Super yachts continue to attract willing buyers

By Lydia Conway

There is a definite coming-of-age party atmosphere at the Monaco Yacht Show this year as the most prestigious event in the global yachting calendar celebrates its 21st birthday.

Resident royalty and multi-millionaires mingled with international yachting professionals, as visitors from all over the world converge on the principality to charter or purchase ever more extraordinary superyachts of even more incredible dimensions. There has been a huge rise in mega superyachts with more than 50% of those on show this year measuring more than 40 meters. It is still a buyers’ market with shipyards operating below capacity meaning there are plenty of bargains to be had as exhibitors compete against each other in value as well as quality.

However, with sales and interest up from last year it seems there is plenty to celebrate and after a tentative start on the first day of opening, the mood became one of cautious optimism.

The Russians were out in force but there has also been a notable increase in interest from Asian buyers and those from Brazil, Turkey and Mexico. The Americans on the other hand have been conspicuous by their absence, whether they are just not buying or saving their dollars for the Fort Lauderdale boat show in October remains to be seen.

Buyers in general are a lot younger this year too, a trend that seems to have been anticipated by the big yacht broker companies like Burgess, Fraser and Edmiston all of whom have a new breed of fresh-faced brokers. Barely old enough to legally wine and dine their potential customers they can at least relate to the post-teen requirements of these young, mainly Eastern European, entrepreneurs.

At the Edmiston party at the Port Palace Hotel on Thursday the team still showed no signs of flagging, partying late into the night with clients and colleagues alike including the British design legend Terry Disdale, part of boating’s vernacular. Relative new-comer David Ostrander, principal of the Iluminus Design Group was also there to promote the sale of his family’s yacht SnowbirD, which has the most extensive art collection ever assembled on a superyacht.

Unique in that the interior has been designed around the collection that includes works by De Kooning, Warhol, Hurst and Calder. David said that the genesis began with Litchenstein’s “Shipboard Girl”, a perfect representation of the emotion that people feel at sea. Having put so much of himself into the refit to say nothing of the art collection which is for sale separately, I was surprised he wanted to sell. But after the whirlwind experience of having to complete the interior in just four months he told me he is “looking forward to the challenge of designing and building a boat from scratch over time”.

Friday saw the arrival of King Juan Carlos of Spain and Prince Albert II to bring a touch of royalty to the occasion and a reminder of this year’s buzz words of luxury and sustainability. The show continues its previous pledge to support Wood Forever in the battle to fight world deforestation, which has the backing of Prince Albert II. Sustainably managed forests aside, there are fewer sailing boats than in previous years while more and bigger mega motor yachts suggest no-one is particularly worried about fuel consumption, price rise or not.

Seven Seas, built last year by Netherland’s Oceanco is one of the largest yacht in the world at 86.01 meters while Cakewalk retains the title of largest motor yacht ever built in the US at 85.6 meters. Both can accommodate up to 12 guests with double the number of crew to meet their every need and enough gadgets and gizmos to keep the most ardent James Bond fan entertained for weeks.

But for the ultimate in on-board boys toy the 73 meter expedition superyacht Pegaso trumps the lot with a custom built 9 meter long submarine which allows six people to dive over 150 meters. Acting as a luxury research vessel for conservation and oceanographic study she also houses a 328 metre laboratory for scientific equipment. But big bucks do not necessarily mean big boats.

One motoryacht unveiled this week that is attracting a lot of media attention is the new limited edition Mugler Spire Boat, inspired by the “Muscle Cars” of the 1950s and already dubbed the Batmobile. This 9.5-metre luxury mini-motoryacht designed by the Thierry Mugler studio, manages to combine aesthetics and comfort with performance, promising speeds of up to 90 knots (that’s 105mph) without catapulting its three passengers out of their sumptuous leather seats.

Christophe Sadoux of Spire Boat told me that, having spent years making the most desired competition boats, it was only natural they would want to create an outboard pleasure boat that combined safety, comfort and aesthetics with performance. “It is a fantasy, a dream.” A dream that can be yours for €450,000.

For more information, contact Lydia Conway or Paul Aronott, Edenwood Films: Privately Commissioned Documentaries, at