9 Feb 2012
Industry predicts record levels of UK superyacht traffic for 2012
By Lulu Trask
With 169 days to go until the start of the London Olympics, questions are beginning to arise as to the event’s potential to either make or break the UK’s reputation as a viable superyacht destination.
Bookings for berths in London are increasing with months to go before the event. West India Docks in the heart of Canary Wharf, able to cater for superyachts up to 170m, as of today has eight superyachts booked for the Olympic period, ranging in size from 40m to 100m, five of which, confirmed Gareth Stephens of West India Docks, are located in the recently developed Wood Wharf.
Jeff Houlgrave of Royal Docks 2012 has confirmed five bookings for superyachts sized between 35m and 65m, and revealed to SuperyachtNews.com that discussions with five further yachts ranging between 40m and 60m were in their final stages. With 13 confirmed bookings, and a possible 18, the industry is enthusiastic: “To get yachts into the heart of the capital next to the world’s financial centre and within two miles of the Olympics is a great result for the UK superyacht industry,” commented Tom Chant of the British Marine Federation.
The object set out by Superyacht UK last year was to facilitate superyachts coming to the UK in 2012 and beyond. One year later, amid news that James Watt Dock marina in Scotland (whose waters last year saw Kathleen Ann offered for charter by Edmiston) is considering a marketing drive to attract superyachts, the industry is reflecting on Superyacht UK’s success.
Tristan Rowe of Pendennis commented, “I think that anyone who has something to sell is ready. Superyacht UK has certainly tried to make everyone aware.” Chant added, “I think we can say we have assisted the UK industry in making it easy for owners, captains etc., to understand what is on offer in the UK,” while he confirmed that the Destination UK publication had been distributed widely in the Mediterranean and Caribbean as well as the Monaco and Fort Lauderdale boat shows.
Nonetheless, hesitancy as to the success of the UK’s facilities remains. “The unknown for me is exactly what is on offer where these boats will be berthed. If I’m not seeing more press releases in the industry news, who is getting the information across?” questioned Rowe. “We dearly want every visiting yacht to have a great time in the UK and tell all their friends, so it is down to us, the service providers, to take care of the elements we can control in order to make this happen.”
Superyacht UK’s expectation of the Olympics as the catalyst for UK superyacht activity is in retrospect somewhat misinformed, an attribution that should perhaps be given to the cups and regattas. The two J-Class regattas in Falmouth (26-30 June) and Solent (18-20 July) have ten confirmed entries, while the Pendennis Cup in July will see the same number of superyachts racing. Though only a provisional entry list has been published, the Superyacht Cup in Cowes hopes to see an impressive 21 superyachts take part. With regards to the many races the UK will host, Christine Winans from Pendennis commented, “this will certainly be a very spectacular year for the UK.”
Though a booked berth does not necessarily mean a yacht will fill it, with thirteen bookings the Olympics can certainly be viewed as an aid to attracting to the UK in 2012 an influx of superyachts larger than for the Jubilee America’s Cup Class in 2001, and larger than ever before in its history.
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