Filter your search
Search for yachts, articles, offices,
team and more...

The future of yachting
20th December 2022
An interview with Espen Oeino

CONTACT OUR TEAM Facebook Linkedin Twitter Email Whatsapp

Bold Luxury Motor Yacht for Charter | C&N
85.30m | Silver Yachts | 2019
8 Cabins | 12 Guests | 20 Crew

From: € 875,000 p/w


The future of yachting

Espen Oeino designed Bold, the global explorer and fifth yacht in the Silver Series.


Forbes named Espen Oeino the “Superhero of Superyacht Design”. As a young man in Norway, Oeino revered a naval architect from an earlier era. “Charles E Nicholson was always a high up name on the list of famous people in yachting,” he explained. “Our King has a yacht that was designed by him and built by Camper & Nicholsons.”

The royal yacht Norge, formerly Philante, was launched in 1937. The biggest motor yacht ever built in Britain for a private individual served valiantly during World War Two. She was refitted as a royal vessel with Norwegian King Haakon personally inspecting the Gosport refit. Norge remains one of only two royal yachts cruising today.

“Norge was a familiar sight in Oslo or when cruising most summers,” recalled Oeino. Although it would be a later Nicholson name that changed the fortunes of the young Norwegian designer forever.


“In 1988, at the very beginning of my career, I was fortunate to be involved in a project with George Nicholson,” explained Oeino. “At the time I was working in the office of the great Martin Francis, a genius behind some of the most celebrated architectural designs in the world”.

The Oeino-assisted design for a Mexican telecoms magnate became 74m Eco. Built at Blohm+Voss, she looked like a spaceship crossed with a cruise missile, with an elongated hull that could hammer through the sea. “She was capable of 34 knots, which was outrageous at the time!”

“That was my introduction to motor yachting,” continued Oeino. “What turned out to be one of the most iconic yachts ever designed, built and launched has been in service ever since.” Currently named Zeus, she regularly moors outside Oeino’s bureau in the Port of Monaco.

It’s an office from which Oeino would design several yachts for later Camper & Nicholsons clients including 134m Serene and 140m Ocean Victory, two of the largest private vessels ever built. Nearly four decades after he graduated as a naval architect, the Norwegian has a greater capacity than any other industry player to predict the future of yacht design in terms of hull, superstructure, speed and style.


Like Charles E Nicholson, Oeino placed hull hydrodynamics front and centre. “Yachts got fatter” during his career, he explained. “We were one of the first to come back to making hulls more efficient, like in the 1920s and 1930s, when engines were in their infancy.”

Oeino expounded his idea with the Silver Series. These all-aluminium yachts were sculpted like darts and built in Australia by a start-up shipyard that recruited specialists from the fast ferry industry. “They are extremely slender with length to beam ratio in the order of 7 to 1,” said Oeino. “No one in Europe wanted to build such a vessel as the design was so novel.” For fuel efficiency and outright velocity, little beats a skillfully designed hull.

“I think people started to appreciate that a slender hull, like in a catamaran, is inherently more efficient than the more traditional length-to-beam ratio displacement type hulls,” opined Oeino. “Catamarans are also well equipped to accommodate what is, for most people, a floating summer house.”

IMAGE: Espen Oeino, photographed by Guillaume Plisson



The general usage of yachts did not change dramatically during Oeino’s epoch. “Most clients still go coastal cruising rather than on a transoceanic voyage,” he confirmed. “We’ve discovered that a lot of yachts, when their owners are onboard, spend 80% to 85% at anchor for the larger yachts, or in a beautiful port like St Tropez or Portofino for the smaller yachts.” What did change dramatically was the cost of fuel and its wider social and environmental implications.

“It’s important to work on all the energy consumed onboard,” Oeino explained, not just hydrodynamic efficiency or cruising speed. “For example air-conditioning is the single most important consumer of power on a yacht, if you exclude the propulsion.” The naval architect opined that future yacht design might include overhangs to avoid direct sunshine on windows and vents to funnel fresh air through.

“I personally believe we will realise that we spend most of our time outside on deck, starting with coffee, enjoying time on the water, eating lunch and dinner al fresco,” continued Oeino. “As you’re always outside, do you really need as much internal space as you have today? Especially one constantly chilled to 18°C!”

Oeino also envisaged more indoor-outdoor spaces like shaded terraces and winter gardens. Plus sensible lighting schemes and systems to recycle engine heat into warm water. All ideas that work alongside with the ocean, rather than in juxtaposition to it.


In the coming decade both hulls and superstructures might look very different. A century after Charles E Nicholson changed the shape of yachting by installing the industry’s first diesel engines on a luxury yacht, the fuel that propels each vessel might be different too.

By the early 2020s the silent revolution of solar was becoming popular. Solar storage batteries, which had evolved at breakneck speed during the electric car boom, safeguarded enough energy to fulfil the nighttime ‘hotel load’ on a small- to medium-sized yacht.

Yet it seemed that solar could never deliver the dream of  unlimited navigation. “A yacht is synonymous with freedom,” stated Oeino. “That implies a decent range.” The naval architect’s visits home to Norway, where many short trip ferries are 100% battery operated, inspired another model.

“Batteries on a boat are much better than an internal combustion engine,” said Oeino. They are cleaner and greener. They also have the capacity to replace an engine room, altering the form of future yachts in a manner never before imagined. “The day batteries can give a yacht a meaningful range will be fantastic,” Oeino claimed. “But until then we need to rely on other energy carriers.”

In 2021 Oeino became involved in a project with Lu?rssen to pair a diesel electric powerplant alongside structural methanol tanks, which produce hydrogen using a reformer. This would make it possible for the forthcoming superyacht to anchor for 15 days or cruise 1,000 nautical miles — entirely emission free.

“Methanol is very simple to store and is available in all ports,” confirmed Oeino. “Eventually hydrogen will be more widely available then we can also use it for yachts.” Back in the Port of Monaco the naval architect became an ardent supporter of the annual Energy Boat Challenge, where alternative fuelled boats — hydrogen-powered among them — blasted past his design bureau.


In 2022 Espen Oeino stood at the head of an unprecedented superyacht boom. One he believed must be sustainable. “We are a member of the Water Revolution Foundation,” he explained, an industry sustainability project to protect the seas in which we sail. “Shipyards and colleagues are exchanging ideas to try and help us reduce the footprint of the yachts from the very beginning.”

The foundation’s digital tool can assess engine emissions, material choices and other outputs. Its aim is to produce a full life cycle assessment of the impact of each yacht, empowering decision makers with the data they require to make the most sustainable choice. “We are all acutely aware of the long term impact of how certain choices can impact climate change, which might influence the marinas and coasts around which we cruise,” said Oeino.

The 2020s began in an ocean of superlatives. It was an era of bigger, better, more luxurious and more efficient. An era when yacht agencies would clock up a billion euros of annual sales, while the largest 25 yachts in the world — many of them designed by Oeino’s bureau — were all over 125m.


Promoted Yachts for Charter