2015 was the year many people forecast the ‘bubble’ of yachting would burst. A six-year trend of unabated growth couldn’t continue, they argued: increased geopolitical uncertainty and rising costs of owning and chartering a yacht had to impact the market. But whilst yacht sales did dip, 2015 saw Asking Prices, newbuild orders and charter demand increase beyond all expectation…
THE HIGHLIGHTS – the yachting business in 2015
Since the financial crisis, sales of superyachts (yachts above 24m in length) across the world have increased by a stunning annual average of 17% - a growth rate which many in the industry speculated had to end soon. And whilst the first quarter of 2015 seemed to confirm the market’s buoyancy, with no less than 87 sales (four times the number in 2009) breaking all previous Q1 records, Q2 sent the market into shock as sales dropped suddenly on 2014 by a massive 30%. For many, this was final proof of an inevitable slow down.
It is true that 2015 was the first time in seven years that yacht sales ceased to improve on the previous year. With a total of 392 sales, 2015 dropped on the record-breaking 2014 by 6%. However, looking at the overall seven-year trend of what is a very cyclical business, 2015 outperformed even the best of all other years by at least 9% and even more significantly, saw the total value of units sold, as measured by last known Asking Price*, increase to a record EUR 3.4 billion, 6% over the already record-breaking total of 2014. In fact, the average yacht sold for EUR 8.88 million in 2015, up 32% on last year (EUR 6.71 million), well over the average for the last four years. This was without any significant increase in 70 metre+ sales to artificially distort the numbers. 2015, against many expectations, not only saw increased turnover, but as first seen in 2014, continued to clear the market of the surplus stock that continues to force down prices. This was despite the 2.9% increase in the number of yachts under construction compared to last year (see below) and the fact that for the second year in a row, more yachts left the market than entered it (323 new entries compared to 392 sales).
Charter in 2015
2015 will also be remembered for another important indicator of industry growth. Despite a wave of newly-introduced VAT charges across Europe, growing geopolitical instability in Greece and Turkey and continued restraints on Russian and former Eastern Bloc business, the charter industry generated more revenue and with more new clients than any time since the financial crisis. YPI Charter, like most leading brokers, recorded an increase on its charter business from an already strong 2014 (up 52%) and over 30% of that business was generated from clients new to YPI or to chartering. Even the 72-metre AXIOMA chartering exclusively with YPI for over EUR 550,000 per week, is already fully booked for summer 2016.
Only time will tell whether this is the beginning of a return on the investment in money, focus and time by YPI, and other leading charter brokers, in reaching out to the 96% of UHNWIs who do not already charter or own yachts, but given chartering is, for many, the first step to owning, it is an area we will be watching intently over the next year.
2015 THE HIGHLIGHTS: what sold best in 2015
Overall, 2015 revealed no dramatic changes to the make-up of the sales market. All size ranges dipped as a result of the decrease in global sales. Those most hit were the mid-range sizes of 30-40 metres and 40–50 metres, dropping by 12% and 18% respectively. The 50-60 metre range, however, a sector attracting increasing interest from buyers wishing to upgrade to their second yacht, experienced the biggest volume of yachts sold in any one year, a total of 28 units compared to the yearly average of 19. Importantly, more than half the yachts sold in this sector were three years old or less, and over half of those are presently under construction either as semi-custom or newbuild models. It seems the appetite is for new product rather than purchasing to refit.
The entry level sizes 24-30 metres and 30-40 metres still account for a massive 73% of all units sold whilst at the opposite end, 17 yachts above 60 metres sold in 2015, average for the last three or four years.
2015 THE HIGHLIGHTS: sailing yacht market
In both the pre-owned and newbuild markets, sales of sailing yachts remain stable with 84 yachts currently under construction and 32 pre-owned yachts selling this year (8% of all market sales). Of these, 84% were sized between 24–40 metres and the majority were between 8 and 13 years old. The magnificent 52-metre Alloy Yachts-built RED DRAGON was the year’s largest sailing yacht to be sold, closely followed by a yacht YPI helped sell and charter over many years, the much-loved 48-metre WINDROSE OF AMSTERDAM. Two YPI sales, the 32-metre SEAWAVE and the 40-metre RAINBOW, were the newest yachts to be sold.
2015 THE HIGHLIGHTS: New orders and projects in build
Over 1,000 yards built the estimated fleet of 5,132 superyachts currently afloat. Today, 122 yards around the world are working on at least one of the 755 superyachts presently in build.
Newbuild orders grew by almost 3% on last year with no less than 21 yachts over 100 metres are in build, at least two of which will see the light of day this year.
The top three producing countries remain Italy, with over four times more projects than their nearest rival Holland, followed by Turkey. The interest in expedition vessels also continues as technology and design catch up with owners’ demands to use their yachts further afield and carry more guests with maximum comfort. 55 expedition yachts are now in build, with YERSIN by French yard Piriou, heralded as the ‘ultimate explorer’, feeding owners’ appetites still further with her impressive layout and ability to function in temperatures of minus 20°C whilst operating for 50 days without re-supply.
This Highlight Guide and the complete ‘YPI MARKET INSIGHT REVIEW 2015’ is prepared by YPI Market Intelligence based on YPI data and concise global industry data compiled for YPI by Boat International Media. Added data was also provided by The SuperYacht Group.
* Asking Prices are those prices the yacht was last advertised at before being sold.