Global reports continue to pour in that the Russian economy is struggling, with the ruble crumbling and more Russian clients struggling to maintain a foothold in the superyacht industry. In fact, CNBC reported at the end of last month that "since the beginning of August 2014, the dollar has seen an 84 per cent rise against the ruble as international sanctions damaged the Russian economy and the dramatic fall in oil price added an extra headwind" to an already vulnerable market.

But is the superyacht market really heading into trouble? SuperyachtNews.com spoke with some of the industry's leading brokers that work regularly with the region and their clients. Valeria Alekhina, charter broker at Fraser Yachts comments, "the ongoing situation is becoming ever more challenging for our Russian clients, particularly with the depreciation of the ruble and the various sanctions placed against the country". She is also noticing a drop in the number of charter enquiries that they are fielding from the region.

However, Managing Director of SuperYachtsMonaco, Jim Evans reports that it may still be premature to report on the demise of this part of the market. "Certainly we have noticed more hesitancy than usual when it comes to making early bookings for summer charter and we fully expect a 'slow down' in this sector as the year goes on". While in the sales and purchase market, Evans shares that they are still representing buyers for both new builds and previously owned yachts. "We will admit to being slightly surprised to see Russians active in buying and selling boats in the current climate, but the simple fact is that they are there, and they are doing real business".

Alekhina is seeing similar surprising side effects: "the apparent political shutdown of Russia may have a positive impact on our business as we see an increase in wealthy individuals cutting links with the current government and making a new fresh start in Europe or in the United States and establishing their main residence outside of Russia". Perhaps it is a more a matter of the clients remaining active and making swift exit strategies in order to maintain a certain way of life.

As seen in the early days pre-GFC, it can be hard to see the wood through the trees. For now, the order book remains active and while business may have slowed in Russia, with a stronger dollar emerging in the US, the scales should hopefully remain somewhat balanced.


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