Trend towards cosy cruising with good sailing abilities
By Ralf Abratis, sailing expert
Travel fast, live comfortably: modern yachts are a sheer delight for their owners – both at sea and in port. With an almost loft-type atmosphere above and below deck, with bright and light-flooded rooms, current yacht designs are modern abodes and, in addition, easy to manoeuvre from the cockpit. Technical features provide safety and entertainment, modern materials make it possible to have an entirely different interior compared to just a few years ago. As a result, sailing is opening up to new target groups.
The COVID worries, felt when travelling almost completely came to a standstill one and a half years ago, have long since given way to a surprised satisfaction at shipyards. In all segments – from small cruisers to luxury yachts – companies have succeeded in posting growth. Order books are more than full. What was lost in terms of sales to charter companies that naturally do not need to replace their fleets, has been more than compensated for by private owners.
Both major and specialised shipyards have benefited from the crisis and were able to quickly respond to customers’ individual wishes thanks to having already launched a wide range of interiors over the past years. However, customers have occasionally had to show some patience before taking delivery of their desired yacht.
Building facilities at the Sirius shipyard in Plön, for example, are booked up for the coming four years. The shipyard specialising in deck saloon yachts has built a reputation for quality worldwide and offers yachts for all regions. This accommodated their customers who prefer a flexible way of living and working and therefore wish to combine living and office spaces. No wonder Sirius yachts are preferrably used as blue-water boats on which you can work from anywhere in the world. The interior furnishing options are tuned to the owners’ needs, are customised and cater to just about every demand, be this a master cabin, a convenient kitchen or a homely saloon with large, glazed windows. The roomy deck salon on the 35-foot yacht offers so much space that the Sirius 35 DS can be offered with two to six berths. Individuality is the DNA of Sirius yachts. But even major shipyards can respond to customer wishes increasingly more effectively using modular interiors. Here, novel hull designs boast many possibilities on the inside – although the design features are primarily oriented towards good sailing abilities.
For the bow, more and more yacht designers prefer a deep V shape that quickly becomes a voluminous hull, while the sterns are flat and sweeping. Chine edges on the back third of the hull are characteristic features of modern yachts. All of this is designed to take the force of the waves and to counteract strong heel, resulting in greater stability and easier working of the rudder.
However, hull designs not only impact yacht stability and handling but also play into the hands of interior designers. Because the space available in both the bow and stern of the boats has grown noticeably. This means in particular that cabins are getting bigger, and yachts can be more than just the owner’s home. “Those buying a boat also like to take family and friends along. This trend seems to have grown even bigger in COVID times. Yachts with three cabins are therefore a real classic”, reports Marcus Schlichting, Press Spokesman of Bavaria Yachts. Both on the large, over 50-foot yachts and the new C38 you therefore live very comfortably not only in the master cabin but also in the guest cabins in the stern.
The demand for more room is also being catered to by the new development in Greifswald. “There is a trend towards more room, individual furnishing options, more cabins and more bathrooms”, says Morten Strauch, Press Spokesman at Hanse Yachts. This is particularly evident with the new Hanse 460. “The hull design has changed from being rather narrow to a voluminous hull. This makes it possible to furnish the yacht very opulently”, Strauch adds.
High-quality furnishing below deck, however, influences not only the size of berths and the number of bathrooms but also means a well-equipped galley and a comprehensive multi-media offering. “A 3-flame stove and oven are standard. Microwaves are also often ordered alongside”, says Marcus Schlichting – even though the latter are often still unused after years. After all, the trend is towards eating out at the port’s restaurant rather than cooking on board. What should definitely not be missing on board is cool drinks. “You can’t have enough cooling possibilities on board”, adds Schlichting. Both big refrigerators in the pantry that deserve the name of galley these days, as well as a chiller drawer in the cockpit are therefore welcome furnishings for enjoying a nicely chilled wine as the sun sets – in the port or at anchor.
Multi-media connections should therefore not be missing either for evening entertainment. A mobile and high-performance Wi-Fi router is therefore a must on board. The connections for a TV set should be readily installed or the yacht should come with retractable TV screens as a standard feature.
Plenty of electronics and the biggest displays possible can also be found in the navigation corner of yachts. Trending here are premium packages with a big chart plotter (preferably also with a redundant device), AIS, radar and FM radio. Furthermore, convenience and safety for yacht handling are now available at the press of a button or even online. “All elements we know from smartphones or vehicle manufacturing can, of course, also be integrated into yacht building – and they are in demand”, says Morten Strauch. The Safety Cloud introduced at Hanse two years ago has therefore been broadly adopted and ensures external yacht monitoring as well as an anchor alarm, a reminder of maintenance intervals and, if need be, the direct ordering of any spare parts required.
Above deck, work and life focus entirely on the cockpit. All lines and sheets are controlled from here. Even sheets can be reefed from the control stand whilst remaining dry. This is ensured by roll reefing systems in the mast or boom. And you don’t have to forego performance either. Main sails are fully battened either vertically or horizontally. For the head sail a small self-tacking jib is the standard. But since owners also want to be able to travel fast on long hauls, not only the standard wardrobe is required. Therefore, there is a trend towards having several head sails on the bowsprit and, hence, attached permanently. Gennaker and Code Zero bring modern yachts up to speed. In contrast to this, spinnakers are increasingly rare since their handling requires more skills and a bigger crew.
Today, yachts are primarily steered by means of double-wheel systems. The benefit of this being not only that yachts can be steered in a position with a good look ahead on both sides. But the passageway between the two wheels also provides easy access to the stern, into which both spacious back boxes and rear garages are integrated for additional gear such as inflatable SUP boards. The foldable swim platforms are either used for easy access to terraces by the water or to the yacht when aft mooring in the port. Here too, the sweeping stern makes a difference. While in the past swim ladders provided access to the yacht, we can now enjoy generously spaced staircases.
Alongside the technical developments and new hydrodynamic insights, it is above all novel materials and finishing that make yachts more modern and luxurious. The interiors are bright due to large windows that only became possible thanks to new adhesive and glass materials. Despite the size of the surfaces these combine breaking strength with leakage-proofness. Likewise, resilient veneers in light colours bring more brightness into rooms that used to be characterised by dark mahogany - one of the few timbers for furniture and interior design that withstood the challenges of salt-water- saturated air. Furthermore, thin-film ceramics allow bathrooms to be lavishly furnished on account of their comparatively low weight. New material developments, however, are not only responsible for good optics but can also promote sustainability. Teak wood substitutes are common these days and provide reliable support on deck; in contrast to the original construction material it not only saves wood resources but also retains its looks permanently. The lovers of a maritime patina may miss the greyed deck but, by retaining the bright appearance, modern yachts permanently remain an eye-catcher for many people.
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