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The Monaco Report
Fabio Ermetto
15th May 2019

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The Monaco Report

For centuries Camper & Nicholsons have grown alongside their principal base of Monaco. Here the firm pioneered the industry’s first overseas offices in the 1960s, as Grand Prix cars raced around Port Hercules. As the Principality expands once again, Chief Commercial Officer Fabio Ermetto details the heritage - and evolution - of both company and country.

The Principality of Monaco keeps growing. During the 1880s, the harbour area was reclaimed from the sea. The Yacht Club de Monaco was formed swiftly after. When the Grand Prix commenced in 1929 it raced on streets that had been underwater a few decades before. Its opening round was won by William Grover-Williams, a British gentleman who passed his driving test in a Rolls-Royce. Two years later, the winning driver was Louis Chiron in a Bugatti. A bust of the great Monégasque driver resides near the Camper & Nicholsons headquarters.

During the 1880s, our company was also growing fast. In 1887 our Gosport shipyard delivered the 44m Amphitrite. Like many Camper & Nicholsons yachts, the ten-sailed schooner enjoyed a life as rarefied as our clientele. Her ownership passed from a Scottish duke to a Swedish industrialist, then to a German movie company, where she starred in several films. As our stature rests upon our reputation, I’m glad to report that Amphitrite remains one of the world’s oldest working yachts alongside four other Gosport builds, each over a century old. Sometimes one doesn’t buy a boat, but a legend.

In the 1960s Monaco grew again. Prince Rainier III, a ruler nicknamed ‘the builder prince’, created the Fontvieille district, where our offices are based. Building works also delivered the Fairmont tunnel, through which the era’s Formula 1 stars like Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart raced in Ferrari and Maserati cars. Camper & Nicholsons grew in tandem. That decade the firm pioneered the industry’s first overseas offices, first in Cannes, then in Palma and Monaco, to broker evergrander yachts. These included the 41m Sir Winston Churchill, a three-masted racing yacht that turned heads – and trounced competitors for speed.

It’s not only Monaco and Camper & Nicholsons that are getting larger. As the 2018 Monaco Yacht Show proved, luxury yachts are also increasing in size, splendour and environmental sustainability. A case in point is Fincantieri’s 145m concept yacht, Fortissimo. She is designed to accomodate 16 guests spread across seven decks at speeds of up to 35 knots. Powered by waterjet engines, Fortissimo smashes the traditional superyacht mould. When she is commissioned she will be even larger than Ocean Victory, the 140m Fincantieri designed by Espen Oeino, which was brokered by my colleague Alex Lees-Buckley. Even before the Monaco event, a barely precedented six yachts over 70m had already been commissioned in 2018.
Furthermore, newly built luxury yachts are selling at a rate scarcely envisioned in decades past. Just as Ferrari and Maserati made Formula 1 cars, this market is dominated by Italian teams to the tune of 40% of global production. Sanlorenzo remains a market leader. One of the Monaco Yacht Show stars was their 500Explorer. The yacht’s extended aft can host a helicopter above its 7m tender garage. Additional openings unfold into a private beach club to rival anything in St Tropez. One of the most exciting yachts we sold this year was a 40m custom explorer from Cantiere delle Marche. Ultra efficient engines give her a range of 5,500 nautical miles. That’s the equivalent of sailing from our Monaco office to the Bahamas, without pausing for gas.

My education as a naval architect in Holland engendered a great respect for Dutch shipyards like Heesen, Feadship and Amels. The world’s second biggest yacht producing nation leads the park in larger luxury boats. Heesen are pioneering concepts like the 83m Maximus. Like a modern racing car, she pairs a superlight structure with unrivalled power. Maximus also contains the apparel requested by tomorrow’s superyacht owners: twin VIP suites, a vast swimming pool and a near vertical bow to ensure fuel efficiency and more interior space.

It’s worth noting that these modern yachts still call upon long-established partners. Some 90% of luxury yachts will pass through the Principality of Monaco during their lifetime. Many will be serviced, represented, brokered or managed by Camper & Nicholsons, the industry’s oldest, largest and most trusted name. It’s one thing to market a ground-breaking vessel. It’s another thing to help plan, finance, insure, survey and assist with a sale from anything from 12 months to five years. Tradition never grows old.
So much so that Monaco is expanding once again. Visitors to the 2018 yacht show would have seen the new Portier Cove suburb rising from the ocean near the Fairmont Hotel. In 2025 it will deliver another marina and a longer seafront promenade. Plus a tower designed by one of my architectural heroes (and fellow Italian) Renzo Piano. This rising eco-district foresees some of the challenges faced by the yachting industry. Portier Cove will glean 40% of its power from solar, while recycling rainwater into its forest surrounds. By 2050 the Principality will be Carbon Neutral, as perhaps will be several of our newest, quietest, go-anywhere vessels. By coincidence, our neighbour in Monaco is the Venturi Formula E team. During the forthcoming season, Felipe Massa will race their all-electric car.

Camper & Nicholsons will also grow into the next decade. We have recently pioneered an in-house insurance solution, which links a dream team of marine surveyors, medical insurers, naval architects and former merchant ship managers. By hosting staff in emerging markets - our Hong Office sits alongside the Hong Kong Club, while the new Phuket bureau overlooks the Andaman Sea - we can anticipate the needs of clients in the world’s fastest growing economic zone. Furthermore, my colleagues in China and Thailand have formed links with Asian shipyards like Pride to source the latest 100m-plus yachts. A company doesn’t remain in business since 1782 by cruising in others’ wake.
Like Monaco itself, the Campers & Nicholsons heritage allows us to build and innovate in the manner of our founders. We raise a toast to more centuries sailing side by side.