Delivered earlier this year by Sunreef and based in Hainan, FENG, a 70ft, red-hulled catamaran, is owned by an enthusiastic but realistic Asian owner who shared with The Superyacht Owner his knowledge on what China has to offer fellow owners.
As an owner, how do you find China as a destination for superyachts at the moment?
China is still very much behind Europe in terms of facilities. But as China has always had many ambitions for big projects, in yachting we can see this tendency as well. Currently, large yachts can be easily docked in Sanya but inland China still doesn’t have such facilities. Soon there will be a new big marina in Tianjin, close to Beijing so very convenient, but the issue here is the weather. Another super project is being developed on a private island two hours’ drive from Shanghai and should be operational by the end of this year. Also, Nansha Marina in Guangzhou will be a good docking alternative. The infrastructure is not the most important point for me though. For owners like me who would like to get into some more serious cruising, there is not much scenic coastline in China, so despite the fact that we have a very long coastline, we have no scenic marvels as in Thailand or the Philippines.
What are the highlights of the region for you?
I keep my yacht in Yalong Bay marina in Sanya. This spot is very nice and with a short cruise of 30 to 40 minutes you can get into lovely snorkelling and fishing spots. All of Hainan Island is good for superyachts and could be a decent place for a few days to explore. There is also China’'s southernmost island where many owners take their yachts to explore the Xisha Islands [also known as the Paracel Islands] and the Yongle Islands [the South China Sea Islands consist of more than 250 islands, atolls, cays, shoals, reefs and sandbars]. I will keep my yacht in China for another year and enjoy it with my family and friends, but next I am considering going to Thailand, Malaysia and maybe one day to the Maldives, places that I dream to explore more.
What do you think the country needs to do to improve and become a successful superyacht destination? Do you see this happening soon?
More friendly and unified administration work and cruising permits, also much lower import tax so that the owners buying very big and expensive yachts would not be discouraged; at the moment they have to pay almost half of the value of the superyacht as tax. Also professional crew, maintenance companies and yacht management companies are obligatory for the owners to move toward bigger and more sophisticated vessels.
What about charter – would chartering your yacht out in China ever be an option?
Chartering, yes, but not in China. There are still no laws for weekly crewed charters in China, it is mostly daily rentals for events and I wouldn’t like this on my yacht. I will probably offer my boat for charter once I get to Thailand.
Do you think we will see more Chinese buying superyachts in the near future?
I’m sure we will but they won’t necessarily bring their boats to China, for many of the above reasons. There are not enough marinas yet and they will not be able to find a truly professional crew here, or maintenance teams.
An in-depth feature on China as a superyacht destination can be found in the latest issue of The Superyacht Owner, Issue 9. Members can read this issue online here.