How Vripack is redefining the refit rulebook with the help of virtual reality

20 April 2021

Storytelling sits at the heart of any refit project. It’s a meeting of two boats, two journeys; the before and after. But it’s what happens in the middle that truly matters. Refit is nothing without good planning, so putting together a team that has all bases covered is imperative.

Refits offer owners a multitude of benefits; shorter build times, proven engineered platforms and reduced costs. But refits also harbour pitfalls and blind spots. This is why chartering multiple yachts before buying one for refit is highly recommended. Once you’ve bought, use the boat in its current form for at least a year. Aside from having fun out at sea, you’ll be better equipped to understand what you’re looking for and be able to provide a clear brief.

Most important of all, arm yourself with a design team that has the ability to underpin your requirements with proper naval architecture – like Vripack. This is a must, because a successful refit largely depends on the existing vessel being able to comfortably and safely accommodate your desired design changes. Collaborative efforts often bear the most fruitful results, so the more expertise on your team, the better the outcome.

“A good refit specification minimises risk and allows the owner to be in control,” says Joost Mertens, fleet manager at Vripack. “Assembling a team with a designer, naval architect and engineer to prepare a proper tender package is probably the best advice an owner can have.”

Mertens also recommends having a pre-purchase survey executed. And, if planned works are expected to become extensive, he advises checking stability criteria and performing an incline trail to determine the boat’s stability, weight, and centre of gravity.

But above all else, have fun. Owners choose refits because the creative freedom and enjoyment that comes with designing a bespoke vessel is hugely rewarding. Putting ideas down on paper and seeing hand-drawn sketches come to life are what make the entire process so enjoyable. With Vripack, the entire process is taken to the next level with the use of virtual reality (VR).

“Video and VR have become important tools to validate yacht design,” says Mertens. “By defining the general creative direction with sketches and visualizing the detailed design in VR, owners get to experience their ideas before the build process even begins.”

Owners can sit on the aft deck, soak up the existing environment and then put on VR goggles to view the new perspective. Stay a while in your favourite chair or walk around the main saloon, it’s the only way to truly get it right.

Once satisfied, the tenders have gone out and the quotes are received from a shortlist of shipyards, you can sit with your team and decide which option provides the quality of build, delivery schedule and cost to best suit your needs.

You wouldn’t jump to the end of a great book before reading the opening chapters. To get the most out of refit, invest in the planning, and let the story unfold before your eyes.