WITH A NEW DEMOGRAPHIC OF OWNERS COMING INTO THE MARKET, THE NEED FOR MORE ADVENTURE AND AUTONOMY IS DELIVERED BY THESE CHASE BOATS
There was a time when the small boat that attended to a larger boat, was called a tender. The initial use was to simply ferry owners and guests from the mothership ashore. The tender would need to carry out multiple tasks; take the guests skiing, or drop them and the BBQ gear on to a secluded beach and even assist the crew in bringing provisions on board. However, as the yachts themselves have got larger, so has the storage options for a different kind of tender increased. We now see a multitude of specialist tenders on board the mothership from ski boats to laydown the perfect wake, to limo tenders that are fancier than Rolls Royces to pure action boats that allow the boss to let down his hair as he scoots over the waves at an impressive 60knts. As explorer yachts become more de-rigueur, so the need for specialist tenders becomes more apparent. But the chase boat is slightly different. It delivers speed, elegance and the capability of travelling further from the mothership in rougher seas if required.
Traditionally the chase boat was a fast open boat that chased after large sailing yachts competing in regattas. Back then it was quite legitimate to land or take on extra sails or crew to suit the weather and therefore the racing conditions. Today’s rules prevent such legitimised tactics but the chase boat name has evolved to cover boats that, while maybe being too large to be hoisted upon a superyacht, choose instead to chase it to the destination getting there long before it or following up slowly behind it, depending on the owner’s use.
Ironically, it is the smaller superyacht that is embracing the use of the chase boat rather than the larger money no object 100 metre plus yachts and maybe this is matching the new entrants to the ownership market. Yachts in the 30 to 60 metre grouping seem to have embraced the concept of the chase boat with great gusto. They realise that if designed well enough the chase boat can act independently of the mothership and still provide a useful function in both guest entertainment and yacht operation scenarios. We know of one captain who sends his chase boat way ahead of the slower mother ship instructing the chase boat crew to bag the best anchorage spot at the destination. As the yacht’s captain approaches so the chase boat vacates
the spots and hovers around until the mother ship is safely at anchor and then it comes along side. Equally, we know of owners who prefer to travel at greater speeds than their yachts can comfortably cruise at. They, and their families, typically board the chase boat and enjoy it as a day boat returning to the mother ship each night in much the same way as a family out motoring returns to their coastal five star hotel. But what this means is that the chase boat needs to cover many functions.
Chase boats work well for single season yachts. Yachts that cross oceans to enjoy a second season can find the cost of shipping the chase boat far outweighs their economic usefulness. And, believe me, you do not want to tow a chase boat across the Atlantic. Yes, it’s been done successfully and quite unsuccessfully in the past. For the captain of a single season yacht, it is important to consider whether the yacht crew can handle the additional maintenance and logistics that come with operating a chase boat. Many skippers will hire additional crew just to operate the chase boat, so normal operations on the mothership are not interrupted. Let’s look at some options on the following pages.