Italian motor yacht brands are challenging high-end British shipyards
The superyacht and high-end motor yacht market is growing, especially in the sub 30m category and, according to the recent Global Order Book, Italian shipyards are leading the way by generating the greatest volume of yacht sales by unit globally. Nick Hatfield, Sales Manager at Sanlorenzo Yachts UK and Ireland, explains why the Italians are set to give the British motorboat manufacturers a run for their money in the UK.
As with most things Italian, their yachts are sleek, stylish and with uncompromising attention to detail – think Ferrari, Gucci and Bulgari for inspiration. The exclusive Italian motor yacht brands, such as Sanlorenzo and Bluegame, deliver these qualities with a point of difference: customisation.
“As the motoryacht market developed, everything started to look the same,” says Nick. “Manufacturers were using the same person to design the boat, its hull and the interior. Designers were creating fabulous interiors for villas and apartments which are much more suited to the task, but the boating industry wasn’t using them at that time.
“Sanlorenzo was the first brand to really tailor make a yacht in terms of customisation. It looked outside the industry for specialist talent and brought in big-name designers. The idea was that if someone was renovating their home, the designers could understand their preferences and translate these into the interior of their yacht.”
Many boating brands, including British builders, have followed suit and offer basic customisation for their clients, but the Italian brands have raised the game further.
“There are different levels of customisation,” Nick explains. “When buying a suit, you can walk into a shop and pick a suit off the shelf which will fit perfectly adequately. You could then take that suit to a tailor, who’d modify it to fit better. This is basic customisation and is what customisation means for many motorboat manufacturers; you take the base design and ‘customise’ it aesthetically with a different leather or wood finish.
“Alternatively, you could visit a tailor who starts with a piece of material. Everything is then made to measure for you, to your exact requirements. This is what Sanlorenzo and Bluegame offer as standard when they say ‘customisation.’
“We start with a hull, which is characteristically Sanlorenzo, but interior wise, it’s completely tailor-made. We bring in designers from all over the world, ensuring that fixtures, fittings and fabrics are all exactly what and where the client wishes. If they don’t like the galley location for example, we move it!”
However, this doesn’t apply to the exterior aesthetic: “Having spent a lot of time designing a boat that is classically beautiful with its iconic windows, providing a look not seen on any other vessel, Sanlorenzo understandably doesn’t want to play around with the external design,” explains Nick.
Having a tailor-made yacht does come at a premium cost, but many clients are willing to pay extra to get exactly what they want and to have a yacht which is truly unique to them.
Attention to Detail
The attention to detail that these brands offer is also catching the eye of potential owners in the UK.
One UK owner who purchased a Sanlorenzo last year says: “I have a yacht which is completely tailored to me, and I can’t begin to say how impressed I am with the attention to detail onboard. The ugly air intakes on the sides have been cleverly hidden, and the join where the hull and the deck meet aren’t visible, giving a beautifully clean hull.”
“It’s also a very quiet yacht – the level of consideration that’s gone into the removal of sound and vibration is second to none, with all rails and metalwork mounted on anti-vibration pads. This isn’t something I’ve experienced on my previous boats from a British manufacturer.”
Growing UK Market
But it’s not just Sanlorenzo making strides in the UK market; a brand new Bluegame BGX60 has just arrived in the UK. Boasting features not previously seen on this type of craft, it was chosen for its alternative approach to boat design, and it certainly turned heads at the recent British Motor Yacht Show.
“It seems that 60ft flybridge motorboats predominantly have the same layout across the brands. Designs haven’t changed for 20 years,” says the new owner, Mr Jones. “I wanted something different. The design of the Bluegame is both disruptive and innovative, providing a multifunctional layout and unprecedented space. The high level of standard specification, combined with robust engineering and redundancy normally associated with bluewater cruising yachts, really makes Bluegame stand head and shoulders above the norm.”
Nick continues: “Previously, Italian brands relied on selling to British owners through their Mediterranean dealer network. But as demand for larger motor yachts increases in the UK, Italian brands are opening local offices, offering services and support for their yachts to make them more attractive than before.”
With growing representation in the UK and a hunger to offer a point of difference, the Italian brands are certainly turning heads and making a significant impression on the market.