Across the superyacht industry, there are mutterings of the so called ‘next generation’ of owners coming through to commission superyachts. ‘Clients are getting younger and they want different things to their predecessors,’ is how this conversation tends to run, but I am questioning what the industry is doing to take advantage of a growing pool of potential clients with different attitudes towards superyachts.
During The Superyacht Design Summit, which took place during London Design Week, observations from the panellists included the fact that younger clients are becoming more relaxed through their design requests, want things done faster and have different attitudes to superyachting in general. However, I am convinced that the industry is struggling to really understand this change in attitude, and remains under the impression that most owners wish to build ‘white boats’ in the traditional mould.
For an article that will appear in The Superyacht Captains Report, I spoke to a captain who has been lucky enough to explore the world – and I mean really explore the world – with his owner, who has developed a passion for ocean discovery. It astounded him to think that some owners are still limiting themselves to the milk run because they haven’t been inspired enough to do otherwise or been given adequate information about what they could be doing with their projects. ‘This is what they hire us, the professionals, for’, he said and its true – why is it, for example, that some yachts are being designed without pilot cabins if the owner wishes to cruise around Patagonia?
It’s easy to rant and rave about shaking up the superyacht market, and moan when nothing really changes. The truth of course, is that it’s bloody difficult to instil some sort of difference, especially when many are under the impression that superyacht owners are ‘too conservative for any kind of drastic change’. And of course, there are owners that wish to remain in the Mediterranean, which requires the ‘white boats’ that we know so well, so it’s not as if every superyacht owner is dying to get up the Arctic Circle.
"It’s easy to rant and rave about shaking up the superyacht market, and moan when nothing really changes. The truth of course, is that it’s bloody difficult to instil some sort of difference, especially when many are under the impression that superyacht owners are ‘too conservative for any kind of drastic change’."
Owners, however, have suffered something of an identity crisis, thanks to the wider media, meaning that those that wish to do something a little different, are overlooked, they decide to build a high-profile pioneering ocean discovery vessel, such as REV or Alucia 2. But those in between, who want to discover the world without dedicating the entire yacht to science, may feel a little lost in their options, and that is really down to the industry, rather than the owner.
We’re often asked if owners are really interested in ‘going green’ or if we think some owners use their investment in ocean conservation as a PR stunt. But I do have faith that many owners are making, or would like to make investments to better the environment because of a genuine concern/interest, while having a great time doing so.
"I do have faith that many owners are making, or would like to make investments to better the environment because of a genuine concern/interest, while having a great time doing so."
In line with potential superyacht clients, the superyacht landscape is changing, and it is affecting the entire marketplace. We’re seeing huge shifts in interior design as the ‘stripped back’ style becomes increasingly prevalent, to accompany the aforementioned relaxed attitudes towards the yachting lifestyle. We’re seeing rapid developments in alternative energy generation as we creep closer to achieving the ultimate goal of zero emissions propulsion technology. Without question, we are a very different market to 10, or even five years ago, but it really is up to the industry to keep on with this momentum and do everything to inspire people, not just owners, to think differently about the potential of the superyacht market.
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