Cockwells Superyacht Tenders

The tender market has changed enormously over the past 10 years. Henry Ward looks at the importance of design cooperation early in any new build project to ensure the tender complements the mothership and delivers the required results for the owner.

Ten years on, I am happy to say that we are now contacted by owners, owners’ representatives and captains to design and custom build tenders early on in the mothership’s commissioning process such that our current ‘in build’ projects have all enjoyed the benefit of comfortable lead times.

Since I joined Cockwells in 2011, I have witnessed some welcome developments in the superyacht tender market. Back in the early days, for example, buyers tended to commission their superyachts first and then the tender as something of an afterthought.

Decisions regarding the tender came too late in the design stage of the mothership by which time the space available in the tender garage might already pose a constraint. This also limited the time available for a custom- built tender to be carefully considered and crafted before delivery of the main vessel was due.

Thankfully, most owners now realise that the tender they deploy from their superyacht impacts directly on the quality of their guests’ overall experience and requires a level of consideration equal to the design of the mothership itself.

As the saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” and the tender is likely be the guests’ first, last and lasting impression of the owner’s luxury superyacht.

Ten years on, I am happy to say that we are now contacted by owners, owners’ representatives and captains to design and custom build tenders early on in the mothership’s commissioning process such that our current ‘in build’ projects have all enjoyed the benefit of comfortable lead times.

Each owner has a unique set of requirements and priorities so in an ideal world, we meet them or their representatives to find out what matters to them most, including how they actually wish to use the tender. Whether they require high speed, a comfortable ride, enough space for a large refrigerator or even a carbon fibre dog bowl – whatever they want, they can have!

This personal interaction informs our creative process and with a design in mind, we are then able to liaise with key players on the build team of the mothership in order to establish how our product can fully complement and integrate with theirs.

This collaborative approach impacts positively on the crew’s operations because we can advise on the required lifting arrangements, agree the space that is needed around the tender and plan the systems layout so that servicing is hassle-free.

Cockwells currently has a 12m catamaran tender in build for which the client requires a top speed capability of 50 knots. By joining forces with experienced naval architects and race boat designers on our projects, we can be confident at the design stage that our tenders will achieve the required speed. For extra reassurance however, we tank tested this particular hull design at the Wolfson Unit in Southampton to obtain real-life scaled data to support our calculations.

In this case, the hull design was developed specifically for a particular client, but usually, it is far more economical for us to use a proven hull design that we already own the mould for. To date, we have produced a range of limousines and open tenders using a proven hull, which affords great seakeeping, a smooth ride and powerful speed, as the foundation. With an adjustable transom plant, we can also produce boats that vary in length and are capable of offering a multitude of custom deck arrangements.

When we were commissioned to build the tender for Grace E, a waterjet driven boat, we worked with leading hull designer, Andrew Wolstenholme to design our first mould and he ensured that the hull form was suitable for both jet and stern drives. One of Cockwells’ defining strengths is that we have the flexibility and expertise to offer clients exactly what they want.

Looking to the future, we have received numerous enquiries about electric tenders and it goes without saying that we would love to produce such a vessel.

However, our detailed research and in-depth review of sea trial data concludes that for an electric boat to be a success, the limitation of range needs to be accepted by the crew. This requires careful planning in terms of how the tender will be used, which can be challenging and a step into the unknown.

It would also help if the cruising speed requirement could be lowered because you can travel all day in comfort at 12 knots from the same amount of power required for an hour at 20 knots.

Unfortunately, if you want to go electric and go fast, the battery technology of today does not currently offer a useful range. It’s a catch 22 situation. To get a boat to plane, you need lots of power. Lots of power comes from big batteries, which are heavy and to move them, you need more power.

It is only a matter of time, however, before propulsion from an alternative power source will be a realistic choice and we can’t wait to be able to experiment with that.

The designs of the future that we are working on today have advanced digital switching systems, which enable our boats to be fully remote-controlled. Our highly-skilled engineering design team is constantly pushing the boundaries in this field and is working with key suppliers in the industry to improve their components by asking the question: “What if it could do this…?”

We have reduced the amount of wiring on our tenders by 50% as data messages become the desired form of communication and with this advanced programming no longer limited to ‘on’ or ‘off’, clients are no longer limited by equipment, just their own imaginations!

Every new brief is exciting for the team to work on. We are at our best when problem- solving, identifying solutions to those design issues which others say can’t be achieved. Each boat we build becomes part of the Cockwells family and is backed up by a personal aftercare service and the very best onboard and remote technical support.

Founded by Dave Cockwell in 1996, Cockwells celebrates 25 years in the business this year. I have had the good fortune to be part of the team since the company’s first tender launch, T/T Grace E. Prior to that, Cockwells specialised in bespoke sail boats and motor launches designed to meet the exacting standards of private individuals, so it was a natural progression for the company to expand into the luxury superyacht industry and produce exceptional tenders with optimum performance in mind.

From our purpose-built, low environmental impact HQ at Mylor Creek in Cornwall, we utilise natural resources responsibly and embrace the potential of modern materials and processes to help us innovate and create a sustainable future.


The future may be electric, but it is how we combine artisan craftsmanship with the latest technological advances and manufacturing processes that will always set Cockwells apart.

For more details Tel: +44 (0)1326 377 366 or visit