Month in, month out, there are a negligible number of 50m+ private yachts that are rendered inactive for considerable periods of time during the year because owners just don’t have the time to charter them year-round. And it is a wonder why owners of commercially registered large vessels have not considered the potential earnings their assets are capable of generating if they capitalised on the charter seasons.
“There is simply a lack of boats in the 55m+ market,” Burleigh explained. “Middle Eastern clients are only just starting to request what they want for the summer; they just don’t understand that realistically, there are only six boats on a good year of that size that take over 12 guests on the charter front.”
The demand for yachts this size to accommodate more guests is increasing, thanks to the introduction of new regulations, and Burleigh mentioned both the Middle East and Russia as key markets for this segment along with the US, Switzerland and Kazakhstan to name a few that are slowly joining the herd.
Burleigh explained that there have been very few yachts built for the charter market since 2010 between 55m and 70m, and only a tiny fraction of these have then been used for charter. He suggested that there is a need for initiatives such as that employed by the Liveras Yachts model - yachts specifically built to cater for larger numbers on board charters, a business endeavour that worked and could again be expanded on.
“When people say book early, it’s not a sales pitch,” Burleigh emphasised. Those looking to charter yachts in this size bracket should heed this advice." He added that problems arise when, on discovering that a 50m+ yacht is not available, “They treat you like you don’t know what you are doing, and they start looking at a magazine.”
Is it the fault of the media for painting a picture of abundance, portraying a quality yacht charter market?
“Nobody seems to be able to write the truth about chartering”, Burleigh explained. Perhaps the lack of communication has been the downfall of this segment, where brokers and clients alike are unaware of what is available and what is being demanded by potential clients.
“I don’t think anyone puts it forward to an owner that if you put your boat on the charter market, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it, it means that it is on the charter market and it’s legal to charter; and if you want to charter it for the two weeks in summer, you can do it, rather than using it for two weeks and then letting it sit there for the rest of the summer."
To make things slightly more complicated, clients want new yachts. But the large yachts in this segment that are on the market have been chartering for some time. Lürssen's Solandge is one example of a yacht that has only just come onto the market, and it has already been booked. The interest is definitely there, but there is no capacity to fill it.
“There are different grades of charterer - some don’t care what they go on, some do; some want the brand, but the majority want the new,” Burleigh added. What is key, according to Burleigh, is “to get the message over to the people who charter boats - that they have to start early. And the people who own the boats - why are you keeping it private? I can understand it for the first year, but after that?”
Essentially, owners need to understand the running costs of their boat and how they can stay within the parameters of the law while turning over a pleasing degree of charter revenue - making a business out of it and putting the yacht to good use.