For many businesses, the run-up to Christmas is a time for quietly winding down before the festive break, but in the super yacht industry, the last weeks of the year are often the busiest. Many owners are keen to complete a sale of their yacht before the year end and buyers are just as keen to get the deal done so they can make plans for the New Year.
Yachting Partners International’s (YPI) most recent sale was also the fifth largest brokerage motor yacht sale of the year, the stunning €70 million O’PARI3. Constructed by Golden Yachts in 2015, the 72m custom-built O’PARI3 is the 160th largest in the world, its sale successfully handled by YPI Senior Broker, Matt Albert who acted for both the buyer and the seller in the transaction and who now has two of his transactions appearing in the Top 10 largest super yacht sales of 2016.
The sale of O’PARI3 shows there is plenty of interest from clients in the larger end of the market. We have found that, in 2016, there has been continued activity around the 60 metres and above sector – but conversely also around the 24-40m size range, which still accounts for over 70% of all worldwide sales. Interest in the 40-50m range remains solid but this year is showing signs of a dip.
Overall, sales in the super yacht market have slowed a little compared to 2015 and 2014. Working with the Boat International group, we have recorded around 310 sales in the world so far this year, compared to just under 400 in 2015 and more than 410 the year before. Even allowing for a strong December, the volume of sales is pacing behind the last three years.
As to why that may be, it’s not so clear. Of course, 2016 has been witness to some major geopolitical events, such as the Brexit vote and the US elections, but whilst there may be plenty of speculation, there’s little evidence that either have had any direct impact. It’s also worth noting that despite the pacing of sales, the average Asking Price of yachts sold during the year is holding firm at around €6.86m compared to €5.95m in 2015 or €6.7m in 2014.
American buyers continue to drive the market, as they have for the last four or five years, with strong interest also from the UK, Middle East and Russia. We are starting to see interest from buyers in South America, India and Asia, but it’s not yet strong enough to translate into appreciable volumes.
Taking a longer-term view, the super yacht market, which has doubled in size over the last couple of decades, is continuing to enjoy healthy growth. The most obvious sign of this is the growing number of clients booking bespoke holidays on luxury yachts for the first time. Statistically, around 30% of those will go on to purchase their own yacht in the next 5 years or so, which is great news for our industry.
We can talk about numbers and trends, but at its heart, our industry is driven by the unique experiences which owners and charter guests enjoy on board the most luxurious yachts, with the most attentive, professional crew and chefs available and the most rewarding locations and destinations anywhere in the world.
Marketers tell us that UHNWIs are increasingly seeking unique experiences and quality time well spent rather than simply purchasing products and ‘things’. Well, I can think of no other offering more suited to that search than time spent on board a luxury yacht – whether it is chartered or your own personal pride and joy.
Mark Duncan is Commercial and Marketing Director at Yachting Partners International. An active ambassador for yachting, he is a regular speaker at various events, including the industry’s MYBA training seminars.