The trend for long-range explorer yachts has been well chronicled, but what exactly defines an explorer yacht? Cecile Gauert tackles this complex issue.
Exploring remote areas of the world, particularly the Polar Regions, means that a robust hull is an essential starting point. Steel is the most popular material, with ice class being a common yardstick for measuring strength. In January 2017, the International Polar Code came into effect raising the bar higher still, and the Damen SeaXplorer 65 (pictured) is one of a handful of vessels currently being built to this standard.
However, not everyone agrees with the supremacy of steel. Frederic Jaouen, managing director of JFA Yachts, argues: "Explorer yachts should be built in aluminium for the safety aspect — deformation in case of impact as opposed to a tear in a steel or composite hull — but also the weight aspect and performance: [higher] speed, seaworthiness and [lower] fuel consumption.”