Charter brokers agree that a well-stocked tender garage is a real selling point for a charter yacht, especially when it comes to younger charterers or families. We explore some of the latest toy fads and some old favourites.
Possibly one of the more whimsical toy launches in a while, this summer’s superyacht toy hit has to be The Blob. A huge inflatable rectangular tube, it works when a person leaps onto a spot marked ‘X’ propelling the individual sitting on its opposite end up to 10m in the air. “It’s as safe as jumping into water, you can’t get thrown back to yacht because that’s where the air comes from, you always go forward,” says Josh Richardson at Tenders and Toys, who has sold eight blobs to superyachts in the last two months alone, including to 88m Quattroelle. “The less crew inflate the bag, the bigger you jump … guests can set it up however they like it.”
Despite its ridiculous name and a promo video that causes jaw to drop, it belies a serious area of innovation surrounding toy manufacture at the moment and indicates a toy trend. “In terms of trending toys I think the emphasis is on inflatables and the key here is reducing the weight and increasing the strength making it easier to rig, deflate and stow,” Richardson tells us. “Four years ago, for example, we never considered an inflatable Standup Paddleboard [global sport inspired by surfers paddling to catch the next wave] and here we are now recommending it to every client.”
Slides regularly top charterers’ wish lists with charter brokers at Ocean Independence reporting it consistently finds a place amongst this year’s must have toys. Its success is possibly down to its democratic appeal, with no one too young or old to use it. “I think it took [our guests] about three minutes to break all the ‘Do Nots i.e., backwards, fully clothed, straight after lunch,” enthuses Guy Booth, captain of Aurelia speaking after a three week Turkey-bound charter. “But all went really well, and it certainly adds a fantastic toy to our arsenal!”
There are practicalities to consider ahead of purchase or hire of slides. For Richardson, the key is to choose a simple design, something that is not reflected by current trends for elaborate, or sky’s the limit concepts. “Some people think it’s cool to get the slide at local theme park,” he says. “Anything is possible, but we’ve got a yacht that has two enormous slide and it takes up to eight hours to put them up.” A simpler 5.5m high slide [installed for a 45m yacht] would, he says, only require about15 minutes to put up. Worth noting is that all slides are built to endure wind speeds up to 35 knots, but certainly can’t stay up in transit, meaning the put-away ability of the slide is a crucial factor in choice.
As well as inflatable toys, there is an entire array of exciting jet-powered toys on available. Out of this growing list, the Jet-Lev Flyer (or water-jet pack) is apparently gaining in popularity on larger yachts. “Guests strap on what looks like a high-tech James Bond style backpack and are propelled with water up to 20 feet in the air,” says John Cichanowicz, charter broker at Burgess, Miami. “Besides the incredible feeling of flying through the air, they can also take in the breathtaking views of the ocean below them.”
Richardson tells us that he supplied nine of the Jet-Levs for a Royal Family in the Middle East and his friends. Crucially for Richardson, the costs have come significantly down for toys like this. “Many owners have been holding off on new purchases the last few years, which has meant that manufacturers have had to make things more affordable to get sales and this is only good for the end user,” he says.
Naturally this is a mere snapshot of what is available on the market. But all charter brokers agree that a well-stocked tender garage is a real selling point for a charter yacht, especially when it comes to younger charterers or families. Therefore investing in consistently popular toys, and even perhaps splashing out on a passing craze to give your yacht an edge for a season is well worth it.