Around half a century after the original marina concessions for the French Riviera were awarded, the South of France is feeling the pressure of governmental constraints on marina development.

Unlike Monaco, where marinas and their configurations are at the discretion of the Prince and his council, the development of the French Riviera has stalled whilst yachting has continued to grow – both in popularity and size of vessels.

However, the Port of Cap d’Ail, which is subject to a concession ending in 2027, has been allowed to redraw its marina layout with the permission of the local authorities and the current leaseholders. spoke with Peter Kerr, founder of MooringSpot, about Cap d’Ail’s unique position and the benefits it will bring to the local superyachting community. “Cap d’Ail is a special case,” he said. “It holds the longest concession, expiring in 2027, and it is also a relatively small marina. Therefore, it was much easier to get a consensus between the government and the berth owners.”

Consensus is always the first hurdle, be it between the private companies who own the leases and the local government, or between either of the former plus the individuals who own rights on a mooring – and consensus is never easy to come by.

One of the issues felt throughout the Riviera is the size, or more specifically the width, of berths is insufficient for modern superyachts. When berths were developed in the 1950s and 1970s in accordance with the yachts of the era – and with a modicum of foresight – they would have been hard pressed to predict the sustained growth in beam over the concession period, as is shown by Figure1 below.

Figure1: Courtesy of the Superyacht Intelligence Agency

Figure1 – taken from a list of 3512 superyachts in the 30-50m range from 1950-2015 courtesy of the Superyacht Intelligence Agency - highlights an average growth in beam of 0.8m over a 60 year period. What the graph does not highlight is the increase in range of beams. From 1950 to 1955 beams ranged from 5.3-8.9m in comparison with 5.6-16m from 2011-2015, nor does is show the increase in the number of yachts in the global fleet. As well as berths being to small, they are also too few.

“If you think about the smaller superyachts, around 30m, most of the berths in the south of France are only 7m in width, and out of 7m you have to subtract space for fenders,” continues Kerr. “So you’re talking about boats from 6.5 to 6.8m beam, and if you look at the latest specs for superyachts, the beams are much larger these days and often well over 7m in beam.”

The stern-to style mooring that the majority of the Riveria adheres to has left practical berthings for larger vessels few and far between, with no solution in sight - unless new concessions are ratified. However, the administration of the Port of Cap d’Ail, with the approval of the controlling authorities, has been able to redraw its plans for the marina. Below are the proposed changes to the Northern Quay:

Original – Total Berths – 19
  • 1 – 18x5m
  • 15 – 20x5.5m
  • 1 – 26x6m
  • 1 – 28x7m
  • 1 – 40x10m
New – Total berths – 13
  • 1 – 18x5m
  • 2 – 20x5.5m
  • 3 – 22.6.5m
  • 6 – 28x7m
  • 1 – 35x9m

The total number of berths has been reduced, with an emphasis put on more practically sized berths for the 20-30m range. However, in addition to these changes Cap d’Ail will be supplementing the altered Northern Quay with improvements to the ‘Bassin d’Honner’ superaycht moorings. The port will now be able accept superyachts up to 65,m following the extension of its two 55m berths and the removal of its unpractical and unused 50m mooring. In addition to the two 65x12m berths, a further 40x9m berth will be created.

Cap d’Ail’s proximity to Monaco will surely make it an attractive prospect for superyacht owners who are not able to purchase berth leases in the principality.

If you like reading our Editors' premium quality journalism on, you'll love their amazing and insightful opinions and comments in The Superyacht Report. If you’ve never read it, click here to request a sample copy - it's 'A Report Worth Reading'. If you know how good it is, click here to subscribe - it's 'A Report Worth Paying For'.