Foredeck: what is it and how is it used on yachts of different sizes?

All modern yachts have a foredeck. Large, small, technical, turned into a cockpit or another lounge area or sometimes serving as a helipad
May 14 2024 • by Roman Lyamtsev 13 minutes to read
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The Olivia O is the world's first X-Bow superyacht (Ulstein Verft, 88.5 m, 2018)

This area may look different, so our task is not just to figure out what it is, but to understand how this space may be used…

In all fairness, one should note that the statement that any yacht has a foredeck is only 99.9% true. Surely there is some expert who will claim that some yachts do not have a foredeck – and will be right in a way: there are some exceptions to the rule, like the 88.5-metre Olivia O with a reverse X-Bow. In this case the originality of the construction prevailed, and there isn’t either a classic foredeck or an overall usual appearance. But first let us clarify what a foredeck is, and then you will be able to answer the question whether the Olivia O has a foredeck or not for yourself. 

The Olivia O is the world's first X-Bow superyacht (Ulstein Verft, 88.5 m, 2018)
The Olivia O is the world's first X-Bow superyacht (Ulstein Verft, 88.5 m, 2018)

Sometimes there may be confusion with the outdated interpretation of “foredeck” as the front canopy of a chaise or a carriage, which can still be found. This meaning comes from the German “vordeck” and is relevant to our topic only partly, because the yacht term was formed by the fusion of two English words “fore” and “deck”.

At the time when there were only sailing boats, the word “foredeck” stood for the open space from the mast to the ship’s bow.  Nowadays, when the number of motor boats is incomparably larger and they have no masts as they are not necessary (radar ones do not count), a foredeck is an open deck between the superstructure and the bow.  

The foredeck is an open deck between the superstructure and the bow
The foredeck is an open deck between the superstructure and the bow

Some confusion is sometimes caused by the design features of various boats. For example, according to the classic definition, a foredeck is the forepart of the main deck. But modern models often feature high bows, where there is no open space on the main deck forward. Can interior space forward be considered a foredeck? No, as a foredeck is an open deck area, which in this case goes one level up – to the upper or some other deck. Here everything depends on the yard’s creativity and the design of a particular boat. 

What is a foredeck for? 

Initially, sails, anchoring, mooring and other kinds of equipment were stored here. This area also served as a kind of “buffer” for protection from splashes and waves, but with time this purely technical role waned, and the space began to be used for guests’ entertainment. 

The XSV20 yacht cuts through the wave (Safehaven Marine, 23 m)
The XSV20 yacht cuts through the wave (Safehaven Marine, 23 m)

On modern yachts a foredeck is meant mainly for relaxation and sometimes for storing tenders and water toys, but a lot depends on the size and capabilities of a boat and the owner’s wishes: smaller boats normally have sunpads and seating areas here, while designers of larger vessels may offer the owners a helipad, a pool or an open-air cinema on the foredeck. 

Let’s look at some examples of how a foredeck is used. It should be noted here that it is not an exhaustive list of what can be found on foredecks of yachts of different sizes, but rather options of using them for different purposes and in different categories. 

Foredecks on the yachts of 10-20 m 

The 11.62-metre Jeanneau Leader 36's foredeck can accommodate nothing but a large sunpad
The 11.62-metre Jeanneau Leader 36's foredeck can accommodate nothing but a large sunpad

The vast majority of smaller yachts have a sunpad on the main deck forward, as there is not much space here. Sunpads may be of different shapes, single or double, with cup holders or without, sometimes there are built-in fridges, but there is not much room anyway. The only thing left to do here is lie down and sunbathe, or hold on to anything you can and get a shot of adrenaline by staying on the foredeck when the yacht is on the move.

Predator 55 EVO's foredeck (Sunseeker, 17.05 m)
Predator 55 EVO's foredeck (Sunseeker, 17.05 m)

The yachts that are closer to 20 metres long feature lounges with sofas or sunbeds with tables. There can also be shade sails or canopies to provide shelter from the sun, which is particularly in demand in a hot climate. 

Foredecks on the yachts of 20-40 m

There is a lot more space forward in this category, so in addition to sunpads, one can also see seating areas with tables. Sometimes the space may be transformed from a sunpad to a dinette for breakfasts, and at time there can even be a small pool, like the one we can see it on the Evo V8, or an opportunity to arrange an open-air cinema like it has been done on the Sunseeker 90 Ocean. The tents are much more solid and are often electrically powered to make it more convenient for the guests. 

90 Ocean's foredeck (Sunseeker, 27.1 m)
90 Ocean's foredeck (Sunseeker, 27.1 m)

When the yacht is over 30 metres and the shape of the bow allows, designers may add small pools surrounded by sunpads, like we can see it on the Columbus Liberty 38m. Moreover, this yacht features a slightly raised terrace with a pool and a sunpad, while one level down there is a full-fledged dining area next to it. The design of the vessel allows for her extension with the help of adjoining areas, like we can find it on the Sanlorenzo SL96 Asymmetric. The Raised Pilot House allowed for adding a vast sunpad located a level up to the foredeck, and to unite them into one area, where one can sunbathe, look around and have breakfast. 

SL96 Asymmetric's foredeck (Sanlorenzo, 29,06 m)
SL96 Asymmetric's foredeck (Sanlorenzo, 29.06 m)

There can also be tenders, water toys and cranes for launching them on the foredecks of the 20-40-metre yachts. Sometime owners choose to store their tenders and jet skis here to free up more space for a beach club aft. So, all in all, there are quite a lot of options for 20-40 metres, and only the next category may probably offer even more. 

The Grande Trideck's foredeck with a jacuzzi and a lounge (Azimut, 38.2 m)
Grande Trideck's foredeck with a jacuzzi and a lounge (Azimut, 38.2 m)

Foredecks on the yachts of over 40 m 

We left this category open on purpose, as the yachts over 40 metres are most often designed to meet individual needs, and the foredeck can be turned into a helipad, or a pool, or a tender storage area. It is probably most relevant to look at particular examples of using the foredeck in this category. 

For example, the 41.18-metre M55 yacht, created in 2020 by Turkish Yildiz Shipyard, is a clear contender for the “most feature-packed foredeck in her category” title. Just check out what a lot of things there are: there is anchor equipment at the very bow, then there is a slightly raised pool – and not just a pool, but surrounded by bar stands and chairs on two sides. Then there is space for freestanding furniture like sun loungers and cocktail tables, and right next to the wheelhouse there is a huge five-seat sofa that can transform into an equally large sunpad. 

M55's foredeck with a pool, a bar, a sunpad and a sunbed (Yildiz Shipyard, 41.18 m)
M55's foredeck with a pool, a bar, a sunpad and a sunbed (Yildiz Shipyard, 41.18 m)

The foredeck of the 49.98-metre Cecilia by Wider is divided into three parts. The first one is a touch-and-go helipad. The second one is a cosy observation “nest” with two almost circular couches a la Pac-Man and coffee tables, which can be sheltered by an awning fixed on carbon fibre poles. The third one is a jacuzzi surrounded by the teak deck, where one can also put sun loungers. It is interesting to note that the helipad is empty, most of the time, so it can be used as a dance floor, as the Dj gear and speakers are concealed in special outlets here.

The Cecilia's foredeck is divided into three areas (Wider, 49.98 m)
The Cecilia's foredeck is divided into three areas (Wider, 49.98 m)

The 63.7-metre Scout explorer by Dutch Hakvoort is a good example of a completely “technical” use of a foredeck. There is a helipad at the very bow, followed by two 8-metre tenders, Cockwells and Novurania LX. Between the tenders there is a huge crane for launching them into the water. And that is it. This kind of “modesty” despite the size has to do with the expedition character of the boat, which can travel to the most remote parts of the ocean, so the owner decided to “sacrifice” the foredeck in order to free up more space aft for the beach club with a gym and a massage room.

The Scout's foredeck is used for storing tenders (Hakvoort, 63.7 m)
The Scout's foredeck is used for storing tenders (Hakvoort, 63.7 m)

The owners of the 74-metre Cloud 9, built by Italian CRN, on the contrary, gave up the idea of a helipad on the foredeck in favour of a large entertainment platform. The foredeck is home to a circular podium sheltered by a tent with a kind of chill-out arear with beanbag chairs and a low table. There two huge sunbeds with table nearby, which form a lounge area for soaking up the sun or having breakfast. As the owners are fond of singing, in the evening the foredeck turns into an open-air karaoke club or a cinema. 

There is a lounge and a karaoke club on Cloud 9's foredeck (CRN, 74 m)
There is a lounge and a karaoke club on Cloud 9's foredeck (CRN, 74 m)

The original owner of the 95.2-metre Kismet by German Lürssen, Shahid Khan, decided to arrange a streetball court on the foredeck (which is about half the size of a basketball court). The hoop comes right out of the deck, a net is stretched along the sides, and a game starts. By the way, the audience can watch the game from a jacuzzi located near here or from one of the two vast sofas. In case there are more guests coming “out of the blue”, the game has to be interrupted, as the second function of the foredeck is a helipad. 

The Whisper's foredeck (ex-Kismet) houses both a helipad and a streetball court (Lürssen, 95.2 m)
The Whisper's foredeck (ex-Kismet) houses both a helipad and a streetball court (Lürssen, 95.2 m)

Can a yacht have a few foredecks? It is quite a rare case, but it may be found, too. For example, the 116-metre Ulysses explorer by Norwegian Kleven Maritime AS features three foredecks. The first one is the open area forward on board the explorer itself. The second one is the foredeck of 21.25-metre Princess 68 that is stored here, and the third one belongs to the tender by HCB Center Console Yachts (now Hydra-Sports Custom) parked nearby.

The 116-metre Ulysses explorer (now Multiverse) features three foredecks
The 116-metre Ulysses explorer (now Multiverse) features three foredecks

Foredeck as an all-season deck 

If would be strange if a foredeck remained invariably open and designers didn’t try making it more attractive for the owners and their guests. And the attempts to reconsider this space are being made. Thus, a trend that is gaining more and more popularity at present is for partially or fully closed foredecks that house lounges or observation points. This kind of solutions can be found on the 77-metre La Datcha and the 58-metre Pink Shadow by Damen Yachting.

The 58-metre Pink Shadow's foredeck is sheltered
The 58-metre Pink Shadow's foredeck is sheltered

Their foredecks are home to sheltered lounge areas, where one can observe the surroundings regardless of the weather. A similar solution has been applied on the Infynito 80 and Infynito 90 crossovers by Ferretti Yachts. The larger 26.97-metre Infynito 90 boasts a foredeck that is called an “all-weather terrace”, where there can be a lounge, or a jacuzzi, or an al fresco dining area. This kind of foredecks has its advantages, as it may “function” regardless of the elements both as an exterior or an interior space. This trend is very likely to develop. 

There is an all-season terrace instead of a foredeck on board the 26.97-metre Infynito 90
There is an all-season terrace instead of a foredeck on board the 26.97-metre Infynito 90

We have figured out what a foredeck is and taken a look at various options of its usage on yachts of different sizes. Now, you can take another look at Olivia O and give an expert answer to the question we asked at the beginning: does this yacht have a foredeck?

Olivia O superyacht
Olivia O superyacht
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Roman Lyamtsev
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