As always before the turn of the year, we want to share with you our resume of the year and talk about the yacht ownership trends that we have been observing in our industry.
Viktor van Savooyen, co-founder of Yacht-Match:
My end of the year reflections have a lot do with why I felt in love with sailing, and particularly why we love doing what we are doing in Yacht-Match, connecting with so many likeminded people and professionals and ultimately, being fortunate enough to call the seas our working place and place of respite. I have a lot to thank the ocean for and therefore I also feel it’s our responsibility to be its advocate and share with as many people as possible the wellness and healing powers it brings. Specially in times like this, a year where I’ve noticed that people are generally more tense and anxious for reason obvious to us all, no matter what path in life you have been dealt or where in the world you reside.
That’s where the healing powers of the sea and connecting with the oceans through sailing can do wonders to your own personal well being and of those you care about.
I was fortunate enough to be able to go sailing in the Caribbean this fall. Again, combining work with pleasure, as I was helping a boat owner that I had helped from the past (prior to Yacht-Match) with his project of exiting a charter program of a large global charter fleet operator. You would think that a trip to “sailing paradise” would be like entering into a protected Eden where the people are unaffected by the “problems” of the world, spend their time living in unity and take a more celebratory approach to everyday life. You would also expect immersing yourself into a well-orchestrated sailing industry, with the best possible sailing conditions and amazing climate and nature and that those problems you left would also be left behind. Well, I would like to be bearer of good news for once, this is completely true for both cases.
Disconnect by connecting – Go Sailing!
Sailing connects you with the natures, the elements and most importantly with yourself in the now. It’s a mediative practice and it’s a team effort where you create your own little world onboard and you feel as one with your vessel and your surroundings and enjoy unerupted time together.
When tensions are high all around us and it can feel overbearing at times, GO SAILING! Just go I say! When news of the “world’s problems” are creating separation and misunderstanding between us as people and from different cultures, choose to react in the opposite way, and go traveling and connect with people around the world. Connect with yourself again and with friends or loved ones that you don’t see that often. Learn about the life and cultures of those places that you have dreamt about or take another chance to reconnect with a place that once travelled to and wish to explore further.
What better way than disconnecting by connecting with what is true and real, and what better means of doing this than sailing with your loved ones and friends, overcoming the real small problems aboard like running out of gas or planning where to anchor for the night?
In my end of the year reflections, I also have to mention something that deals with the business side of things. Perhaps this is where you “zone out” and leave me, or perhaps this is where I grab your attention and leave you with some thoughts and insight, in which this next piece is intended to do.
In my twelve odd years or so in this business, I have seen my fair portions of industry turmoil and world economic difficulties. I have been in the thick of it, at various stages of the process and with various commitment and responsibility in sales and as a consultant and purchase advisor for our boat owners who often entrusted you with their life long dreams and investments. The common denominator in all of this then, is that these fluctuations or challenges affects us all and to an almost symbiotic relation, they have a poetic similarity to the behavior of a long ground swell, passing over vast amount of body of water with its peaks and lows like a giant rolling wave.
What was a boom that hit its peak during covid, is now seeing its low, with prices for new builds increased by as much as 35-37% in the last 3.5 years, interest rate at 7% and a cost of ownership is still rising with insurances, berth, maintenance and upkeep and all other such related costs being a real factor for anyone considering yacht ownership today. 2023 was a year where we all “side-lined” and little to say or do about what is happening and rather could just be the observer and put our thinking hats on and work out the course of action when things are “normalized”.
So what is to be expected from 2024?
We can expect that the market will balance itself and that prices will now be the standard. Once said and it remains to be truth and reality, the yacht charter market remains to be most resilient part of the industry and it plays a vital role with manufacturer, the dealerships and the global business that are promoting yachting to newcomers and outsiders. We also see that those boat owners with some experience, either with a current ownership or a past ownership, are always in a better seat and standpoint if helped professionally.
Your broker, dealership, or whatever yachting professional you are connected with, should be a well versed business with a well-established network with the similar intentions as yourself and work more as your business partner. Without professional help, you are like the thousands of boat owners from period prior and during the pandemic, just another “keyboard” warrior online or a boat owner “promised” services complaints futility towards the shipyard that won’t communicate directly with you, or you are the mercy of a broker or dealership half-way across the world not willing or perhaps knowledgeable to perform their promises and part of the agreement comes the time.
How to avoid Disruptive elements – Become informed and partner with a professional
One thing that was noticeable from 2023, was that those of us ready to make a commitment and active on the market as “opportunists”. We believe this behavior passed over from the boom (highs) from just before Covid and during the pandemic, where plenty of brokers where too happy to offer yachts to anyone and at any cost and making promises to unaware or often unexperienced buyers.
Many who became boat owners during the pandemic also quickly realized that it wasn’t for them, due to poorly managed broker-client relations and non-professional business methods where little after-sales and services where kept and the boat owners received a sobering awakening about “chasing for deals” will be costly in the end. Plenty of boat owners found out that sitting with ownership and upkeep costs and perhaps also a “loan” (financing), wasn’t what they expected and being “first timers” they are now looking to sell, and it needs to be quick, and that often leads to lowering the prices. Out of this was conceived, the animosity towards “brokers” or “intermediates” when purchasing or selling a yacht. Boat buyers and those on the market, are coming in contact with the most prolific of methods from unprofessional brokers and dealers who cast their wide net and offer “deals” and “offers”.
Becoming more aware of the commitments of a professional broker and most certainly an official representative of a shipyard, the presumptive buyers are gradually gaining mistrust from the many “bad reviews” found online from disgruntled boat owners from this period. The sellers (boat owners) are choosing not use a broker to represent them and mediate the sales, and the presumptive boat buyer is on the market looking for a listing or opportunity to buy directly from the owner and negotiate the transaction, the transfer, and the sales, blatantly unaware of the problems to come for both of them.
Should they only have been helped by a professional broker or shipyard representative, ideally one with the right intentions, experience, and most importantly the right network, they would have had much better experience and actually would have been in a situation right now where the seller is not “forced to sell” and the buyer is granted all the privileges and securities that a professional and experienced broker will give them.
Owning a boat is always partaking with responsibility and relying on services from professionals in the yachting industry. Choose your yachting partner carefully, and for your own sake chose one and don’t stand there like the thousands of boat owners we hear from and about online today.
Choose carefully, but always choose a Professional Broker or a Buyer’s Agent!
Dirk Agter, co-founder of Yacht-Match:
YM Yachts & Brokerage
We conducted market research to find a performance multihull brand to add to our portfolio of high-quality production shipyards. During the first half of 2023, we met with several shipyards, including Marsaudon, Outremer, HH, Black Pepper, and Neel. After careful consideration, we concluded that ITA Catamarans was the best fit for us regarding shared values such as performance, quality, and customer focus. We are proud to have been chosen by ITA Catamarans to represent their brand in Northern Europe.
In April, we strengthened our bond with Italia Yachts through sea trials and shipyard visits with clients, and we sold our first Italia Yachts 9.98, which will be available for charter in 2024.
The Multihull Show, held in La Grande Motte, was a great success. The Nautitech 40 Open Millisime and Nautitech 44 Open were presented in the water during the event. In addition, the Nautitech 48 Open was presented through a virtual 3-D display. The Nautitech 40 Open Millisime is the latest generation. The design is based on the new 44 and features a further optimised finish. This year’s Cannes Yachting Festival was the first where we were present at the stands of all three brands, including Italia Yachts.
During the last quarter of 2023, the Nautitech 48 Open was introduced, and several sea trials were conducted with potential buyers. We noticed a growing interest among our clients in purchasing pre-owned yachts, alongside the continuing strong demand for new yachts.
YM Sustainable Solutions
Our team member, Luka Prazic, who is an aspiring naval architect, put in a great effort and succeeded in selling and installing energy production and storage systems on catamarans and monohulls at YM Sustainable Solutions. We can install many more solar panels on these vessels as flat solar panels can be directly installed on decks, roofs, biminis and sprayhoods. After thoroughly investigating the demand and area for solar panels, lithium batteries, and peripheral equipment, we successfully created yachts that can operate independently of fossil fuels for several days. This increases the overall comfort on board as well as lessens the pollution of the environment.
One of the top Italian shipyards has hired YM Sustainable Solution to create, design, and deliver electric solutions for their sailing yachts. The release of these solutions is set for 2024.
Let’s aim for sailing many miles without producing carbon emissions on the sea!
General yacht ownership
As a general trend, I anticipate that certain clients’ uncertainty about the economic conditions in 2023 will gradually transform into acceptance of the current state and, consequently, restore confidence in purchasing yachts and renting boats. Additionally, the growing environmental awareness will likely prompt more boat owners to seek ways of converting their yachts to achieve a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of life.
Daria Petrova, YM Charter & Management:
2023 has been above all having to deal with the global uncertainty of our clients. Our clients choose our comprehensive consultancy services to get advice and reliable information and to be aware of what to expect when you become a boat owner and how to find solutions to every topic connected to the boat ownership. Normally, this process ends with the yacht purchase and the charter management plan. Unlike the years before, this year we could observe how uncertain many of them started to feel when we proceeded to estimate their budget needed for the purchase and their yacht ownership or charter ownership costs. We have seen many clients hesitating at this point. Why has this become so critical?
- The yacht charter season 2023 has been overall less satisfactory than in the years before.
- The costs for marinas in almost all Mediterranean sailing regions have risen compared to last year.
- The maintenance costs and spare parts prices have risen.
- The interest rates for yacht financing have risen.
When you base the charter feasibility calculations on the factors mentioned above, it gets more difficult to achieve positive profitability number at the end of the calculation. We not only have to adapt the charter rates increasing the charter prices for the end client, but also see how to keep and maintain the yacht in a more efficient way without affecting the quality. Many charter fleet operators have found an own strategy and are dealing very successfully with this new reality achieving a good number of bookings for their boats. Others will still have to optimize their operations. This is where a good partner network becomes crucial. Being able to compare yacht charter programs and yacht charter management offers gives our clients a unique chance to plan better and be more prepared in advance. Apart of it, we offer the possibility to switch to a different fleet after every season, if the owner wishes so, which is the most flexible solution on the market.
Judging by the early booking numbers for 2024 so far, the new yacht charter season promises to be better compared to 2023, giving positive expectations to many yacht owners. Being sure to have your boat in a fleet with an optimized management strategy and a good and personal relationship with your charter management partner will be your key to success in the yacht charter business in 2024.
2024 will be an exhilarating year, full of endless opportunities and boundaries waiting to be pushed.
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