Insight: A growing market for fast aluminium yachts?

SuperYacht iQ, the new market intelligence division of SuperYacht Company, analysed the market for aluminium motor yachts over 30 metres recently, following the surge of companies announcing new aluminium vessels over the past few months.

Looking at the past 10 years, there were 245 motor yachts over 30 metres completed with an aluminium hull. In this segment Heesen Yachts is the market leader, with a total of 34 delivered yachts totalling 1,484 metres. Just behind Heesen is Trinity Yachts with 31 yachts, followed by Palmer Johnson with 23 yachts and Baglietto with 20 yachts. Mondomarine and Admiral have both delivered 13 yachts in total. Combined, these six shipyards have built close to 55% of all aluminium motor yachts over 30 metres in the past 10 years.

We asked several leaders in this segment, as well as some of the new entrants, the following questions regarding their opinion on aluminium yachts:

1) The market for fast yachts took a big hit during the crisis. Do you feel the market is growing again?

2) Is aluminium becoming more popular over GRP?

Heesen Yachts – Mark Cavendish - Director Sales & Marketing

1) From our side we have signed a total of 16 contracts for fast aluminium yachts out of a total of 29 contracts signed since 2008. This is 55% of all contracts signed. I would agree this is a slightly lower mix than the long-term average, which is closer to 60/40. So is the fast aluminium market growing? I would say yes, there are definite signs of more interest in the sector. Consider that at Heesen we are building one of the largest high-speed aluminium yachts, the 70 metre Kometa with a top speed of 30 knots.

2) It is not easy for us to reply on this because we do not build yachts in GRP. I would have thought it more a matter of size. It is unusual to have large, high speed GRP yachts much over 40 or 50 metres, so aluminium is popular in this range. Below 35 metres, GRP is more popular.

We are not surprised that competitors are entering this sector, and before the financial crisis there were several competitors who left and are now coming back. This illustrates the growing interest in fast aluminium yachts.

Mondomarine/Cantieri di Pisa – Roberto Zambrini - CEO

1) It’s not actually true that fast boats clients are coming back. Speed is no longer a trend. Clients are today looking for comfort and low running costs. That’s why the semi-displacement hulls we have engineered for both the Akhir 42S and M60 Sea Falcon can go up to high speed but are extremely efficient at low speed, granting fuel economy and high range.

2) Our philosophy and strategy are based on metal; so, regardless, it’s steel or aluminium. Steel and aluminium grant infinite customisation opportunities, that’s the key of our success today. Another aspect nobody is paying attention to today is the disposal of the yachts once their lives are over. Aluminium and steel can easily be recycled, what will happen with GRP?

Overmarine – Francesco Frediani - Commercial Director

1) That is absolutely not true at all. In a crisis it is the leaders who make themselves felt in their particular sector. This is exactly what we have done, delivering, since it’s presentation in year 2007, 9 units of the Mangusta 165 model alone with a further 2 currently being built. Absolute values are not touched by a crisis, at all. On the contrary, they are exalted and leadership is reinforced. This is why we are now able to offer alternatives, extending the values of our brand to other market segments.

2) The use of aluminium is simply due to production reasons and investment. The lengths of hulls measuring over 40 metres and the expected number of units being built (just a very few, and non-standardised production) combined with the high level of customisation required make aluminium the most suitable material, both economically and for the time to market as it requires no models/mock-up or moulds. Aluminium matches more the requirement of the market today and that is why we also selected aluminium for some of our new models.

Pershing - Stefano de Vivo, Chief Commercial Officer of the Ferretti Group

1) The global yachting market in general was dramatically hit by the crisis of the past few years, not just the fastest yachts one. Despite these tricky economic circumstances, Pershing never lost its worldwide reputation of being a leading company in the Made in Italy composite sport yacht sector. We strongly feel that the market has overtaken the hardest part of the crisis. Actually, the Pershing 108, launched in April 2011, is still in production, and we may proudly say that in 2015 we delivered hull #3 and we sold hull #4 too, now under construction. Hull #5 is under lamination, and will be delivered in Spring 2017.

2) In 30 years of business Pershing has built more than 30 models, many of which come in more than one version, to meet the needs of different customers and cultures. This means that evolution has always been in the Pershing DNA. Therefore, aluminium has always been the choice for the new 140’, since the Product Strategic Committee, together with the Ferretti Group Engineering Department and architect Fulvio De Simoni started thinking of the new flagship. This material is extremely flexible above a specific length, and let the shipyard offer its owners great opportunities of customising both the exteriors and the interiors of their yacht.

Rossi Navi - Filippo Ceragioli - International Marketing and Communication Manager

1) Since the market restarted in 2014, we have sold three aluminium yachts that are actually in production, our FR031 with 4 Kamewa/Rolls Royce engines with a length of 63 metres, the FR031 diesel electric born around the returned consciousness of reducing the navigation impact toward the environment, and the Fulvio De Simoni new design Longitude Project, our latest yacht with a length of 47 metres.

2) We hope so, not only for our company skills as we also build yachts in steel, but mainly for issues related to the end of the product life cycle. Aluminium is a versatile material with a very long life through the recycling chain. In regards to GRP we are aware about the concrete absence of a European and Global plan of how to recycle or give new life to such material.

Turquoise Yachts – Cristian Schwarzwälder - Sales

1) In my opinion the market is definitely picking up momentum, especially in the U.S. market.

We are fortunate to have a very solid financial foundation and our business plan allows us to start projects before we have a buyer. Just like some of our competitors, we can give our clients the benefits of earlier delivery times and turn key solutions.

2) I don’t think that aluminium is becoming more popular, but it is certainly more adaptable for one-off vessels than GRP, especially when clients are looking for a high level of performance in their yacht.

The full article is featured in the fifth issue of the SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscriptions are available here.

By Merijn de Waard

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