ICON/H2 85m superyacht concept based on improved MCA regulations

14 September 2011

ICON Yachts and H2 Design have unveiled an 85 metre concept based on revised rules that mean building large private yachts is simpler than it has ever been.

The Red Ensign Group’s Passenger Yacht Code (equivalent to SOLAS, the international maritime safety convention), applies to yachts that accommodate between 13 and 36 passengers. The MCA used to treat a private yacht with over 12 passengers in a similar way as a transatlantic liner. The PYC, launched in November last year, changed this policy to reflect the difference.


‘What we’ve done is simplify the rules quite a bit, so that if you want to build a yacht for 36 passengers, you can have much simpler fire protection standards, simpler rescue boat requirements. You still have to meet the safety standards your guests and crew would expect, but it’s a much more practical way of complying, by taking into account lifestyle and design aspirations,’ says Simon Milne, manager of Vessel Policy at the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA).

ICON asked H2 to develop a new platform as well as a superstructure and to ensure both met the revised rules – which are still rigorous – they commissioned Laurent Giles Naval Architects to provide the initial technical input.

‘To try to design a yacht of this size today without first understanding these rules, or incorporating proper naval architecture at the beginning, would result in a design that would be unrealistic – its value would be as a concept only,’ says Jonny Horsfield, founder of H2 Design.


The revised rules allowed them to design a more attractive and practical vessel, while still adhering to the same, high safety standards. Milne believes the MCA have simply cut out irrelevant material.

‘We got rid of all the excess regulation that doesn’t add safety value, the stuff that really doesn’t help on small passenger ships on yachting service. We sorted out things like life lifesaving compliances and fire safety – so you can have gorgeous timber and leather all over your ship – because we’ve come up with ways of managing the safety aspects of that. That’s a pretty impressive improvement over what would have happened before,’ he says.

The code allowed H2 to enhance the stability standard of the 85m design in lieu of a lifeboat – replacing it with more compact life saving appliance such as life rafts.

‘The lifeboats are quite ugly, their size considerable and it could negatively affect the styling and proportions of a yacht under 100m,’ says Horsfield.


They also benefited from not having to comply with the ‘return to port requirement’. This meant a yacht needed to be able to return safely and under her own power to the nearest port when any one of her rooms or compartments is lost due to fire or flooding. This required a series of protection measures that added considerably to the size of engine rooms.

‘This basically means the engine room will remain at a sensible size, not taking up unreasonable space from the interior,’ says Horsfield.

The result of taking such care and considering details at such an early stage, is that, as Horsfield put it, ‘it’s not a concept, it is ready to go’. And the removal of unnecessary extras has also helped them create a pure, uncluttered linear exterior style. The crisp chamfers and sharp edges contrast with the flowing organic form of the superstructure.

Inside, centrally located tender garages release space from the aft end, allowing for a large beach club with a central pool, spa and gymnasium.

Interior features include a circular dining room, enclosed by full height glass and curved spine stairs. The aft bridge deck offers panoramic views, and is flooded with light from the glass bottomed spa pool above.


With this yacht as an example, other builders and designers may now be tempted to create large yachts that they would previously have dismissed due to red tape.

‘If you are building yacht of 78 metres-plus, 12 passengers does seem a little bit light, so I think with the clarification we will end up with a new market for yachts for that size,’ says Horsfield. Milne agrees.

‘We’ve made the regulation accessible to small and medium shipyards. In the past if you threw SOLAS at them, they would have been totally baffled and shied away from it, The REG Passenger Yacht Code is designed to be easy to understand and apply in practice,’ he says.

During the Monaco Yacht Show the ICON/H2 85m concept superyacht will be presented at stand QD63, Darse Nord and the MCA will be at the Superyacht UK Pavilion, Darse Sud Tent.

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