Computer generated 3D illustration with a luxury Superyacht at sunset

Bigger and Bolder: The Evolution of the Superyacht

Most people will never see a superyacht in their lifetime, let alone set foot on one of these streamlined, gleaming luxury vessels.

But for the crème of the top one percent wealth bracket, a superyacht has become a must-have status possession and the perfect way to party and travel in style.

Luxury yachts have sailed the seas since the first half of the 20th century. Since then, their designs have got bigger, better, extravagant, and adventurous. This article traces the history of these opulent vessels and the emerging trends and technologies in their build and design.

What is a Superyacht?

A superyacht is a large, professionally crewed luxury yacht (motor or sail powered) with a load line length of at least 24 meters. Superyachts are available for commercial charter or are used exclusively by their owners. They may be designed to emphasize speed, comfort, or expedition capability.

The number of superyachts has grown significantly since the 1990s such that, today, only those vessels exceeding 65 meters (213 feet) stand out as impressive.

Since a significant number of yachts are over 3000GT, all their deck and engineering officers require full merchant navy certification.

Brief History of the Superyacht

The yacht was first invented in the 14th century by the Dutch. At the time, they used small, fast boats (called jaghts) to chase pirates, criminals, and smugglers at sea. Eventually, rich ship merchants and owners started using these jaghts to sail out to sea to welcome or celebrate their returning ships.

The world’s first yachtsman was Charles II of England who picked up the sailing hobby while in exile in Holland. After a ten year exile, Charles II triumphantly returned to the English throne aboard a luxurious 60 ft. yacht presented to him by the city of Amsterdam. He soon took up sailing on the Thames and built about 20 yachts in his lifetime.

Years later in 1720, the Cork Water Club was opened becoming the world’s first yacht club.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 20th century; wealthy individuals started constructing large, private yachts, which became the precursors of today’s superyachts. The first large motor yachts also appeared during this period, including superyachts like Jemima F. III (1908), Savarona (1931), and Christina O (1947).

Superyacht Design and Layout

A modest superyacht between 40 and 60 meters may have cabins for up to 15 guests and a crew of similar size. It may be configured as follows:

  • A lower deck with an exterior swimming pool at the stern, four to six guest cabins, crew quarters forward, and an engine room amidships.
  • A main deck with a saloon, dining room, galley, entrance amidships, and the owner’s suite and study forward.
  • An upper deck with an exterior deck aft used for outdoor dining, a sky lounge, the captain’s cabin, and the bridge.
  • A sun deck with a Jacuzzi and a gym (if it’s not below-decks).

Emerging trends and Technology

The most obvious direction for next-generation superyachts is an increase in size.

The size and designs of the superyacht are directly linked to the increase of billionaires.

Owner-preference and competition continue to drive new design and features such as icy spa chambers, personal gyms, helicopter pads (the new normal), stabilized pool tables, aquariums, wine cellars, movie theaters equipped with high-spec IMAX projection.

Other design trends are:

  • Noise reduction.
  • Exterior and interior designs that allow guests to get closer to the water with features such as beach clubs and sea-level pools.
  • Low-emission and eco-friendly sailing.

The superyacht has a variety of uses depending on the owner’s preference ranging from business matters to parties and sporting activities. However, the main use of the superyacht is going on private vacations to relax.