Don’t let the internet fool you: There’s more to yacht design than pretty pictures.

Being different for its own sake can lead to some strange yacht concepts that should never see the light of day.

The job title “yacht designer” sounds glamorous to a lot of people. Some have the mistaken impression that we saunter around in capes, waving our arms dramatically while grand visions flow from our fingertips, leaving the messy details to lesser plebes. Rainbows and unicorns! Everyone employed in my office is a degreed engineer or naval architect who can weld, grind and laminate fiberglass. However, there are those who call themselves yacht designers when they’re really stylists, decorators or eager Adobe Illustrator jockeys hoping for some attention in the marine industry. An aspiring designer’s inexperience and desire to be different for its own sake can result in a witch’s brew of design, unbridled by the realities of physics or the sea. This manifests in a stream of concepts that are not ... good. You don’t see them published in Power & Motoryacht of course, so allow me to chronicle a couple concepts I’ve seen elsewhere.

Take, for instance, a concept of some 200 feet. The eager designer intended for the renderings to look futuristic. However, the final product resembled a LEGO stealth fighter plane covered in crinkled aluminum foil, looking something like a fish ready for the grill. Why the crinkly aluminum look? Well, you see, the designer intended for the vessel to be invisible to radar! What owner wouldn’t cherish the thought of his $80 million floating asset transiting the Atlantic each season, unable to be seen by supertankers and aircraft carriers? I’m sure Lloyd’s of London would love to quote that coverage.

But if you want to go big and do it badly, look no further than a 500-foot concept yacht that was pitched a while back in the mainstream media. What’s it look like, you ask? Imagine a giant bedroom slipper with a shoehorn stuck in it, something about the size and slope of an Olympic ski jump. Atop this shoehorn/ski jump, 150 feet above the water, is the owner’s stateroom and—you guessed it—an infinity pool.

Yes, zero-speed stabilizers work great when you’re standing in a cockpit or in a typical salon. But on this monstrosity, just a couple degrees of roll would mean the master stateroom would be thrashing 25 feet port and starboard. You think airplane turbulence is bad? On this yacht, you’d have to strap yourself into bed like a patient in an insane asylum to have any hope of not being thrown into the windows every six seconds. And the water in the infinity pool 150 feet above the ocean? Call it an absurdity pool—it’ll be empty in a minute.

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These silly concepts, which in no way reflect what’s really happening in the yachting industry, get published by the likes of CNN and Yahoo News. The crinkly LEGO fighter/grilled fish concept yacht and the S.S. Shoehorn are pure fiction, and as a result, the consumers of this “news” aren’t learning anything useful about the yachting industry. Confused readers are led to believe that Richie Rich has a boat that can’t be seen by radar, and maybe he can ski down it too.

How does this happen? Two reasons. One, computer rendering software is so inexpensive now that just about any junior high school kid can learn to use it. While this is a good thing, it often gives mouse jockeys the false belief that, “If I can draw it, I know what I’m doing.” Flashy renderings can be created without any knowledge of marine engineering, physics, construction methods or the influence of regulatory bodies on vessel design.

Two, blame the mass media. For better or worse, the gatekeepers have been laid off. In search of clicks, junior editors publish the freak-show stuff to drive revenue, giving eager sketch artists the power to freely disseminate bad ideas around the world.

By holding this magazine in your hands (or reading it online) you’ve demonstrated good judgment in where you get your boating news. You won’t find stories on invisible fighter jet/grilled fish-styled 500-footers here, so enjoy the rest of this issue about real boats, real people and real fun on the water. You can’t find this stuff on Yahoo!

This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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