Yacht Design – Degrees of Separation

Over the past several decades the distance and complexity of communication between owners and operators of yachts has grown. The intricacies of running the yacht are not often openly discussed directly with the owner and more often concerns are hinted at if not completely circumvented because the command structure dictates that only the management should discuss such matters with the owner privately.

New yachts are designed by people who are not present on board the owner’s current yacht to see how he uses it. Often the chief stewardess on board will know the owners habits better than the owner himself and that, combined with the knowledge of the rest of the crew and officers, should be important data to incorporate in a new design. Time tested design rules for the layout of pantries, galleys and communication between those service spaces are often re-invented to suit the lesser experienced designer’s lust to offer more and better public spaces to his client. That is all fine on paper and on delivery but if such design compromises affect the owner’s enjoyment of his yacht in a negative way than this type of ignorance should be something to be avoided. Innovation is a grand thing, good and aesthetic design is equally important to the development of a yacht. Functionality in tune with the owner’s expectations should at the very least be a major consideration during all the development phases of the design. The input of grubby minions is often ignored by elitist men in suits, often to the detriment of the final product and the frustration of the people who have to make it work at the coal face.

Assumed expectations lead to standardization of designs and a truly custom yacht becomes unnecessary if we don’t give sufficient consideration to the owner’s individuality.

Yards such as Feadship have understood this and they manage to attract experienced owners who put themselves in the position to dictate the development of their yacht. However, many owners are too far removed from the process to effectively steer decision making. Often that isolation is caused by fear, ego, advantage seeking, lack of care or lack of experience of the people in position between the owner and the builders and operators.
In all new construction projects a huge level of transparency is necessary so that these influences are exposed and can be eliminated.

In terms of global importance our industry does not feature at all, it employs a relatively small number of people and the eventual product benefits even fewer. Nevertheless, the industry commands a huge budget and can call on fantastic resources and talent. From outside of our bubble we should be regarded as cutting edge, leading professionals in all of our respective fields of operation. Sadly, this is not the case because the industry is fragmented and divided between different interest groups.

The way to bridge this separation is to work on a common platform where responsibility and accountability are clearly defined on a meaningful scale. Where an overview of the entire organisation is possible from conception and throughout it’s operation and where all the necessary information can be found to make informed decisions at every level at all times.

If we did that, we would all look good. Our industry would gain some relevance as an example of professionalism and our self professed status of excellence would carry some weight.

About Lars van Dinther

Lars van Dinther is an experienced Captain, Project Manager and Owners Representatives building yachts from 40-140m. Lars has served as deck crew and captain over 30 years on the most prestigious yachts cruising in Europe, the Caribbean, USA, South Americas, Mexico and Japan. His expertise, diplomacy and focus excelled the new build-, refit- and design projects he was involved in for a variety of demanding clients. One of his projects have also been honoured with the Refit Award 2013. With a lifetime in service of UHNWIs, excellent people skills combined with a broad technical and engineering knowledge he will bring great expertise to your project.

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