Analyzing "America's 100 Largest Yachts"

Ever since Power & Motoryacht's famous lists the Power & Motoryacht 100 (a.k.a. "The World's 100 Largest Yachts") and "America's 100 Largest Yachts" first published more than 20 years ago, I have been intrigued. Being a naval architect, it was a natural attraction, but I was also fascinated by what I determined to be distinct trends in LOAs, hull materials, and countries of build. So for the past several years, I've been taking it to the next level by comparing the results in these categories, with some interesting results. And when it comes to "America's 100 Largest Yachts," as you're about to see, a lot's been going on.

All involved in the profession or pastime of yachting are aware that yachts in general have been getting bigger and bigger, and where megayachts are concerned, there's been an explosion in size. Funny enough, a few years ago when asked my opinion regarding this, in my infinite wisdom, I replied that the trend could not be sustained much longer. So much for my "crystal ball," confirming I should stick to naval architecture and leave marketing to the better informed.

Take a look at the following graph, which represents the past 17 years' worth of yachts included on the list:

Average LOA of America's 100 Largest Private Megayachts

The graph shows that the average LOA has increased 3'9" per year. It's also interesting to note how the size of the 100th yacht has increased over this same period. In 1990 Stoneface, a 106-foot aluminum yacht built in the States, made the cut. And in 2007 Princess K, a 155'8" steel yacht built in Holland, just made the cut (2'11" per year). So if you're starting a new build, typically a three-year design/construction process, and you want to see your yacht's name published in PMY in 2010, you better make sure she's at least 165 feet overall.

When it comes to hull materials, with the exception of one wood yacht in two of the years I've been tracking, aluminum, fiberglass, and steel round out the list. The following graph clearly shows that as the yachts increased in size, steel became the preferred material over aluminum, while the number of fiberglass hulls remained essentially flat.

100 Largest American Yachts By Material

This shift from steel to aluminum is not surprising for two reasons, at least in my opinion:
1) as a vessel increases in size, the weight penalty associated with steel diminishes as compared to aluminum
2) as the yachts get bigger, larger yard facilities are required, for which commercial and military yards have the infrastructure, systems expertise, and manpower.

And finally, I thought it would be interesting to show how certain countries have garnered a larger (or, in some cases, smaller) market share of build contracts over the years:

Year Vs. Quantity Built by Country

Put a different way, the most significant players in 2007 are:

Country of OriginNumber BuiltAverage LOATotal Length (Feet)
United States28169'0"4,732

Look again at the 3D graph. For the past three years Germany has seen the greatest increase in the number of megayachts built, while the States, Holland, and Italy have remained essentially flat. In addition the States has experienced the largest reduction in the number of yachts built since 1995. Possible reasons? While the Euro was weaker than the dollar at one point, perhaps that influenced American owners willing to take the extra time to travel overseas for design/inspection meetings. But then again, in recent years the dollar has declined against the Euro. Clearly, either the infrastructure does not exist in the States, or there's the perception that we can't deliver the quality. On the other hand, perhaps I should stick to naval architecture and leave the marketing to others.

America's 100 Largest Yachts 2007: By Rank
America's 100 Largest Yachts 2007: Alphabetically
A Thousand Feet of Feadships
S Is for Spectacular
Langford's Love
Engineering Tradition
Megayacht Builder Directory 2007
Analyzing "America's 100 Largest Yachts"
Video: Marathon
Video: Utopia
Podcast: Denise Rich Interview

This article originally appeared in the November 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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