Differences Between a Sailing Yacht and Motor Yacht
Great guide to choose a sailing or motor yacht
When deciding to buy a yacht, the first obvious question to consider is whether to buy a sailing yacht or motor yacht.
As sailing superyachts have become larger and more luxurious in recent years, the choice between a motor yacht for sale or a sailing yacht for sale has become rather more difficult — in many cases simply a question of personal preference, rather than a significant difference in the onboard experience.
So if you’re in the market to buy a yacht and you find yourself attracted by elements of both sailing and motor yachts, here are some considerations that might split the difference, as well as two superb examples of sailing yachts and motor yachts for sale.
Sailing Yachts Vs Motor Yachts in Seven Rounds
1 Guest Participation
A sailing yacht generally offers a more interactive experience for owners and guests, with the opportunity to sail and learn about sea conditions, the yacht and its performance under sail.
For sea-loving families with children, the experience of watching kids sailing and learning new skills is one of the core reasons to purchase a sailing yacht, while for others, it’s the opportunity to race in regattas and become involved in the sport and its community.
Winner: sailing yachts
2 Living Space and Amenities
Motor yachts, due to their wide beam and multi-deck layout, do still tend to have more volume in the vast majority of cases, meaning they tend to ‘win’ the round when it comes to the size of the staterooms and amenities on board.
However, large sailing yachts with spas, beach clubs, and spacious master suites are becoming increasingly common, meaning that sailing aficionados can really have their cake, and eat it too.
Winner: motor yachts (with exceptions)
3 A Sense of History
If you’re in the market for a classic vessel which evokes the romance of sea voyages, both classic motor yachts and sailing yachts offer a glamorous sense of history.
There are more classic sailing yachts for sale than classic motor yachts, however, with many dating back one hundred years or more. Arguably the most famous classic yacht afloat today is the supremely elegant S/Y SHENANDOAH OF SARK which was built in 1902 by Townsend & Downey, New York. Even if you’re buying a modern sailing yacht, you get to experience the feeling of this ancient way of travel as you jibe and tack the trade winds of the Caribbean, or race through the whitewashed islands of Greece.
However, if you prefer motor yachts, you’re also in luck. Superyacht conversions of old commercial ships tend to have a glorious history about them and are often used as explorer yachts to travel the world, reminiscent of the grand sea voyages of yesteryear.
When it comes to history, it’s whatever floats your boat!
Winner: a draw
While both modern sailing and motor yachts are fitted with stabilisers, the obvious difference is that a sailing yacht will heel over at a steep angle when under sail - which is all part of the fun, if you like that kind of thing.
However, stability varies enormously between types of sailing or motor vessels - for example, a catamaran or trimaran is an extremely stable platform, while a planing motor yacht loses some of its stability in exchange for speed when compared to a full displacement vessel.
If stability is a concern, speak with your yacht sales broker about different stability levels offered by different hull types, or ask for advice on which stabiliser systems could be added to make a yacht that you’re considering purchasing more stable.
Winner: motor yachts
Given their reliance on wind over fuel and smaller volumes when cruising under motor, sailing yachts take this prize. At least, they do for now. Many motor yachts are becoming increasingly green, with new hybrid propulsion systems and hull forms delivering increased fuel efficiency and reducing their carbon footprint.
Winner: sailing yachts
6 Tech Connection
Motor yachts, as a rule, have the deck space to add large domes with larger satellite dishes, whereas sailing yachts rarely do, so historically motor yachts have won this round.
However, new technology like flat panel VSAT may mean sailing yachts can soon give motor yacht communications a run for their money.
Winner: motor yachts (but times are changing)
7 Versatility of Cruising
When it’s windy, sailing yachts are in their element, putting the canvas up and enjoying a thrilling day of sport. When it’s calm, sailing yachts are also at home, as they can simply motor to a glassy anchorage for a day of beach and water sports.
Motor yachts are less versatile when it comes to wild and windy weather, although the Captain can always find a sheltered anchorage or marina berth.
Winner: sailing yachts
S/Y MARIE and M/Y SAINT NICOLAS: Two Fine Examples of Their Kinds
For those seeking a stunning modern sailing yacht for sale with race-winning performance and all the romance of yesteryear, 55m S/Y MARIE is a superb buying opportunity. With proven big race credentials, she is a past winner of both the coveted St Barth’s Bucket and the Superyacht Cup in Palma.
Launched from the acclaimed Vitters yard in 2010 and undergoing a refit in 2015, this custom-built ketch boasts a gorgeous and spacious interior, with four light and airy staterooms for 10 guests, including a palatial master suite. The yacht is fitted throughout with timeless touches like a baby grand piano and antiques, as well as working cannons on deck to bring the regatta to a rousing close!
With a fantastic 1920’s design by Hoek Design combined with all the modern luxuries, S/Y MARIE is the perfect example of today’s decadent, high-performance sailing superyacht and is offered for quick sale at $28,500,000.
For motor yacht enthusiasts, M/Y SAINT NICOLAS cannot help to impress. At 70.1m, this vast Lürssen superyacht for sale has only been used privately since launch in 2007, and is in immaculate condition after a 2016 refit.
With a stylish exterior design by Espen Oeino and an opulent wood and marble interior by Zuretti, M/Y SAINT NICOLAS accommodates up to 12 guests in six staterooms over three levels, including a sumptuous full beam master suite with office and an upper deck VIP.
Other special features include an upper deck pool, an elevator, and one of the most enticing sundecks afloat. M/Y SAINT NICOLAS is on the market for € 55,000,000.
So what will it be? A sailing yacht for sale, or a motor yacht?