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Superyachts offer super opportunities

Superyachts are “a closed door industry. We are notoriously difficult to get into. It is also a marine industry. Products have to be built to survive marine environments,” said Jack Robinson, director, Superyacht Technology Network at yesterday’s Superyacht Technology Summit.

However, this young industry is in transition, moving more towards collaboration, particularly for technology, as yacht owners want all the same toys they have at home available on board.

Derek Munro, director, Divergent Yachting (pictured), agreed: “The yacht industry is changing a lot” and is moving more towards the AV industry and the tech-driven world of “experiential yachting”.

However, it is much more demanding than fitting a home or office, the level of technology involved can be similar to a data centre or large corporate offices.

Power consumption is important. “We want as much of it to be as sustainable as possible,” said Munro. Weight is also vital “as it affects the performance of the boat”, he added. Products also have to cope with vibration – from the engines and hitting waves. On a sailing yacht everything has to work at a heel – maybe 30-40º and it all needs to be compact. “Boats never have enough space,” said Munro.

A yacht of 80-130m can have 500km to 800km of cabling, “so how you power your system is very important to us”, he said. That much cable is a lot of weight and takes up space.

Unfortunately, “yachts have become floating targets for cyber criminals”, said Richard Hodder, CEO & co-founder, Pelion Consulting. As on-board systems become increasingly complex, “attacks on the maritime industry have increased 400% since the pandemic began. We’ve seen a lot more business email being compromised – where email looks like it comes from someone you know.”

Another major problem is failure to keep up with best practice. “If something works on a yacht, you don’t want to change it,” he explained. It can also be difficult to get marine certification for some systems, such as navigation, which often still run Windows XP, leaving them vulnerable if they are connected to the internet.