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Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Championing the Gulf: Mohammed Alshaali

Championing the Gulf: Mohammed Alshaali

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Mohammed Alshaali reflects on Gulf Craft’s four decades, growing from an isolated fishing boat start-up to a high-tech, fully integrated operation building yachts from 34-175ft across four brands, with two upcoming Majesty superyachts set to kickstart the company’s fifth decade. Interview: John Higginson.

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Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Alshaali was named Middle East Entrepreneur 2022 at the NORNS Awards for his contribution to the Middle East’s leisure maritime industry

 

Congratulations on 40 years since you co-founded Gulf Craft in 1982. What were the key moves that helped Gulf Craft grow to become the Middle East’s leading yacht and superyacht builder?
The first big jump was in 1991, when we moved from building boats to building the first yacht, a 53 flybridge. The second jump in the history of the company was in 2001 when we began building superyachts, starting with the Millennium 118 for John Staluppi in Florida and the Majesty Yachts brand.

Since then, we’ve tried to balance between building boats, small cruisers, yachts and superyachts. Of course, the superyachts grew bigger over time, but we’re still building fishing boats and cruisers, as well as water taxis in our factories in the Maldives. Our aim is to be among the world’s top five superyacht builders in terms of styling, quality, engineering and interiors.

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Gulf Craft was founded in 1982

 

Are you happy with where Majesty Yachts is today?
I’m very happy because we perfected the interior and exterior styling some time ago. For the last two years, we’ve been focusing more on engineering, on how to make the boat even more comfortable and reliable. We use the latest technology and are always trying to improve.

Now we have, for example, boats using solar panels, battery power, and so on. On our new Nomad 70 SUV, all the hotel loads can be run from the batteries, and you only need the engines for propulsion.

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Gulf Craft’s Umm Al Quwain shipyard

 

We’re trying to introduce new technologies and keep up with the new tech, such as navigation equipment, entertainment systems and everything else on the boat. We’re also trying to use nature-friendly materials on our boats and yachts. This is all part of the work of our R&D department, which includes 50 engineers.

That’s why I say we want to be top five. It doesn’t mean we will be there tomorrow or next year, but this is our target.

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Mohammed Alshaali with YACHT STYLE CEO Gael Burlot

 

In Europe, many leading yacht builders are competing with and learning from neighbouring or nearby yards, but Gulf Craft is all alone in the UAE. How can you keep up?
We have consultants from Europe and are in constant communication with high-tech developers. We invest money in this. We’re physically a little far from the centre of the yachting industry, but we started far away 40 years ago, and we weren’t scared to compete.

However, if you talked to me over 20 years ago and said we’d be regular exhibitors at the Monaco Yacht Show, I wouldn’t have believed you. But things are changing. Yes, Europe used to feel further away, but we’re living in a global economy. We’re inter-dependent.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Alshaali jokes with Cristiano Gatto on the Majesty 120

 

Gulf Craft is making a concerted effort to open new markets, such as making your US show debut at Fort Lauderdale in late 2019 with the Majesty 140 and Majesty 100. Where do you see your biggest growth regions in the coming years?
Growing around the world has always been a priority and I think we’ve succeeded. If you can compete in Europe, you can compete anywhere, because even in the US, we’re competing with European brands. In Asia, Australia, we’re competing with European brands. We’re selling well in Europe, so if we’re selling there, we can sell anywhere else.

 

Abeer Alshaali is Deputy Managing Director of Gulf Craft

 

Your daughter Abeer is Deputy Managing Director, overseeing the company’s global expansion. How closely do you work with her?
We work together as we’re both part of the Management Board. It’s not me or her making the decisions but the whole board. The financial department, engineering department, all the different departments are represented on the board. My daughter and my three sons – two also work for the company – all grew up as Gulf Craft was growing, so boating is in their blood.

 

The Gulf Craft Experience Centre in Dubai’s Port Rashid

 

What has been the response to the Gulf Craft Experience Centre at Port Rashid in Dubai since it opened at the beginning of the year?
It has been well received and worked well for us. It’s close to the centre of Dubai and close to the airport. It also allowed us to separate the sales and marketing department from the factory, so they have their own space and can receive clients and prospects in their own facility. It’s much easier for everyone.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

The Majesty 120 was at Cannes and Monaco

 

What was the feedback on the Majesty 120 as it made its European debut in September, showing at both the Cannes Yachting Festival and Monaco Yacht Show, along with a Majesty 100?
There was a very good response, and this will show in the order book. This year was the first time the 120 came to Europe but we already have hull five in production. This shows that the 120 already had a good reputation with people that saw her in the past, including at the Dubai International Boat Show earlier in the year. Hull two Rocket One, the 120 shown in Europe, went to America to exhibit at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and we have another sale in the US.

The Majesty 100 remains our most popular superyacht. We’ve delivered 12 and have another five or six in production.

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Cristiano Gatto announces the Majesty 160

 

You work regularly with Cristiano Gatto, who designed the exterior and interior of the Majesty 175 and the interior of the Majesty 120, plus he has designed the upcoming Majesty 160. Why does this partnership work for Gulf Craft?
It’s very important when you work with a designer that he understands production. We’re not one-off builders. He doesn’t design one boat for one customer. He designs a series for a yard, so he knows that we’ll be building multiple hulls of each model.

Also, you need to have trust. He trusts what we’ll do, and we trust him. We’ve also developed a friendship since we met. We’re constantly challenging each other on designs, discussing solutions, but he knows he’ll never be undercut or sabotaged because we trust each other.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

The Majesty 160 will be Gulf Craft’s second-biggest build

 

Cristiano Gatto is one of the best designers in the market for bigger yachts and he has designed so many of them. And the Majesty 175 is unique. She’s the most beautiful yacht and I don’t say that because we built it – we’ve built so many – but this is how I feel every time I go on that yacht. The only down side is that not a lot of people saw the yacht in person because she wasn’t at any boat shows.

We’ve been working with Cristiano again on the new Majesty 160, which also marks our first project with Van Oossanen, on the naval architecture.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

The Majesty 111 will debut at the 2023 Dubai show

 

What’s the update on the upcoming Majesty 111, which will fit between the 100 and 120 models in the range?
We’re building two hulls simultaneously and the first one will be at the Dubai International Boat Show in March 2023. The Majesty 111 has been designed by Dutch studio Phathom and we’ve sold hull one, with others in negotiation.

 

The Majesty 72 debuted at Abu Dhabi in November

 

How important to the brand are the smaller Majesty models like the 49, 62, 62 M and the new 72? They’re a huge gulf in price from the Superyacht Collection, so who do they appeal to?
I always say we’re a small company. We grew up with our customers. We started in yachts with 50-footers, 60-footers, and the demands from customers kept growing, so we built bigger yachts and superyachts. Yet, we still have new customers coming to us, so we keep the smaller models, which are the bread and butter of the company.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

The Nomad 70 SUV debuted at this year’s Dubai show

 

What distinguishes the Nomad series, which features 55, 65 and 75 Fly models, and 65, 70, 75 and 95 SUV versions?
Nomad is different. The Nomad is not a smaller Majesty superyacht; it’s a relaxing, slower, oceangoing experience, made for people who don’t worry about reaching somewhere quickly or showing off. They want something to live in as a family and enjoy the sea. Considering we only launched the brand in 2015, they’re selling very well and we’re adding new models every couple of years.

The SUV versions have worked well. We launched the Nomad 70 SUV at this year’s Dubai International Boat Show and already have three or four on order.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

The Oryx 379 from the brand’s range of sport cruisers

 

Which models represent the future of the Oryx sport cruiser range (36, 379 and 42)?
We already had the 36 and 42, then we changed the style a bit and released the 379 and now we’re building a 47ft and a smaller one. They’ve been selling well and the price in the market for resale is excellent. We have 70 or 80 Oryx boats on the water, mostly in the Middle East, and we’re also selling a few of the 379 in the likes of the Med and Australia.

Silvercraft is a mix of power catamarans (SilverCat 34 CC/HT/Lux, SilverCat 40 CC/Lux) and monohulls (36 CC/HT, 47). What are the main markets for these models?
Silvercraft is more focused on fishing and utility boats, and this is where Gulf Craft started. We don’t want to lose our heritage, so we still cater to those customers. However, the catamaran models are new to Silvercraft because it’s a popular hull for sport fishing, although these models have more luxury than most fishing boats. They have air-conditioning, a proper saloon, galley, a nice bathroom and so on.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

The Silvercraft 40 Lux continues Gulf Craft’s history of powercats

 

We have a history in catamarans. We built racing powercats in the late 1980s and built our catamaran yachts in the early and mid-1990s, although there wasn’t a big market for it as the materials were expensive.

Now the mentality towards catamarans has changed, and the materials are better, and that’s why you see a lot of people coming back to catamarans because of stability, fuel efficiency and space. We’re not only following the market; we have a background in this. We will have a factory dedicated to catamarans that will open next year.

 

Gulf Craft, Leader, Mohammed Alshaali, Championing the Gulf, Majesty, Nomad, Oryx, Silvercraft, motor yacht, superyachts, Cristiano Gatto, Abeer Alshaali, Phathom

Alshaali plays host on the Majesty 120

 

How do you feel when you look back at 40 years of Gulf Craft, having also had such a successful personal career?
I’m proud of what has been done. It’s not for me or my family; it’s for the team at Gulf Craft and for the country. I think we’ve shown we can create a world-class yacht builder. I think it’s a legacy for the UAE and I think Gulf Craft is part of the UAE story. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything else like Gulf Craft in the whole Middle East, a local company that manufactures a high-standard product exported around the world.
www.gulfcraftinc.com

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Ditapong Thitadilok, President, TYBA, Thai Yachting Business Association, Thailand Charter Week, Thailand, Government, Phuket, Charter Week, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand

TYBA President reflects on second Thailand Charter Week

TYBA President reflects on second Thailand Charter Week

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Ditapong Thitadilok, President of the Thai Yachting Business Association, talks about organising the first post-Covid Thailand Charter Week, which built on the inaugural edition in 2019.

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Ditapong Thitadilok, President, TYBA, Thai Yachting Business Association, Thailand Charter Week, Thailand, Government, Phuket, Charter Week, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of ThailandDitapong Thitadilok, President of TYBA (Thai Yachting Business Association)

What were the major changes to this year’s Thailand Charter Week compared to the first edition three years ago?
The yachting industry has received more support from the Thai Government. Yachting has been included in the country’s strategic marine tourism plan and has been a critical mechanism for restoring the economy through tourism.

The Thai Government has officially allowed foreign superyachts to do charter business since early 2021. As a result, there has been much interest from superyachts to charter in Thai waters. The show also had a lot of interest and had three 30m-plus superyachts (click for article), which showed significant growth from 2019.

Ditapong Thitadilok, President, TYBA, Thai Yachting Business Association, Thailand Charter Week, Thailand, Government, Phuket, Charter Week, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of ThailandDitapong with Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn (second right), Minister of Tourism and Sports

What was the feedback from the Government Ministers, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Phuket authorities this year?
Mr Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, fully supported the Thailand Charter Week and the yachting industry (click for article). He has encouraged Thailand Charter Week to become bigger and better next year. Images, video and other media content from this year’s Thailand Charter Week will be used to promote Thailand’s marine tourism globally.

Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Phuket province have also helped establish Thailand Charter Week on the event calendar. Thailand Charter Week has become a significant event for Thailand’s marine tourism.

Ditapong Thitadilok, President, TYBA, Thai Yachting Business Association, Thailand Charter Week, Thailand, Government, Phuket, Charter Week, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of ThailandVIPs at the Thailand Charter Week opening ceremony

What were the best aspects of this year’s Thailand Charter Week?
Support from government and private companies increased and there was a wider of variety of businesses, not just yachting. It means the marine industry has widened and can be a part of other industry groups. The best part of this year’s edition was the cooperation between TYBA members, the Government, charter brokers and local agents.

 

Ditapong Thitadilok, President, TYBA, Thai Yachting Business Association, Thailand Charter Week, Thailand, Government, Phuket, Charter Week, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand

 

Which parts of the Thailand Charter Week can be improved?
Announcing the event. We had limited time to prepare for this year’s Thailand Charter Week as there was still doubt about the exact plan to reopen Thailand to visitors and tourists. However, we expected to have more yachts and more international visitors. We will have more time to prepare for the 2023 edition. As organisers, we have already started a plan to make the event better.

 

Ditapong Thitadilok, President, TYBA, Thai Yachting Business Association, Thailand Charter Week, Thailand, Government, Phuket, Charter Week, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Tourism Authority of Thailand

 

Some potential exhibitors said they didn’t participate because all their yachts were being chartered. Do you think the Thailand Charter Week should be held at a different time?
We think this period is the best time for Thailand Charter Week. This year, some charter businesses were too busy because Thailand had just reopened fully since the Covid pandemic. We’re creating another marketing channel to allow companies and yachts that can’t attend Thailand Charter Week to communicate with visitors. Of course, all visitors can still contact the yachts, yacht management companies or central agents.
www.thaiyachtingbusinessassociation.com

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Julien Solari: Singapore thriving as a superyacht hub

Julien Solari: Singapore thriving as a superyacht hub

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In a Column for YACHT STYLE Issue 68, Simpson Marine’s Julien Solari reveals how Singapore is living up to its reputation as one of Asia’s key yachting hubs, with Sanlorenzo driving a lot of the city’s superyacht activity.

Julien Solari, Singapore, superyacht, hub, Sanlorenzo, Asia, YACHT STYLE, Issue 68, ONE°15 Marina, Sentosa Cove, Lady Candy, Benetti, Double Haven, Feadship, Petra Tara, Admiral, Alloy, 46Steel, SD96, SX88, Republic of Singapore Yacht Club

 

One of Asia’s leading financial centres, Singapore is a fantastic place for superyachts to dock and prepare for further exploration of the region. With its ideal location in the heart of Southeast Asia, it allows for easy access to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Last year, ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove – where Simpson Marine is based and has a dedicated Sanlorenzo Asia lounge – completed an upgrade and reconfiguration to increase the number of spaces for 80ft-plus superyachts from 15 to 33, including several 50m-plus berths in a dedicated superyacht area, facing the marina club.

This major project has significantly helped us to bring in more superyachts on a permanent basis, as berthing space is typically one of the major concerns of superyacht owners and captains in the region.

While there are many superyachts berthed at ONE°15 Marina including Lady Candy (Benetti), Double Haven (Feadship) and Petra Tara (Admiral), I am delighted to witness that Sanlorenzo superyachts currently take up almost half of the superyacht dock.

At present, Sanlorenzo superyachts include two 44.5m Alloy models, a 46Steel and an SD96, while an SX88 is joining them. One of the Alloy yachts features a custom layout, impeccable decoration by Christian Liaigre and a wide range of facilities that combine to give her owner an experience that might only be expected from a much larger yacht.

Among the Alloy model’s notable features is a 148sqm, three-level owner suite with a private terrace and pool. In recognition of her outstanding design, the Alloy was crowned as a winner in this year’s World Superyacht Awards, in the category of ‘Semi-Displacement or Planing Motor Yachts, 40m and above’.

Sanlorenzo has been building high-quality motor yachts since 1958 and has pushed its boundaries further and further since then, embracing languages and creative forms belonging to similar worlds such as design and art.

Aside from the global partnership with Art Basel, Sanlorenzo also works with world-renowned designers like Piero Lissoni, Patricia Urquiola, Laura Sessa, Antonio Citterio, Patricia Viel, John Pawson and more. With its growing desirability thanks to its uniqueness and limited production numbers, Sanlorenzo is currently the leading shipyard in the 24m-plus segment in Singapore.

In early October, we witnessed the arrival of two Sanlorenzo superyachts at ONE°15 Marina – an Alloy and the iconic SL86, while another Alloy is in Republic of Singapore Yacht Club. More will follow, with an SD118, SX100 and SX76 among models scheduled for delivery to owners in Southeast Asia in the coming months.

We’re also grateful to the owners and friends who have trusted us to help them find their dream yacht or their house on the sea. Our good relationships with owners have helped us in our continued efforts to grow interest for superyachts. We have some major deals for very large yachts that have not been announced yet and we remain positive superyachts have their firmly established Southeast Asia hub here in Singapore.

One piece of advice we usually share with future Sanlorenzo owners is to take delivery of their brand new yacht at the shipyard in Italy. It’s a unique opportunity to enjoy a season of scenic yachting in the Mediterranean, cruising around the Italian coast and south of France, visiting the likes of Sardinia and Corsica.

Other destinations include Spain’s Balearic Islands to the west or the Adriatic Sea to the east, with Croatia and Montenegro. Owners can enjoy gorgeous waters and a superb yachting lifestyle.

They can also attend the Cannes, Genoa and Monaco yacht shows on the Riviera in September and stay at anchor in one of the nice bays around the area. Subsequently, their yacht could head to the shipyard for a couple of weeks of warranty works before being shipped to its destination in Asia, just in time to enjoy Christmas and Chinese New Year festivities in the likes of Phuket or Singapore.

After two years of business impasse due to the pandemic, we’re observing much more activity than ever. The typical owner’s profile has shifted towards a younger buyer, active businessmen and entrepreneurs from various industries including tech.

Another interesting trend is the surge of Chinese citizens in Singapore, a trend that will probably continue to expand due to severe Covid-related restrictions ongoing in Mainland China and partially in Hong Kong. Singapore has smartly outpaced every major city in Asia, and that open, business-minded policy has been reflected in the superyacht industry.

There has never been a better time to consider your superyacht purchase in the Lion City. At Simpson Marine and Sanlorenzo Asia, we offer experience and expertise to make these projects a rewarding reality for our yacht owners.

JULIEN SOLARI

Julien Solari, Singapore, superyacht, hub, Sanlorenzo, Asia, YACHT STYLE, Issue 68, ONE°15 Marina, Sentosa Cove, Lady Candy, Benetti, Double Haven, Feadship, Petra Tara, Admiral, Alloy, 46Steel, SD96, SX88, Republic of Singapore Yacht Club

Julien Solari is Singapore Country Manager for Simpson Marine, Asia’s largest yacht dealership. Having studied business and management in France, Netherlands, Denmark and Italy, the Frenchman worked in Rotterdam for three years and spent four years as a yacht broker with The World of Yachting in Nice before joining Simpson Marine in Singapore in 2017. His recent sales have included several Sanlorenzo yachts. julien.solari@simpsonmarine.com / www.simpsonmarine.com

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Superyacht Financing, HSBC Global Private Banking, superyacht, market, rollercoaster, Jyrki Rauhio, Regional Head of Credit Advisory, Asia Pacific, Fraser, client, sale, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Asia, megayacht, Hong Kong, Sai Kung, Jakarta, Singapore, Manila, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Covid, HSBC Global Private Banking, risk

“You only live once” by HSBC Global Private Banking

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“You only live once” by HSBC Global Private Banking

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Even during a “rollercoaster” couple of years post Covid, the superyacht market in Asia has remained lively and HSBC Global Private Banking continues to help clients realise their dreams.

 

Superyacht Financing, HSBC Global Private Banking, superyacht, market, rollercoaster, Jyrki Rauhio, Regional Head of Credit Advisory, Asia Pacific, Fraser, client, sale, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Asia, megayacht, Hong Kong, Sai Kung, Jakarta, Singapore, Manila, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Covid, HSBC Global Private Banking, risk

Jyrki Rauhio, Regional Head of Credit Advisory, Asia Pacific, HSBC Global Private Banking

 

Asia may not be the world’s most developed superyacht region, but it does have a dynamic new generation of owners, many of whom have been inspired to purchase in the Covid era. In fact, a superyacht as a first boat is more common in this region than in the rest of the world, where owners typically upgrade through a series of increasingly large yachts before taking the plunge and buying above 80ft or 100ft.

 

HSBC Global Private Banking, which has a long history of helping finance and structure superyacht purchases around Asia, revealed that earlier this year it helped a client buy a 100ft-plus yacht valued in the region of US$10 million – impressive for a first boat.

 

“In Asia, someone’s first yacht may be a 100-footer and our client’s first was above that length. It’s a very nice vessel,” says Jyrki Rauhio, HSBC Global Private Banking’s Regional Head of Credit Advisory, Asia Pacific. “Usually, most buyers would have had several boats before buying a superyacht, but the fact he’s spending US$10 million on his first shows the difference in the market here.”

 

Stressing how Covid has inspired a strong feeling of carpe diem, he cites a Hong Kong-based tycoon who has been involved in a lengthier purchase of what could be termed a megayacht. Built in Italy, it should be delivered in 2023 and has a value close to US$100 million.

 

“He wanted to realise a dream,” Rauhio says. “His yacht is of a serious size, but it’s a great example of a project that has been built during Covid for somebody who wanted to realise their dream. Once he gets it, he can enjoy using it far more widely than just cruising around Hong Kong.”

 

ROLLERCOASTER MARKET

Rauhio, whose job scope covers Asia Pacific, says the mindset of people in the region has been influenced by a reaction to the Covid era’s restrictions, much as it has elsewhere in the world.

 

“Everybody’s world view has changed in the last couple of years. People have altered the way they approach life, family, work, holidays and so on. There has been a feeling of ‘you live only once’,” he says. “As such, many yacht dealers have done very good business and it has also been evident in the supercar market”.

 

For all the upsides in the ‘trophy assets’ sector, Rauhio admits that the overall superyacht financing market spanning the various countries and regions across Asia “has been a very interesting rollercoaster, with ups and downs”.

 

“We’ve closed deals and we’re working on more, but it has been an interesting two or three years and the gyrations have been huge, as have the regional discrepancies.”

 

In Hong Kong, the yachting market picked up quickly in 2020 after the initial fear of Covid waned, leading to record yacht sales for many dealers and brokers. However, Rauhio says the post-Covid boom in the yachting market has slowed a little, coinciding with more restrictions at the start of the year and a more unsettled business climate.

 

“Soon after Covid began, people started getting interested in boats and many were sold in the secondary market. This was when [interest] rates were still low. Our clients came to us for funding and there was a lot of activity; we issued plenty of term sheets and closed quite a few deals,” he says.

 

“People getting on their boats and cruising around Sai Kung or elsewhere was the closest they had to a mini-holiday for the first couple of years of Covid.

 

“However, that euphoria has cooled a little. Coming into 2022, we moved into higher rates and more uncertainty, with people wondering whether buying a yacht was a good idea. Quite a lot of the people looking at these large yachts had their businesses face headwinds and had better use for their cash, although we’re still working on multiple transactions in Hong Kong.”

 

Rauhio says his recent travels around Southeast Asia have given him cause for optimism and gives examples of how overall wealth in Asia and around the world continues to grow.

 

“I’ve recently been in Jakarta, Singapore and Manila, and business prospects look pretty good, people are enjoying themselves, so I think the superyacht sector will continue doing reasonably well, although it’s subject to the market,” he says.

 

“The number of people holding US$250,000 in Vietnam, the Philippines and India will more than double by 2030, according to HSBC research. It’s an example of how wealth in this region will continue to grow, despite how the markets perform and geopolitical happenings. It’s an unstoppable trend and with it comes a desire for assets like yachts and other items.”

 

Superyacht Financing, HSBC Global Private Banking, superyacht, market, rollercoaster, Jyrki Rauhio, Regional Head of Credit Advisory, Asia Pacific, Fraser, client, sale, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Asia, megayacht, Hong Kong, Sai Kung, Jakarta, Singapore, Manila, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Covid, HSBC Global Private Banking, risk

CGI c/o Fraser

 

QUESTION TIME

In Hong Kong late last year, HSBC Global Private Banking invited clients to visit and tour three motor yachts up to about 120ft in Deep Water Bay in an event organised with a local dealer. Rauhio was happy to see the reaction of clients, but believes potential owners should think long and hard before committing to such a purchase.

 

“The clients loved it, having champagne and canapes, and spending a day on a very nice yacht. It can potentially stir an impulse purchase, but clients should ask whether it makes sense for them on more than just an emotional level.”

 

He also cautions potential owners who may have first enjoyed yachting in the Mediterranean or Caribbean, especially if they assume a similar infrastructure for superyachts exists in Asia.

 

“If their first experience was on a holiday or charter in the Med or the Caribbean, they may have thought owning a yacht is a great idea,” he says. “It is a great idea in the Med, where you can easily go from port to port, but in Asia, you need to think realistically about how you can and want to use your yacht and where you want to go.”

 

A yacht is also very different from most other trophy assets, especially passive ones such as art or luxury watches. A superyacht is in a different cost bracket to supercars and is only partly comparable to a private jet. The rule of thumb for annual running costs of a superyacht is up to 10 per cent of the purchase price, once you include crew, insurance, berthing, fuel, maintenance and more.

 

“A yacht is a very complex asset to own, even more complex than a plane. You must keep a plane airworthy, but it’s highly regimented and regulated, and can be overseen by a management company. In the boat industry, certainly in Asia, it’s not plug and play, and it can be a complex process to find the right people, suppliers and support,” he says.

 

“The running costs are quite a large cash outflow, which is fine if you have enormous cashflow coming in, as many of our clients do. For most of our clients, it’s not a question of whether you’re rich enough but whether you really want to spend this kind of money on this asset. Do you want to get involved in all the costs and hassles of ownership?”

 

PERSONAL CHOICE

However, once a buyer has committed to purchase, HSBC Global Private Banking works with clients on how best to structure any purchase and how to set up ownership, and even – if needed – to help discuss the type of yacht they wish to buy.

 

Choosing a yacht can involve discussions about pre-owned, new or custom build, special features and size, which can be a personal choice or based on the owner’s plans, such as whether it will be used for long journeys and ocean crossings. The choices are far more varied and complicated than when choosing a private jet, when it’s far clearer how the client is likely use it.

 

“For a plane, a client may typically fly within Asia or to Europe or New York, and estimate that they fly 20 or so times a year, for example. Based on usage, you determine the size and narrow it down to a few options,” he says.

 

“Planes are more limited than yachts, where we have more of an advisory relationship. A yacht purchase is more emotional and the options for design and customisation are endless.”

 

He also cites a client in Australia as an example of someone who knew what he was looking for and how he was going to use it. Rauhio visited the client’s house in Sydney and was amazed at the personal involvement in the design of his upcoming yacht.

 

“He had a beautiful house and one of the rooms was full of blueprints of the yacht, which measures a couple of hundred feet. He had all these blueprints taped around the walls, so that was like his design room. He got very deeply involved in the actual customisation of his yacht.

 

“When you get to that level of involvement, you know all the questions have been answered. He then used this yacht to travel between continents, cross oceans, going up the coast from the Panama Canal to Alaska.”

 

Superyacht Financing, HSBC Global Private Banking, superyacht, market, rollercoaster, Jyrki Rauhio, Regional Head of Credit Advisory, Asia Pacific, Fraser, client, sale, Mediterranean, Caribbean, Asia, megayacht, Hong Kong, Sai Kung, Jakarta, Singapore, Manila, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Covid, HSBC Global Private Banking, risk

CGI c/o Fraser

 

STRUCTURING AN ACQUISITION

Once a yacht has been identified, discussions revolve around how to structure a purchase. For starters, HSBC’s yacht financing is not about enabling purchase. Clients typically can afford the outlay and the yacht sits within a large portfolio of hard and soft assets.

 

“The important question for the client is, ‘Do you really want to tie up your capital for the full value of the yacht? Then you get into what we do, and this is where the financing angle comes in,” says Rauhio, who admits such discussions are a little more complex now than even just a year ago, when rates were lower.

 

“If you’re a successful businessperson, tying up US$50 million in an asset that yields a negative cashflow is not necessarily a smart thing. You’d rather release some liquidity from that and invest it in something that brings you a positive cashflow to help offset the cost of ownership.

 

“As we stress, our yacht financing is not about enabling purchase but about making your money and equity sweat harder. If you earn a 10 per cent yield on your capital in your primary activity, then even with these rates, financing makes a lot of sense while using your hard-earned cash possibly doesn’t.”

 

The structures of yacht financing and ownership can vary widely. Rauhio says the tycoon who ordered a yacht valued at close to US$100 million was looking how to best finance it and structure the acquisition. HSBC Global Private Banking arranged pre-delivery financing, approving a facility against the project, and has separately arranged delivery financing.

 

“He’s a very good client of ours and has substantial assets. We enabled him to finance the entire construction period so when the project is realised, he will take delivery, but he has been mostly using our money to build it. He then effectively puts in the equity at the end,” Rauhio says.

 

“We take a fair amount of risk, but because of our deep and long-term relationship with this HSBC Group connected client, we were happy to take that risk.”

 

Otherwise, financing structures can be more straightforward, with options including placing the boat in a trust, depending on the client and family estate. Rauhio says the financing for the first-time buyer of a US$10 million yacht was about 50 per cent LTV (loan to value).

 

“Basically, we need a borrower and a guarantor. Typically, you establish an SPV (special purpose vehicle) to hold and own the boat. The SPV becomes the borrower and there’s a personal guarantee by the client,” he says.

 

“It can make sense for a family estate to hold it in an SPV, especially if you charter the yacht. All the running costs and assets are in one place, and it can be run as a mini company, which can be used to hire the crew and make and receive all other payments.”

 

HSBC has also, with prior approval, put clients in touch with other clients who have been through the process, for advice and learnings.

 

“We can connect you with others going through the same thing,” Rauhio says. “Maybe you want to have a discussion with a like-minded millionaire locally in Asia to discuss how they did this, as opposed to having a Zoom call with somebody offshore, for example. That’s an advantage.”

 

Ultimately, HSBC Global Private Banking has the on-ground expertise and experience across Asia to help clients make their money work for them, offsetting some of the large costs of what’s often seen as the ultimate trophy asset but also one that can be used as a working ‘home away from home’ when required.

 

“As a wealth partner, we’re here to help enable our clients to do it. We even had one client who had both a yacht and a plane, and if you want to go down the trophy asset lane, we can even finance the art you want to put in your yacht,” Rauhio smiles.

 

“It’s all part of your wealth and we want to accompany you on your wealth journey, whether it’s hard or soft assets, commercial or leisure. If you’re thinking about a yacht, I’d encourage you to engage with us. It’s worth a discussion.”

www.privatebanking.hsbc.com

 

Disclaimer: Investments in emerging markets may be extremely volatile and subject to sudden fluctuations of varying magnitude due to a wide range of direct and indirect influences. Such characteristics can lead to considerable losses being incurred by those exposed to such markets. This article is not a personalised communication from HSBC to you and does not constitute and should not be construed as legal, tax or investment advice or a solicitation of the sale or recommendation of any product or service. You should not make any investment decisions based mainly or solely on this article. All investments involve risks and may experience upward or downward movements and may even become valueless.

Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited

 

Meme Poon, Grandtech International Engineering, Volvo Penta, IPS, inboard performance system, dealer, Hong Kong, Tasha Ling, Ruby Law, Kolen But, Wendy Lee, Sun Hing Shipyard, Azimut, Absolute, Princess, Galeon, Sessa, Dufour, Jeanneau, Hanse, Rieckermann Pharmatech, Chun Yip Industrial, Jebsen Industrial Technology, Kwai Chung Container Terminals

Grandtech’s Meme Poon: Heading Volvo Penta in Hong Kong

Grandtech’s Meme Poon: Heading Volvo Penta in Hong Kong

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As founder and General Manager of Grandtech International Engineering, Meme Poon heads the Hong Kong dealer for Volvo Penta engines, a fixture for several leading luxury yacht builders.

 

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What services does Grandtech International Engineering provide for Volvo Penta?

Grandtech is the authorised dealer of Volvo Penta industrial and marine engines in Hong Kong, although over 95 per cent of our business is for private yachts and five per cent is for industrial engines.

 

We handle the supply of spare parts, while our service team can handle pre-delivery commissioning (PDC) for new engines, annual general maintenance, ad hoc repairs, replacing of long block engines and overhaul of engine services. We typically handle an average of 20 PDCs for new boats every year, but in 2021 we recorded over 30.

 

What are the most popular Volvo Penta products in Hong Kong?

Volvo Penta IPS (inboard performance system) is the most popular drive in Hong Kong. It has lower emissions, lower fuel consumption, higher speeds and lower perceived noise level. The joystick for easy boating is perhaps the most well-known feature of Volvo Penta IPS.

 

Which yacht brands and dealers do you work with?

We work with many dealers including those representing Azimut, Absolute, Princess, Galeon, Sessa, Dufour, Jeanneau and Hanse. All Absolute and Sessa models use IPS, while Azimut and Princess, for example, use a mix of IPS and other Volvo Penta drives.

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Can you outline your boating background in Hong Kong and how you joined the yachting industry?

I had no idea about yachts before I joined Jebsen Industrial, although I had some experience of windsurfing and sailing boats during school summer holidays in Hong Kong. I later obtained an Advanced Diploma in China Business and a Bachelor of Management Studies.

 

I had been a Senior Secretary at Rieckermann Pharmatech and Executive Secretary at Chun Yip Industrial before joining Jebsen Industrial Technology in 2009 as Personal Assistant to the BU Director. Later our BU had a structural change and set up a new customer service team to handle the whole order processing including enquiries, quotations, preparations, contracts, logistics and billing.

 

As Head of Customer Service from 2012, I oversaw the operation team for China and Hong Kong. In 2016, I was promoted to Sales Manager of the Volvo Penta service team, which was my first time working in the boating industry. In this new post, I had to use both my experience of machinery service at Rieckermann Pharmatech and customer service at Jebsen.

 

What did you learn in this new role with Volvo Penta?

I learned a lot of new things, such as going to Kwai Chung Container Terminals to accompany yacht dealers receiving new power boats. Our team checked the engines and installed the propellers. I saw the surveyor inspecting the boat and shipyard workers installing the flybridge accessories. It was amazing teamwork between all the different parties.

 

Meme Poon, Grandtech International Engineering, Volvo Penta, IPS, inboard performance system, dealer, Hong Kong, Tasha Ling, Ruby Law, Kolen But, Wendy Lee, Sun Hing Shipyard, Azimut, Absolute, Princess, Galeon, Sessa, Dufour, Jeanneau, Hanse, Rieckermann Pharmatech, Chun Yip Industrial, Jebsen Industrial Technology, Kwai Chung Container Terminals

 

After Jebsen Industrial closed, how did you continue representing Volvo Penta in Hong Kong?

Sadly, Jebsen decided to suspend its cooperation with Volvo Penta in 2017, closing most industrial business lines. In Hong Kong, Volvo Penta had a third of the market share of marine engines, from sail boats to 100ft motor yachts.

 

We had loyal technicians who had been working on Volvo Penta engines since 1993. I believed our team could continue to support our customers in Hong Kong, so I established Grandtech and started to discuss the business plan with Volvo Penta and Jebsen.

 

How has IPS evolved since its introduction in 2005?

The first generations were IPS 1, 2 and 3, but now it’s IPS 10, 15, 20 and 30. IPS is always developing and the range is expanding. New advantages are related to electronic vessel control (EVC) and accessory functions.

 

IPS10, for example, fully integrates the engines, electronics and EVC features with the glass cockpit, and has joystick docking, electronic shift and throttle, low-speed control, and support for triple engine application. Options include the joystick, autopilot with joystick driving, and dynamic positioning system (DPS). There’s also support for the Easy Connect app and maintenance assistance with service alert.

 

Meme Poon, Grandtech International Engineering, Volvo Penta, IPS, inboard performance system, dealer, Hong Kong, Tasha Ling, Ruby Law, Kolen But, Wendy Lee, Sun Hing Shipyard, Azimut, Absolute, Princess, Galeon, Sessa, Dufour, Jeanneau, Hanse, Rieckermann Pharmatech, Chun Yip Industrial, Jebsen Industrial Technology, Kwai Chung Container Terminals

 

New features in the IPS transmission include a high-capacity oil filter with pressure sensors that detect a clogged filter, oil-level sensor and water-in-the-oil sensor, while the oil exchange is done from inside the vessel.

 

Why is IPS popular?

A few of the many benefits when comparing to inboard shafts are up to a 40 per cent longer cruising range, 20 per cent higher top speed, 30 per cent reduced fuel consumption, 30 per cent less CO2 emissions and 50 per cent lower perceived noise. It’s easy to install and allows for more onboard space.

 

Along with spare parts and repairs, what else does Grandtech offer?

We offer preventive maintenance, which Volvo Penta recommends every 12 months. We stock all regular items – engine oil, filter, belt, transmission oil, coolant, zinc anode and so on – that are required for general maintenance of inboard engines from D1-D13.

 

We also stock items like sensors, PCUs (powertrain control units), sealing ring for drives and steering cylinders for ad hoc repair services. I should emphasise that preventive maintenance is very important for the performance and shelf life of an engine.

www.grtech.com.hk

www.volvopenta.com

 

 

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Aquila Power Catamarans: 10 Years, 10 Questions

Aquila Power Catamarans: 10 Years, 10 Questions

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With Aquila celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Brand Manager Alain Raas sits down with YACHT STYLE to answer 10 questions about the builder’s rapid path to the top of the powercat market.

 

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Alain Raas, Brand Manager, Aquila

 

1. With Aquila marking a decade since it was founded by MarineMax and Sino Eagle in 2012, the brand exhibited all six of its current models together for the first time at this year’s Miami International Boat Show. What are the plans for upcoming shows?

Yes, we’re ready to again show all six of our models at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (October 26-30), so will be displaying the 28 Molokai, 32 Sport, 36 Sport, 44 Yacht, 54 Yacht and 70 Luxury. We’re also teasing two upcoming models, the 42 Yacht and the 47 Molokai, which are going to continue the amazing growth and success of Aquila.

 

We also have some very exciting news and information in terms of the development of our E-Motion hybrid power package on the 70 Luxury. The plan is then to show all six of our current models and the new 42 Yacht at the next Miami International Boat Show (February 15-19, 2023), while the 47 Molokai will also debut in 2023.

 

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CGI of Aquila 42 Yacht

 

2. How does the 42 Yacht design make it different to other Aquila models?

The Aquila 42 Yacht will be a completely new model, with naval architecture firm VPLP (Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot Prevost) at the forefront of following in the Aquila DNA. The various cabin configurations and power-package options make her a unique offering for the private owner as well as yacht charter programmes throughout the world.

 

The 42 is also a new introductory model for our Yacht range, further enhancing our robust product offering and presenting our loyal client base with a more affordable opportunity to move up to our flybridge models. Aquila is excited to be leading the tremendous growth in the power catamaran market after 10 years, and we continue to push the limits of our design and development teams to remain at the forefront.

 

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 3. Aquila’s best-selling models are the 36 Sport and 44 Yacht, which sit below and above the 42 Yacht in the size range. Can you indicate the sales to date of the 36 and 44, and how these models rank globally among cruiser and flybridge powercat models? 
Combined, the 36 Sport and 44 Yacht have sold 380 units, which is a remarkable achievement in such a short period of time. Both models are consistently at the top of domestic and/or global rankings and have helped Aquila become the world’s No. 1 power catamaran brand among private owners. Orders for both stretch into the later part of 2023 and we don’t see foresee demand waning any time soon.

 

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Aquila 44 Yacht

 

Both models offer the Aquila Hydro Glide Foil™ option, providing clients with exceptional range and efficiency. Our 36 Sport owners can achieve up to 30-40 per cent gains in efficiency and range, which is amazing, while the heavier 44 Yacht gains roughly 20 per cent, tremendous for such a large yacht. Aquila’s belief is to build efficient hulls and then improve the platform with new technologies.

 

4. Can you tell us more about the Hydro Glide Foil System™, which was first made available as an option on the Aquila 36 Sport?

Aquila’s DNA includes focusing on hull designs that provide optimal efficiency, unmatched in the industry, at both displacement as well as cruising speeds. Our Hydro Glide Foil System™ is at the forefront of that innovation on our Aquila 36 Sport, resulting in a third of the model’s current sales selecting the foil package.

 

Aquila, Power Catamarans, 10 Years, 10 Questions, interview, Leader, Yacht Style, Alain Raas, 28 Molokai, 32 Sport, 36 Sport, 44 Yacht, 54 Yacht, 70 Luxury, Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Miami International Boat Show, VPLP, Marc Van Peteghem, Vincent Lauriot Prevost, Simpson Marine, Asia, Aquila Hydro Glide Foil™, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, CovidAquila Hydro Glide Foil system

 

Innovation and efficiency are symbiotic to enhance new technologies that continue to evolve at Aquila as we continue to expand the offering of this option on other models, including the 44 Yacht. In the recreational boating space, Aquila is the No. 1 manufacturer for the foil system on privately owned power catamarans.

 

5. Can you indicate how well the 54 Yacht and 70 Luxury have sold across the globe?

Both the Aquila 54 Yacht and 70 Luxury have had unprecedented success since coming to market in early 2021. Both models are highly sought after globally, with sold units on order for the next 24 months.

 

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Aquila 54 Yacht with Aquila tender

 

6. Can you update us on Asia sales of these two large models. 
Sales in Asia and the Middle East continue to grow for our two largest models, with robust deliveries already on the calendar through 2024.

7. What has been the market response to the 28 Molokai, both globally and in Asia?

Having launched in December 2021 and debuted at the Miami show this February, the momentum for our two new Molokai offshore models – the standard version with centre console as well as the Cuddy version – continues to grow, with orders already confirmed for Australia, Malaysia and Thailand.

 

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Outside of Asia, we’re shipping to Italy, France, Spain, Canada and beyond. In the US, sales and deliveries are growing daily for both models.

 

8. Is Aquila looking to implement any ‘green tech’ such as solar panels and lithium batteries as a standard option on its models? 
As the technology matures throughout the world, Aquila is uniquely positioned to incorporate green technologies such as electric power, lithium batteries, hybrid options and others. However, it’s important for Aquila that these technologies can be supported throughout the world and don’t detract from the speed and performance that our owners demand.

 

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Aquila is a firm believer in partnering efficient hull designs, innovations such as our Hydro Glide Foil System™, and green technology to provide our owners with a unique ability to travel the world’s waters efficiently. As such, we’re very excited as we prepare to introduce the e-Motion Hybrid System into our Aquila 70 Luxury product line, with plans to expand the technology to other select Aquila models soon.

 

9. How do Aquila’s projected production and sales figures for 2022 and 2023 compare to the ‘Covid years’?

Pre and post-Covid production and sales remain strong and maintain Aquila’s position as the world’s number one power catamaran manufacturer. Global supply-chain challenges related or unrelated to Covid certainly have been exhaustive and challenging for every boat manufacturer.

 

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However, Aquila has done an exceptional job leveraging our experienced logistics and manufacturing teams as well as unequalled distribution teams and partners throughout the world to mitigate these challenges. We continue to stay ahead of these challenges to ensure consistent and reliable delivery of our boats worldwide.

 

10. How do you expect the catamaran sector to continue growing within the yacht industry compared to the likes of monohull motor and sail boats? 
Depending on each owner’s need for their water adventures, there’s a boat for everyone today. However, you only need to browse through the pages of industry magazines or walk the docks at any boat show or local marina to witness the continued growth of catamarans around the world.

 

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The growing popularity is understandable. The wide beam of catamarans offers both more stability and greater interior volume. I’d estimate that a 60ft cat is roughly equal in volume to a 90ft monohull. A catamaran also offers separation of guest cabins between the two hulls, which can be another plus.

 

Other benefits include a shallow draft, which means you can access areas monohulls can’t, while the catamaran’s length compared to its volume means good value in terms of by-the-foot berthing fees in marinas. In fact, the global growth of powercats is now being seen in the development and design of marinas around the world, as more work to accommodate catamaran designs.

www.aquilaboats.com

www.simpsonmarine.com


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Sunreef reflects on two decades of super cats

Sunreef reflects on two decades of super cats

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As Sunreef Yachts celebrates its 20th anniversary, founder and President Francis Lapp looks at how the company’s focus on “superyacht DNA” helped it become the world leader in large, luxurious catamarans, a brand of choice for sports stars and a pioneer in green technology.

 

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Already a successful businessman, Francis Lapp founded Sunreef in 2002

 

Sunreef’s decision to stage its 20th Anniversary Celebration at the Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM) during this year’s Monaco Yacht Show seemed fitting. After all, last year, YCM had hosted a signing ceremony between Sunreef’s President Francis Lapp and Fernando Alonso as the latter commissioned a new 60 Sunreef Eco, before Rafa Nadal and Nico Rosberg had a table-tennis showdown for the Sunreef Ambassadors’ Cup at the 2021 Monaco Yacht Show.

 

The Polish builder’s relationships with high-profile owners and ambassadors appears to have evolved quite naturally, although their appointments have been steadily unveiled and highlighted the builder’s rapid expansion and evolution in recent