The Monaco Yacht Show is one of the busiest and best-known international shows in the superyacht calendar. While it provides an opportunity to see the latest launches and the hottest charters, is there another Monaco-based event to rival it? During the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, I spoke with owner Victor Muller and broker Henry Smith about the attraction of the race and the opportunities associated with it.


Monaco Grand Prix, by Andrew Johansson

The relationship between the automotive and luxury marine sectors could not be more apparent, as I looked across the marina on race day. The ferocious speed, the smell of brake dust, the thundering sound that echoes for miles and rattles anything close to the track including the terrace where we are perched, on the 16th floor of Le Panorama. It is easy to see why so many flock to the city, while captains secure the best berthing locations along the edge of the racetrack.

“The Grand Prix is what everyone wants to see,” said Victor Muller, owner of 35.6m The Highlander and chairman of the Feadship Heritage Fleet. “But this weekend also provides me with the opportunity to meet six or seven people all in one place — it saves so much time and effort if you can see everyone in the same location. That said it is difficult to get from A to B in this small town when a lot of streets are closed for the race.”


Leaving Leeds Castle on the first day of the Run To Monaco, by Victor Muller

This year saw Muller participate in the Run To Monaco event — similar to the Redman Whiteley Dixon (RWD) Auto Tour held annually in September — where a group of F1 racing fans travelled from the UK via France to the Monaco Grand Prix in 25 sports cars. Now in its third year, the event saw participants stay in historic locations such as Chateau d'Esclimont, Château de Montmelas and Leeds Castle.

“The purpose of the drive is to come and see the Monaco Grand Prix, which is an incredibly attractive proposition to racing enthusiasts,” said Chris Welch, co-founder of The Run To Global Super Car Journeys, which charges GBP 34,500 to take part. “It brings everything together from music and parties, to cars and yachts, and let’s not forget the fantastic food.”

Events such as these aim to create a memorable experience free of the stresses of planning, allowing the members to enjoy their cars and the scenery while making their way to the main event: the Grand Prix. The calibre of cars at this year’s tour, which included a Spyker, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes, was impressive and it is no surprise that a number of them are owned by yachtsman. However, Welch stressed that the focus of the event is on the overall experience and socialising with like-minded people rather than networking. That said some of the best ideas and impulse purchases come when in a relaxed environment, where inspiration and excitement can take hold.


The view of Monaco marina from Pastrovich Studio in Le Panorama, by Andrew Johansson

For yacht broker at Cecil Wright & Partners Henry Smith, the Monaco Grand Prix allows for business to be conducted in a manner that is less intense than at a yacht show. “I have a number of clients here this weekend and I’m ready to meet with them at any time,” Smith said. “There is something special about this weekend. Last year I found more clients in Monaco at the Grand Prix than I did at the yacht show. This was mainly due to spending time on board one of our CA listings, as apposed to meeting new clients. In contrast, at the Grand Prix I picked up three new charter clients and a potential buyer, simply while socialising.”

While yacht shows provide the platform for owners to view potential charter vessels, negotiate a sale or discuss a new build opportunity, they also serve the superyacht industry and all those involved in it. The Monaco Grand Prix, however, allows those who are open to exploring potential opportunities the chance to discuss options in a less concentrated, more relaxed manner.