Is it possible to have the best of both worlds?
We live in times where the use of renewable energy is being encouraged.
Hybrid power and other propulsion solutions are providing efficient alternatives to traditional fuel and power generation in many aspects of daily life and transportation. The same applies to large sailing yachts where, in an ideal world, they could be considered to use the most energy efficient method of propulsion, wind and sails, which can be complimented with other renewable energy generating technologies such as solar power to provide a high degree of self-sufficiency. However, quite often there is very little or no wind at all and conventional diesel engines or generators need to be used to get from A to B.
Large sailing yachts have one or two engines and range between very fast and sporty, large and modern rigged cruiser racers to heavy displacement motor yacht type vessels with simple rigs and sails for use when conditions allow. They need almost the same equipment as motor yachts if owners and guests are to enjoy the comforts of living aboard with air conditioning, water makers etc. and domestic appliances plus their rigs and sails, winches, sheets and halyards, and everything else that is required to make a yacht sail. On top of that they mostly have a much smaller volume inside for the same overall length as a motor yacht, and if the sailing equipment is high tech that will require a lot of additional expenditure. So, all in all they are very challenging to design, expensive to build, use and maintain in order to offset the wind and sail advantage. That probably explains some of the reasons why there are so fewer larger sailing yachts compared to motor yachts. It also follows that sailing yacht owners have much more clear ideas about what they want than their motor yacht counterparts, they will often want to build their own dream yacht and that also reduces their second-hand value and appeal.
However, there are many positive aspects to cruising on a sailing yacht or motorsailer which are worth bearing in mind. When you can sail or use the sails in addition to the engine/s as often happens, it is a wonderful feeling and quite a stable way to move through the water thanks to their fixed or moving keels. A substantial fuel saving is possible when sailing even if a generator or some engine power may still be required to keep the domestic equipment running and to power the winches etc. Some additional reassurance is provided by the fact that if the engines should fail, it should still be possible to reach your destination under sail.
Without getting into the definition of what a large motorsailer is, looks like and how it should perform, suffice to say that both sail and engine power can be used individually or in combination to provide propulsion. Whether they have wheelhouses and deck saloons, fly-bridges etc. is quite irrelevant to their combined sailing and motoring capabilities. Their cruising speeds and range under power can be very similar to those achieved by motor yachts, with transatlantic capabilities under power being quite common.
I would hope and expect that more motorsailers will be built in the future and enjoyed by more owners. I think the industry needs to do better in terms of the promotion of their virtues, and I can personally think of no better way to make long crossings, live aboard and to explore the world than on a Perini Navi or similar where both the owners, guests and crew have comfortable and adequate accommodation, and yet you can still participate in the exhilaration of superyacht type regattas and mingle with other owners and crews if you want to. Something that does not often happen among large motor yacht owners!