This article first appeared in The Superyacht Owner, Issue 21, February 2016.
Words by Bryony McCabe.
After years of searching for the perfect sailing yacht, her new owners found that the iconic 32m sloop Emmaline – originally Christoffel’s Lighthouse – was well worth the wait. The Superyacht Owner stepped on board in Porto Cervo to find out more about their buying experience.
The search that ended with the purchase of Emmaline was a long and meticulous one for her new owners, lasting 10 years and involving half-a-dozen trips to the Monaco Yacht Show. The couple, let’s call them Mr and Mrs E, admit that it was an easy decision, but in many respects they were very surprised with their purchase, thinking they would have preferred a more contemporary style. “At our age we rarely surprise ourselves,” they smile, emphasising that Emmaline was a very special find. Originally built in 2003 as Christoffel’s Lighthouse, and more recently named Carl Linné, the yacht is the result of a collaboration between Holland Jachtbouw and Gerard Dykstra, and she is far from contemporary.
The original owner wanted to make a statement: theyacht emulates the plumb-bowed pilot and revenue cutters of the turn of thecentury, as well as 1885 America’s Cup competitors Puritan and Genesta, but with updated lines. “We could have gone for a more modern design, but we thought it might go on to look dated because we were potentially buying a five- to 10-year-old yacht,” Mr E explains. “I think this boat, as long as we take care of her, will enrich over a lifetime. Hopefully we will save a bit in terms of depreciation, knowing full well that an older boat needs more looking after, but that feels like a reasonable trade to me. In the words of the previous owner, she is ‘something to be proud of’.”
During the search for their perfect sailing yacht, the couple admit that Southern Wind Shipyard was a strong contender for them. Having been to the yard in Cape Town, they liked the brand and the people there. Of particular importance was that the yard had found a way to successfully incorporate four guest cabins within a 30m LOA – one of the key criteria in their initial search, which they subsequently jettisoned when they found Emmaline.
As well as being struck by her interior and exterior appearance, the decision to buy Emmaline came down to a few other factors, such as its lifting keel that enables the boat to get into tight anchorages. “I like being close to the beach so that I can dive off, swim ashore, buy a beer with some soggy money and swim back,” Mr E laughs. “One of the things I don’t like about bigger boats is that they are very often the ones way out [away from the shore], and that feels like a disconnect for me.” Mr E acknowledges the importance of having trustworthy and knowledgeable advisors; the yacht is currently under 8 Yachts management and during the time leading up to their purchase, Will Bishop, broker at Yachting Partners International helped them to navigate the market. “For me it’s about working with people who you can relate to and trust and who understand what you want,” Mr E points out. “Over the many years I have been going to the Monaco Yacht Show, Will and I would always meet up to talk about the industry, and he has shown me many boats. He has always been very patient, never pushy, and I think he predicted that I would buy a boat one day.”
As a former superyacht captain, Bishop helped Mr and Mrs E see things from a different perspective and advised them to look beyond things they might otherwise have been preoccupied about. “He recommended that we keep one eye on resale,” Mr E adds. “Many owners charge into buying a boat they want and sometimes you can inherit something that the rest of the market doesn’t like, which can result in some pain when the time comes to move on.” The couple’s biggest concern before buying Emmaline, however, was the crew accommodation: the original owner had conceived the boat very much with him as a hands-on sailor and had only put one crew cabin forward. “That arrangement was potentially a bit of a downer for me because it meant that the four crew we needed would have to share when we were full,” Mr E explains. “I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get the right people as I would have to work with them as crew and effectively live with them.
“But that’s where Will really helped me, and the point that was made to me was that if you are a good owner, then that is what is really important to crew. If you treat them with respect, thank them and look after them – luckily all the things that are quite natural to us – then factors like accommodation become less of an issue. And that is what I have heard subsequently played back to me from the team I have now.”
When questioned about their experience searching for their yacht, the couple answer that the main lesson they learnt is to ‘take your time’. “Ultimately, there are so many different boats out there but you can have the same experiences on a boat half this size,” Mr E concludes. “I can enjoy walking the docks in Monaco one day and then be anchored in a remote bay with no one else around a day later. That right there is what this industry stands for – very different moments but with all the same ingredients.”
THE BROKER’S PERSPECTIVE
Will Bishop, sales and new construction broker, was pivotal in helping Emmaline’s new owners find their perfect boat. In a struggling sector, Bishop has overseen a significant number of other sailing yacht transactions in the past two years on behalf of Yachting Partners International (YPI), including 37m YII, 42m Cyclos III, 42m Mari-Cha IV, 30m Rapture, the 40m J Class Rainbow, 32m Southern Wind 102RS and the recent delivery of a 38m Royal Huisman, Build 395. The Superyacht Owner speaks to Bishop about the state of the sailing- yacht market.
HOW DO YOU VIEW THE CURRENT STATE OF YOUR SECTOR?
The brokerage sailing-yacht market remains an exceptionally challenging one, with relatively few transactions taking place over the past 24 months. In my opinion, this will remain unchanged: there is a lack of qualified buyers in addition to a genuine lack of yachts that meet the buyer’s criteria of today. It is also important to recognise that the buyer remains in the driving seat, so if a transaction is going to take place then the seller needs to be realistic about what is achievable in today’s market.
WHAT WAS BEHIND YPI’S FLURRY OF SALES IN A STRUGGLING MARKETPLACE?
While there has been a small upward sales trend, the key challenge for any broker remains to correctly identify the market opportunities that meet the client’s brief, therefore identifying the right opportunities, whether they have been listed for sale or have not been publicly listed.
IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE, WHAT IS IMPORTANT FOR CLIENTS TO CONSIDER WHEN LOOKING FOR A SECONDHAND SAILING YACHT?
I believe that the buyer should look at the full picture of owning a yacht over an extended period so they have a full understanding of the capital requirements on an annual basis. By taking this approach, the initial brief is typically modified, which will then bring into focus the yachts that should be given serious consideration. While the purchase and enjoyment of the yacht will be emotional, ultimately the client’s enjoyment will be enhanced by an understanding of the capital requirements of the yacht from the outset. For example, one yacht that may be more expensive to purchase than another could very well have reduced maintenance and operational costs due to construction, age, rig type and charter revenue potential, which will then offset the initial purchase cost and also hold a higher resale value in the future.
WHAT ARE YOUR PREDICTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE MARKET?
My own opinion is that the key market sector for growth and resale potential will be in the 30m-35m range, with an emphasis on performance. It is clear that the success of semi-production builders such as Southern Wind and the custom new-build orders that have been placed have been concentrated in this area for some time. This is due to the significant growth of the regatta circuit which has added another facet to the enjoyment of owners who may have previously solely focused on world cruising. The other added benefit compared with running a larger yacht is that the operational and racing costs are greatly reduced in this size range.
While there will continue to be large newbuild orders placed, this market will remain exceptionally competitive as the yards compete for an ever-smaller pool of clients who want to build upwards of 45m. I would therefore expect to see further consolidation with the traditional sailing-yacht shipyards engaged in the build of motoryachts in order to maintain their order books.