CNI
Sailing strong for over two centuries
Industry

Sailing strong for over two centuries

Paolo Casani
30th October 2019

Today’s superyacht industry is a sea of superlatives.

Boats are becoming longer and stronger, and are sailing faster and farther than ever before. Guarding over two centuries of glory in this multi-billion-Euro marketplace is Paolo Casani.

By sailing to emerging markets with pioneering yachts,

he predicts another record-breaking year.

After a leisurely breakfast they stroll passed the yacht show traffic in a pair of Birkenstocks or Tod’s. It’s going to be a long day.

You never forget the morning of your first Monaco Yacht Show. Pontoons become boulevards, weaving among an estimated $5bn of boats. Port Hercule morphs into a city-state with over 30,000 visitors, as populous as the Principality itself. Some participants arrive in Eurocopters to the Heliport near Camper & Nicholsons HQ. Others are guests of the Car Deck where they can test drive a Tesla or a McLaren GT. The savviest travellers stay at The Fairmont or the Hotel de Paris. After a leisurely breakfast they stroll passed the yacht show traffic in a pair of Birkenstocks or Tod’s. It’s going to be a long day.

Within this maritime republic, 50 speedboats glide like 21st-century gondolas. To ride one lends a breezy sense of scale. Some 95% of superyachts will cruise through the South of France during their lifetime, and 125 of them are here right now. These vessels tower above the tenders - sometimes six, eight, ten decks high - awing with their workmanship, manpower and go-anywhere élan. Brokers, buyers, journalists and PRs dominate every jetty. Red Arrows display jets dominate the air. Even a boat ride outside Port Hercule offers limited respite. Dozens more yachts lie at anchor, dominating the horizon in a priceless playground from Cap Martin to Cap Ferrat.

There’s a reason for such exuberance. In 2018 our industry hosted another record brokerage year. Ten years ago, 285 pre-owned yachts were sold for a total value of $2.2bn. In 2017, that number leapt to 428 sold for $2.9bn. Last year even that record was smashed. We witnessed 453 pre-owned yachts sold for a total price of $3.6bn, and 2019 promises more of the same. The average sale price per yacht has also risen - to over $9m per boat. Yachts are getting longer too. As clients request submersibles and aquatic toys, and even outdoor kitchens and drone photography units, newer boats are breaking the mould in both size and design.

Fortunately shipyards have responded to this tightening market. They have the confidence to speculatively create new build yachts safe in the knowledge that a buyer will wish to purchase a vessel - with enough time before delivery to add their personal preference for an extended swim deck or a custom casino. Among the most interesting in the new build class is Joubert-Nivelt’s 38m OCEA 125XP. It blends the striking looks of a modern tri-deck with the additions of an ocean explorer vessel: ice cruising capabilities, a heavy weather tender launcher and a bulbous bow for mounting the high seas.

Our brokerage data also helps us source the perfect pre-owned yacht. As we’ve been keeping logs since 1782, we hold an unrivalled knowledge of 13,800 existing vessels, including the 2,140 on sale today. Our rarest gems include 46m Mutiara Laut, a Dutch design that recalls twin-masted schooners built in Holland centuries ago. In Indonesian her name translates as ‘Sea Pearls’. That’s a particularly apt title as she charters - also through Camper & Nicholsons - in the Banda Sea where the world's largest pearl oysters produce stones 2cm across in white, platinum and charcoal colours.

How we protect our seas in the next ten years is as important as for the next 1,000 years. It’s up to us to make sure Camper & Nicholsons leads the race.

Many clients desire a full charter solution. As with 60m Sarastar, which pairs the interiors of a design hotel with an open-plan top deck garden. Our brokers currently market her from $364,000 per week - the at-sea gym and sailing dinghy no doubt adding to her appeal. Industry developments mean that clients also turn to us for risk management, crew placement and global security. Then an owner can truly enjoy their yacht, while defraying the cost of purchase with peace of mind.

Unfortunately for me, as the industry grows, yacht marketing becomes harder not easier. We are safeguarding two centuries of heritage in a world where Google knows what you’ll type - even before your fingers hit the keys. For example, this year I’ll call into our 12 global bureaux for old-fashioned facetime, drinking café con leche in Palma de Mallorca and attending press events with colleagues in New York. I’ll also live in digital destinations, working with streaming partners and via webinars to showcase 360° footage of our latest yachts. Our client base has also diversified. By 2040 the world’s top 20 economies will include Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria and the Philippines. We expect to welcome owners and charter guests from each. We can’t plan a strategy for next year if we haven’t thought two decades ahead.

Conversely, cruising grounds considered exotic 20 years ago are becoming commonplace. Montenegro is now the Eastern Mediterranean’s luxury yachting hub. Charter rule changes in Fiji means that sailors are staying the entire season.

Our Phuket bureau offers a case in point. It can arrange the charter of futuristic 41m Ocean Emerald, designed by Lord Norman Foster to look like a silver sail atop an azure sea. To cater for a multinational roster of clients she maintains two top chefs: one Thai, one French - that’s tom yum lobster one night, milkfish au beurre the next. One of her favourite destinations are the remote Anambas Islands, a distant regency marooned between Singapore and Borneo. Here the history is as intense as the diving, which includes the wreck of the Seven Skies, a 90,000 tanker guarded by eagle rays and rainbow runners since 1969. Who knows where guests will sail to next?

Last but not least, our market intelligence is pointing to new advances in CSR. Owners of our most environmentally aware boats like E&E and Blush are keying into a growing market for sustainable sailing. Guests aboard such yachts want to offset fuel consumption, cruise to more tranquil destinations or dine on ZeroKM delicacies in each destination. Our marketing director, Giulia Callegari, is an ambassador for several forthcoming ocean protection projects. How we protect our seas in the next ten years is as important as for the next 1,000 years. It’s up to us to make sure Camper & Nicholsons leads the race.

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