Olivier Decamps on Swan’s presence in Asia-Pacific
Nautor Swan’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director talks about the brand’s presence and reputation in key “pocket markets” across the region.
Olivier Decamps, Asia Pacific Regional Director, Nautor Swan
What’s Swan’s history and current reputation across Asia Pacific?
The Asia-Pacific region is a vast territory, but our region has principally pocket markets. In the 1970s and 1980s, Nautor Swan was already recognised and very well accepted as the top brand of sailing yachts in APAC, particularly in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.
Japan is traditionally a very mature yacht market and the marinas built then were for narrow classic yachts up to 15m. As these marinas got full very quickly, yachts were and are still stored ashore on cradles and launched only when their owners want to go day sailing.
Australia and New Zealand are different, as the yachts are usually used intensively for local or long distance cruising to the South Pacific or racing in Sydney Harbour or entering the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
For the rest of Asia, the markets are relatively new and slow growing. Typically, newcomers to yachting will first buy a motor yacht, then a sailing catamaran and then eventually a sailing yacht. We see markets emerging in Southeast Asia, like Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, where new marinas are being built.
We’re still waiting for mainland China to develop, but the economic situation and the Covid pandemic period with its major travel restrictions, has greatly affected growth.
Who are your typical clients and what are their must-haves on a Swan?
Most clients in Asia want comfort such as tropical-grade air conditioning, generator, electric winches and most importantly to be hidden from the sun, with proper bimini/covers over the cockpit.
What’s the perception of the sport of sailing in your markets?
Large yacht sailing is still very elite and therefore discreet in most Asian markets except in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. In some countries, sailing is considered as a sport only for the rich, so this is slowing down development.
Youth and students are joining dinghy sailing, so sailing schools are becoming very popular and Asian nations are getting excellent results in regional and international regattas.
During and now post-Covid, we’ve seen an interesting trend for people wanting to spend the money they saved – especially with the low interest rates – to go on the water, as it’s the safest place to be, away from crowded places.
How do you oversee Swan activity and dealers in the region?
As Regional Director of the area, I’m constantly “in the field” to broaden the knowledge of our brand and the sport of sailing in the area by organising presentations of new Swan yachts, meeting potential buyers, and visiting Swan owners to support them.
Major boat shows and events are very important occasions to meet new clients passionate about yachting. It’s by talking and giving the vibe of going out to sea on our beautiful boats that helps attract potential new sailors from old and young generations.
As the region is very big, we also have the support of our regional agents, who are very passionate and experienced sailors and brokers.
What are the next trends?
Most customers get experience by sailing a production yacht, but sooner rather than later they want to upgrade to a more exclusive, bigger and better-quality yacht.
We also sell yachts to customers who are first-time buyers and rely on professional crew to teach them how to sail. These customers are looking for quality and pay for the best: a Swan yacht!
Some customers also enjoy new lifestyle trends and use their yachts like a floating home where they can entertain family and friends and enjoy the maritime life.