heard of concept cars, but why should the automobile industry have all the
By Diane M. Byrne — September 2001
You have to hand it to automakers: The unusual and even outrageous vehicles they roll out every year as their concept cars are instant attention-getters. Whether it's an 80-miles-to-the-gallon family sedan or a futuristic sports car with doors that more closely resemble giant lift-up hatches, the concept car represents a successful combination of creativity and proprietary technology.
So how come boatbuilders don't do the same thing? After all, some of the concept cars eventually become full production models. One reason is risk; there's no telling whether a design will be the next PT Cruiser and spawn a nationwide enthusiasts club or the infamous DeLorean that the general public just isn't ready to embrace. Hand-in-hand with risk comes expense; while the automakers regularly set aside research and development budgets to bring the concepts to fruition, the amount of money they're able to spare is enough to make a boatbuilder break down and cry out of envy.
That's why more often than not, unusual-looking yachts are the domain of the custom yacht builders; after all, they have the luxury of being able to create one-offs and in some cases are asked to bid on a project where the owner has already hired a naval architect or stylist to create a distinct design.
Distinct is certainly an apt description for the three yachts profiled here. Some have familiar elements taken to another level, while others are unlike anything you've seen. Either way, like concept cars, they represent a union of artistry and technology.
Take the 41-meter (136-foot) high-performance aluminum motoryacht on the facing page designed by Luiz de Basto and Frank Mulder. While a yard isn't attached to the project yet, it gives new meaning to "suspended animation." Resembling an open boat that was fed Miracle-Gro, Yara features a flying bridge essentially suspended--actually, cantilevered--above the main deck. According to de Basto, the owner wanted an open-style boat capable of speeds to 60 knots while providing megayacht luxury for him and the guests he plans to entertain on a regular basis. That led to the design for the flying bridge, comprised of an enclosed pilothouse forward and an open deck area aft. The positioning of the pilothouse both separates crew and guests and provides an unrivaled vantage point for high-speed cruising in the Med. (According to de Basto, tank tests performed a few months ago at the Wolfson Institute in Cowes, Isle of Wight, showed she'll be capable of 70-knot speeds and should handle well in waves about seven feet high.)
Cantilevering the flying bridge has yet another benefit: providing shade to the open deck area immediately below it. While many traditional-style megayachts have shaded deck areas, the actual square footage that's covered is only enough to accommodate a handful of people. Yara's setup, however, will permit the owner to please a crowd, fulfilling his dedication to entertaining. Sliding glass doors can transform the shaded area into an air-conditioned entertainment spot as well.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.