How to choose the perfect tender

8 June 2021· Georgia Tindale

For the modern superyacht owner spending ever-more time on the water, and less time ashore, the question of how to find the perfect tender to accompany your mothership is becoming an increasingly important one. With a plethora of options and styles available on the market, deciding which tender to opt for can feel overwhelming. Luckily, we have an expert on hand to help. 

Here, Richard Faulkner, CEO and Founder at the UK-based tender company, Compass Tenders shares his top tips on the types of tender available, and how to find the perfect tender for your yacht.

Types of tender

Limousine Tenders

A limousine tender offers fully-enclosed guest space so that guests are fully sheltered from the elements, come rain or shine. The guest space can be air-conditioned or heated to suit the climate, meaning that the transfer between dockside and mothership, or mothership and restaurant is as comfortable as possible. A limousine tender is a mini-motor yacht in its own right, and is often specified with a high-end audiovisual package. Compass Tenders offers a wide range of tailored limo tenders from 9-14 metres, all of which offer the utmost luxury and privacy.

Open Tenders

Perfect for owners and guests keen to feel the wind in their hair, open tenders are fully open to the elements and tend to have a sportier design. As an added bonus, these tenders come with fold-down bow doors, enabling easy beach access and unloading of equipment. Compass’ range of open tenders encompasses everything from a 5-metre launch, right up to an 11.6-metre chase tender which can accommodate up to 15 passengers in comfort and achieve a top speed of 40 knots.

Catamaran Tenders

Increasingly popular with owners, catamaran tenders – also known as the SUVs of the seas – offer a fantastic platform for all types of activities and are ideal for carrying windsurfing, kayaking, paddleboarding and other sports equipment. Catamarans are also a brilliant option for guest transfers because they offer a very stable platform, with their large biminis sheltering the seating and making them the perfect choice for extended daytime excursions. On larger cats, we’ve been able to incorporate a day head, deck shower and casual galley facilities. Compass Tenders offers catamarans between 10-13.5 metres which can achieve top speeds of between 35-40 knots with effortless performance.

D-RIB Tenders

With Compass' offerings spanning between 6.5 and 9.2 metres, D-RIB tenders are one of the most versatile styles of craft on the market, working equally well as an owner’s launch or a crew tender. As well as the deep V hull ensuring a dry and comfortable ride, the D-shaped inflatable collar boosts the internal volume and seating capacity for optimum guest comfort. As with all custom Compass Tenders, there are a wide range of layout and seating options and propulsion packages available. All D-RIBs have a large bathing platform, fold-down steps and a high-end stereo system.

Naturally, this list is not exhaustive, with owners also able to opt for more conventional RIB tenders, sports RIBs, utility boats and more.

Custom vs. Semi Custom

Obviously, with custom tenders you can ensure that you get exactly what you want. The opportunity to have the tender styled to match the mothership is something that appeals to many of our clients and we find ourselves collaborating with many of the world-leading designers.

We are observing an increasing number of clients opting for semi-custom tenders built on a predetermined hull platform. This expedites the build process and there is still a high level of customisation available even with our platform models, so you won’t see another boat that looks like it. Naturally, as the tenders get larger – which is another trend we are observing – they need to be custom.

Our owners are very well informed, so we don’t tend to get too many unusual custom requests for tenders, but the most quirky we’ve had was for a bullet-proof boat.

Richard’s Top Tips

Finally, what should you be looking for to find your perfect tender? Function comes first. You rely on your tender day-in-day-out, so it has to be functional above all: to be robust, maintainable and reliable. Consider everything that you need the tender to do – and it may be that you need more than one! Look for a boat that is comfortable and which has a good freeboard so it is protected from the elements (this is particularly important for open boats). You also need to make sure you can get on and off it gracefully, so you’re also looking for large steps and rails, good lighting and step areas for nighttime operations.