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For the yachting professional on the Mediterranean

Custom Made

Article by Frances and Michael Howorth

Lloyd Stevenson © Concept and Design by Philippe Starck


Builders of day boats, sports boats and limousine tenders are all offering customised makeovers to their standard craft to make them stand out from the crowd. They are marketed as custom tenders but given they are available off the shelf so to speak there is doubt, in the minds of the purist, that these are truly custom tenders.

So what is a custom tender? Cor D Rover, a designer of large yachts, has become involved in designing tenders in much the same way as he designs the larger motherships they serve. He tells us, “Quite surprisingly, I am at the moment designing a yacht around a tender. The owner doesn’t want to miss out on the performance and seakeeping of the big tender and we are designing his slower and bigger real-estate literally around the tender.”

“Up to now all my clients have chosen an ‘off-the-shelf’ and proven tender with some minor customisations. I am also just starting to design a custom tender for our 55+m building at Royal Huisman.”

“I normally will only do the aesthetics of the tender. I have a lot of respect for a well performing hull, which is not easy with a tender’s short length. There are some very good looking tenders that do not perform at all or are horribly impractical, and there are great performing and very practical tenders but they look like from a past century. Therefore I like to start with and work from a proven platform. I try not to touch the part under the spray rail, the part above should reflect the looks of the mothership and the ambitions of the owner, either sportive, entertaining or purely transportation (limo tender).”

“Our 68m Benetti Seasence has a Benetti limo tender with up and down rooftop to fit in the garage. No full custom tender so far, the Royal Huisman will be the first tender specifically designed for and dedicated to her mothership.”

Delta Powerboats
Delta Powerboats
Brizo Yachts
Brizo Yachts

“We recently have designed something quite different. It’s a tender that we build under our own Cor D. Rover brand. It’s small, only 28ft, not to compete with any of our client-yachtbuilders. It’s pretty luxurious, with rich cushions, and even a Volvo glass cockpit, it’s easy to handle with bow and stern thruster because not all of us are great in docking. The whole concept of the tender, is based on being on the water, while travelling from one 5-star hotel to the next. Something we have been doing in Holland with lots of fun. We dubbed it Yachting 3.0. The layout is based on the popular Dutch ‘sloep’ which has the helmsman on the back and the family and friend forward, giving a great social ambiance. Imagine you can chat almost face-to-face while you’re running your boat at the same time.”

Luke Hill from Lloyd Stevenson in New Zealand adds, “It would be fair to say that superyachts are getting larger and their owners are becoming more adventurous. This has seen an increase in the number of highly customised one-off superyachts such as Sail Yacht A, which in turn often leads to custom tenders. A custom tender is a unique show piece and it makes sense that they should match the one-off superyacht they belong to, rather than a generic production boat that 100 other superyachts have.” And as for the future of custom tenders Hill says from a boat builder’s perspective, “The future looks mixed. In reality, a truly custom boat is a one-off build designed to fit the needs of the owner and mothership exactly, and that costs more to create. Superyachts like Sail Yacht A, Vertigo, and similar are always going to have one off custom tenders, and as superyachts become bigger and more unique we anticipate an increased demand for one off custom tenders.”

Quintessence Yachts who build the Aston Martin AM37 would argue that because they build to order, each and every tender they build is a custom build.

You would expect that having been responsible for the design and creation of the Aston Martin DB11, the DBX Concept, the Vulcan and Vantage GT8 that Marek Reichman Aston Martin’s Vice President & Chief Creative Officer would be serious about the creation of a powerboat associated with the Aston Martin brand. Rather than simply rebadging an existing craft, the British manufacturer enlisted the expertise of its finest craftsmen and engineers to design AM37 a 37 foot Day Boat. Technicians at the Gaydon-based facility set about infusing the boat with the motor manufacturer’s DNA and performance capabilities. The resultant craft exudes style, with its single piece, wraparound windscreen and polished metal surround both of which simply takes your breath away. Inside, the car manufacturer’s input is clear, with the carbon fibre dashboard, leather steering wheel and polished throttles remind you of its grand touring heritage. Topping out at over 50-knots powered by a pair of beefy V8 engines, she is great fun out on the water but we have to admit it is equally entertaining when idling around the marina catching all the admiring glances.

British based RIB builder Scorpion is continually improving its product line and is developing bigger models, to improve comfort, sea keeping, fuel efficiency and reliability. To do this they are investigating using hybrid electric/diesel engines, electric operation in sensitive areas, with diesel performance on the open sea. As a chase boat the Scorpion excels, providing the mothership with a, safe and accomplished support vessel. The deep-V hulls work well offshore as a towed chase boat and the fully customised 3.25m Silurian model we tested proved she can out speed most large cruising yachts.


The classic sports boat features a shallow hull angle at the back of the boat and an engine in the centre. This combined with the shallow deadrise (the vertical distance between a line drawn horizontally to the keel of a boat and its chine) allows the boat to run at a level attitude. The result is strong acceleration and minimal wake size, allowing them to pull a skier and wake surfer with greater ease. They have become popular with larger superyachts that boats apply garage space as tenders because quite simply guests like to use water toys when a yacht is at anchor. Typical of this class would be boats the likes of the Mastercraft XT 25, which is a popular of Captains given the high level of customisation available.

Raymond Colquhoun’s Scotland Nautique, business lives and breathes all things boats. They have called the beautiful banks of Scotland’s Loch Lomond home since 2010, but have grown to the point that they have opened offices in Ibiza and Majorca. They import Nautique and recommend them when superyachts seek customised ski, wake and surf boats. With a 5 year worldwide warranty they can be fully customised with fitting for lifting rings and windscreen removal for deck or garage storage.

Known worldwide for their hand-crafted customised tenders, the Novurania deluxe series deep ‘V’ hull and bow flare provides a smooth and stable ride, quietly powered by Yamaha four stroke outboard engines. These centre-console RIB tenders are sport-boats in their own right and can be customised with a full electronics package, with imagination being the only limiting factor in your decision.

Optioned out with a ski tow pylon, the 460, 550, 650, & 750 DLs can easily pull a water skier up, even when on a slalom ski. Each can easily pull two wake-boards or knee boards, and is up to the task of pulling any inflatable water toys. The larger Deluxe line models allow for various seating and deck layouts for even greater customisation options. With available power options up to 250 HP, the larger DLs can also easily transport more guests back and forth to the dock or beach.

Compass Tenders
Compass Tenders
Cor D. Rover Design
Cor D. Rover Design
SaeRay SLX 250

DL tenders can be built to match a yacht’s colour scheme, with optional gel coat, upholstery, and tube colours available.

The builder even offers custom laser cut logos, to match the name and logo of the mothership which is great.

Patric Polch runs Bootepolch, a well respected powerboat dealership in Germany and advocates using production craft that can be highly customised as superyacht tenders. He says, “My view is that tenders need to be customisable yet competitive. One of the best is perhaps the most talked about boating brands of recent times, Axopar Boats, from Finland launched the 8.75m Axopar 28 in 2014. It was an instantly recognisable hit, with cool, good looks, based upon a narrow entry, twin step, deep-vee hull, with low centre of gravity. Unlike anything else on the market then and now, my customers are impressed with the easy, sure-footed handling characteristics, performance and great driving performance on offer from single or twin outboard engines.”

“The range now includes an entry-level 24 bowrider, the ‘triple-award’ winning 28 and the spacious ‘go-anywhere’ capability of the 37. Each model in the range offers a fun and exhilarating to drive, with space enough for all kinds of water-based activities, relaxing, socialising and dining in one amazing value for money package.”

The all new and somewhat radical R35 is fully customisable from Princess Yachts who are entering the field of sports boat designs. Radical in that the boat uses a dynamic foil system, to dramatically improve stability and seakeeping, whilst reducing drag by up to 30 per cent the builder has worked in collaboration with BAR Technologies, the company behind Britain’s last attempt to win back the America’s Cup. The Princess Active Foil System (AFS) does not elevate the hull above the waterline like the America’s Cup sailing yachts. Instead, it uses the lift to dynamically adjust the heel and running angle to optimise both ride and comfort.

Vikal Hasna Limo - At Speed
Vikal International
JP Custom RIBs
JP Custom RIBs

“We are not yacht designers. We are custom boat builders,” says Hill at Lloyd Stevenson. We began taking on custom tender projects 10 years ago after recognising the market opportunity for our expertise in this growing market. Take for example the unique and complex Sail Yacht A tenders. They are a work of art, that showcases our truly custom boat building services that we are especially proud of.”

Limousine tenders are the water taxis of the superyacht world. Perhaps it is here that the truly custom tender has found its niche. With a spacious saloon for up to twelve guests, they generally feature soft leather and warm wood interiors in order to create an environment that radiates luxury and serenity, moving guests from shore to ship even at a top speed of around 30 knots. They should be built without compromise when it comes to luxury, build quality and seakeeping.

Built as a tender to an 88m superyacht, a limousine designed by Cornish boat builder Cockwells was the winner of the 2017 Showboats Design Award for best Tender & Support Vessel Design. Powered by a single Yanmar engine. Being a custom built craft she is also equipped with a Fusion marine stereo, heating, air conditioning and a custom touch screen, enabling all on-board electrical systems to be pre-set and easily controlled. With her sculpted hull, distinctive reverse bow, elegant interior and extensive choice of layouts, the Invictus 370 GT limousine took the yachting world by storm when first introduced. A new 370 GT Special Edition of that award-winning yacht is taking things to a whole new level of innovation, sophistication and performance, completely in its size category. Fashion stylist Anna Fendi has been commissioned to give this well loved luxury guest carrier a customised facelift and she has accomplished that with great aplomb and style.

Gunnar Vikingur, the Managing Director of what is now the Australian Vikal International, started trading in 1976 working on new boat constructions and repairs. By 1992 he had won his first contract to build two 7.5m tenders for Coral Island, designed by the late Jon Bannenberg. The completion of these early tenders heralded a new era in customised limousine tender construction. The bar had been lifted.

The tender for Coral Island had features that included a laminated glass windscreen, borrowed from a 1959, 62 series Cadillac Convertible. Its windscreen wiper was a single blade, articulated unit taken from a 500SL Mercedes Benz. The screen wiper washers were from a 911 Porsche. The anchor winch was a Muir, concealed below the foredeck and the anchor was a custom made stainless item fitted to the bow. The steering wheel was a billet Budnik, made by an American hot rod parts manufacturer. The transom view of the tender, shared much with the McLaren F1.

Jon had gifted Vikal a detailed brochure of the McLaren F1 as an inspiration for the build. Hence the central driving position and the split rear window were both employed on this tender as per the F1 vehicle.

The level of design, build quality and detail set new standards in the industry. For the first time a Limousine Tender was presented at the level of finish offered in the yacht. As one captain commented, “It’s not just a tender, but a true baby motor yacht.” Since then Vikal have delivered nearly 60 tenders to motor yachts over 75 metres.

Richard Faulkner, a Director of Compass tenders in Hamble UK has discovered his firm is spreading its appeal to superyacht owners. He says, “They are clearly seeing the appeal of personalising their tender to capture accents of the mothership’s design and make their tenders fit a specific list of requirements for their usage. Our speciality is to give our clients what they want within reason! Our variants of open tenders in the 8.5m – 10.5m range has been successful in terms of numbers sold. Our Latitude Limousine Tender has been extremely successful, with hull 4 being fitted out currently, after its introduction at the Monaco Yacht Show last year. I mustn’t forget the customised landing craft tenders we have built, which have proven very popular with clients.”

Perhaps however, the only true customised tenders are those built by Fassmer a company in Germany who was dragged into tender building by default. Peter Schmidt, Head of Sales at Fassmer’s Boat and Davit Division explains, “As yachts were getting bigger in size there was also an increase in passenger carrying capacity. This means the largest of superyachts need to carry lifeboats.” Fassmer with its reputation in the lifeboat market (especially for lifeboats carried by cruise liners) were the obvious place for yacht building yards to look. Schmidt adds, “It has to be admitted that the design of a commercial lifeboat is not very yacht like and customers were asking for something looking better. We did so and are today quite successful in this market niche where our speciality is the combination of a tender or rescue boat with the life saving function.

Our boats are fully certified life saving appliances and as the average length of yards increases we expect to see a steady demand for these custom boats.”

Axopar 24 TT
Lloyd Stevenson © Concept and Design by Philippe Starck
Lloyd Stevenson