The different types of motoryachts, explained

Posted by: Pen Marine

Yachting nomenclature got you confused? Don’t worry.

For the newly initiated, and maybe even the grizzled seadog, the seemingly endless names and things and parts and terms related to our nautical passion can be a little bit much. We’ve even covered some of the terms people at sea usually use in our effort to unravel this intellectual knot. In a similar vein, this article will shed some light on the different types of motoryachts and what they are commonly used for.

Express Cruisers

Sometimes called express, sometimes cruisers, and other times both, these types of yachts are known as the sportscars of the boating world. Cruisers have a sexy, sleek profile, and are quite responsive to helm, making them a joy to pilot. They usually have a two deck layout, which means that their main utility is in giving a small family a fun day at sea, or entertaining friends for evening cocktails. Moreover, as a cruiser is not that big a boat, everyone is constantly in the midst of the social action.

They also come in a few styles, like the Riva Rivale, which is a 56’ open cruiser. This style is also sometimes called the Mediterranean, where there is no – or minimal – cover to shade occupants from the the sun.

The beautiful Riva Rivale

Another common style is a hardtop cruiser, like the 54’ Pershing 5x. Interestingly, the glass door at the rear of its cockpit can be removed, opening it up to join the salon and this gives it more utility in all kinds of weather.

The Pershing 5x is a hard top cruiser

Flying bridges and sport bridges

Those new to the world of pleasure boating will see these terms used very often. These type of yachts have an area on top of the superstructure with a second control station. Due to its vantage point, captains have an all-round view of the craft and surroundings. There is a control station at the main deck as well, although some boatmakers are challenging this norm these days.

A sport bridge is a smaller type of flying bridge (or flybridge) on a cruiser-type yacht. As mentioned there is a second control station up here, and, if space permits, a few lounge chairs too. Typically, the bridge is fully open to the elements, like in the Ferretti Yachts 550.

A fully open sportbridge on the Ferretti Yachts 550

A flybridge has a much larger lounge space in this area, and so boatmakers often put amenities like a small refrigerator, tables, even a barbeque pit here for everyone’s enjoyment. You often have choices of enclosures here too, like the Ferretti Yachts 720, with options like a bimini, a fixed-window top, or a louvred version.

The Ferretti Yachts 720 has a few options for its flybridge

Fully hardtop flybridges are rare, as one of its reasons for existence is the openness to the elements. They are usually popular only in countries with more extreme weather.


A sportfish is any yacht geared towards, you guessed it, the rigorous sport of fishing. This means that all design choices make the yacht better for the sport. They usually have a large cockpit with a lot of storage for rods, bait, tackles and, of course, the days catch. Lounging areas are replaced by fighting chairs and special rod holders. These type of yachts are also typically more powerful as they have to get to the fishing grounds and also chase fish through bad weather, which means that they are solidly built as well.

Like the previous categories, there are niche styles as well. The Hatteras GT63 which is a flybridge sportfish, has additional practicality like a dinette for five adults, a galley, and four staterooms plus three heads. It will top out at 41 knots, and features a flybridge so the captain can better follow their prey. A tower (sometimes called a tuna tower) above the flybridge offers even more visibility.

The Hatteras GT63, image courtesy of

A convertible sportfish on the other hand is geared towards cruising and sportfishing, hence the term. It may not reach speeds like a conventional sportfish, but it is more comfortable so boaters can also relax and enjoy a day out at sea with it. The Silverton 42 is one such example, and as you can see, it also features a flybridge. A convertible is, by its name, multi-talented.

A Silverton 42, image courtesy of


Most pleasure boats are still monohulls, but multihulls like catamarans and trimarans are ever increasing in popularity. You’ll see a lot of multihull sailing vessels, and this is because they are remarkably easy to sail and almost impossible to sink. As a motoryacht, the advantage is similar, sans the sailing.

A catamaran, or a cat, has two hulls instead of one, and with the extra hull comes extra stability. There is more usable space – two hulls means a larger ‘footprint’ – so a cat of similar length to a monohull will almost always have a wider deck. They won’t cut through water as easily though, so the nature of the boat is more relaxed, like the Leopard 53 Powercat.

A cat in the sunset – the Leopard 53 Powercat

A trimaran has three hulls, and due to its inherent stability it is almost impossible to sink. The hull in the middle is larger, and it is flanked on both sides by a smaller hull. This means it combines the agility and pilotability of a monohull, with the stability of a multihull. These yachts are usually sailing vessels.

Motoryacht types and styles are actually quite easy to understand once you get the gist of it, and their additional attributes are also not that difficult to understand if you know what to look for. The next time a shipyard calls their latest creation a ‘hard top express with enclosed front windscreen’, you’ll know what they are saying.