Even though the sky is an ominous steely grey and a storm is forecast, we set sail from Monaco to Cannes aboard the new 55-metre Moskito super yacht, which was built by Dutch shipyard Heesen and unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show in September. With a “displacement hull” gleaming like a white shark’s tooth, it slices through the waves, meaning there is barely any sway – Van Oossanen Naval Architects have made sure of that.
Meanwhile, inside, British studio Bannenberg & Rowell have created interiors that look like the kind of home you’d see fetishised in a glossy print magazine. There’s traditionally crafted smoked oak chevron parquet flooring, marble bathrooms (white Thassos, grey St Laurent and ivory Travertine), original art, and furnishings including a desk built by GMS joinery in London. In total there are six cabins accommodating up to 12 guests. (The boat also comes with 13 crew.)
Built on spec (rather than custom-made for a specific client), the interior design of Moskito needed to be “broad enough to appeal to the widest possible market but equally avoiding being safe and bland,” says company leader Dickie Bannenberg during a press briefing on board. “It has an open-plan, metropolitan feel – especially in the owner’s suite, where it’s all beautiful long windows and no partitions,” says creative director Simon Rowell.
Outside on the top deck is a huge communal whirlpool bath, and expansive lounge seats offering peaceful views of the horizon (with the odd flash of lightning). Sailing in the Mediterranean during the summer and the Caribbean in winter, how much does it cost to charter? From €350,000 a week via International Yacht Collection (plus fuel and catering).
Moskito is just one example of the many impressive super yachts that was on display at the 2021 Monaco Yacht Show, which sees yacht builders, designers, architects, brokers and owners coming together on an annual basis to nosey around the boats moored in Port Hercules and drink champagne (barefoot) at sunset networking parties.
Other vessels that made a splash at this year’s event included Sunroof Yachts’ custom catamaran Great White, which is owned by tennis champion Rafael Nadal; Bilgin Yachts’ 80-metre “sleek, aggressive, sexy” Tatiana, which is available to charter from US$775,000 per week and comes complete with an indoor pool in the aft; and Azteca, which although not new, made headlines for being on sale via Edmiston for Bitcoin-only (at the equivalent price of €65m).
Why would anyone want to buy a yacht in bitcoin? Jim Evans, managing director of boutique brokerage SuperYachtsMonaco, says: “Probably because they have a lot of bitcoin. But also for the speed of the transaction and the absence of a bank, which might take two days to make a transfer and charge you a fair amount of money for it. Crypto is peer-to-peer banking of the future and we believe in it.”
The general consensus at this year’s show was that 80-metre hybrid super yacht Artefact was the standout winner in terms of innovation and eye-catching ergonomics. Manufactured at Germany’s Nobiskrug shipyard, the cutting-edge vessel is owned by Mike Lazaridis (the founder of BlackBerry), and exhibits everything from a tai chi studio to a craft room to a cinema with Atmos surround sound. “Artefact was absolutely extraordinary,” says Evans.
“When I first saw it I thought it was hideous but it sat outside my balcony window in Monaco for about six weeks and it started to grow on me. I would walk around the port and take pictures of it but the real revelation was seeing inside – it is absolutely exceptional. It’s a very personal boat – the owners are obviously going to make it their home, which is a lovely approach,” says Evans.
One of the trends emerging in the world of super yachts is using them as a “refuge, a home away from home,” says Evans. “I have a client who bought a 60-metre boat from me in January and went onboard in May – he liked it so much that he didn’t get off until September.” He adds: “There is now a tendency for people to use their boats for longer periods of time – we see that in requests for uninterrupted internet and communications because you can’t be onboard for four months and not be working, even if you are very wealthy.”
Artefact is also leading the way when it comes to eco credentials as it’s fitted with solar panels, lithium-ion batteries and a diesel-electric Azipod propulsion system meaning it has lower emissions than other boats of a similar size. However, Arthur Brouwer, CEO of Heesen, says: “We need to be realistic. Our industry needs to do better and take responsibility to ensure the future of yachting. This requires a holistic approach, taking into account the yacht’s complete lifecycle and the shipyard’s total footprint. That’s why Heesen is launching BlueNautech – a long-term, comprehensive sustainability programme.”
Julian Krickl, founder and managing director of London-based broker Mercury Yachts, also admits that super yachts, like private jets, “don’t rank first on people’s lists of environmentally friendly assets”. He says: “Although hydrogen propulsion is undoubtedly the future, with zero emissions, noise and vibrations, the challenge is the lack of refuelling solutions. Therefore, whilst there are an inordinate number of impressive designs being drafted, sadly many remain at concept stage as no owner wants to be left stranded at sea.
“The race is on to solve this, with plans for floating hydrogen fuel stations, petrol-pump style hydrogen filling stations at port, and endeavours to equip boats with the capability to refuel. However, with this, there remains several insurmountable problems such as the technical equipment taking up much of the vessel’s space, or the inescapable issue that hydrogen is highly flammable. I hope that we will eventually see a self-refuelling yacht using solar, wind and hydro energy but we’re certainly another five – and most probably ten – years off that being a viable solution.”
Krickl notes that a catalyst for trailblazing design has come from adventure-seeking yacht owners trying to travel off the beaten track, especially in polar regions. He says: “Norwegian designer Espen Oeino designed a yacht called Cloudbreak that is equipped to carry a helicopter, a ski room and a ski instructor’s cabin so passengers can ski from the boat in destinations such as Greenland, Alaska, Patagonia, Antarctica and Norway.”
How has the super yacht industry been affected by the pandemic? Evans says: “I think it is as hot now as it was in 2006 when the stock market was on fire – it’s extraordinary what has transpired as a result of the Covid crisis. People have been going crazy buying boats. We have had a huge dearth of supply of inventory. In the 60-metre size range there is hardly anything – and anything that remains available is probably priced higher than it should be.” Next year there might not be enough boats to meet demand. Why? It doesn’t make economic sense to charter a yacht for more than two or three weeks – any longer and you may as well buy one. This means more are leaving the charter market and going private.