One of the industry’s great specialists in the pool of Russian buyers is Sergei Dobroserdov, owner of the eponymous design studio and of the multi-service brokerage house Nakhimov.
With some of the most spectacular builds of the past few yards having been delivered through the world’s top shipyards with both his visual and managerial style, Sergei Dobroserdov is one of the industry’s most prominent current movers and shakers.
Focused on Russian, Ukranian and Kazakh clients and with just 10 employees, the company currently has 3 yachts under concept development (a 67m, 45m and 40m). Last month, he oversaw the keel laying ceremony for his three latest motor yachts at the new Admiral shipyard in Carrara: The 40m, 52m and 55m yachts have aluminium hulls and come equipped with forward-thinking hybrid propulsion plant. A 45m is scheduled to deliver later this year.
I caught up with him to chat about his latest projects and get a sense of what the market wants and what a successful brokerage offers.
“We’re pushing hybrids because we know from managing yachts that so much of the time these vessels are cruising at well below their top speeds and then idling as they’re queuing to enter port.” Reducing fuel consumption doesn’t motivate his current clients, but they are motivated to have a quiet, clean yacht. The 55m project, he says, can reach 10 knots using only its two 160kW electric engines.
It might seem incongruent that Dobroserdov, many of who’s clients hail from lands rich with oil, should be so committed to hybrid propulsion technology. But he’s a passionate innovator: Among his other pursuits, Dobroserdov is CEO of Solar1, the solar-sailing series that will hold the Monte Carlo Cup 10-12 July.
Indeed, Nakhimov has been able to sell hybrids perhaps better than any other broker. The three in build at Admiral are in fact a trifecta for the yard, green sensibility and Dobroserdov himself. “There’s nothing on the market from a functionality point of view that matches what we’re proposing, so it’s easy to sell.”
“To me, the most important thing I can do for my new build client is put together a whole concept,” he says. “With Aurelia for instance, my client loved race cars and horses, so we went to Heesen for a fast yacht and we went to Dickie Bannenberg for interior styling, and the whole concept together clinched it for the client.”
Dobroserdov is busy. He has projects in development at Admiral, Feadship and other yards, and has his finger on the pulse of the changes in within the industry. “Admiral Tecnomar is going to be one of the big shipyards in the very near future,” he says. “They’re very technological, and they’re happy to work with the subcontractors we’ve worked with before at the big Dutch yards. We’ve brought in Vripack on the builds we have there to oversee naval architecture. The yard listens and they’re willing to improve—they’re not stubborn or overly concentrated on doing the same thing they’ve done for fifty years. That makes all the difference for my clients and me.”
Nakhimov is also in the management business, because Dobroserdov says, it gives them the specialist insight into the operational side of yachting that you can’t get simply as a broker.
“When we’re delivering boats, we’re managing them,” Dobroserdov says. “If you do this, you can be great in brokerage because you really know what you’re selling, and you can be great in charter because understand intimately how the boats runs. Charter isn’t just about finding the right boat in the market. With the online booking systems today, anyone can book a boat. It’s about understanding the life of the boat… that’s why we manage them.”
Though Nakhimov doesn’t promote itself as a charter brokerage, the company name means yachting to much of the Russian and Eastern European client base, and so they will help arrange charter, sales surveys and other yachting business for clients from that part of the world. “We have about 400 active contacts in Russia. To my mind, that’s about 30 per cent of the whole market for yachts over 30m.”
With access to one of the richest markets in yachting, perhaps Dobroserdov can be excused for taking such a high line on the state of the market. “If people aren’t buying boats, it’s because they’re not interested,” he says. “If my clients see an exciting product, they will buy it. The knowledge we’re selling to clients is what’s going to work for them and their lifestyle, as well as finding the right place for them to build. One of my clients right now simply said, ‘I only want Feadship,’ and I said, ‘Good choice!’”
Dobroserdov doesn’t think Turkish yachts are better than Italian, and because for him, it’s purely about time management, he won’t fly to Turkey to build a yacht when an Italian shipyard can be reached in three hours. “If my client has a certain budget my philosophy is that if changes are needed, we reduce size before we reduce quality,” he says. “If a client disagrees, I’ll happily give them the contact details of any one of our colleagues at Burgess or Fraser Yachts who can help them.”
“Time is very precious, “ he says. “To spend it on anything less than the best quality and highest attention to detail, is… just, why?”