Big boats, the real elite of yachting

Motor Superyachts

Big boats, the real elite of yachting

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A superyacht is a yacht longer than 100 ft (30 meters).  Yachts of this size belong to the premium segment of luxury products. A superyacht can be a fully custom or a semi-custom project.

The hull of a semi-custom yacht is built on a pre-developed serial platform. Owners can customize the exterior and the interior to their liking.

A semi-custom yacht offers the best of both worlds: a shorter build time and lower cost in comparison with fully custom projects and the ability to personalize the vessels to the owner's tastes and needs. The boats are based on well-tested platforms with proven naval architecture, which is also a plus of semi-custom models.

Italy is the champion in producing semi-custom motor superyachts, with three largest builders of superyachts located there: Ferretti groupAzimut-Benetti, and Sanlorenzo.  

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How are superyachts built?

Superyachts are built either entirely from aluminum or from steel and aluminum. Some boatbuilders, like Overmarine Mangusta and Pershing, use composite materials to build big boats with fast planing hulls, though such vessels are not designed for long voyages. On the contrary, expedition superyachts, designed for ocean crossings and voyages to the most remote locations, have steel full-displacement hulls.

The semi-planing hull is the most common and versatile hull shape in the superyacht segment.

Semi-displacement yachts have a long range in a displacement mode. In transit mode, semi-displacement yachts are capable of speeds up to twice the typical maximum speed of displacement vessels. It is possible to make multi-day cruises over long distances or quickly move between nearby marinas. 

A number of boatbuilders produce semi-custom superyachts with fast displacement hulls. For example, such yachts can be found in the model ranges of Heesen, Dynamiq, Mulder, and Horizon.

What types of engines are used on motor superyachts? 

While most large yachts are equipped with 2 or 3 powerful diesel engines with shaft drives, the choice of engine and drivetrain options is very wide – from marine diesels to hybrid systems and all the way to gas-turbine engines!

Recently, manufacturers have paid great attention to the fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness of superyachts. All new pleasure crafts with engines over 130kW must comply with the Tier III emissions standard.

To achieve this, exhaust purification systems are used on superyachts. To reduce overall fuel consumption, builders resort to hybrid propulsion. In this setup, diesel engines, instead of turning propellers through shaft drives, actually turn big generators that produce electricity to power electric motors. Those are located in special pods under the bottom, known as azimuth thrusters, that house the motors and propellers and can rotate to any horizontal angle, greatly adding to the maneuverability of a big vessel.

A number of shipyards have already announced that in a few years, their model ranges will be fully hybrid. Hybrid-powered superyachts are already produced by the Ferretti group, Sanlorenzo, and Sunseeker, to name a few.  

How much does a superyacht cost?

The cost of a superyacht varies greatly depending on its size and outfitting.

A new superyacht can cost from tens to hundreds of millions of Euros. During the first year of operation, the yacht commonly loses 25-30% of its original value. A five-year-old yacht will be 50% cheaper, and a 10-year-old yacht will go with a 60% discount. Further, the state of the yacht will play a role.