I have just returned from a productive Cannes yacht show. I rekindled and created relationships with brokers and industry professionals who understand the importance of the guidance we offer to Pocket Superyacht owners. I also onboarded a new client who owns a CNB77 -one of the last custom build CNB’s- who clearly has an appetite for offshore sailing himself. This excites me because it is becoming a rare occurrence! And there lies a bit of a personal frustration…
My psycho-analysis of the current yachting world: issues, causes and consequences:
There have never been more people in the world who are able to afford a (crewed) yacht. The industry is growing consistently and obviously yacht builders respond to the requests of their clients. Up until about 20 years ago, catamarans were somewhat rare and generally considered funny looking. They were mostly owner-driven by world cruising sailors who chose cats for their stability and performance on their -mainly downwind- Tradewind routes.
Monohulls over 12 meters were mostly custom builds, or at least semi custom, ordered by a select group of affluent individuals who grew up sailing, were members of a yacht club and were looking for a stylish but adventurous way to spend their off time or retirement.
Today however, I feel that most owners, even those who own larger monohulls, have tipped the balance towards the luxury element and adventure has become -in the best case- a secondary objective.
The consequence is an increasingly demanding owner.
When the wind picks up, adventure begins. However, for most of today’s owners, when the wind picks up, discomfort begins and we better turn towards the nearest marina or hope to find an anchorage where we don’t roll our guts out…
At the same time, the yacht crew we employ as an industry, aren’t the salty weathered sailors that were employed on the elite owners yachts from a bygone era. In fact, I have seen quite a few CV’s of people who are die-hard offshore sailors. They are currently unemployable because they would sail the boats too hard and break them and they would have zero sympathy for the guest who tries to keep their G&T upright and full, let alone serve one with a sprig of rosemary.
My Netflix insights:
I was particularly well behaved and didn’t participate in too many social events after the boatshow hours. Instead I enjoyed the peace (and aircon!) of my Cannes apartment and.. of course Netflix. Having put it off until now, I finally felt I was professionally obliged to watch some episodes of Below Deck. It was as bad as I feared. I mean, relatively good entertainment but surely detrimental for our industry. In episode one the viewers learn that having spent a couple of months working on a ferry gives you enough credentials to work on a 50m yacht where people pay about 200.000Euro per week and tip each of the crew 1000Euro after 3 days of shoddy work. Airline cabin crew have undergone a more stringent training to look after me on my 2 hours, 50 Euro flight, and they get paid less. And I will admit, I don’t tip them either.
Luckily, Netflix changed my mood by suggesting ‘The Race Of The Century’ about how the Australia II won the America’s cup from the Americans who had dominated the race for 132 years. A fierce match race which entire nations paid importance to. Luckily the race still exists, but honestly, even as a passionate sailor, I struggle to relate to, and maintain my interest in, the low flying rockets they are sailing. The more important question might be whether it is inspiring to the youth of the world who hardly have access to opti’s and lazers, let alone anything with foils… And do we consider that this is where the people, who truly enjoy sailing and the adventure it offers, are nurtured?
CEO (Creative Encouraging Organiser)