I’ve genuinely never met someone who is as passionate about superyacht brokerage as Felix Sowerbutts, brokerage editor at The Superyacht Group. When not found in the gym, he is seeking out a meaty price reduction or an interesting new sales listing or sale. But, his critical approach to superyacht journalism is one that we can all envy, with an eye for detail and a clear understanding of market dynamics.
What is your role at The Superyacht Group?
My role is to report on the intricacies of superyacht brokerage and work with brokers to promote their brokerage sales listings and sales, and new construction projects. Generally speaking, my role revolves around brokerage and business news. I also interview owners on a regular basis, which is a fascinating part of the role.
So, why did you want to get into the superyacht industry?
Yachting has always been a big part of my life. I grew up sailing in the South of France and I got my skipper’s licence when I was 17 and that took me to working on an 82ft Oyster sailing yacht for a while. After I got my certificate and experience skippering on another boat, I knew I wanted to work in yachting. I know someone who went to SuperyachtDESIGN week around five years ago and it was her who introduced me to The Superyacht Group and I’m glad she did!
As a buyer, what yacht would you look for on the second-hand market and how would you negotiate a good deal?
I would choose a yacht that is going to not only take you places but offer tangible value. There are not many fit-for-purpose yachts currently on the water. Some cannot achieve even a fraction of the capability of commercial vessels.
As a buyer I would want to experience the locations further afield than normal stomping grounds, which would require a highly capable vessel. It is important to go for high specification, even if that means downsizing a little.
In terms of negotiating a good deal, you have to have representation from knowledgeable brokers, no question. I have met some excellent brokers and seen for myself the difference they make to the ownership journey. When you have representation from a good broker, you’re going to be able to find a much better product that is more suitable for your needs.
So, what’s your goal for the Monaco Yacht Show this year?
My goal for the Monaco Yacht Show is to get insight into the brokerage market that other journalists cannot reach! The show is about face to face conversations with key market players.
Which boats are you looking forward to seeing at the show?
I’m looking forward to seeing DAR, the new Oceanco. I think that is a really cool project – new Oceanco constructions always have cutting-edge, progressive designs, so it’s always great to have a look at the latest models. I’m looking forward to seeing M/Y Illusion Plus as well, as I think that will be a good indicator of the future for Asian new build yards. For a project that had a bit of a stop and start build, it will be interesting to see if it’s able to reach the quality of Northern European yards.
Can you outline how the brokerage market has performed in your eyes this year?
By all accounts, it’s not reaching the highs of 2007 yet, but it’s seemingly not a long way off. I think the statistics for this year are being held back by the lack of good-quality inventory. I think there is a lot of demand that’s not being fulfilled at the moment because there is a lack of good options on the market, which we hope is making buyers focus on new build, alternatively.
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