Sailing in the Sunshine State


The largest in-water boat show in the world opened its gates for the 63rd time last week as more than 100,000 attendees and 1,300 watercraft descended on Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From single-person kayaks to the biggest yacht on show, the 74m (242ft) Elandess, vessels of every type were on display at the five-day event.

“This show is the beating heart of the North American yacht market,” Bob Allen, senior partner and founder, Robert Allen Law, told Superyacht Investor. It’s easy to see why. This year’s event attracted 157 yachts above 24m (78ft) accounting for 12% of the total vessels at the show. There were also 45 more superyachts present than at the Monaco Yacht Show, 17 of which were making their debut.

Although Elandess was the largest yacht at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS), the largest vessel making its debut was Heesen’s 50m (164ft) Project Aura.

Other notable debutants were San Lorenzo’s SL120A and SP110 yachts, measuring 36.5m and 33.5m respectivelyTaiwanese yacht builder, Horizon also made a splash with its two debutants. Its tri-deck FD110 and FD100 models, measured at 33m and 30m respectively were on display at the Superyacht Village.

After Abeking & Rasmussen’s Elandess, the second biggest yacht was Lürssen’s 73m Coral Ocean. The third largest and the biggest vessel available for purchase was 64m Atomic, which was constructed by Viareggio Superyachts for its American owner in 2020. Yacht brokerage IYC listed the vessel for $63m.

Feadship’s nine-year-old, 61m racing green Sea Owl was present at the event too. Also on display and for sale with Moran Yacht & Ship for a cool $48m was 61m, Marguerite. Originally named Phoenix, the vessel was built by Lürssen in 2004 and joins the market after a refit at the end of last year.

Most of these vessels were located in The Superyacht Village. Secluded from the rest of the show,  visitors could not only view the luxury vessels but also the latest tenders and water toys for their yachts. And it gave many the chance to meet with renowned yacht builders.

Almost a quarter (23%) of superyacht owners worldwide are from the US alone, according to the SuperYacht Times State of Yachting 2022.

According to Allen, the boating world is back on track. “The yacht business is fantastic,” he said. “It creates employment for so many people from before the boat is even built, from the naval architects to the makers of all the component parts. And then to the owner. All over the world, the superyacht industry creates so much employment.”

Another enthusiastic visitor to this year’s event was James Jaffa, partner and founder of law firm Jaffa & Co. Jaffa relishes the chance to visit the US and see yachts from builders not typically found in Europe, he told Superyacht Investor.

“Whilst Monaco and Palm Beach tend to grab headlines for the highest number of superyachts exhibited. The breadth and overall number of boats on show at FLIBS is unmatched,” he said. “There is no denying that FLIBS is the largest show in the US and by extension, probably the world.”

But according to some, despite the appearance of yachts in such numbers, the industry-wide lack of available inventory was evident.

“There seems to be a reduced number of very large, pedigree superyachts, which is probably a reflection of the market,” said Jaffa. “I don’t know if this is correct but have heard several people comment on the lack of very large, new superyachts on display by European builders.”

This may, in part, be due to US owners’ appetite for the largest yachts by volume, equating to 21% compared to the 32.2% share of European owners and 22% from the Middle East.

Bob Allen previously highlighted this, stating that American owners drive the superyacht sector, rather than dominating the largest superyacht segments. Competition for the top segment of luxury superyachts is highly competitive.

“Demand remains higher than ever,” he said. If you want a pedigree new superyacht, you have to wait, unless you can take over someone’s position. There are still some of those opportunities available. And there are still high-end used boats available.”

What is beyond dispute is the revenue generated by the show for the local economy and the US market. Phil Purcell, CEO and president of FLIBS owners Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF), told SYI it creates mass amounts of wealth in the state of Florida alone.

“Along with historically generating more than $1.79bn economic impact for the state of Florida and an impactful revenue for South Florida’s marine, hospitality, and tourism industries, this year’s event made strides in sustainability that have set standards for shows to come,” he said.

Through a partnership with Yacht Carbon Offset, FLIBS claims to have offset 3,234t of CO2 from the event. FLIBS also contributed funds to the Chacayes Hydroelectric Project and the Wigton Windfarm Project in Jamaica.

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