It is generally accepted that a ‘super yacht’ is classed as being a professionally crewed sailing or motor yacht 24 metres or above in length. While 24 metres is the starting point, super yachts can be found up to 180 meters in size (there are even plans for a 220-metre superyacht in the pipeline). Prices range from €10m to as high as €300m.
Over the past few decades, the size of super yachts has continued to increase: at the 1991 inaugural Monaco Yacht Show, the average length was just 32 metres. Today the average yacht length exceeds 47 metres. Not only are the yachts getting bigger, but a new generation of owners are also entering the market, with traditional Middle Eastern, Russian, British and American customers being joined by increasing numbers of Asian, South American and Indian super yacht owners.
So, how best to take your own first step towards owning a super yacht?
Seek expert advice
There are so many models, broker houses and factors to consider when purchasing a super yacht, making it a uniquely challenging experience. The advice of an expert broker, who is familiar with the machinations of the industry, is therefore vital. They will be able to safely navigate you through the intricacies of the market.
It is also important that potential super yacht buyers do their due diligence, and peak to several broker houses (ideally at least three) before purchasing a yacht. Unfortunately, many first-time buyers still fall into the trap of purchasing from the first broker they see. Potential buyers should ensure that their broker is a member of MYBA, and ideally they, should look to meet their broker in person.
Know the backwaters
Not all super yachts that are for sale are publically advertised. If your broker is well informed, they will know of yachts that are privately for sale that could meet your demands. This is why getting the right broker is so integral – pick too hastily or pick incorrectly and you could miss out on the right opportunity.
Know what type of super yacht you want
Those that buy sailing yachts typically tend to have a genuine passion and enjoyment for the sea, and enjoy being involved in the running and sailing of their yacht. These are the UHNWIs who like to be at the helm of their vessel – they like to put the rigging up, navigate the yacht, sleep on the yacht, enjoy the sound of the wind running through the sails, and are seeking the complete 360° sailing experience. Some UHNWIs also buy sailing yachts for racing them in regattas. And if they don’t wish to be so involved in the running of the vessel, automated systems and the onboard crew are of course available.
Motor boats, on the other hand, are more usually purchased as a statement – a reward for hard work and sacrifice, a retreat that offers an unparalleled level of privacy and freedom to be enjoyed with family and friends. Often the UHNWIs who invest in motor yachts are looking for a private experience and level of luxury that can’t be achieved even in the finest hotels, or to explore a destination you couldn’t otherwise see.
Given the differences between the two, it is vital therefore that prospective buyers knows exactly what kind of super yacht they want before they purchase.
Know what you will use it for
It is important before purchasing a super yacht that a potential buyer considers exactly what they want to use the vessel for. Do you want to take it on longer trans-Atlantic trips, or explore the Norwegian Fjords and other harsher environments? Do you need a dedicated business area/office onboard? Do you want to make it available for charter?
Knowing exactly what you want to get out of your yacht will make a difference to what onboard facilities you require – whether it be a 3D cinema, spa and massage room, or specific water toys. Understanding why you want a super yacht should therefore be the starting point for any purchase.
Don’t think of your yacht as an investment
Don’t think of your yacht as either an investment or something that retains value. You immediately have to factor in the costs of maintenance, crew and any adjustments you make to the vessel. Operating the yacht annually costs very roughly 10% of the original purchase price, not including fuel.
Rather, you should view the purchase of a super yacht in the context that it will deliver a truly unique experience that is unparalleled in the realms of luxury.
Mark Duncan is Commercial and Marketing Director at Yachting Partners International. An active ambassador for yachting, he is a regular speaker at various events, including the industry’s MYBA training seminars.