The great science-fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke once wrote: "If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run — and often in the short one — the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative." Clarke was remarkably prescient – describing GPS and satellite communication in the 1950s and predicting the Internet and online shopping in the early 1970s. So with the above quote in mind, we have scoured the globe for five special marine design concepts – extraordinary boats – that positively hum with "daring prophecy", and try to imagine the whiff of absurdity in the air today being viewed by our future selves as "laughably conservative"...
(1) Tofi by Hyun-Seok Kim
First up, a mutant runaway carnival mollusc, off its tits on LSD. No, hold on… My mistake. It’s a yacht – or to be more accurate, a concept yacht – or to be completely accurate, an award-winning concept yacht called ‘Tofi’.
Built from plastic and fibreglass with wood and steel trim, the use of transparent floor-to-ceiling bulkheads on three sides means huge views and great internal light. While the cathedral-style hull shape looks pretty well conceived for stability at rest, the astonishing internal fit-out, with its fluid corporeal shapes and curvaceous tendrils would feel challenging in a modern art gallery, let alone a boat. However, internal styling (and private ‘beach’ area) aside, the highlight of this two-cabin motoryacht has to be the petite glass angling room, which is equipped with a hole in the floor so you can fish in sheltered serenity, whatever the weather. There’s also a retractable ladder to access the wide-open roof deck, where (in addition to benches, tables and a barbecue) you get a diving board perched out beyond the transom for easy re-boarding via the swim platform. If you fancy heading off piste, the Tofi will definitely take you there.
(2) Migaloo by Motion Code: Blue
Conceived by Austrian design house, Motion Code: Blue, as “the world’s first submersible yacht”, this six-deck craft uses a cylindrical, submarine-style hull but radically expands the conning tower in order to increase upper deck accommodation. However, there is still a vast reserve of open space to play with and that is used for a bar, a 24-square-metre pool, a forward owner’s lounge, generous sunbathing areas, a helipad and a set of four huge convertible beach terraces.
When submerged, all upper level furniture recedes beneath the decking and the bottom of the pool lifts until flush with the walkway. Tucked safely inside, with eight VIP cabins, a full-beam owner’s suite, a cinema room, a library, a gym and a gaming room, passengers can then enjoy penetrating sub-surface views down to a depth of 240 metres, courtesy of powerfully lit windows in both the hull and tower. Of course, as a submarine tweaked to operate as a superyacht, it is utterly certain to handle like an ill-tempered mule when cruising in surface mode, but it’s no less exciting for that.
(3) Lazzarini Jet Capsule
Okay, let’s rein things in a bit with a boat that we could all realistically ‘aspire’ to own. Here, from the Lazzarini Design Studio in Rome, is the Jet Capsule – a 25-footer that can be specced for a great many purposes, from taxi to tender and from party platform to support boat.
With seating for eight and carrying capacity for up to 13, plus a cleverly conceived rooftop sunbathing area, an elevated diving platform, and internals that enable the inclusion of a small galley and a convertible double berth, it’s remarkably multi-faceted. Powered by a Yanmar 370hp engine hooked up to a Hamilton water jet, this 32-knot monohull uses smooth, lofty, ovoid topsides to generate big, standing headroom under cover – and yet on the water, these things are much more aerodynamically efficient than you might imagine. Certainly, it might look like the dismembered head of a giant cyborg, but this little boat has authentic merit as a real-world watercraft. It’s also available as a ‘MiniJet Capsule’, a 30-knot 13-footer with seating for four, but either way, its simple, modular versatility makes it a truly compelling prospect.
(4) Orsos Island
In parts of Scandinavia, people routinely aspire to ownership of a private island as a relatively commonplace and realistic goal. But if you can buy an island that has the capacity to move, then all the better – particularly when it’s as well arranged as this.
Designed as a self-sustaining, 10,000-square-foot platform, Orsos Island uses a steel hull and aluminium topsides, which means that, like various high-class, trans-oceanic, expedition cruisers, it enjoys immense durability allied to a naturally low centre of gravity. With a modest 37-metre hull length, this particular ‘yacht-island’ is not absurdly vast, but it still offers deck space and internal capacity equivalent to that of a 55-metre luxury yacht. As for those self-sustainability claims, it is apparently powered by a “noiseless” wind energy system, alongside more than 160 square metres of solar panels and a heat recovery system, which enables on board climate control courtesy of nothing but seawater. With around a thousand square metres of living space over three decks, there is room for up to 80 people to call this place home – but with the optimum six double ensuite cabins, plus an office, a recreation room and crew quarters for four, it looks like a concept absolutely tailor-made for the high-end charter market.
(5) Nimue 490
Well here’s a jarringly courageous approach to motorboat design. Conceived by Timon Sager as a gentleman’s day cruiser, the Nimue 490 employs a long, tapered bow section, incorporating three points of flexibility that enable the entire structure to curve at your command. The idea is to combine soft, wave-cutting properties with an increased ability to manoeuvre rapidly at speed.
Like almost every self-consciously avant garde design, this eight-man 49-footer uses electric propulsion for a claimed range of almost 1,200 nautical miles and a top end of 42 knots. But quite how a fast, semi-displacement, wave-piercing monohull would feel at the helm during a 40-knot turn when its long, razor-like bow is actively flexing in the direction of travel I wouldn’t like to imagine. And as for its ability in a following sea, well for now at least, that can only be guessed at. Even so, hats off to Timon Sager for daring to approach an age-old problem from a fresh and distinctly vulnerable perspective. I have no doubt Einstein would have approved.
For more outlandish/advanced boat designs on boats.com see: The Flyboard: How to Add Fun to Your PWC or Monte Carlo Cup: fossil-fuel free powerboat race.