Ahead of the traditional winter refit season, SuperyachtNews speaks with Amico & Co, the Italian refit yard, to ascertain how 2020 has varied from previous years and what it expects of the coming winter period, as well as to discuss the various developments that are ongoing within the yard itself.
“The standard refit cycle has certainly mutated somewhat, becoming more unpredictable due to the unusual period that we are all experiencing. Due to COVID-19, some yachts started their refits over summer, as they were not being used, whilst others cancelled all works in preparation for the charter season, postponing them until Autumn/Winter,” starts Daniele Di Giampaolo, technical and sales director at Amico & Co. “Usually long-term projects stay from the end of September through to Spring and there is a sort of changeover of projects after February when the shipyard starts numerous short-term projects in preparation for Summer cruising. Of course, those short-term projects were fewer this year but we have seen an increase in the number of large projects starting from early September.”
Perhaps more disruptive than the pandemic itself has been the uncertainty that has surrounded 2020. For much of this year, owner’s have been unable to predict when they are able to move their vessels, when they are going to be able to use their vessels, where they will be able to use them and, indeed, whether or not they will simply be able to leave their homes.
“This has been an unusual year. Due to the COVID-19 world pandemic, during lockdown we remained operational but, of course, fewer yachts (15 fewer projects in total in respect to past years) have passed through with respect to previous seasons,” continues Di Giampaolo. “Essentially, we have worked all summer, even though many yachts have waited for months to decide as to whether to programme shipyard works before or after the summer, given the uncertainty surrounding the start and the course of the summer charter season. The impossibility for Americans, Middle Eastern clients and Russians to come to Italy for the summer season, for our local industry as a whole, has brought a considerable decline in turnover especially for those in this sector who depend on this type of income from UNHWIs.”
That being said, what the pandemic has shown us, importantly, is that UHNWIs have retained their desire to go yachting. When then the severity of the pandemic first became apparent there were significant concerns about whether or not COVID-19 would have a negative impact on clients wishing to complete new build projects, engage in refits or, indeed, even use the vessels themselves. However, as the pandemic wore on, it became clear that global periods of relative isolation had, in many cases, strengthened the resolve of many to complete projects and return to their favoured pastime with all available haste.
“At the beginning of the pandemic emergency, when Italy was struck so massively before all the other countries, we received many messages of solidarity from our clients, showing us their support. Then the situation changed and the whole world had to face COVID-19,” explains Di Giampaolo. “The global pandemic event has had immense effects in all economic business fields, but as far as regards any knock-on effect on yacht refit, after an initial moment of incertitude and delay, now, based on the projects coming in and the requests for this winter, our perception is that our customers are more confident and some are taking advantage of this period to perform bigger refits which couldn’t be planned before, maybe due to lack of time in very crowded charter seasons, whilst of course always keeping their attention to safety rules and protocols high. This is fundamental to allow our activities to go forward and avoid any further slowdowns or delays.”
It is hardly surprising, given the timing of the pandemic, that summer proved to be a confusing time for many. However, with winter approaching, one assumes that the Mediterranean's offseason with bear a far more striking resemblance to years gone by than has the summer. The will I/won't I, can I/can't I, decision-making process that has plagued everyone since the beginning of summer will, at least, have a far lesser effect on the more regimented refit season.
"Every year Amico & Co has registered a growing trend, in terms of refit numbers, confirmed again this year and exceeding our expectations for this Autumn/Winter season. This is certainly as a result of the investments that have been made to allow us to accommodate more and more superyachts both on the hard and in the marinas (with the 4000T ShipLift and the new Waterfront Marina) and aided by the fact that Italy at the moment is perceived to be a safer destination when compared to other places in the Med," comments Di Giampaolo.
While for so many 2020 has felt like the year that their plans and developments have paused or, in some cases, taken a step back, the same cannot be said for Amico. While it would be naïve to suggest that the refit and maintenance stalwart hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, it has nonetheless continued apace with the myriad infrastructure projects that were already underway. The show, as they say, must go on.
“We just accomplished the first phase of development of the new Waterfront Marina - in less than six months, paving has been installed, a portion of the 15,000m2 surface has been raised, cables and plugs for the shore power and cold ironing have been laid and installed together with the fibre for internet Wi-Fi, water distribution systems and black water collection systems,” continues Di Giampaolo. “A new dock has been constructed, complete with all services. When fully operational, the area will be able to accommodate 25 super and megayachts, up to 110 metres in length and there will be also crew infrastructures (as the leisure and sports facilities plus the office and crew areas) and a helipad. We are all continuing to work towards a reality that a few years ago seemed to be a fantasy – Genoa Superyacht Hub, a large yacht hospitality project. The city and this region just have so much to offer to yachting professionals.”
There have been absolutely no businesses in the superyacht industry for which 2020 has simply been a case of business as usual. Indeed, the year so far has been characterised by attempting to predict the unprecedented and a drive to succeed in the face of the insurmountable. However, there are many positives to take away from the year so far, not least the overwhelming support that has been shown by clients and the ability of many of the market’s central players to continue developing and evolving in spite of an economic maelstrom.
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