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Life Under Sail: Catamarans Could Prove Vital in Challenge to Boost Sailing Market

4 December 2019 • Written by Miranda Blazeby

Sailing catamarans could be key in the challenge to attract motor yacht owners into the sailing yacht market, a panel of industry figures has said.

Speaking at BOAT International’s inaugural Life Under Sail summit at the Yacht Club de Monaco, sailing yacht designers discussed how design could encourage more people into the sport.

Figures from BOAT’s 2020 Global Order Book show there are currently nine motor yachts to every one sailing yacht while sailing yacht projects account for just 6.9% of the overall Global Order Book.

The Life Under Sail summit took place on November 13 at the Yacht Club de Monaco

Reflecting on the dwindling market, naval architect Bill Tripp said it was up to sailing designers to lead the charge.

“Sailing design is a broad canvas and we have a lot of colours in our palette,” he said. “It’s our job to match that to the market, to products and to people who are looking ahead like we are,” he said.

He added that the sailing catamaran could be indispensable in the challenge to reach more motor yacht owners.

“Everyone in this industry is trying to do the same thing and this is the idea of a 50-metre sailing yacht that doesn’t heel,” he said.

The designers discussed how to entice more people into the sailing yacht market

Unlike the shrinking sailing yacht market, the catamaran market is “growing in leaps and bounds”, he said.

Increased environmental awareness, particularly in the younger generation, will only continue this, he said. “In the future, it won’t be “how do I dock the boat” – it will be how do I burn less fuel?”

Olivier Racoupeau, owner and head designer of Berret-Racoupeau Yacht Design, agreed that “catamarans are now a very important market.”

“For people wanting to swap from motor yachts to sailing yachts, it’s a more comfortable way to go to a catamaran,” he said.

He highlighted the comfort and speed of the catamaran, alongside “dedicated space for crew, good privacy and very large volumes.”

“It’s a very logical choice,” he said. “My point of view is that a sailing catamaran is like a classic sailing yacht with the DNA of a motor yacht.”

Infiniti Yachts owner, Gordan Kay, added that giving older yachts a new lease of life could bring more owners into the sport

Tripp added that the challenges facing the sailing yacht market were not unique and predicted future difficulties for the motor yacht market.

“The power boat market has got to look at how they’re going to change,” he said. “I think they’re going to suffer some serious problems ahead if they don’t accept concern about fuel consumption.”

Hoek Design director, Ruurt Meulemans, agreed that in this respect the sailing yacht market has an advantage over the motor yacht industry.

“From an environmental point of view, sailing is the one big solution for trying to get to zero emission.”

Infiniti Yachts owner, Gordan Kay, added that giving older yachts a new lease of life could bring more owners into the sport.

“There are old boats that can be brought back to life and allow people to have an interest in the sport without spending a fortune,” he said.

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