Notes From The Editor

Editor’s Note: Dying Winds

The decline in interest and demand for sailing yachts over the last few years is well known. While there are sailing yachts still being built, the impact of this slowdown in the sector continues to be felt across the globe with order books looking thin and some yards close to — if not already — shutting up shop for good. While there are many suggestions as to why this decline is taking place, there are fewer proposed solutions.

However, one Spanish designer has attempted to make a change, proposing a new explorer sailing yacht design in an attempt to tackle what he believes to be the cause of the downturn in orders. “I think [orders for sailing yachts] are declining because there is a problem with what is on offer,” explains Iñigo Toledo, founder of Barracuda Yacht Design in reference to the unveiling of his 44m Sailing Explorer concept. “The market isn’t really offering many options. When you think about the motoryacht market, there is a constant flow of new concepts and there have been a lot of changes over the last ten years. When you look at the sailing yacht market, things have not changed at all in the same time period.

“You have the same formats — cruiser-racers or heavy cruisers but things are just the same. I’ve not really seen much movement stylistically or technologically. Compare this with motor boats and there are many more differences. They have larger windows and are much more open, they have beach clubs and so on — they offer a lot more in general.”

His point is valid although most owners we have spoken to over the years have built a sailing yacht for the love of sailing rather than the features listed above, which plays into Toledo's argument. At the same time, it is hard to encourage sailing yacht projects when little is presented — by comparison to motoryachts — to the market as to the various possibilities available. However, Toledo goes on to highlight how many owners look to have as much internal volume as possible combined with high levels of hull stability. These are two significant elements that drive clients to motoryachts over sailing yachts.

We are even seeing many sailing yacht owners who are now happy with having a motor boat with a little sailing boat on top as a day sailor and that is good enough for them,” says Toledo. “And it is all because there are a lot more attractive concepts and formats for living on new motor boats, so we need to think of new ways to bring sailing back to life.

For the Spanish designer, his 44m Sailing Explorer is a possible answer, as the concept attempts to integrate the feeling and benefits of a motoryacht into a sailing yacht. It is a similar approach to what we’ve seen in the automotive sector with the explosive interest and demand for small to medium sized SUVs. The growth in interest has led to many car manufacturers offering new small SUV models that are arguably a hybrid of a car and a 4x4 / SUV.

Whether or not this is the right solution has yet to be seen but it is encouraging to see a design studio actively trying to push the agenda beyond a styling exercise.

If you have views on this topic or have a design that you think will spark life into this sector of the market, I welcome you to get in touch by email.

We are even seeing many sailing yacht owners who are now happy with having a motor boat with a little sailing boat on top as a day sailor and that is good enough for them
Iñigo Toledo