass, however, is a difficult material for a ship due to the constant mobility of the water beneath, so friction with the metal frames must be prevented without compromising quality.
Tankoa Yachts, in collaboration with Exclusiva Design studio, managed to “bring the outside in” with their Progetto Bolide superyacht concept mostly due to the panoramic glass panels on each side, plus a skylight in the owner’s penthouse that totals 260m2 of glass surfaces. Sinot Exclusive Yacht Design also seeks to open boundaries with the new Nature concept. True to its name, the yacht includes a garden, a waterfall, a maritime environment and a set of observatory decks to fully appreciate the landscape. Glass can certainly alter the ship’s entire appearance and behavior, and it takes a skillful designer to use it productively.
Yachting is not considered an eco-friendly activity mainly due to high carbon emissions; however, there has been a lot of effort to be more environmentally conscious. The use of solar panels has become somewhat popular to supply energy for smaller vessels powered by hybrid electric/diesel motors. Nedship’s 42m Solar Dream Catamaran’s roof and other surfaces comprise 360m2 of solar cells with a hybrid system that includes e-engines and provides enough energy to cruise up to 22 knots with zero emissions. For its part, Duffy London designed Solaris, a 44m luxury yacht powered by advanced solar technology, electric energy, and alcohol, with a total power of 3,878kW. Solar power also reduces, and can even eliminate, the noise factor.
In 2015, the Feadship Savannah became the world’s first hybrid mega-yacht, powered by an electro-mechanical system and a one million watt battery. Lürssen Ice, formerly known as Air, is another example of designers who chose to forego conventional diesel engines, opting for Azipod drive units and electric engines instead, which produce close to no exhaust emissions. Other hybrid yachts are the 55m Admiral Quinta Essentia, 50m Heesen Home designed by Van Oossanen Naval Architects, the 98m Abeking & Rasmussen Aviva super yacht, and the futuristic Nobiskrug Sailing Yacht A.
Navigating into the Future
One of the tendencies that have been observed in futuristic yacht designs is the skeletal superstructure. Concepts like Zaha Hadid’s The Unique Circle Jazz Yacht, Jaehoon Ahn’s neWWave project, and IntimiSEA by Expleo Design use the exoskeleton to create an organic connectivity between interior and exteriors, as well as between decks. Ken Freivokh Design has also created skeletal models, such as the 144m M/Y Ghost and the 145m M/Y Fortissimo, shaped by the curves of the future, fusing the superstructure with the hull by removing decks and reorganizing space, treating it like a unified body that interconnects the interiors and exteriors in a way that traditional deck structure cannot. More than yachting, design has become an art for sculpting and transforming the experience of cruising across the oceans.
“To love yachts is to love the sea. To love the sea is to respect the environment.”
– Lürssen Yachts philosophy
Exploring the Edge of the World
Design veterans like Pastrovich Studio, Zuccon International Project, Espen Øino, Tim Heywood and Mario Pedol have all delved into the challenge of designing beautifully rugged explorers. There is a higher demand for ships that can accommodate exorbitant luxury and comfort, as well as withstand extreme weather conditions, and a lot of effort has been invested in improving these aspects of sailing in harsh conditions. Dutch shipbuilder DAMEN and luxury yacht builder AMELS, have just sold their second ship: a SeaXplorer 75 complete with a floating heliport, below-deck hangar for two helicopters, a tender garage, a rescue boat, an expedition RHIB, waverunners, snow scooters, retractable zero-speed stabilizers for use in ice conditions, and more.
Yachts are meant to traverse across the oceans of the world, from a relaxed trip to the Caribbean to the most arduous expeditions in the remote poles, and designers, along with shipyards, have the responsibility—and the absolute delight—to innovate, create and improve the art of sailing, while respecting the environment, and turning the faraway future into our immediate present.O
Texto: Ashanti Rojano ± Foto: KEN FREIVOKH DESIGN / MOJEHMNE / SEAXPLORER / NEDSHIP GROUP / SUPER YACHTS / EXPLEO DESIGN / COPYRIGHT FEADSHIP / ARCHITECS JOURNAL / LIN / ICDN / SUPERYACHT / EXCLUSIVE DESIGN