Gordon Fernandes: Superyachts eyeing Asia
Gordon Fernandes, co-founder of Asia Pacific Superyachts, shares his take on discussions about Asia at this year’s Monaco Yacht Show, where superyacht industry leaders reconvened after a two-year gap.
APS GM Gordon Fernandes (second right) and APSA Chairman Nigel Beatty (far left) with industry friends at the Monaco Yacht Show
My trip to this year’s Monaco Yacht Show offered me fresh insights into how superyacht owners, captains and industry members view the Asia-Pacific. I had many discussions about the concerns held by those in Europe and elsewhere, and their perception of visiting this region. It proved fairly timely, as travel restrictions in Southeast Asia have been starting to ease and we’re expecting more people to be taking holidays here in the coming months.
Traditionally yachts have been cautious about visiting Asia because of the problems of Somalia pirates on the passage; that is, the pirates who used to operate in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia. However, this threat has been significantly reduced in recent years as there’s now a significant multinational naval presence in the area. In addition, a ‘safe’ route has been designated for commercial and private vessels when transitioning through this area.
Another route perceived by a few to be ‘full of pirates’ is the Malacca Straits between Singapore and Malaysia, but in the 24 years I’ve been in this region, I’ve never heard of one white boat that has been attacked. The pirate problem in that area is focused on cargo ships, where generally the entire boat and cargo are taken in a targeted attack. It’s very hard for pirates to make money out of a private yacht they would have for sale – and they could not afford the fuel bill.
ASIA ON THE RADAR
Recurring themes from the Monaco show were that yachts are getting bigger, and owners are getting more adventurous in where they want to cruise. Talking to owners, I found many are bored with the normal ‘milk run’ and want to use their floating home to cruise into more exotic destinations, with some looking to do a world cruise.
The 2021 Monaco Yacht Show; Photo: ImagIN / Monaco Yacht Show
I came away with the impression that Asia is on people’s radar and that there are more Asian owners. This is going to mean more charter yachts in the area and a lot more superyacht activity in Asia-Pacific. Consequently, more marinas and shipyards will be built to cater to the yachts that will be permanently based in Asia. Of course, many yachts will continue to Australia where there is already a great superyacht infrastructure in place.
Asia is of high interest within the industry yet still an area that holds tremendous mystique to many. It appears to me all the big brokers are established in Asia and sales are doing well, especially with the pandemic. People are realising buying a yacht awards them privacy and you can self-isolate very easily on board.
Cruising in Southeast Asia this ‘winter’ is going to be relatively quiet as there are still some restrictions in place. However, these are gradually being lifted and destinations are reopening including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Andaman Islands. As soon as travel returns to ‘normal’, we expect it to be very busy.
The Maldives had its busiest period ever last season as the crew and guests only needed one negative PCR test on entry and were then free to cruise around this stunning destination. The policy is the same for this season, so the Maldives should again be busy.
Among many reasons people enjoy cruising in Southeast Asia are the diving, ambient water temperature, natural attractions, adventure, island hospitality and the fact that guests can have an entire beach or even island to themselves. The scenery is amazing with lush tropical jungles and now there are places such as high-end beach clubs for guests to hang out and relax while listening to world-class DJs and sipping cocktails from a coconut!
Fernandes co-founded Asia Pacific Superyachts (APS) in 2008 with Captain Charlie Dwyer and Captain Scott Walker. He also co-founded APS Phuket with Tanyuta ‘Jojo’ Singhmanee and later, APS Myanmar. He remains General Manager of APS, overseeing its operations across an expansive regional network of offices covering 13 countries. Fernandes is also a Committee Member of the Asia Pacific Superyacht Association (APSA).
Yacht Style Issue 62 features Top 100 Superyachts of Asia-Pacific 2022, seven yacht Reviews, Simpson Marine, Lantau Yacht Club, Ferretti Group’s Stefano de Vivo, Rolex Middle Sea Race, SailGP, Cannes and Monaco shows, Jeanneau Merry Fisher owner Kevin Quek, interviews with HSBC’s Jyrki Rauhio and Cirrus Aircraft’s Zean Nielsen, and lifestyle articles on IL PICCO residences and Art Works Group.