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Visions of the Future

Rarely a month goes by that a friend or family member doesn’t forward me a story about some fantastical superyacht concept: one that doubles as a submarine; one that has a three-hole golf course on deck; one powered by a nuclear reactor; or one flanked by a pair of electric-powered blimps so it can lift off and sail over the water as well as on it.

Intrigued and earnest as they may be, my people fail to realize that few of these designs will ever feel the joyous pop of a Champagne bottle breaking on their bows. Such flights of fancy do, however, serve a purpose beyond exposing the fertile imaginations of legitimate designers, or would-be designers on hallucinogens. Like the concept cars at auto shows, they illuminate the possible—worlds that may lie just over the horizon if an adventurous yacht owner were willing to transfer the bitcoin.

For the most part, yacht designers and builders live in the present, serving the tastes and desires of their clients. But to stay viable, they must continually strive to hack into the neural networks that excite the imaginations of future clients: young tech entrepreneurs, people who’ve chartered and are ready to buy, or existing owners who may be getting bored with tiers of white, blue or gray decks.

In recent years, their efforts have focused on more sedate strides aimed at improving fuel efficiency, lowering emissions, and employing more rugged design and construction suited for an increasing number of owners interested in far-reaching exploration or ocean research. Plumb bows are on the charge and interior features are ever more creative and luxurious. Along the way, we’ve seen some showstopping, head-spinning departures such as sailing yacht A and her motoryacht sibling, A, both imagined by industrial designer Philippe Starck, who also did a yacht for Steve Jobs.

The annual Monaco Yacht Show always brings together a strong sample of where things are and where they may be headed. The most recent version produced three visions that, in my view, stood out. Each of these innovative projects incorporated a hybrid power scheme meant to go easier on the environment, and each caught my eye for different reasons.

First was Artefact, built by Nobiskrug in Germany. In this issue, Editor-at-Large Justin Ratcliffe writes, “There are convincing reasons why, in my opinion, 262-foot (80-meter) Artefact is one of the most inspirational superyachts of recent years. Her radical exterior design by Gregory C. Marshall with those ‘crazy paving’ windows is one.” Ratcliffe goes on to examine the yacht’s sublime interior through the eyes of those responsible for realizing the owner’s vision, including Reymond Langton Design.

The second standout was the wallywhy200. Luca Bassani, who’s never been afraid to challenge the norms in his sail and motoryacht designs, created what many have said is uncharacteristically a bit scratchy on the eyes. But no matter your taste in exterior styling, this semicustom motoryacht packs a high-volume punch into her wide-beam, 89-foot (27-meter) length overall: 200 gross tons, typical of a much larger yacht. Ratcliffe shares his impressions of this groundbreaker in this issue as well.

And third: The smallest yacht by orders of magnitude than any other vessel in the show—about 6 feet in length—was a model of Oceanco’s Kairos design. The concept is part of the builder’s NXT initiative aimed at reaching future generations. “The philosophy behind the concept is for Kairos to let the owner be in three places at once: a European marketplace or piazza, a New York skyscraper and the sea,” Jill Bobrow writes in this issue.

The days of the waterborne wedding cake aren’t dead yet, but these innovative designs foreshadow some exciting changes to the menu.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2022 issue.