From the mast­head

Will cool rule with Gen Tech?

Yachts International - - Contents -

It’s been a long time since I’ve walked a Monaco Yacht Show and heard more pos­i­tive buzz. In the fall of 2008, dark clouds gath­ered over the place and pitched camp. Skies be­gan to clear a bit in 2013, but the 2014 edi­tion saw a mood as bub­bly as the crowd’s liq­uid refreshment of choice. With world economies show­ing lazy but tan­gi­ble re­cov­er­ies, yacht­ing has be­come cool again.

One thing I ob­served cruis­ing around the main har­bor dur­ing the show was the va­ri­ety of shapes and sizes of yachts on dis­play. There were, of course, dozens of white trideck mo­to­ry­achts, but there also were a num­ber of mold-break­ers with in­ter­est­ing and in­no­va­tive hull shapes, deck lay­outs and propul­sion sys­tems. It made me won­der what’s driv­ing this shift and what that har­bor will look like in a decade or two when to­day’s young tech prodi­gies take to the waves.

I served on a panel at the 2013 Monaco show where the dis­cus­sion fo­cused on the fu­ture of yacht­ing. A cen­tral point of dis­cus­sion was how the 20- and 30-year-old wun­derkinds bank­ing 10 fig­ures on tech and in­for­ma­tion ac­qui­si­tions and IPOs might af­fect the sport. The take­away was that this group of young folks likely will drive yachts and yacht de­sign in di­rec­tions that will di­verge from the paths their tech mogul an­tecedents like Larry El­li­son and Paul Allen have taken. How might their val­ues and pref­er­ences af­fect yacht de­sign and use?

For th­ese bil­lion-dol­lar ba­bies, par­tic­u­larly the Amer­i­can-bred ver­sions, so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity is not only a value; it’s a badge. Giv­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial, sci­en­tific and pub­lic health causes is some­thing their peers ex­pect of them. They also ap­pear less in­clined to ad­ver­tise their suc­cess with ma­te­rial goods. They likely won’t en­gage in the mine’s-big­ger arms race. I’ll wa­ger their yachts prob­a­bly won’t be white, and they cer­tainly won’t be white-bread. Cool will rule.

Given their fond­ness for the out­doors (most do come out of their base­ments and garages even­tu­ally), the cur­rent rise in pop­u­lar­ity of beach clubs and other out­door-ori­ented guest spa­ces on yachts likely will in­crease pace. They might be more at­tracted to some of the con­cepts that have emerged dur­ing the eco­nomic down­turn that fa­vor deeper con­nec­tions with the sea and sun. Tricked-out ten­ders for side trips, wildlife view­ing and shore-side recre­ation will be in greater de­mand.

In­te­ri­ors nat­u­rally will be con­tem­po­rary. Ma­hogany and teak are po­lit­i­cally and en­vi­ron­men­tally du­bi­ous— and way too old school. Their sen­si­tiv­ity to the en­vi­ron­ment might drive en­gine builders and hull de­sign­ers to­ward greater gains in ef­fi­ciency.

I imag­ine the group will be reach­ing far­ther afield to “cooler” des­ti­na­tions than the Caribbean and Mediter­ranean venues. Cue the pen­guins. Given the de­mo­graphic’s manic life­styles, char­ter may have greater ap­peal.

Th­ese folks are prod­ucts of, and en­thu­si­as­tic pro­po­nents of, tech­nol­ogy. It de­fines them in business, in per­sonal re­la­tion­ships and in their vi­sion of the fu­ture. Their yachts will nec­es­sar­ily need to be tricked to the hilt with the lat­est and most so­phis­ti­cated com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­ter­tain­ment equip­ment.

If noth­ing else, I ex­pect when I’m put­ter­ing around in Monaco’s Port Her­cules in 20 years—as­sum­ing I’m not in as­sisted liv­ing or on the boat to Val­halla—I’ll see some re­ally cool yachts tied up stern-to. I can’t wait.

Kenny Wooton Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.