It’s always a seminal moment, when the top tier of the superyacht industry comes together to broach the most hard-hitting and controversial subject matters that need to be addressed in order for the industry to progress.
As we examined what needs to happen to sustain the superyacht industry and build for the next generation, my conclusion from the the multitude of keynotes and discussions at the 2019 edition of The Superyacht Forum, is that the drive to counteract the nefarious perception of the superyacht industry is a unanimous goal but one that can only be achieved through communication, transparency and balls.
“Imagine being referred to as a ‘polluter without purpose’; I would hate to be called that and this is why we need to break that perception with our use of superyachts,” was a point raised by Captain Brendan O’Shannassay as he introduced the ‘The Next Gen Model’ session, which set out to decipher better ways to own, operate and use a superyacht. What a horrible way to be referred to, I thought - underlining just how essential it is for the market to address and justify the impact that the superyacht industry has on the world.
The desire to be better is something I felt came from the entire industry, and it’s because there is so much passion coursing through the idnustry’s veins that many of the discussions included heated, yet justified exchanges.
I don’t actually feel that the drive to counteract the carbon footprint that the industry has had on the world is one that is just being dragooned by the ‘next generation’. The desire to be better is something I felt came from the entire industry, and it’s because there is so much passion coursing through the idnustry’s veins that many of the discussions included heated, yet justified exchanges. The industry as a collective can come together to develop its nobility of purpose and this, I believe, was a shared opinion at The Superyacht Forum.
So, the real question for me to consider after The Superyacht Forum is, what do we need to do to appeal to the next generation? In other words, when it comes to the ‘next generation’ of superyacht clients, what are the market opportunities and current inhibitors?
Ultimately, a fully considered review of the construction process is at the very core, as highlighted in more than one of the workshop sessions. In the past, there has been such a drive to get a contract signed and underway as soon as possible, there have been cases where there is little time to fully consider and review a project across all of the essential parties prior to its execution. This is an example of the communication that needs to be improved across the board, and in a way in which the industry could take an approach which benefits all collective parties in the longer term.
While this may add more time to new build projects initially, an open review of a design prior to its approval could ultimately enhance the efficacy of a project, and be just the ticket for improving our reputation.
I believe that we are a fantastic and collectively brilliant marketplace, but times are changing, and now there is little room for error, miscommunication or obfuscation. It is obvious that all the pieces of the puzzle exist already, but it all comes down to the collective will, as well as structural reform and the introduction of parameters, to implement these changes.
To go out and alter a proven business model is not exactly an easy task, which is why the process of implementing change can sometime move at a glacial pace in superyachting. But I am confident that the desire to meet with the next generation’s agenda is something that each and every company present at the Forum is wholeheartedly focused on.
The point is, there is an astonishing level of focus on the sustainability of the market, and through approaches such as the foundation’s tailored assessment tool, which was presented at the Forum to huge acclaim, along with projects which are now under construction, this cannot be labelled a marketplace of the mindless.
This leads me nicely on to my next point, which was as the very crux of the Forum - sustainability. Time and time again, the superyacht industry has been criticised for its impact on the world and the oceans. We are a visible and excessive luxury industry, but a polluter without purpose? Absolutely not.
There is a huge wave of activity in the world of sustainability in superyachts, but the Water Revolution Foundation is a body that showcased how dedicated to this the industry really is. The point is, there is an astonishing level of focus on the sustainability of the market, and through approaches such as the foundation’s tailored assessment tool, which was presented at the Forum to huge acclaim, along with projects which are now under construction, this cannot be labelled a marketplace of the mindless. It is a space that can drive research and change the marine environment for the better.
Overall, the consensus was clear, and The Superyacht Forum proved to me that there is a collective completely prepared to adapt its activity in a way which will not only appeal to the next generation, but generations after that.
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