A guide to the best tenders for superyachts

What is a tender?

A tender is a boat that services a larger vessel (referred to as the mothership). A tender can take many forms, delivering a wide range of conveniences.

Historically called a ‘ship’s boat’, tenders have supported large vessels for centuries. Guest transfers, refuge boats, landing crafts, stowed on deck or towed astern – little has changed! 

Whilst the vast number of tenders employed by smaller yachts are typically rigid inflatable boats, there is a multitude of vessels considered indispensable by the modern-day superyacht.

How we categorise tenders

We’ve been specialising in building boat tenders for over a decade, yet with such a degree of cross-over and with a seemingly endless request for custom configurations, categorising tenders remains a challenge.

Nonetheless, at the top-most level, we categorise all tenders under one of the following three hull types:

Fully Inflatable
A lightweight vessel relying solely on inflation for buoyancy. 

Rigid Inflatable
A vessel with a hull constructed from rigid materials such as aluminium or fibreglass, supported with an inflatable or foam collar for added buoyancy in high seas. 

A fully rigid hull without a buoyancy collar of any type.


In addition to hull type, we can identify most yacht tenders under the following sub-categories:

Open Chase Classic Foil Catamaran Dive

What is an open tender?

An open tender is principally a single-deck boat with no enclosed cabin. Chiefly a guest transfer boat with ample seating both forward and aft, open tenders are day boats without accommodation above or below deck.

Whilst we see a lot of open tenders dedicated to guest transfer, by their very nature, they can also incorporate centre console boats, some dive boats, landing crafts, and even limousines.

What is a chase tender?

As the name suggests, a chase tender—which can also be an open tender—follows the mothership.

Chase boats can take on many guises since their main attribute is size and so, as a result, are generally not stored on board but instead towed astern.

Often very angular in design, with excellent seaworthiness, chase boats need to be able to withstand the rigours of being towed by the mothership. Whilst a lot of large chase tenders can be operated entirely independently, towing very long distances (such as transatlantic) is not advised. That’s where a full-blown support vessel comes into its own.

What is a classic tender?

Tenders with the hallmark of classic design are styled with an exquisite, continuous line from the head to the heel.

Echoing the lacquered freeboards of a Riva Ariston or the flawless veneers of a Hinckley picnic boat, a modern classic from the likes of J Craft or Wajer will feature a gracefully tapered form, avoiding right angles altogether.

What is a foiling tender?

Combining thrust with lift (as an aeroplane does), high-speed tenders have the opportunity also to become airborne.

Less drag, higher speeds and lower energy consumption are the key advantages, although from a guest comfort perspective, being elevated above a big swell scores very highly.

What is a catamaran tender?

Largely associated with utility boats, catamaran tenders (not to be confused with catamaran sailboats) present superyacht owners with a number of major advantages over their mono-hulled counterparts.

Favoured as a utility vessel, a twin-hulled catamaran can be built much wider than an equivalent-length vessel with a mono hull.

A twin-hulled catamaran offers increased stability and, therefore, a more comfortable ride in bigger seas. Thanks to a smaller surface area, there’s also less drag which results in faster speeds and higher efficiency.

What is a dive tender?

We build tenders optimised specifically for scuba diving, however, given the range of crossover in the market, the likes of amphibious boats, beachlanders, some centre consoles, landing crafts, open tenders, RIBs and utility boats can also work perfectly well for diving.

Storage, floor space and, most importantly, the convenience of easy access to the water are key attributes of a versatile dive boat tender.

The right tender for the job

So far we’ve categorised our tenders — now to define which tender is best suited to which scenario.

Amphibious Tender

Can be: Rigid, Rigid Inflatable // Open, Chase // Tow or stow

Sharp stones, steep drop-offs, inclement weather, and changing tides needn’t worry your crew when you have the luxury of an amphibious tender. Visit almost any secluded cove or spit with virtually no risk of becoming stranded or beached.

Go where other boats simply wouldn’t dare, landing on shorelines in rough breaks and on rugged terrain. Be sure to do your homework, though, as most beaches and marinas will require permission to stroll out the sea on an amphibious tender.

Beachlander Tender

Can be: Rigid, Rigid Inflatable // Open, Chase // Tow or stow

We are all about time spent on the water, but the sensation of stepping off a tender onto the warm sand is in itself a joy to behold. We don’t mean clambering over the side of a rib and bouncing awkwardly into the shallows. We mean stepping from a dry boat onto dry sand.

Whether you intend to spend the day in your swimmers or are off for an island excursion, getting wet feet before you begin should be a choice. 

We offer a beachlander option on any of our aluminium rigid inflatable boats. A compact, button-operated bow staircase gives both guests and crew quick and easy access to the shore with all the versatility of a rib.

Center Console

Can be: Rigid // Open, Chase // Tow or stow

Synonymous with the Florida Keys, the traditional centre console (or center console in the US), is typically a single-deck boat with the helm in the middle.

Geared towards recreational fishing, the centre console maximises the floor space while, crucially, allowing for full access around all sides of the boat. On smaller boats, seating is often sacrificed for floor space, while larger centre consoles fitted with cabins creep into the Sports Fisher sector.

Not intended to be an especially dry boat, both crew and guests are often exposed to the elements. The upshot is that centre consoles and, more so, sports fishers, tend to offer huge power, which is especially useful for long day trips from the mainland.


Can be: Rigid // Open, Chase // Tow or stow

We know for certain that superyacht owners have a thirst for adrenaline, having been asked to design this shadow vessel capable of carrying a 50’ cigarette boat.  

‘Go-fast’ boats, as the name suggests, are built exclusively for speed. More commonly known as ‘cigarette boats’ due to their shape, go-fast boats are not for the faint-hearted. 

A craze immortalised by the Cigarette Racing Team, modern-day cigar boats can achieve speeds of over 100 knots. Largely impractical as a conventional superyacht tender, the range of high-performance boats have thankfully branched more into Centre Consoles. In turn, this presents superyacht owners with a high-performance chase boat of an almost unimaginable spec.

Landing Craft

Can be: Rigid, Rigid Inflatable, Inflatable // Open, Chase, Catamaran, Dive // Tow or stow

A vessel with very much a military feel, a landing craft tender is designed to carry everything, including vehicles from yacht to shore. 

With our ROAM Landing Craft, a button-operated super-strength bow ramp enables drive-on drive-off capabilities ideal for disembarking heavy items where you don’t have lifting facilities at shore.

Our landing crafts are built with a catamaran hull for enhanced stability. We also manufacture high-quality fold-up motorised boats.

Limousine Tender

Can be: Rigid // Open, Classic, Foil // Stow

Surely the ultimate statement of sophistication — the limousine tender is the pinnacle mode of guest transfer.

Ranging from 6-14m and accommodating up to eighteen guests in consummate luxury, an often fully enclosed guest cabin will mirror the furnishings of the mothership.

Picnic Boat

Can be: Rigid // Chase, Classic // Stow

If leisure cruising and lunching was your only pursuit, you’d surely have a picnic boat. The quintessential day cruiser, a picnic boat is unequivocally designed for rest and relaxation on the water.

Inspired by the lobster boats of Maine, where the sloping rails from bow to stern made it easier for lobstermen to haul in their traps, the symbolic Picnic Boat represents everything exciting and romantic about a day out on the water.


Can be: Rigid Inflatable // Open, Dive // Tow or stow

The workhorse tender of any yacht is the Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB). Robust, versatile and highly manoeuvrable, RIBs typically offer the characteristics of speed, buoyancy and good handling on high seas. 

A foam or inflatable collar provides extra buoyancy in the event of taking on water, while in the case of our RIB boats—which have a high deadrise—also acts as a spray rail for keeping the deck dry. Popular with superyachts, RIBs can be towed or stowed and used for a wide range of purposes.

Our Deep-V RIB boats are constructed from aluminium. A highly adaptable material, we are able to build custom RIBs from scratch without incurring expensive and time-consuming tooling adjustments.

Ski Boat

Can be: Rigid // Open, Dive // Stow

Nothing allows us to explore an affinity with water quite like the experience of wakeboarding, wake surfing and water skiing.

We are an official partner of the world-renowned Nautique boats and specialise in their customisation and supply specifically to superyachts.

SOLAS Rescue Tender

Can be: Rigid Inflatable, Inflatable // Stow

In accordance with the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), all ships over 500GT (typically 50m+) must carry at least one fully compliant SOLAS Rescue Vessel (and a complement of life rafts). The rescue vessel must be stowed onboard and cannot be towed astern or located on a support vessel.

SOLAS Rescue Vessels must be able to carry five seated persons and a person lying on a stretcher. Vessels must have an automatic self-righting capability and the engine must be able to be restarted following a capsize. Stable in a seaway (and deployable when the mothership is doing 5 knots), rescue boats may be either rigid or inflated and need to be operable in water that is 1-30°C. They also need to be able to start in -30°C air temperature.

First adopted in 1914, the SOLAS Convention was initiated as a direct response to the Titanic disaster. The Convention in use today is often referred to as the “SOLAS, 1974, as amended”. 

For any help and advice relating to SOLAS requirements, contact our team who have a depth of knowledge on the subject.

SOLAS Lifeboats

Can be: Rigid // Stow

Unlike a SOLAS Rescue Vessel that can be inflatable or rigid hull, a lifeboat must have the latter.

Painted bright orange—or Pantone 144—a lifeboat can have a LOA no less than 7.3m.

Sports Fisher

Can be: Rigid // Tow

A close relative of both the Central Console and High-performance categories, a Sports Fisher is a dedicated recreational fishing boat. Despite there being a range of boats within this category, it’s the Flybridge Sports Fisher that is most synonymous with the name. 

Large boats, often up to 25m, the archetypal fisher is perfectly suited to lengthy, deep-sea fishing trips. Typically built with berths, heads, a galley and a tower (perhaps even a live bait tank, too), a Sports Fsher is for serious big game fishing enthusiasts.

It’s quite a commitment for a superyacht when a large open or utility tender with rod holders would probably just as effective if big game fishing was less of a priority.

Utility Tender

Can be: Rigid Inflatable, Inflatable // Open, Chase, Catamaran, Dive // Tow or stow

A utility tender is the most versatile boat on the list. Ticking almost every box, a utility boat is somewhat open to interpretation. As much an entire category as it is an individual tender, a utility boat could easily take the form of a landing craft or open RIB.

Both promote an open deck space and satisfy the needs of crew in all manner of tasks, including the general movement of equipment and vehicles, refuge and provision runs, and guest and crew transfers.

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