OPINION: Superyacht owners: Changing the narrative


The press love a juicy story about a superyacht.

Perhaps it is curiosity for a world that for many is unattainable that makes yachts’ allure so insatiable.

Or maybe it’s just good old-fashioned nosiness.

Whatever the reasons may be, the public can’t seem to get enough of them.

This week one of the world’s most famous yacht owners, Sir Phillip Green, was named in the House of Lords by Lord Peter Hain as the individual who was granted an interim injunction against the Daily Telegraph.The injunction temporarily prevented a story regarding alleged racial and sexual harassment being published.

Sir Phillip made his billions through retail shops Miss Selfridge and Topshop but rose to greater notoriety in recent years for selling BHS to serial bankruptee, Dominic Chappell for £1. History has a habit of repeating itself, so it came as no surprise that 13 months later Chappell placed BHS in administration.

Sir Phillip told a parliamentary committee this year that selling the beleaguered store to Chappell was the “worst mistake of his life” and in an attempt to make amends paid £363 million pounds into a pension fund for ex-BHS staff.

The latest allegations have slammed Sir Phillip right back into the public spotlight.

And Lionheart too.

In a number of the publications on Sir Phillip last week the details of his superyacht were never far behind – the 90 metre Lionheart has become synonymous with her owner and her owner’s reputation.

With photos of Lionheart displayed in almost every article on Sir Phillip since being named by Lord Hain, the superyacht becomes a dog whistle for gluttony, excess wealth and exuberance.

Which raises the question whether the press mentions the owner’s superyacht to satisfy readers genuine interest or as a stick to beat the owner with?

With Lord Green in the news over recent weeks you would be forgiven for thinking that superyacht owners were all unsavoury characters, but it is worth noting that many superyacht owners are altruistic.

In recent years there has been a rise in owners using their superyachts for humanitarian aid – delivering tonnes of food and medication to areas affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters throughout the world.

Charity Yacht Aid Global and Superyacht Aid Coalition both use a network of superyachts whose owners have all signed up for their vessels to participate in times of emergency and need.

With these types of stories barely mentioned in the mainstream press, perhaps it is time for all in the industry to work towards changing the narrative on the superyacht owner.

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