A new purpose for a historic market
Could we begin to see steady growth in sailing yachts back towards the halcyon days of the 2000s?
There is no denying that the sailing yacht market has taken a tumble in the last decade. According to The Superyacht Agency, there have been a total of 1011 sailing yachts over 30m delivered, of which 18.2 per cent were delivered in the last decade. Last year, we saw a total of nine sailing yachts delivered, whereas 10 years prior in 2009 saw a staggering 35 deliveries made. However, with momentum shifting towards environmental sustainability, could we begin to see steady growth back towards the halcyon days of the 2000s?
Currently, there are a total of 32 sailing yachts in the global order book, 20 of which are scheduled for this year, although based on previous years, it is likely that not all of these projects will come into fruition. But, many key players in the market are committed to reengaging potential owners within this special corner of the market and made it their mission to reignite the passion for sailing.
“There is a need to encourage ‘new blood’ to the sailing yacht market and I think the best way to do that is to introduce people to what the sailing yacht market is all about,” says Louis Hamming, CEO of Vitters. “That is why the regattas and the events are very successful, because you usually also get a group of people that have nothing to do with sailing who come and visit, really get the feel of it and get influenced as well.”
Sailing yachts are very much tied to the lifestyle element of the sport, there is a tight-knit community attached to sailing, which is how most become entwined with sailing in the first place. However, it seems that even the lifestyle itself has gone through some changes. When I sat down with the legendary Tony Castro for a wonderful instalment of the ‘Superyacht Sessions’ in The British Superyacht Report, he explained that when he started out on his own, the world of yachting was about one thing - racing.
“In those days it was about racing and the good thing about that was, if you were good enough to design a winning boat, there was no question what is going to happen to you,” says Castro. “If you designed something that won, then it was very clear and everybody saw it.”
While this is still of course very much on the agenda for many sailing yacht owners, some feel like there must be a different agenda to entice the next generation. “Previously we designed sailing yachts for the express purpose or the hidden purpose of winning regattas, and so passionate owners pushed our industry to develop more and more high-tech sailing yachts,” explains Philippe Briand. “But this competitiveness is no longer an appealing motivation for today’s younger generation of yacht owners. As a result, the market for such advanced sailing yachts is dramatically down.”
“Previously we designed sailing yachts for the express purpose or the hidden purpose of winning regattas, and so passionate owners pushed our industry to develop more and more high-tech sailing yachts."
- philippe Briand
“I believe we need to embrace ‘lateral thinking’ when it comes to the future of sailing yacht design,” continues Briand. “We want to work alongside owners to create the perfect renewable energy machine, using only wind, water and solar energy to run the yacht and provide an exceptional experience of peace on board and exploration of the sea.”
Briand explains that he thinks competition should no longer be the key motivator, with environmental initiatives that push the boundaries of technology and efficiency taking centre stage.
“I think the green initiative will draw more people towards sailing yachts”, says Hamming. We are trying to reduce our footprint in every way. We are moving towards an exciting reduction in energy use, and it’s not only to be greener, it’s about becoming more efficient and building better boats, as well as being able to save the environment in ways that it should be saved.”
Of course, we’d all like to get our hands on the secret to appealing to an entirely new breed of owners, but there are certainly some strong efforts present in the market, and new concepts that may just be enough to regain some of the momentum. With the sustainable agenda becoming increasingly popular across the globe, many feel that this could be the first step in the revival of the sailing yacht market.
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