Perhaps you already know someone who owns or regularly charters a superyacht. You’ve savoured life on board a few times and loved the experience so much you’re tempted to charter – or even buy your own yacht. Or perhaps you’ve only admired sail and motor superyachts from afar, but want to make your long-held dream of sailing and owning one a reality. So what is the first step? How do you decide between purchase versus charter? Building versus buying second hand? And, most importantly, sail versus motor? The choice is staggering and the considerations immense.
To help you make your decision, 360° Magazine spoke to YPI’s sales brokers, charter experts and yacht managers to gain insights into the three main areas you’ll need to consider before making your first foray into the superyacht world.
Q: Purchase versus charter?
Owning and chartering a superyacht are two very different experiences. The former may mean increased responsibility and expense, but with it comes total freedom, while chartering provides the perfect opportunity to dip your toe in the superyacht water. For many, chartering is their ideal option and they would never wish to own a boat. They only want to sail between two and six weeks a year; with the freedom to arrive and leave at the end of their vacation without any responsibilities. They have a wide range of charter yachts to choose from and can take immediate possession. But YPI’s William Bishop (Senior Broker and Head of YPI Sailing) sees chartering a yacht as one of the first steps towards owning.
He always counsels prospective buyers to first charter the boat they are thinking of buying: “Chartering is always a worthwhile investment,” he advises, “since typical sea trials on a new boat are relatively short.
“A prospective buyer will only have around four hours on the water, after which he has to accept or reject. You can’t possibly get a feel for a yacht over such a short period of time. We facilitate longer boat trials, and have a dedicated charter division to help our clients make the best possible choice. Investments at this level are substantial so it makes sense to charter for a few seasons first.”
Patrick Renar, one of YPI’s specialist Yacht Managers agrees: “Chartering a yacht will give you clarity on exactly how you want to use your boat, where you want to take it and how much time you want to spend on it. Sometimes owners don’t know how to choose the right yacht for the right application, he adds. “They may want the yacht delivered to the other side of the world but discover that it’s simply not up to a stormy Atlantic crossing.”
He also thinks it a wise decision to “charter both motor and sail yachts and weigh up their pros and cons”.
One obvious advantage of chartering before you buy is the initial financial saving. Chartering costs less than a tenth of what it would to own a boat for a whole season, and you won’t have the depreciation costs. “However if you have your own boat, you can build up relationships with a regular crew – and leave your clothes on board. It’s great to arrive from the airport with only minimal luggage,” adds William.
Charter Manager Jacqueline Leigh reckons chartering gives you an idea of what it would be like to have crew members around 24/7 – the most expensive part of running a superyacht.
“Some clients don’t enjoy the continual crew presence; they need more privacy, whereas others require a large staff for entertaining clients, friends and family,” she says. “In addition, chartering will give you clarity on whether a particular yacht’s layout and design is the right one for you.” She adds that cost-wise chartering is a drop in the ocean compared to owning. “The average weekly outlay for a 26m (85ft) yacht charter is between 35K to 45K during high season (mooring, insurance, fuel and crew are on top). Plus many owners are choosing to charter their yachts now, so there are deals to be had if you’re lucky.”
“Chartering is also an excellent way of deciding whether you want to build your own yacht or buy second hand, suggests William. “For the new person into the market, chartering different types of boats and having different experiences, whether racing or cruising, will ultimately help you decide whether you want to take that step and build your own boat – to your own design specifications – or make do with someone else’s creation on a charter.”
But many ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) wouldn’t dream of being without their own yacht, whether it’s motor or sail. And here are just a few reasons why: You can take your own boat wherever you want in the world, whenever you want. The only limitations are your time. You can choose your own select crew and go as fast or slow as you like. You are the boss. Having your own boat is the epitome of freedom, privacy and luxury, far outclassing even the best resort experiences. Yacht buyers usually have vast charter experience behind them and value the freedom and prestige of owning their own vessel.
Q: Building versus buying second hand?
“There’s nothing more exciting than designing and building your own yacht,” says Patrick, “since you can tailor the exterior and interiors to your own specific requirements. If you want to use the yacht for diving, for example, you can create a special diving room and even a cabin for your divemaster.”
William agrees: “Building your own yacht is something to be proud of and it’s totally bespoke. Even better, if you build the right design with the right appeal and at the right price, there is still potential profit to be made in the re-sale market of that yacht.” “Certainly it’s key to bear that factor in mind if you know that you won’t be keeping the boat for more than ten years. Our advice is to always fill your yacht with class and commercial status, as this inevitably means it will attract a higher re-sale value in the future.”
Layout and design of a new-build yacht should always have broad appeal going forward. “Untried and tested wacky interior design will always lead to a smaller market of potential buyers at resale, which will reflect in a potentially lower price,” he counsels.
“At YPI we have designs that work and will be strong in the re-sale market.”
Buying second hand, despite good values in pre-owned yachts, will always be somewhat of a compromise, as you’ll be living with someone else’s design. However, you will often save on price, with much of the hard work already done. In addition, many owners build in a budget for a refit once they’ve purchased, so they can add their own personal statement to the boat.
One advantage of buying second hand is the delivery time. Forget that 36-month waiting game, you can have the object of your desire in a matter of weeks.
Another option is to buy a semi-custom boat. You simply buy the standard hull –from a series – then decide on the deck space and all the interiors yourself. This is a much faster option than a new-build as delivery time is around only 18 months.
Q: Sail versus motor yacht?
Like most high-end purchases, this is very much down to personal taste. Patrick is a fan of wind and sail: “I’m a keen sailor,” he tells me. “You’re playing with the elements, using the wind; the sound of the motor is gone and you are gliding through the water.” And the advantages of sail? “You don’t have the noise, the vibrations; it’s much more exhilarating, feeling that heeling to one side and using natural forces to travel from A to B.”
Patrick considers it essential that prospective owners “have a clear idea of how they want to use their yacht and where they want to take it” to help them decide between motor or sail. “If you simply want to pose on the Riviera and motor between European destinations, then your requirements will be totally different to an owner who wants to take part in regattas, or enjoy serious world cruising in a variety of environments.”
“An advantage that motor yachts have over sail is that they will always have greater interior volume than a sailboat of the same length,” says William. “Not to mention their superior speed. If you’re someone who likes to get to your destination quickly, a motor yacht is possibly the best choice.”
Of course, it goes without saying that motor yachts tend to be much more luxurious. You don’t see many Jacuzzi®, cinemas, dining areas, jetski decks, or swimming pools on a sailing yacht. The variety and sheer number of motor yachts on the market easily surpasss the choice of sailing yachts – whether you are chartering or purchasing.
Yet for die-hard sailors, “the journey is the fun bit,” he adds, “not the destination, as is so often the case with motor yacht owners. You need to take into account what you are using your yacht for.”
The rise in amateur Regattas – St Barths Bucket, Sardinia, Palma – to name a few, also gives sailing yacht owners the chance to race their boats and meet other owners in a friendly and relaxed environment. “Sailing yacht design has changed dramatically in recent years,” says William “and they are now built for speed. I’ve seen a few buyers of motor yacht clients now preferring to purchase sailing yachts.”
“Plus the arrival of a sailing yacht in a harbour always turns heads, especially schooners like METEOR. And sailing yachts are always seen as the most eco-friendly option (even if they aren’t!).”
Talk with your YPI broker
Whether you choose sail or motor, by identifying where you want to take your yacht, what you will be using it for and how much time you want to spend on it you’ll narrow your focus. Talking to sail and motor superyacht owners, who will give you an unbiased opinion, will also help. However, your first port of call should be your YPI brokers. With more than 40 years industry experience, they will outline your choices and help you make an informed decision that will maximise your superyachting experience – on land and in the water.
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