Wave riding superyacht-style


Surfing is about riding the wave. But any surfer will tell you that you never know when that wave will come and when it does, make the most of it. That said, the yachting industry is still riding high on the wave it caught back in 2020 and momentum continues to gather. Global yacht sales haven’t seen as strong a first quarter (Q1) for three years. In the US, 9,336 boats were sold in Q1 2021 compared with 6,526 boats sold in the same period in 2020.

US-based boat manufacturer, White River Marine has just acquired Hatteras Yachts, which produces numerous yachts over 20m (66ft).In Florida, Denison Yachting has reported a record-setting Q1 2021 across all of its revenue categories. On a quarterly average, Denison sells 83 superyachts, with an annual growth of over 13%. In 2021, the firm sold more than 40 superyachts, surpassing 2018, 2019, and 2020.

The Sunshine State actually experienced its best Q1 in over a decade with a climb of over 1,000 more boat sales in 2021 than Q1 last year.

Bob Denison, president Denison Yacht Sales, told Superyacht Investor, he didn’t do a good job of predicting the industry’s success during the pandemic. “I used to consider myself a part-time, armchair economist. What has happened in 2020 and 2021 has forced me to give up those dreams.”

But why is the yacht market performing like this? If we look specifically at the US, the simple answer is there are more superyacht buyers now. The stock market experienced a very good 2020 – one example is MarineMax’s share price which rose from $19.71 to $50.90 in the past year. Also Forbes reports that US billionaires got about $1.2trn richer during the pandemic.

Robert Allen, founder, Robert Allen Law said his transactional lawyers have been struggling under the workload for yacht sales in 2021. Due to a complex variety of factors, including the “Trump boom”, oil price increases and Covid closures, the industry is riding high right now, he told SYI.

Looking to Europe, Sanlorenzo’s share price has been steadily climbing over the past year from €13.38 to today’s €22.65. After speaking with shipyards – MB92, Sanlorenzo, Feadship etc. – Miguel Angel Serra, partner, maritime law firm Albors Galiano Portales told SYI: “They are all saying they have many slots, both in new build and refit, right up until 2023 and beyond. It is calculated that the strength of demand is increasing round about 40%.”

“We may even set a record year in 2021,” said the Palma-based lawyer. “Which is amazing because you would expect a contraction of the market given the pandemic. I don’t think anyone of us could ever have guess that 2021 could be such a good year.”

But the industry has been lucky, according to Serra. “The yachting industry has not had to make the most efforts to survive. In fact, an increase means the industry has not had to deal with a crisis of demand. We did not have to close factories or hotels etc. Shipyards have remained open and with a huge workload.”

Denison thinks the lesson learned from this past year or so will help guide the industry moving forward. “Companies that previously resisted technology were forced to embrace it. Things like virtual showings, walkthrough videos and online events will help the client experience moving forward; especially for those clients that we’re separated from by an ocean.”

Superyachting is an industry which goes up and down and “clearly we are in a high point of it”, said Allen. “So everybody needs to sell as much as they can and put away for a rainy day.” It’s true. Making the most of the wave when you catch it is how an industry thrives. Learning from the opportunities of the past year whilst building on the success of this one should leave the industry in a very good position for whatever 2022 might throw.

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