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First time charters
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First time charters

Tristan Rutherford
23rd August 2021

Guests never forget their first charter. The chance to sail away from the everyday. Each voyage is unique. Some guests have Pol Roger on tap, others a fridge filled with Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche.
Some guests stream Bach on their Bose headphones, others play Jay Z across the deck. What’s true is that once-in-alifetime memories impart a yearning for more. Once bitten by the superyacht bug, the only antidote is to book again.
The owners of 50m Trending were bitten, smitten and sold. The family chartered 40 yachts over a 20-year period. Such experience created opportunity. In short, they knew how to craft the ultimate first-time charter yacht.

Trending has six light-filled staterooms, each one, with ensuite bathrooms and double sinks. An 11m (37ft) Boston Whaler with a dive door and barbeque, plus two fast Novurania tenders, are ready to embark on private missions for pirate picnics or quayside promenades. The yacht contains enough toys, loungers and wine glasses to occupy a small Caribbean island.


Is accommodation and equipment the biggest surprise for first-time guests on Trending? “No,” says her Captain Randall Petersen. “It’s almost always our level of service. They aren’t accustomed to the standards we set. For example, last year a principal charter guest wanted a faux wedding celebration on a Caribbean beach.” Complete with white linen, fireworks and floral displays. “Good thing we didn’t go through with the full ceremony,” continues Captain Petersen, “as I am ordained to perform marriages!”


“The second shock is the food,” says Petersen. “We have two chefs, an Anglo-Australian and a South African, on rotation. One of them trained in a Michelin-star kitchen.” Highly individualised menus might include wagyu carpaccio with shards of truffle and Parmesan.
Or a deconstructed Eton Mess, the strawberries and cream dessert beloved of Britain’s upper classes. “It’s constantly, constantly inventive,” says Petersen. “Some guests even ask to accompany our chef to the fish market and children love to join in with the baking.”

During his five year captaincy, Petersen has noticed two emerging charter trends. The first is that guests increasingly request the unusual. “We did a couple of months in Belize last year. It’s a great place if you like being in the water as they have the second largest barrier reef in the world.” Only 10% of this 300km UNESCO-protected reef has been researched - by Jacques Cousteau among others, who explored the 125m-deep Great Blue Hole sinkhole with its hammerhead parades. “For some guests Trending will be their first opportunity to scuba,” continues the captain. “All groups are led by our onboard divemasters. One has a degree in marine biology.”


The second trend is for experiences. “Guests want to take away memories to last a lifetime,” says Petersen.
Fortunately the captain oversaw Trending’s $4m refit in 2016 that was explicitly planned to deliver dreams. “We have three waverunners, glass-bottomed kayaks, paddleboards. Plus a kitesurfing instructor who can teach guests an experience they’ve never had before. The owner is always buying the latest, greatest equipment, like eFoil Fliteboards,” which hover above the waves at speed. Whatever the fantasy, Trending fulfils it. It’s hard to believe her owners were first time charterers once.

Okto “doesn’t receive many first time charters”, says her captain Aydan Longmore. “Guests often build up to this level after testing the waters with 25m or 30m boats”. There’s a reason for that. At 66.5m, with a jet black prowling hull, Okto was built to scare lesser yachts into submission. Her bridge looks like the control room of the Death Star. And thanks to the interior genius of Alberto Pinto, the design studio that redesigns Boeing 747s for private use, her six staterooms could double for the Hotel de Crillon.
She’s one of the most recognisable yachts on earth.

Which makes Captain Longmore’s next assertion all the more surprising. “I think today’s guests are more concerned about experiences rather than the flashy aspect of yachting,” he explains. Okto’s recent experiences included “a private tour of the Vatican and a day making buffalo mozzarella” at an Italian agriturismo. “Guests are certainly blown away when they see our four tender bays. But what’s more impressive is setting up an inflatable Aquatic Olympics watercourse and playing with their kids.
A more humble offering like this goes a long way because people can be quite spoiled for choice.”


And when a first time guest does step aboard? “It’s quite exciting to see the look on their faces,” says Longmore, with some understatement. “Okto has a massive foredeck where a touch-and-go helipad can land. A huge upper deck aft.” The main deck aft boasts “enormous wow factor.” An infinity pool, measuring 6m by 4m with temperature control, Jacuzzi functions and a contra-flow for cardio exercise, overlooks the ocean. “It impresses any guest, every time.”

And yet. Luxury isn’t limited to toys, although Okto’s flotilla of flyboards, hoverboards and five high-speed tenders would fulfil James Bond’s Christmas list. Nor the excitement centered on capability, “although the yacht can go absolutely anywhere,” says Longmore.

“Instead first time guests don’t realise how luxury translates into a team of 16 crew committed to every detail of each guest’s day.” For example, Okto’s Hungarian chef Sabi, a veteran of five star hotels in Britain and Italy, might spend days sourcing ingredients for a specific personality on board. “Any villa or restaurant should be able to get food right,” says Longmore. “But when it’s served on the setting of a yacht you can take it to another level.”

In 2020 Longmore also noticed a trend for the extraordinary. “Last summer we covered more ground (in the Mediterranean) than at any time since I joined Okto six years ago,” he says. “In Croatia tiny little bays, with the clearest water you’ve laid eyes on, are a dime a dozen. You get the magical feeling that you’re the only person that exists.” Greece is a personal favourite. “Any yacht can get out the toys. We recently sent guests hiking in the Peloponnese Mountains and arranged a trip to Olympia, the ancient start line of the Olympic Games.” The race to win charter guests’ hearts has just begun.

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