During 2020-21 the Burgess brokerage team has seen around 50 percent of all yacht sales in the 30-50m bracket, proving that it’s stronger than ever. We have seen both sailing and motor yacht sales increase, as former charterers take their first steps into yacht ownership and the privacy, yachting lifestyle and pride of possession that comes with owning a superyacht.

Many first-time owners will have chartered a yacht in the Med, Caribbean, Pacific or Indian Ocean, building a list of features they’ll look for in their first yacht. This size of yacht also gives charterers a chance to experience the multi-faceted aquatic lifestyle. Whether your interest is in motor yachts or sailing yachts, a charter on the other type of yacht can give you a taster of what ownership would be like before you invest.

If you’re looking to buy a sailing yacht over 50m, the choice is rather narrow with shipyards like Baltic, Royal Huisman and Vitters being the obvious ones. Below 50m, however, your options increase both in terms of the styles and the number of sailing yachts available.

Recent circumstances have driven an increased interest in yacht ownership, and if you’re considering the joys of owning a superyacht, we are here to help.

What are the benefits of a sub-50m yacht?

There are many benefits to owning a sub-50m yacht, smaller bills being the most obvious. But it’s not just cost. Sub-50 metre yachts tend to have a more personal feel to them and they are easier to operate with fewer crew members. Their size is ideal for romantic getaways and also for island hopping – you get to explore anchorages and harbours that larger yachts simply cannot visit.

Sub-50m yachts have shallower draft so can explore more widely in places with shallow waters like The Bahamas
Sub-50m yachts have shallower draft so can explore more widely in places with shallow waters like The Bahamas

Many yachts in the 30-50m size bracket are semi-custom models, or built on a standard platform. They usually have a GRP hull and superstructure which makes them lighter and more economical to buy, run and service. There’s less inherent risk involved in buying from a selection of well-known models rather than choosing from a shortlist of full custom builds. Benetti, Custom Line, Overmarine, Sunseeker and Westport are just a few of the shipyards that build a series of yachts with the same hull under 50m.

The latest designs have clever ways of expanding available space. This 40m yacht has a swim platform comparable to that of a 60m yacht
The latest designs have clever ways of expanding available space. This 40m yacht has a swim platform comparable to that of a 60m yacht

The cost of refitting, restyling or renovating a 30-50m yacht also tends to be much lower than it is for a larger vessel. This can offer a new owner a unique opportunity to buy a yacht and make it their own from the start, at the fraction of the cost of a new custom build.

Lower cost of operation

Yachts between 30-50m are more cost-efficient to run than larger yachts – their running costs per metre are proportionally lower. A 30m (98.4ft) yacht can have annual running costs of around GBP 800,000 whereas a yacht twice the length can cost three times as much to run. Generally speaking, as it depends on the type of yacht, her age and condition and so on, for every 10m increase in length, the annual costs tend to increase by around GBP 500,000 until it reaches 60m. Upwards from there it increases by around GBP 750,000 per 10m.

A sub-50m yacht delivers all the benefits of the yachting lifestyle but on a more manageable budget
A sub-50m yacht delivers all the benefits of the yachting lifestyle but on a more manageable budget

Larger yachts burn more fuel, not only for propulsion but for power generation too. More space, cabins and guests all require larger air conditioning units and higher hotel system loads which must all be accounted for. A 30m (98.4ft) yacht and a 45m (147.6ft) yacht may have similar fuel costs with perhaps GBP 10,000-GBP 20,000 difference but increase the size of yacht to between 45-60m (147.6-196.8ft) and the increase could be GBP 60,000-GBP 90,000.

A smaller yacht needs a smaller crew, reducing costs further
A smaller yacht needs a smaller crew, reducing costs further

Crew numbers and their costs also increase disproportionately with the size of yacht. A typical 30m yacht might have a crew of five with the total cost of salaries under GBP 200,000. A 40m yacht might have a crew of eight which more than doubles the salary costs to around GBP 500,000, while on a 50m yacht, one could expect 11 crew costing GBP 600,000 a year. But increase the yacht’s length overall by 10m more, to a 60m yacht, and a crew of 14 could bring the crew salaries to around GBP 900,000.

More environmentally friendly

For the environmentally-minded owner, a 30-50m yacht is better. Fewer raw materials are used in the yacht’s production, and fuel consumption for propulsion and power generation is lower too. Hotel loads can be managed by larger battery banks, rather than constant power generation. A sailing yacht is the ultimate eco-friendly yacht, offering a way to cruise far and wide with a reduced environmental footprint, retaining a luxury lifestyle without burning hundreds of gallons of diesel.

Sailing yachts use a fraction of the fuel motor yachts do
Sailing yachts use a fraction of the fuel motor yachts do

Yachts of any type in the 30-50m range also lend themselves well to shorter, eco-friendlier trips, using less fuel. Harbour berths too are easier to come by; rather than launching the tender and running it back and forth, you can simply step ashore of an evening. You can also cruise and holiday with fewer guests, without the guilt of transporting empty cabins and the staff needed to serve non-existent visitors. Fewer people on board reduces the carbon footprint of guests travelling to the yacht as well as fuel consumption while on board. All this is good for the planet.

Get the best of both worlds when cruising and docking

Larger motor yachts have a cruising speed of around 10-15 knots. Many 30m yachts will happily cruise at between 20-30 knots with maximum speed at 30 knots or above. Being faster, many sub-50m yachts can travel twice as far in a day, giving a greater variety of destinations and options for you and your guests.

Performance yachts are great for island hopping because you can visit more of them in the time available, but fuel costs will be higher than a displacement yacht
Performance yachts are great for island hopping because you can visit more of them in the time available, but fuel costs will be higher than a displacement yacht

Whether you spend the night in a harbour or an anchorage, a 30-50m yacht can offer an excellent lifestyle and on board experience. Larger yachts lend themselves better to out-of-port life; touch-and-go helipads make transfers easier, but not being able to fit a large yacht into a harbour makes shopping or sightseeing visits dependent on transfer by tender. Sub-50m yachts, on the other hand, can usually find a berth in port. Entering and leaving ports is less problematic in smaller yachts and port operations procedures can often be achieved in half the time, maximising your time at sea.

Perfect for island hopping

The versatility of 30-50m yachts makes them the best choice if you like to keep on the move and explore different islands and anchorages. A beach picnic ashore on one secluded sandy bay for lunch, a different west-facing beach for an evening barbecue to watch the sun sink below the horizon.

Faster yachts let you get to the best anchorages first - and closer to the shore
Faster yachts let you get to the best anchorages first - and closer to the shore

A faster cruising speed enables your captain to get to remote bays before larger yachts, enabling your crew to choose the best location for the day’s activities – before the larger yachts arrive. As we mentioned, port operations in a smaller yacht are easier and quicker so more time is available to do what you enjoy on board.

More intimate than larger yachts

There is much to be said for larger yachts, but rarely do they have the same friendly feel as a 30m yacht, which is perfect for a romantic getaway with your partner or an intimate cruise with family or friends. More space is not always a good thing. Whether you want to relax in the saloon as a family or have a romantic meal for two on the sun deck it’s wonderful to have the secluded feel of your yacht without feeling overwhelmed by space.

You're better connected to friends and family on a sub-50m yacht, you're not going to lose each other
You're better connected to friends and family on a sub-50m yacht, you're not going to lose each other

Sub-50m yachts are far more inclusive. You’ll hear a giggle from your children or the laughter from your guests in the beach club – you don’t miss out on what’s happening on board. You do, however, still have plenty of private space on a 30-50m yacht to be alone if you want to or need to. You have the choice.

A larger market should you choose to charter or sell

The sub-50m sector is also an evergreen market, it’s popular with owners as a way of experiencing the yachting lifestyle without the financial commitment of commissioning a large, full custom superyacht. As such, when the time comes to sell your 30-50m yacht, you know there will be people in the position you are in now, those looking to buy the most popular size of yacht for the first time.

There will always be a bigger market for 30-50m yachts than those of 50m-plus
There will always be a bigger market for 30-50m yachts than those of 50m-plus

It’s also a buoyant sector for charter. If you wish to offset some of the cost of ownership, more charterers are looking for this size of motor yacht or sailing yacht than for yachts above 50m.

Best sub-50m motor yachts

While yachts around the 30m mark are faster, the 40-50m market offer many of the benefits of the smaller yachts but with much more interior volume. Volume is measured in Gross Tonnage, one gross ton being 100 cubic feet or 2.8 cubic metres. A typical 30m yacht may have a volume of around 150GT, but 40m yacht may have a volume of 350GT. Increase the length to 45m and you could have closer to 500GT. For a small increase in overall length the owner gets a lot more usable space inside.

The 45m SUNONE has an internal volume of 491GT
The 45m SUNONE has an internal volume of 491GT

It's also worth noting that yachts of 500GT and above must comply with the SOLAS Convention, which places stricter requirements on safety systems, machinery, build materials and navigational equipment. They are also subject to the International Safety Management code (ISM), which requires a management company to oversee maintenance schedules, and the International Ship and Port Facility Security code (ISPS) for audits of security readiness.

Here we look at three motor yachts with an overall length of 45m or less:

PASSEPARTOUT is a 30.8m (101ft) motor yacht, built of robust steel and aluminium construction by renowned Moonen shipbuilders. Delivered in 2005, she is just out of the dock from a multi-million-euro refit, including a full repaint, addition of zero speed stabilisers and a new and extended swim platform. A carefully maintained yacht, only used privately, she offers excellent and flexible accommodation for nine guests, including a main deck owner's suite.

With her new exterior look in smart grey, white and black - the stamp of the famous designer Tommaso Spadolini - PASSEPARTOUT now shows off a sportier, more modern profile. In pristine condition inside and out, as well as her master suite she offers four additional cabins on the lower deck – an excellent family-friendly flexible layout for potential charter use. Her flybridge has also become a dedicated guest area – a great feature for a yacht of this size.

The addition of the new swim platform is a standout feature, as it frees up deck space previously taken by the tender, and it adds the ‘beach club’ feel to the yacht. PASSEPARTOUT also has a walkaround main deck, which allows guests maximum enjoyment of the foredeck sunbathing area, and a sense of exploration when aboard.

PASSEPARTOUT offers the smart investor a compelling package and an excellent pedigree. She is a unique model, the Moonen 96, with enviable internal volume of 196GT. Her seaworthiness is proven, and she records a long-range capability of 4,500nm. With a top speed of 13 knots, and she cruises comfortably at 11 knots powered by twin 1,015hp Caterpillar C18 with low engine hours.

ANOTHER ONE is a 34.1m (111.8ft) motor yacht built in composite to RINA classification by the world-renowned Italian shipyard Sanlorenzo and delivered in 2022. As the flagship of Sanlorenzo’s successful SX range, the SX112 pushes out the boundaries of indoor-outdoor living. Full glass walls, bulwark cut-outs and multiple folding terraces throughout maximise sightlines and the physical connection between luxury living and the ocean.

The focal point of ANOTHER ONE’s innovative layout is the oversized explorer-style beach club. The versatile swim platform is 90sqm (969sqft) and is expandable by large fold-down sea terraces port and starboard side as well as an interior beach club that can be connected with sliding glass doors. While underway this space can be used for tender storage and features an integrated tender crane that can be seamlessly stored into the bulwarks.

The main deck has open-air dining aft shaded by the overhang and steps lead down to the swim platform and hydraulic bathing platform. Walkaround sidedecks lead forward to two large foredeck sunpads for privacy in port. The fly bridge, which has a helm station forward and lounging areas aft, can be open air or climate controlled with a louvered roof, retractable side windows and a glass sliding door aft opening onto a sun lounge.

Powered by four 1,350hp Volvo Penta IPS drives, ANOTHER ONE has a cruising speed of 20 knots, a top speed of 23 knots and a maximum range of 1,600nm at her passage speed of 10 knots. Her 1.9m (6.2ft) draft allows access to shallow island waters where zero speed stabilisers ensure comfort at anchor.

The comsposite-hulled 43.9m (144ft) MUCHOS MAS has some special open-air spaces that make her stand out. It is the way the outdoor areas on MUCHOS MAS are linked and yet individual which sets her apart. She was built to Lloyd's classification by Crescent Custom Yachts, Canada, in 2016 and is offered for sale in excellent condition.

On the sundeck, there is a large jacuzzi forward with a waterfall next to a sit-up bar. Opposite is a large sunpad, while aft is a large wet bar and BBQ. There is a gym space under the hardtop and a boat deck astern that converts to a sun lounger area. Steps forward of the bar to port lead to the foredeck where there’s a comfortable Portuguese bridge lounge and a second jacuzzi, forward facing seating and sunpads.

Steps aft of the sun deck lead to the aft bridge deck. This has a formal al fresco dining area and relaxed seating, while glass balustrades give uninterrupted views. Steps lead down to the main deck aft. There is an inside-outside bar at the entrance to the saloon, with sunpads and banquette seating around a table aft. Steps either side lead down to the beach club.

MUCHOS MAS can sleep 11 guests in five cabins. The lower deck has four double cabins, two convert into a twin cabin arrangement and the aft two cabins can be joined to create a full-beam VIP suite with a private lounge. Her exterior and interior were designed by Jonathan Quinn Barnett and his tasteful use of burl walnut, grey tweed and white oak give her a sophisticated elegance throughout.

Best sub-50m sailing yachts

The sub-50m sailing yacht sector has possibly the largest variety of any of the superyacht segments. Whether you seek a traditional sailing yacht or a stylish modern yacht that can be raced, there is something for everyone. Here are three to look out for:

This 37m (121.4ft) pedigree sailing ketch NORFOLK STAR, designed and built by renowned Italian shipyard Perini Navi, is in superb condition having recently undergone a multi-million euro refit in 2020, as well as her five-year Lloyd's survey. This included a new main engine, two new generators, PLC system, Inmarsat VSAT dome, 505 Williams jet tender, Doyle sails and Reckmann rigging.

The interior and exterior furnishings have been recovered, all surfaces and marble has been professionally cleaned and coated. The teak decks have also been professionally sanded. No expense has been spared to bring this yacht to market in pristine order for a new owner. On deck, the main cockpit is split into two areas: lounge and dining. Both can comfortably sit up to eight people. Immediately behind the shaded cockpit is a large sunbathing area. Down below, NORFOLK STAR's bright deck saloon has panoramic views. Her interior is finished in cherry wood, and the large hull portholes give the interior a particularly light and airy feel. From the deck saloon steps forward lead to the main saloon and formal dining area.

This yacht offers a family-friendly layout with accommodation for up to seven guests. On the lower deck, the full-beam owner's suite is aft with walk-in wardrobe, en suite bathroom with bath, plus a separate study. Next door are two twin cabins, also en suite, one of which has an additional berth. Once aboard, NORFOLK STAR looks after her guests with Samsung LED TVs and Creston Control AV System. At anchor, the boarding ladder drops into place on the starboard side, and all the watertoys come out and under power her 550hp engine gives her a range of over 3,000nm at 11.4 knots.

The 56.4m (185.1ft) MONDANGO 3 is a flybridge ketch sailing yacht of exceptional pedigree. This was recognised when she won the International Superyacht Society Award 2014 in the Best sail 40m+ category.

Her aluminium hull and superstructure were constructed to Lloyd's classification and MCA compliance by legendary New Zealand shipyard Alloy Yachts in 2014. Her naval architecture and exterior design are by the renowned British studio Dubois Naval Architects and her showstopping interiors are by Reymond Langton Design. A beam of 11m (36.1ft) gives her a deceptively spacious internal volume of 499GT and her centreboard lifts to reduce her draft from 11m (36.1ft) to just 4m (13.1ft), giving her access to anchorages out of bounds to deeper drafted yachts while preserving her upwind sailing performance.

She has several features rarely found on sailing yachts, including a jacuzzi on the aft deck, a fold-down swim platform aft and a shell-door boarding platform midships to starboard. She also has a winter garden guest cockpit, with lounge and dining for 10, that can be enclosed by glass screens to create a climate-controlled space.

She has been fitted out with the very best of everything and both rigs were serviced in May 2019 during her five-year class survey. Expansive deck spaces include the 60sqm (645.8sqft) flybridge. Aft of the twin helm stations are two lounges and aft is a vast sunpad. The main deck aft has plenty of room for sunloungers and wide sidedecks lead forward to a huge, versatile area on the foredeck, where hatches open to reveal two tenders, a 7m (23ft) custom Smuggler tender and a 5.4m (17.7ft) Smuggler Strat RIB.

Inside she has sinuous curves everywhere in an interior that showcases Reymond Langton Design at their brilliant best. The main saloon has forward-facing U-shaped seating with sofas and armchairs facing a large TV mounted on a partial bulkhead, forward of which is the formal dining area. Aft in the main saloon a beautifully designed staircase leads down to a sensational guest lobby, off which are the full-beam owner's suite midships with en suite shower room, two double cabins and two twin cabins, one with an additional berth, completing accommodation for 11 guests in five suites.

Under sail she shows the perfect blend of performance and comfort. Under power her single 1,450hp Caterpillar diesel engine gives her a top speed of 14 knots and a maximum range of 6,500nm at her cruising speed of 12 knots.

The aluminium 44.2m (145ft) Dubois-designed IMAGINE was built by Alloy Yachts in 2010 and had a refit in 2020 (including Lloyds 10-year special survey). She has a carbon fibre mast and rigging and the deck has been laid out with the cockpit aft and the use of captive winches to keep all heavily loaded lines away from the guest cockpit.

The foredeck houses a 6.3m (20.7ft) tender in the yacht’s jacuzzi. The cockpit has U-shaped seating to port and starboard and can be used as an al fresco lounge or dining area. Her modern, neutral interior was designed by Misa Poggi and can sleep eight guests in four cabins (two double cabins and two twin cabins).

The owner’s cabin is aft. It has a double berth with en suite bathroom with his and hers sinks. Forward to port is the VIP double cabin, opposite a twin-berth cabin. Steps from the corridor lead to the upper saloon and navigation station with panoramic views.

Steps forward lead down to the lower saloon and formal dining area, where the large through-hull windows give a sense of place for you and your guests while dining. There is also a fourth guest cabin with bunk berths. Further forward is the galley and crew accommodation.

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