Image: Sanlorenzo 460EXP via Arcon Yachts
The world of luxury yachting is one which is constantly evolving, always changing with the ebb and flow of fashion, and forever dictated by the whims of the global elite, for whom money is little object. Not so long ago, the main trend in superyachting seemed to have relatively little – if anything at all – to do with actual sailing; it was all about pulling up in some trendy hotspot, and using your yacht as a portable luxury home in which to party and live the high life.
However, times are changing, and a new, younger generation of yachting enthusiasts have taken the helm, so to speak. For these youngsters, the open seas are seen as more of a challenge than an obstacle separating them from their next bottle of Cristal, and their thrill-seeking attitude and taste for adventure (as well as their love of instagrammable ‘experiences’) have seen a huge spike in the sales and chartering of explorer yachts.
These explorer vessels have been one of the defining trends in the superyacht industry in recent years, and market analysts expect things to continue along the same lines as yacht buyers become ever younger, and adventure is placed higher on people’s lists of priorities than more traditional luxury items. Explorers are smaller, lighter, and considerably more practical than the more traditional superyacht, and are more specifically designed as hardy, seaworthy vessels. For many young yacht owners, their desires for owning a yacht in the first place were driven by a need to get away from civilisation, or even to achieve a once-in-a-lifetime style experience such as crossing the Indian Ocean, or travelling south to see the aurora over the Antarctic.
However, one interesting feature of this trend is that many of the more rugged and ‘ship-like’ features of some explorers might actually be fairly superficial, and are almost certainly only skin-deep. While they are capable of taking on large distances and potential difficult conditions, it’s likely few superyacht explorers will really push themselves too far outside of their comfort zone. In many ways, explorers are like a lot of modern SUVs – burly, tough looking vehicles designed to go off the beaten track… but actually are rarely – if ever – used for anything out of the ordinary, or in any way differently than any other car.
If nothing else, this does demonstrate an interesting direction for the superyacht industry; offering vessels which combine the ‘authentic’ appearance of an ocean-crossing ship with the sort of interiors the super-rich have come to expect from their vehicles.