Scaled down, but not out
SuperyachtNews speaks with Hume Jones, charter broker at Y.CO, about returning to The Antigua Charter Yacht Show…
The Antigua Charter Yacht Show returned for its 60th anniversary in 2021 after a COVID disrupted 2020. A cornerstone event on the superyacht season, it was great to see it back. Unable to attend this year, SuperyachtNews speaks with Antigua Show veteran, Hume Jones charter broker at Y.CO, on how this show compared to other years, its importance on the calendar and the room for growth in the region.
The numbers were down this year, and the unfortunate withdraw of the ever-present Burgess team affected this significantly. Likewise, understandably, there was COVID related hesitancy from charter yachts to risk having a few hundred people visit the boat through the show with Christmas charter only a matter of days away. But equally, as many reported from The Monaco Show, sometimes a little fewer people can equal a little more focus.
“I've been going to the show for 25 years now,” Starts Hume, “ and this year was absolutely fantastic. It was different because it was quieter, yes, there weren't that many boats there, but it meant that we could spend a bit more time talking to the crew and spending more time on each boat; it was a very happy atmosphere.”
The Antigua show is an institution, but does that mean that the show capacity in the region is static? The Bahamas and the Caribbean can often be mistakenly conflated as being much closer than they are. It is a least a four day steam from the Windward Islands and the cruising patterns, shallow draft restrictions and proximity to the United States forms a unique destination. “Is there room to grow? Yes.” Continues Jones, “There’s a huge amount of chat at the moment as to having a Bahamas show. I think there's a real need for a Bahamas show because they are a slightly different fleet that operates up there.”
The importance of the Antigua show is not limited to the Christmas/ New Year charter and extending the Caribbean season, as it may have been in a previous generation. With busy duel season yachts pushing the boundaries of a Med season and a quick refit even further, decisions made at a Caribbean sunset increasingly hold sway over the upcoming Med charter season also, as Jones explains:
“A lot of decisions are made by looking at boats at Antigua as to what you're going to book for the Summer. And that's why there is such a need for it.” Says Jones.
“Summer Med bookings are starting earlier and earlier,” continues Jones, “In the old days we'd inspect boats in May for the Summer charters and a lot of our decisions would be made at the Barcelona, Genoa and San Remo boat shows to think about what we were going to charter for the Summer. But because the booking started earlier, the Antigua show is critical to view boats for the Summer.”
Jones, and other captains and brokers, have reiterated that there was such high demand for the Caribbean this year, especially the Christmas/ New Year charter, that stock was nowhere near high enough to meet it, with cancellations met with long lists of charter guests ready to fly out. This demand bodes well for the Caribbean and the return to full strength of the Antigua show. In a further comment, Chairman Paul Deeth summarises his thoughts on the 2021 iteration:
“There is a very happy vibe at the 2021 Charter Yacht Show, all participants are enjoying being able to see, chat, mingle with colleagues and visit yachts in a relaxed environment, there is great positive energy for a better and bigger show in 2022."
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