THERE'S A VERY REAL TREND SWEEPING THE YACHTING INDUSTRY
Craig Barnett - Editor Yachts Emirates & Invictus
CANTIERE DELLE MARCHE,
ANCONA, 20 DECEMBER 2012
In a similar way to the popularity of 4x4’s and off-road vehicles superseding the saloon car, mountain bikes the standard bicycle and snowboarding overtook skiing, there’s a very real trend sweeping the yachting industry today; that of the explorer yacht. The burgeoning number of builds, projects and designs in this category is being driven by a new breed of owner: one who values spending time with their family discovering ‘off piste’ destinations, is mindful of fuel consumption, appreciates security and desires plenty of space onboard for toys.
Before the fashion takes a real hold however, maybe now is the time to draw a distinction between true blue-blooded explorer yachts – hardy ‘go anywhere’ steel vessels, with robust seakeeping hulls and commercial strength engineering and systems – and the new breed of ‘explorer inspired’ or ‘expedition styled’ yachts. While the latter may share many attributes and boast an extended range, one suspects they are suited to little more than the perennial migration between the Med and Caribbean. On some of the designs we’ve witnessed of late I certainly wouldn’t like to brave a blow at the Horn, or trust in the teeth of a Southern Ocean gale.
Given the current popularity of this genre, most self-respecting yards and designers will currently have an explorer-style yacht in their portfolio. But when comparing a true explorer yacht with a leisure yacht, the owner should be made aware of its true capabilities. If it’s a Porsche Cayenne luxury ‘off roader’ style yacht they want, that’s all very well, but don’t pass it off as a Land Rover. There’s a very real danger of the uninitiated being introduced to sheep in wolf’s clothing. In order to delineate the separate genres, maybe a new sub-class can be formed… following the lead of the automotive sector I believe SUV or ‘sports utility vehicle’ would be an accurate description.
Having said all the above, I must however now eat my words to a certain extent. Building an enviable international reputation with their true explorer yachts delivered to date, Cantiere delle Marche now confound my theory by launching the Nauta series. Never a yard to follow the herd, they’ve swum diametrically against the tide and have developed the Nauta range of yachts based on the solid engineering principles of their Darwin series. While many yards are dressing luxury yachts in explorer designs, CDM are dressing explorer quality builds in luxury yacht styling. If it always takes an exception to prove a rule, I must thank CDM for being exceptional.
Having spent considerable time at the CDM factory, witnessed their latest launch MY Percheron in her various stages of build and enjoyed a cruise aboard her in the gentle Mediterranean, it was perhaps most fitting that we last saw each other as Hurricane Sandy raged around us at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. In the howling gale and lashing rain MY Percheron appeared not just resolute against the elements, but positively cheerful as all around her wilted. Just like their yacht, the CDM team also took the inclement conditions gleefully in their stride and offering merry safe haven from the tempest. Their only condition of shelter... you’ve just finished reading it.