Transom fenders were once rare to find on many superyachts due to the lack of a useable swim platform or transom space for water sports and tender operations. Fast forward 20 years and they are now a staple part of the guest setup.
More recently, we are seeing small to medium sized sailing yachts installing transom fenders as they begin the transition from smaller tenders to larger chase boats, extending their cruising capabilities.
Transom fenders were originally designed and manufactured with one key purpose, to protect the swim platform or transom edge and paintwork from tenders and toys. However, as the industry has moved on, their role has become multi-purpose by adding more space to the transom and to assist crew and guests in water sports operations. This design change has transformed the guest experience as water sports activities and tender operations occur daily during guest trips.
There are many different types of transom fender available on the current market from a simpler stainless-steel structure with Hypalon or foam pads to the more advanced carbon fibre structure with closed cell foam fenders, integrated handrails and tender whip mounts. Not only do they have a specific purpose on the transom, they are now designed to be aesthetically pleasing as the owner’s eye for detail stretches from the interior to the exterior of the yacht.
Currently there are two distinct products that make up a transom fender system. The first is the solid core foam fender that plays a key role in protecting the delicate transom edge. The solid core foam fender is moulded to fit the swim platform/ transom and is unique to every yacht, with optional extras including a faux teak top blending the fenders seamlessly into the deck.
The second product that is involved in the transom fender system are the vertical pillar fenders (also known as tender fenders). These are commonly used in conjunction with the solid core foam fenders especially where tenders with a high freeboard frequently come alongside. Furthermore, yachts with large shell doors and side boarding platforms are now integrating vertical pillar fenders into them to increase boarding options for guests. The vertical pillar fenders are typically constructed from composite materials and come in a variety of shapes and sizes from hinged fenders for tenders with flared bows/ sterns to fixed fenders that work with a multitude of tenders and toys.
These fenders are almost sacrificial as they are the final resting point for the tender in berthing operations. The more moving parts that are involved in the vertical pillar fender, the more chance there is of structural failure. The location of the moving components will cause a weakness within the structure, especially when a tender collides with the fender with force due to weather conditions and sea states.
Shipyard Supply Co. are at the forefront of design when it comes to transom fenders, constantly reviewing their products to ensure that they are ahead of the market. Their latest innovative design is for the sailing yacht market. The key difference with this new product is that they are shorter, making them easier to handle and stow (a key point where swim platforms aren’t that big!). All SSCo.’s vertical pillar fenders are manufactured from carbon fibre and are designed to be easily installed either in the outfitting stage of a new build or retrofitted to an operational yacht.
As you can see from the images above, the SSCo vertical pillar fenders are perfect for sailing yachts where swim ladders are either used at the side or centrally on the platform. Furthermore, as well as being the fender of choice for the larger tenders and chase boats, the vertical pillar fender also incorporates a handle on the top to aid boarding the mothership or tender, removing the need for a separate boarding pole.
Recently, there has been an increase in demand for tenders with higher freeboards where owners/ guests are requesting full standing headroom within the tender. This creates a situation where there is a large step up between the transom and tender. SSCo. have developed the transom step that can be incorporated into the transom fender setup to enable the embarkation/ disembarkation of guests from the tender to the yacht in a safe and secure manner.
As the images above show, the transom step provides a seamless transition from deck to tender and is in keeping with the yachts design, unlike the boxier steps that are currently available on the market. Furthermore, the transom step can be located in a number of set positions onboard (to be determined prior to installation) as well as being a key player in guest transfers. This is a must have product where there are young/ old guests frequently boarding tenders.