Research and development. A term we often give precious little import to. All too often, we tend to dwell on what is immediately visible to the naked eye – how a boat is clothed, if you will. We all agree that design is playing an increasingly important role in the psychological process that encourages an owner to take the big leap of faith. In both sailing and motor segments, however, research has powered forward, shattering the whole myth that the yacht sector is mired in tradition and immune to experimentation.
While the euphoria of the boom years brought some debatable stylistic solutions on the one hand, on the other it also speeded up the development of new construction technologies and the use of materials once unthinkable aboard. How can we explain this phenomenon? Naturally enough, the market or, more specifically, clients that are the real driving force on both sides of the sailing/motor divide. In sailing, the thirst for increasingly extreme performance (see Luca Bassani’s article on page 154 of this issue for an in-depth discussion) has seen yards and designers produce lighter hulls without impinging on comfort or seakeeping abilities.
Not forgetting either that, well before the aeronautical industry, the sailing segment spotted the potential of sophisticated materials such as carbon-fibre that have since become standard issue. Equally, in the motor arena, we are witnessing a craze for explorer vessels (see Top Yacht Design no. 6), craft which, by their very nature, can take their owners on lengthy cruises in complete safety and autonomy. Research, it would appear, has become very much a deciding factor in the success or failure of modern