Every year the International Superyacht Society (ISS) bestows awards on yachts whose designs are deemed to stand head and shoulders above the rest–a not-insignificant achievement, considering there are many superb contenders. But like the ever-changing marketplace it serves, the organization, whose members represent the best builders, designers, management firms, and other megayacht businesses worldwide, has decided modifications are in order. As a result, not only have the existing categories changed, but also some new awards are in the mix.
Full disclosure: I’m an ISS member, though I’m not on the board of directors, which deliberated and made the final decisions as to what changes would be made. However, I did get the sense a few months ago that amendments would likely result because I was asked for my opinion during a casual conversation with a member of the board. It seems there was much deliberation over whether it was fair to have yachts, say, measuring 150 feet compete in the same category as ones upwards of twice their size. Some board members argued it wasn’t, mostly because a 300-footer’s cost and size each afford more opportunity to employ high-tech systems and take greater risks with space planning and decor.
A majority of board members must have shared that notion or something similar to it, because the sizes of the yachts within each category–power and sail–have changed. Here’s an at-a-glance rundown:
Best Power 23 to 32 Meters (75 to 105 feet)
Best Power 32 to 43 Meters (105 to 141 feet)
Best Power 43 Meters+ (141 feet+)
Best Sail 23 to 36 Meters (75 to 118 feet)
Best Sail 36 Meters+ (118 feet+)
Best Interior Overall Power
Best Interior Overall Sail
Best Power 24 to 40 Meters (80 to 131 feet)
Best Power 40 to 65 Meters (131 to 213 feet)
Best Power 65 Meters+ (213 feet+)
Best Sail 24 to 40 Meters (80 to 131 feet)
Best Sail 40 Meters+ (131 feet+)
Best Interior (power and sail considered equally)
While ISS didn’t go into details as to why the sizes changed on the smaller end of the megayacht market, I have to believe that it’s at least partly due to the fact that 80 feet is the commonly accepted start point for the megayacht market. The MCA Code governing the safety of large yachts also applies to the higher size ranges, not the 75- to 80-foot range. As to why the interior category changed, again, no details were released. But in the opinion of people I know in both this business as well as the general design world, it shouldn’t matter whether the vessel has sails or just diesel engines; the creativity and difficulties of space planning and application of materials can and should be considered equally.
Another big change involves the addition of two awards: Excellence in Innovation and ISS Person or Business of the Year. The former will be bestowed upon an individual or company that, as the name states, has advanced the superyacht industry. The latter will be given to whomever has demonstrated excellence within their area of expertise within the past year.
Regardless of award category, nominations will come from industry members, with the ISS board narrowing down the finalists.
As an ISS member, I’m glad to see the society, now approaching its 20th anniversary, amend and expand its awards. It couldn’t have been an easy task, and I’m sure the deliberations among the board members were heated at times. But change in this case is not only good, it’s imperative to stay relevant.