Large yachts decoded

You have made the exciting decision to build your next large superyacht. But before the project’s first lines are on paper and your vision is realised by the designer, there is an important question to ask yourself. Would you rather have the flexibility to host or charter with more than 12 guests on board? If so, you will need to make sure that the yacht is designed and built to the Passenger Yacht Code (PYC). If not, you can follow the Large Yacht Code (LY3).

The ability to host or charter for groups of between 13 and 36 guests is incredibly appealing, particularly for very large superyachts with high operating costs. As a relatively new piece of legislation, brought in within the last five years, the PYC can seem daunting to the uninitiated, so working with a team that appreciates the nuances of the more complex PYC regulations is essential.

The Burgess Technical Services (BTS) team has managed, or is currently managing, the construction of over 1,000m of PYC and SOLAS-compliant vessels. Furthermore, they occupy numerous seats on regulatory working groups and advisory boards for PYC issues. The BTS team is therefore adept at helping clients decide if today’s third iteration of the Large Yacht Code (LY3) or the PYC is best for their project.

There are significant structural differences between the layout of a LY3-compliant superyacht and one that is PYC-compliant. For example: the arrangement of escape routes, life-saving appliances and damage stability criteria. Therefore, switching course halfway through a design process should be avoided as it will have a serious impact on both the delivery time and the budget.

Burgess urges its clients to think carefully and take expert advice before making a decision on which route to take. Although the regulations may seem black and white, having a team that understands the holistic implications of each regulation on every aspect of the design and build is extremely important. 

Traditionally, the sweet spot for PYC compliance starts on vessels of 90m+, and it is commonplace on today’s deliveries over 100m. It is, however, wholly feasible for projects of 80m to be PYC compliant, in the right hands.

Although safety is of paramount importance in the PYC, lifeboats are not necessarily obligatory, even if you want to charter the yacht. 

Omitting lifeboats from your vessel will provide more space and may find favour with the aesthetic designer, but significant improvements in the aesthetics and camouflage of lifeboats over recent years mean that they need not be an eyesore disrupting your yacht’s exquisitely drawn lines.

Since the introduction of the PYC, shipyards and interior subcontractors have been on a continuous, intensive testing programme and new compliant materials are being certified on a regular basis. As a result, “The time for looking for second best finishes to achieve PYC compliance has come to an end and a truly high end finish can be achieved, irrespective of whether the yacht is certified PYC or LY3,” says Ed Beckett of BTS.

Because of the more thorough regulatory considerations, there is an additional cost associated with building to PYC standards. Nevertheless, there are longer-term financial benefits that can outstrip the additional initial outlay. It is expected that as yards become more familiar with what’s needed, the additional cost of PYC compliance will naturally come down.

In recent years Burgess has witnessed increased demand in charters for larger groups, as the option becomes more widespread through the PYC. Whether it’s for groups of extended family and friends or a large personal staff, there is a significant market for 13 - 36 guest charters and a limited number of vessels to feed it. 

“In the current market there are only a handful of comparable vessels that offer a true yachting experience, perhaps two or three, and these are always fully booked during peak periods,” explains Burgess director and charter broker Gaye Joyeau-Bourgeois. This advantage extends to the resale value of the vessel, as PYC-compliant yachts are likely to be more attractive to buyers, Burgess sales broker Dominic Millman confirms.

There’s plenty to think about when choosing the PYC new build path, but the advantages are difficult to ignore, and with an experienced team looking after your interests from the outset, it can be a liberating and financially advantageous decision.

For more information, contact the BTS team >>

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