There is an increasing amount of young owners entering the market and UHNWIs in their twenties are commissioning big first-time boats, a new and surprising trend for many shipbuilders.
The next generation of owners
The demographics of superyacht owners are changing, that is for certain. While the average age of a yacht owner is currently 63 years old, the economic crash of 2008 has left an apparent hole in the current generation of potential owners. Yet, a rebound seems to be on the horizon and interest from different markets is beginning to change the face of the industry.
With over one million HNWIs and 85,000 ultra high net-worth individuals (UHNWIs), 15% of which plan to buy a yacht in the near future, China is a rapidly emerging market. Igor van Geenhuizen of Motion Yachts explains, “There are currently 137 new marinas under construction along the coast of China, and this is still growing. There is government support and private investment. It is an incredible development in China at the moment and the Chinese yacht market has been growing since 2005. It's expected to reach close to €10 billion in six years’ time.”
There is a clear history in the evolution of the luxury lifestyle in Asia, Igor believes. The world’s largest golf resort is now in Shenzhen boasting 209 holes and has an annual membership subscription of €500,000. There are currently 600 golf clubs in China with an additional 500 under construction.
The same can be said for luxury cars, and the Chinese market is driving development at BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Porsche, while the rapidly growing taste for fine wines means Europe cannot export enough wine to Asia and they are starting to produce their own. If history is anything to go by, the Asia-Pacific market is the one to watch, as Igor tells us:
“We think we have seen it all with all our experience in Europe and the States, but when it takes off, we won’t know what hit us.”
There is also an increasing amount of young owners entering the market and UHNWIs in their twenties are commissioning big first-time boats, a new and surprising trend for many shipbuilders. Functionality is taking precedence over aesthetic, although luxury and design are crucial. They want to push the boundaries of design and innovation, breaking away from the norms of classic yacht design.
Glider Yachts has its sights firmly set on this market, with a stunning range of radical high performance yachts ranging in size from 18 to 80m set to hit the market early in 2015. Their revolutionary hull form design and high performance propulsion and stability control systems have been in top secret development for five years, enabling this completely unique vessel to glide over the waves 50 per cent faster, with a 70 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and related emissions and unprecedented comfort and stability at high speed compared to the leading sports superyachts.
Not only does this bring far off destinations within easy and more economical reach, but it also allows smooth operation in rough sea conditions, when conventional superyachts are confined to port. They run on conventional diesel, LPG and Bio-diesel and are designed for the exciting new energy systems on the horizon. Such bold claims from this young British company, whose styling is as revolutionary as its technology, makes Glider Yachts one to watch.
The economic downturn of 2008 saw drastic changes in the commissioning of new builds and even high earners are reticent about investing in non-liquid assets. Companies are emerging which address this change in thinking, such as Yacht Plus, who offer a unique shared ownership programme whereby owners share 1/8th equity in a large yacht, splitting maintenance and crew costs.
They explained, “The concept of shared ownership is fast becoming recognised as the financially astute way forward for those wishing to have personal ownership of high-end luxury products. We offer a new generation of yacht owners the rare opportunity to own and enjoy a stunning superyacht through shared ownership, providing all the benefits of sole ownership without the hassle and at a fraction of the cost.”