Editor’s Note: Smaller and Smarter
“We at Vripack never forget that the biggest proportion of the market is below 500gt,” says Marnix Hoekstra at Vripack. It was one of many comments from the Dutchman, who together with Bart Bouwhuis lead the naval architectural and design studio Vripack.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the creative director earlier this week about some the studio’s latest and upcoming projects, which included the newly launched Project Rock at Evadne shipyard in Turkey.
Albeit at the smaller end of the market at 24m, Project Rock is another example of the studio’s holistic approach to design, offering different creative solutions to enhance life on board. With this project, the focus was less about the size of the vessel and more about how to maximise volume and usability, as owner Ali Sayakci explains, “The last few decades mega yachts have gone into an adolescent race of length. While they’re providing more space and comfort, at the same time they are probably alienating the passengers from a connection to the sea and nature. For me, Vripack managed to pack superyacht comfort and floor space in a moderate size while achieving an impressive speed.”
Over the last few years, the market has seen a number of interesting and fully custom yacht builds below 40m that have captured the industry’s attention. From Mulder Yachts’ 34m Solis and 36m Delta One to Feadship’s fleet of five builds ranging in size from 33.5m to 35m, each project offering advanced customisation. They, along with the sub-500gt category, continue to offer more than meets the eye, while saving on the number of crew needed to operate the vessel and the costs to run and maintain them. Pushing for space and intelligent layouts is a trend we are seeing more of, as designs stretch the possibilities within the 500gt threshold.
“With modern technology, there isn’t a need to have these big engines any more when you can go for four small engines or have battery-powered engines,” says Hoekstra as we discuss the ways in which spaces on board can be improved and more advanced layouts achieved while remaining below 500gt. “You can have an engine in the bow or engines in the sides and have a centre corridor instead. You don’t have to be static anymore but most of the designs we see are that static because that is the way it has always been done.”
This thinking has challenged and pushed the studio, influencing many of its designs including its more recent projects, a 60m and a 56m, the latter of which will be presented at the Monaco Yacht Show in September. “I think all our boats are cool but this one is very fun…,” says Hoekstra. “Along with the support of Lloyds register and the shipyard, we have been to be able to design a 56m that is under the 500gt rule but it still makes sense, more sense than a typical 45m.”
We look forward to bringing you more news on these two new projects and the result of Project Rock’s sea trials.