Brokers are becoming increasingly stifled by a depleting inventory of new yachts for sale on the brokerage market, despite a clear uptick in demand. And as The Superyacht Annual Report 2018: New Build recently revealed, there is a deficiency of delivery slots at prevalent shipyards worldwide.

So, what ownership alternatives are there for buyers itching to get on the water?

I, for one, do not believe that enough homage is paid to sturdily-built brokerage boats as commercially viable candidates for conversion. Such projects can be bought, refitted and personalised, and delivered in a timely fashion and at a largely discounted price. These projects, if completed judiciously and resourcefully, also offer great prospects for a profit on a sale at a later date.

Not only do they get more buyers into yachting through more affordable means, but it has a wider benefit to the yachting community because it creates a more sustainable market – as we know, berthing options in key yachting hubs continue to dwindle.  

While there is no picture-perfect yacht type or build for these sorts of projects, I believe the yachts to earmark are those built in the '80s and '90s. In my opinion, pre-1980 yachts, unless they have obvious transformable features, are less apposite because you’re entering the ‘classic’ realm, where the original styling may be more desirable – and younger yachts might still be carrying premium prices.

I recently visited Olesinski Ltd. on the Isle of Wight, to discuss their refit of the 1983 Feadship, Falcon Lair (pictured throughout), in 2015. The yacht had initially gone into Compositeworks for a paint job but ended up having significant additional works and came out looking like a brand-new boat.

Included in the works were bolt-on composite moulding additions to the existing aluminium superstructure – a bit like a car body kit. This avoided any complications with Lloyd’s classification and created upper deck ‘zones’ that were light enough in weight to avoid computational fluid dynamic changes. 

Large sun decks are still very popular – although, today, I think we’re seeing the transom of yachts used a lot more to accommodate beach club and swimming pool preferences – but, we are definitely seeing more yachts with pyramid-like superstructure profiles to make the best volumetric use of the waterline length.

The Falcon Lair refit showed what can be done to modernise a profile and create a better use of space. The owner bought the yacht for $10.9 million (final asking price) and it is expected that the refit cost €4–5 million, and I think one would confidently consider her a €20 million-plus yacht since these works.

In my opinion, brokerage companies and design studios should be using their creativity to create concepts for existing products, creating more of a shop window for used boats which are languishing on the market.

Would it not add to the allure of a yacht if a buyer could go onto an online listing page and flick through a series of mocked-up concepts to see what certain designers could actually do with these boats? It would be a useful exercise for marketing the creative genius of designers, and it might open the eyes of yacht shoppers to the possibilities, if an end product is on view.

Make sure to get your hands on issue 185 of The Superyacht Report, in which we reveal a shortlist of yachts primed for these sorts of works, and take a closer look at the Falcon Lair project as a case-study example.

This year, The Superyacht Intelligence Agency will be producing the market's first brokerage annual report. If you would like to know what will be in the report, and how you can get involved, please contact:

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Olesinski Limited

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