AMSTERDAM _ In mid-May, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands opened Feadship’s 4th yard, a breathtaking site in the Port of Amsterdam. The Dutch custom builder, whose roots date back to 1849, used the glittering event to issue a daunting to-do list.
It intends to stay a global industry leader through sustainability and by grooming new owners using new products and services. In Feadship’s view, it’s a plan the industry as a whole would do well to embrace, too.
Speaking to international yachting journalists, Brand & Marketing Director Farouk Nefzi said sustainability has surged to the top of Feadship’s agenda. Early evidence of that was the 2015 launch of the 83.5m (273ft) Savannah. The world’s first hybrid motor yacht sports a single diesel engine, 3 gensets, batteries, an azimuting thruster and a streamlined hull shape. It achieves fuel savings of 30%.
Today, Nefzi added, sustainability is not an industry-wide strongpoint. “People wave the sustainability flag, but when you dig deeper you end up with nothing,” he said.
He called Feadship’s new yard – where it can build, maintain and refit yachts to 160m – the industry’s “greenest.” At Feadship, 100 people work on sustainability issues. One eye-catching initiative: a proposed YETI eco-label. The Yacht Environment Transparency Index would show how green yachts are. Much like those colored bars on residential fridges and freezers.
“We look carefully at what works,” said Nefzi. Feadship studies remote monitoring of onboard power flows and explores alternative fuels, hybrid construction, heat recovery, lowering hotel loads, reducing yacht emissions to zero and making refitted Feadships more fuel-efficient.
“The energy transition will change the way we build yachts,” he added. In addition to a smaller carbon footprint, Feadship sees these issues as key to securing its growth:
_ creating “exceptional ownership experiences” by encouraging clients to go beyond the Mediterranean. For instance, through joint scientific explorations to remote locations.
_ upgrading superyacht infrastructure, notably in the USA and Asia
_ smart marketing and product placement in media and movies to create a “more appropriate image” of the world of superyachts. Hollywood loves to depict superyachts as realms for villains, says Nefzi.
_ Lure more millennials and Asians to yachting. Asia sees strong growth in very wealthy people whose propensity to buy a superyacht, however, remains low.
_ Create “frictionless ownership” by easing maintenance, red tape, crew and resale issues for owners.
_ Design superyachts for chartering by “lower wealth bands.”
_ Help build an “ultra-high-end cruise market” with 5-star hotel chains and cruise line operators.
In the past 5 years, a third of the world’s yachts of 80m and longer was built by Feadship. This share may well rise as the ranks of the super-rich continue to swell. In 2018, 156 new billionaires appeared on the scene. Of these, 105 live in Asia.