Woe is me
Are oft-repeated numbers selling the industry short?
Rightly or wrongly, the superyacht industry often looks at itself in isolation. There are, of course, a variety of valid reasons for this, whether it’s a size boundary for the sake of analysis or a qualitative boundary that ensures distinctions can be drawn between the best products and those that aren’t so super. However, while we often repeat the statistic that only around two per cent of UHNWIs own superyachts, are we being a little too “woe is me” with regards to the broader view of yachting and boating, given that superyachts are a niche within this much-loved pastime.
“Superyachts are a small but incredible part of a much wider market. It takes a particular type of client to want a superyacht and, contrary to what some might think, the cost is not the only boundary,” says Tanguy Ducros, CCO of Monaco Marine. “In our marina, we have yachts that are below 30m and owned by billionaires simply because they do not want crew. They want the experience of being on board to be completely private and family orientated and, furthermore, the owners don’t want to feel like they are the boss while they are on their boat because it is downtime away from their commercial interests. However, if a UHNWI or billionaire chooses not to buy a superyacht, people often assume that this means they don’t like yachting or boating full stop, which is an oversimplification.”
Ducros provides a hypothetical situation. If a wealthy individual doesn’t own a Ferrari, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like cars. Indeed, this hypothetical scenario could be stretched even further, with the wealthy person in question owning a whole collection of cars.
Tanguy Ducros, CCO of Monaco Marine
“Superyachts carry a particular size, cost and status, but the utility of any boating experience is really in the emotional value that it carries, whether it’s a superyacht or a much smaller boat,” continues Ducros. “Perhaps when speaking with UHNWIs we should be less concerned about whether or not they own a superyacht, and more concerned with whether or not they own a boat. Whether they have a small boat on Lake Como or a yacht that doesn’t meet the dizzying dimensions of the superyacht fleet, I believe that the two per cent statistic provides an unbalanced view of UHNWI interests.”
There are reasons aplenty to own a superyacht, but it is undeniable that as far as assets go, superyachts can be one of the more complicated and costly. For some people, it is just too hard to swallow the cost and complexity, but this does not mean that they do not choose to engage with the wider boating market in some way shape or form, and the superyacht industry should take some solace in that.
Yes, superyachts are costly and complicated, but the market is reaching a level of professionalism where many of the headaches associated with them are being mitigated or removed and, in so doing, issues of cost are being resolved as fewer errors and bad decisions are made. Superyachting will never be for everyone, it’s a niche market after all that requires obscene levels of wealth to enter, but as the headaches are gradually reduced, it will be better placed than ever before to attract new ownership from the vast pools of individuals who already love boating in its various forms.
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