As one of the few owners out there who charters his yacht out as a business rather than as a way of offsetting the costs of ownership, Jan Verkerk is in a unique position to discuss the charter market. He talks about his experiences with Sherakhan and tells managing editor Angela Audretsch why the industry should be casting its charter marketing net wider.

“I am not a superyacht owner,” states Verkerk. “Sherakhan is my business.” Having run two charter yachts since 1995 – Jaguar until 2001 and Sherakhan since 2005 – Verkerk has witnessed the highs and lows of the market and, most importantly, has outlasted the lows. When he built the 70m Sherakhan, she was one of the largest yachts in the world, but times have changed.


Sherakhan at anchor while on her expedition in Antarctica.

“When I started with Sherakhan we were in the top 50 largest yachts in the world,” Verkerk muses. “Now, seven years ahead, we are closer to the top 350!” Verkerk admits that it is the newer yachts that get attention on the charter market, a fact that means he needs to do even more to make Sherakhan stand out in the crowded market place.

“She can do a lot of things that other boats can’t do and that gives us a real edge,” he says. “There are not many yachts that are in the Caribbean one week, then three weeks later are in Antarctica and then five weeks later are in Panama.” Unusual destinations are at the heart of Sherakhan's marketing strategy and following a successful expedition to Antarctica early this year, she is about to commence a year-and-a-half long world tour. Starting in Holland, it will take in the Caribbean, Antarctica, South Africa and South East Asia, and by summer 2014, she will be available in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and the South Pacific before returning to the Caribbean.


“There are not many yachts that are in the Caribbean one week,
then three weeks later are in Antarctica and then five weeks later are in Panama.”
- Jan Verkerk, owner of
Sherakhan


Verkerk firmly believes that there is a whole pool of UHNWIs out there that is currently not being targeted by the charter market. Sherakhan’s charter manager, Y.CO’s Tom DeBuse, tells us that he and Verkerk have talked in length about the need to target a new type of charter client. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t really look at yachting as their thing,” he says. “They are probably aware of it because everyone is aware that there are big yachts around the world, but they look at yachting only as an opportunity to show off your wealth outside St Tropez.” Verkerk is determined to reach out to them and demonstrate that chartering can be an adventurous, educational and cultural platform as well.


Jan Verkerk, owner of Sherakhan, has been in the charter
business since 1995.

Verkerk tells us that in his experience, older owners and charterers are more interested in using yachts to access untouched parts of the world. “A lot of my guests are Russians who say that when they were younger they liked the bigger, faster yachts and now they love Sherakhan,” he says, telling us that 30 to 40 per cent of his guests are repeat clients who love to charter and travel with big groups (Sherakhan can accommodate up to 26 guests).

A firm believer in the fact that charter is the best way to attract new owners, Verkerk is adamant that charter advertising needs to undergo a significant change. “Charter will grow the whole industry,” he says. “There are a lot of new boats on the market and every new yacht built will need a new owners. Owners can come out of the charter market.” For him, it is integral that the industry starts targeting the UHNWIs out there who read national geographic, who want their kids to experience something amazing before it can’t be seen anymore, and who want to learn. “There are a lot of people who do not want to go to St Tropez,” he says. “They want to go to some of the world’s most beautiful places. And Sherakhan can take them there.”

A full owner story with Jan Verkerk and Sherakhan will appear in Issue 10 of The Superyacht Owner, which is out in October. To become a member and receive your copy, click here.