The third webinar in the Camper & Nicholsons International series, ‘CNI:INCandid Conversation’, saw Martin Redmayne chair a panel of industry experts who discussed whether the Asian market will change its appetite and attitude to yachting after the coronavirus pandemic. Redmayne was joined by Kenneth Leung, Vice President at Lai Sun Group, Dominique Gerardin, Owner of S/Y Lamima and Bart Kimman, Commercial Director of C&N Asia

A superyacht can provide privacy and escape, while in complete safety and security, and there is now an opportunity like never before for this industry to relay this to the next generation of potential Asian clients. Joining the webinar live from the Aberdeen Marina Club in Hong Kong, Leung commented that he had never seen so many boats anchoring overnight. “People are flocking to the waters so that they can minimise the amount of interaction with strangers. There were 40 - 50 boats out on Saturday night,” he explained.

“People are flocking to the waters so that they can minimise the amount of interaction with strangers. There were 40 - 50 boats out on Saturday night..." - Kenneth Leung, Vice President - Lai Sun Group

Leung added that there have also been instances of owners who have enquired about ‘upgrades’, having enjoyed spending time on their yachts over the course of a weekend during lockdown and realising that there might be even better ways of living on board – even doing so in larger yachts.

“What I’ve learned about the charter business in the last few weeks is that it’s mainly families taking children out of the house, keeping the children busy, enjoying activities such as paddle boarding, snorkelling, diving etc." - Bart Kimman, Commercial Director - C&N Asia

“What I’ve learned about the charter business in the last few weeks is that it’s mainly families taking children out of the house, keeping the children busy, enjoying activities such as paddle boarding, snorkelling, diving etc.,” began Kimman, explaining that these chartered yachts are also being used as a base for land activities as well as those previously mentioned, which is encouraging for the C&N charter fleet as people become more aware of the capabilities of a yacht beyond sailing to act more of a safe sanctuary or home.  

“What needs to happen next is that the [Asia-Pacific] region needs to become more integrated, for example, through events for larger superyachts to visit, such as the Americas Cup..." - Kimman

This growing appetite and interest is something that all panellists agreed needs to be communicated throughout the region, and in particular with the next generation of UHNWIs. “What needs to happen next is that the [Asia-Pacific] region needs to become more integrated, for example, through events for larger superyachts to visit, such as the America's Cup,” commented Kimman. A growing event calendar would then allow yachts to make a two or three-year plan, in terms of itinerary and refits along the way, and the bigger yachts would encourage the existing refit yards in the region to aspire to a higher level of quality to accommodate them.

On the topic of these yards, Leung commented, “It is no secret that there’s a major lack of infrastructure. There are yachts being berthed in typhoon shelters, with no proper water or electricity, accessible only by dinghy, and this is no way to keep a proper vessel. The government has never taken a strong initiative to develop the industry, recognising that it’s an employment-generating potential business area,” and this is another key part of ensuring interest from the next phase of potential owners.

Alongside the pull of events and support from governments in terms of infrastructure, Leung commented that there is currently not a large market of owners who ‘start small’, in his experience. He would like to encourage more young Chinese people to start small, in order for the industry to flourish - as they will slowly graduate up to the bigger boats. And the demand for this is there, as, according to Leung, “more and more younger Chinese people who made their wealth in the financial management industry or technology industry…want to be outdoors”.  

“In this case, from a buying perspective this market is looking very healthy,” commented Redmayne, suggesting that the key to attracting more of the young, wealthy Asian market is a change of language that we need to use for yachting.

Yachting is the ultimate escape, and the most private way of being safe and secure with your family, as many people in the region are now realising, according to the panellists. It is now that this must become the rhetoric of the industry...

Yachting is the ultimate escape, and the most private way of being safe and secure with your family, as many people in the region are now realising, according to the panellists. It is now that this must become the rhetoric of the industry, in order to promote charter in this region, in terms of spending weekends and even weeks at a time on board. It is also a new way to view ownership, considering a yacht as a safe investment that can provide sanctuary for a family in times of crisis.

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