From outboards to power cats, here’s what the market is buying and why
| 5 January 2021
Lockdown and Covid have changed the luxury yacht sector for all time. What was once the preserve of middle-aged high-net-worth individuals has moved towards younger families, what was once driven by large industry events has gone virtual, and markets once considered a write-off in the Asia-Pacific are showing surprising signs of life.
While eyes have shifted to Hainan for a resurgence in the China market, dealers are also turning their attention to other markets in the Asia-Pacific: Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and even the Philippines. Great destinations in their own right, they’re also beginning to produce a market, and an interest, in luxury yachts.
From a marketing perspective, large-scale events such as Fort Lauderdale, Cannes and Genoa will likely segment into smaller targeted, bespoke events or even go online entirely. As for the yachts themselves, the biggest change has been the amount of time people want to spend on a yacht.
“What we’re seeing is requests for longer-range yachts as clients change their travel habits; they want to spend longer periods on their yachts,” Ferretti said. For Simpson Marine, the family aspect continues to dominate the market. Their top tips for future trends were as follows:
Continuous growth in outboard powerboats for family use; a surge of interest in local yacht charter due to travel restrictions; the growth in the power catamaran segment; ever easier to handle yachts with ship control and self-driving options.
For Azimut, the future lies in a market where size matters. “It seems that the demand for bigger superyachts is just getting bigger and bigger,” a company representative told Asia-Pacific Boating.
Which trends will sink and which ones will swim in the post-Covid world is anyone’s guess, but at Asia-Pacific Boating our money is on these five for 2021 and beyond.
1: Growth in the Power Catamaran Segment
As a family space, an overnight cruiser and, ultimately, a party boat nothing beats a catamaran. Add to that the jump-on, jump-off convenience of a motor yacht and the power cat is gaining a committed following in Hong Kong and beyond.
With two slimmer hulls, there’s a lower wetted surface and consequently less drag in the water than monohulls. Powered by smaller and lighter engines on the hulls, they often achieve fuel savings that can rival a cruising sailboat. Widely spaced engines make for great control at the helm, and the low centre of gravity means there’s a stable platform where designers can go to town on interiors that are ideal for entertaining. In Asia, where family gatherings are important, they’re ideal.
The Fountaine Pajot Power 67 has a basic price of €2.8 million but has all the styling and size of many superyachts twice the price.
2: A Surge of Interest in Local Yacht Charter Due to Travel Restrictions
As a yachting destination, Asia is stealing a march on the Caribbean and for good reason. The region has some of the most exotic marine life and some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the world. Asian charters are showing solid growth. A recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council said Southeast Asia is expected to be the fastest-growing sub-region over the next decade. While there are still problems – infrastructure and lack of marinas are just two – regional government support is growing. The Thai-based superyacht Ocean Emerald is available for charter.
3: Yachts with Ship Control and Self-Driving Options
It may look like any yacht interior, but it’s all that remains of the chart table in a First Yacht 53. Yacht builders are seizing on the obsolescence created by high-tech to create more space in boats.
Thanks to the sailing yacht’s Ship Control system – Beneteau’s intuitive, user-friendly interface that centralises all the boat’s electronic controls – all that the crew or the skipper needs to do is flip open a laptop or a set up a tablet on the dining table. The future of navigation, sail trim and helming is in a laptop, or even a mobile in some cases, and can all be conducted below deck in bad weather. The wet and dreary cockpit on long ocean passages, it seems, has gone the way of the sextant and the sounding weight.
4: Continuous Growth in Outboard Power Boats for Family Use
If you thought that peace had broken out in the superyacht horsepower war as owners move heir focus from power to sustainability, you’d be wrong. The battle for brute strength has simply moved from the inboard to the outboard market – and they’re gaining in popularity.
Fast, very fast (more than 50 knots fast for many in the class) they’re powerful, light and spacious, they’re easier to maintain than inboard motor yachts and the designers are giving owners more boat for their money every year. At the Miami Boat Show earlier this year, the Azimut Verve 47 was so popular the exhibitor sold 8 in the opening days of the show. The boat combines Italian styling with the grunt of four outboards that provide 1800 horsepower and 50 knots of top speed.
At around US$1.8 million, they’re a fraction of the cost of their cousins on the inboard market. Expect to see more of them soon.
5: Demand for Bigger and Bigger Superyachts on the Asian Market
Outside the immediate growth from lockdown and Covid, there are two underlying phenomena driving the superyacht segment in Asia: the first is wealth transfer from one generation to the next. High-net-worth individuals have amassed vast fortunes in Asia over the past 25 years, and over the next decade they will pass it on.
The second is an influencer generation that is looking for unique experiences. This is all set to be good news for the superyacht industry in Asia where tastes are already leaning towards larger and larger vessels. More than ever, there are local owners that want to use their boats in Asia. While these boats are generally smaller than the superyachts of the Med, this is starting to change as owners become more comfortable with ownership and the flexibility and security that comes with having their own floating homes.