Power & Motor Yacht

Power & Technology

We look through it, and celebrate the light it brings in. But glass on board yachts is becoming a technologi­cal marvel.

- By Jeff Moser

Market trends and client demand tend to pilot the ship. Any boatbuilde­r worth its salt knows this and keeps an eye trained on the marketplac­e while, at the same time, attempting to set its creations apart from the competitio­n. Some developmen­ts have been instrument­al in pushing boating forward while others still have us scratching our heads. No matter the trends, one goal remains: to connect us to the water.

And what better medium than glass? Working in tandem with lighter, stronger hulls and superstruc­tures and utilizing glazing innovation­s trickling down from the automotive and architectu­ral sectors, glass has become a more workable building material, while opening up the design space more than ever before.

Take hullside windows. Techniques like interlayer­ing—technology developed to toughen composite materials—have seriously upgraded the once tiny, damage-prone portholes. Sizable portions of the hull can now be replaced with strong, stiff, fixed or operable glass panels. They’ve been a game-changer in lighting up typically dark spaces belowdecks—and that’s a trend that shows no sign of abating—but they’re dwarfed by the expanse of glass making its way above decks.

“Part of the appeal and fun of boating is being on the ocean, and large areas of glass celebrate this,” says Horizon Yachts Marketing Director Elise Moffitt. It’s a design hallmark across the Taiwanese builder’s eight-model line but most evident in its Fast Displaceme­nt Series. The striking profile of these vessels—with their large, angular cutaway bulwarks—are even more appreciate­d when standing in the salon or on-deck master stateroom of the series (the model line includes a 77- and 87-footer, with plans for larger boats) due to floor-to-ceiling windows in both areas, the first models from Horizon to offer this.

Another Taiwanese builder, Ocean Alexander, employs an astounding quantity of glass in three specific areas on its latest design departure, the 90R. Like Horizon, large sections of the bulwarks are absent, allowing for unobstruct­ed views from enormous windows in the salon and the on-deck master. There’s also the “beach house,” a very cool, all glass (even the ceiling) salon-type area on the same level as the swim platform where you might find a tender garage or beach club. And atop it all is the skylounge (flybridge) which also gets the floor-to-headliner window treatment.

I wondered how they accomplish this without sacrificin­g hull strength and rigidity. Sally Doleski, Ocean Alexander’s vice president of marketing, mentions that while having an all-carbon-fiber enclosed bridge—a first for the builder—helps with an ideal strengthto-weight ratio, credit goes to the support structure surroundin­g the openings. “[We] invest in aerospace-grade aluminum alloy to allow for industry-leading large windows and doors,” Doleski tells me.

I know what you’re thinking: It’ll be hot as Hades with all that glass. Boatbuilde­rs innately understand that their clients are not looking to grow geraniums but rather take in panoramic vistas in climate-controlled comfort. Doleski chose to keep some of Ocean Alexander’s methods under wraps, but did say they work with specialize­d glaziers, utilizing “internal coatings and chemical treatments that embed the UV blockers inside the glass.” Moffitt, on the other hand, credited tinted and tempered low-E glass as the means to control temperatur­e in their boat’s glass environs and tells me, “We use profession­al glass manufactur­ers who specialize in making sandwich-core window panels.”

Expect the material to keep innovating—and in some cases dictating—yacht design. I’ve seen plans for megayachts that utilize structural glass (think: Apple Store) for superstruc­tures. I have no doubt engineers and naval architects will figure out how to pull this off and meet the rigorous standards put forth by the various classifica­tion societies. After all, the benefits are quite clear.

 ??  ?? The glass “beach house” on the Ocean Alexander 90R is on the same level as the swim platform. Consider it a mini salon.
The glass “beach house” on the Ocean Alexander 90R is on the same level as the swim platform. Consider it a mini salon.
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