The leisure vessel market has seen a surge in the adoption of the Very Small Antenna Terminal (VSAT) class in recent years due to the emergence of more affordable smaller antennas with high data rates. With a current market penetration of around 50%, the addressable yacht segment has plenty of potential and opportunities; in fact, Euroconsult predicts that the demand for VSAT is expected to grow at 9.2% CAGR over the next 10 years.
Among the sub-segments of yachts, the broader and higher-volume market for smaller leisure yachts has a considerable need for improved connectivity. These small or mass sail yachts spend a considerable amount of time out at sea, with little or no communications. Owners operating these vessels need an antenna that’s small, affordable and lightweight, while also being easy to install.
Expanding Routes and Destinations
Without a reliable connectivity solution, many smaller yachts still rely on spotty offshore cellular services. But this doesn’t meet the growing connectivity needs of the new breed of yacht owners.
While seasonal travel between the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas drove the majority of the demand for leisure vessels in the past, the rise of the new “working nomad” class of owners is creating demand for continuous connectivity in more regions. Especially following COVID-19 pandemic-related shelter-in-place restrictions, many leisure boat owners have transformed their vessels into floating offices. With high-performance connectivity, owners can continue working while traveling the seas, reducing downtime and the potential for lost income.
Not only are these vessels spending more time at sea, they’re exploring new routes, with Asia, Africa and the Middle East all gaining popularity. Navigation and weather routing apps will be crucial in helping yacht owners traverse these new routes and destinations. This means reliable global connectivity will be a must-have.
Improving Crew Welfare
Superyachts often have permanent crew members who spend a considerable amount of time maintaining, repairing and running vessels. Like in other maritime industries, being away at sea for extended periods of time means these individuals want the ability to connect with family and friends on land.
A lack of access to reliable connectivity can lead to poor morale and higher turnover rates for crew members, which leads to costly and time-consuming recruitment and training for new crew.
An Aesthetically Appealing Antenna
For yacht owners, the sleek look of their expensive vessel remains an important factor. Owners like to show off their yachts, and don’t want to install bulky hardware that ruins the boat’s aesthetic.
Large antennas, such as those in the meter range and even those in the 60-90cm range, can spoil the visually appealing features of a yacht. In some instances, these larger antennas on smaller yachts can even potentially bend a mast if improperly mounted.
The new 45cm antenna class offered with Intelsat FlexMaritime is small enough to hand carry, making it easy to install in even the tightest spots. Once mounted, the compact 45cm antenna is less noticeable than a large 60cm antenna, and helps maintain a yacht’s sleek look.
Powered by Intelsat’s fleet of award-winning high-throughput satellites (HTS) and wide beams, FlexMaritime’s new 45cm antenna class makes it the perfect solution for leisure vessels. With global, always-available coverage, ship owners gain access to a reliable network anywhere they travel.
Intermittent usage on smaller yachts can create a challenge for solutions providers. Owners only typically need service for a few months out of the year when they’re on their boat. Intelsat FlexMaritime services are available in month-to-month or annual service agreements, which can make them very favorable for leisure vessel owners.