Yachts have evolved tremendously since the Dutch yacht boom of the 1600s. Yacht comes from the Dutch word ‘Jacht’ meaning hunt. The reason these vessels were associated with the word hunt was because they were light and fast to chase pirates by the Dutch Navy. Since then they have grown and grown, but how did they evolve from naval expedition vessels into superyachts?
What Were Yachts Used For?
In 1620, Charles II used a yacht to sail from England to the Netherlands. Since then, yachts have been associated with wealthy or affluent people. Despite its origins as a chasing vessel for its speed, this early association with the British monarchy meant that yachts are known for transporting those with enough wealth to afford them.
Yacht sales continued to grow across Europe as the vessels became increasingly used for transporting both people and cargo over long distances. They were also included in expeditions as they were initially intended for, and this led to the discovery of new lands.
Yachts in the Present Day
A major change observable today over yachts from hundreds of years ago is they’re no longer just sailing boats – they now contain engines. Size-wise, there are many vessels afloat today which easily exceed 100 metres in length.
The use of yachts as practical vessels and transporters of the wealthy have continued to this day. They are however being used less for work, as other boats and ships are better built for laborious tasks, including industrial fishing and shipping.
There are various types of yachts, including daily yachts, weekender yachts, racing yachts, luxury sailing yachts and superyachts. Privately-owned yachts are now used for leisure activities as well as cruises. Yachts are also raced in various competitions, and this stems from its roots as a fast vessel.
Nowadays, yachts are still known for being associated with the rich and famous. In fact, the vast majority of luxury yacht and superyacht owners are Ultra High-Net-Worth Individuals (UHNWIs), whose net assets are above $30,000,000 (USD). In 2015, it was estimated that there are some 200,000 of these individuals around the world.
A superyacht is predominantly defined as a luxury yacht that is over 24 metres in length. Luxury yachts are very expensive, hence their association with wealth. They are privately owned and professionally-crewed sailing or motor yachts. Between 1997 and 2008, there was a dramatic increase in the size of yacht builds, however demand for the largest yachts dropped off slightly between 2009 and 2011. It has picked up again in the years since, with numerous superyachts measuring in excess of 180 metres being commissioned this year.