A brief history of yachts: from Dutch fishing boats to luxury superyachts

Yachting has a rich history that spans centuries.

Firstly, let’s start with where the term comes from. The word yacht derives from the Dutch word “jacht”, which means hunt. At the time, the word referred to boats for fishing. It wasn’t until the 17th century that Dutch yacht builders started constructing larger vessels that didn’t have such a practical purpose but were intended for the wealthy.

Unsurprisingly, this caught on, and yachting for leisure was born. It became a status symbol, and from there, the designs only became more luxurious.

The British got onboard with yachting

In the 18th century, yachting gained popularity among the British aristocracy. Yachts were not only practical vessels but also status symbols. The Royal Yacht Squadron, established in 1815, played a significant role in formalizing yacht racing and creating racing rules.

Then came the Americans

The America’s Cup, first held in 1851, is one of the oldest and most prestigious yacht races globally. The race’s history and competitive spirit have greatly influenced the world of yachting.

Throughout the 19th century, the popularity of yachts kept growing, and in the 20th, they were getting even more grand and luxurious. By this time, they contained tremendously advanced navigation systems that could take them further than ever before. In the 1930s, yachting reached new popularity and began incorporating streamlined designs with sleek exteriors and rounded hulls. This meant that they were now faster and more stable. 

After WW2, yachts reached a level of extreme luxury

They were more spacious than ever and contained multiple features and rooms. Yachts started to become the advanced luxury vessels we love today. Ever since, yacht builders have strived to create the best seagoing vessels on the planet, catering for those who want the next level of ultimate escape and luxury. 

History of yachts and yachting in a nutshell

So there you have it; this is a brief history of yachts and how the incredible yachts we get to enjoy today came into existence. From a small Dutch fishing boat to multi-million-dollar superyachts. Over time, the definition of a yacht has been shaped into something far beyond a boat.