Asiamarine enters new era with new brands
As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, Asiamarine has added Swan and Silent-Yachts to a portfolio of brands including Galeon, Bali and Nimbus. Words: John Higginson; Photos: Asiamarine & Shipyards
Asiamarine hosted a three-day boat show at Club Marina Cove in Hong Kong
Asiamarine bounded into the Year of the Rabbit in sprightly fashion, after a back-to-back series of announcements that have grown its regional footprint and expanded its yacht offerings into the sailing monohull and solar-electric sectors.
In recent months, Asiamarine was appointed to manage Galeon Asia – overseeing a dealer network in nine countries beyond its core territories of Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand – before being announced as the dealer for Nautor Swan and Silent-Yachts in multiple markets. No wonder the company’s annual party at Chinese New Year looked so much fun.
Asiamarine’s Chinese New Year party at Aberdeen Marina Club
As excited as CEO Eric Noyel is about both new brands and moving into new sectors of the yachting market, he’s clear that motor yacht powerhouse Galeon remains Asiamarine’s flagship brand, as it has been since 2016, when the builder also started to be represented by MarineMax in the US.
Meanwhile, Asiamarine’s sales of Bali sailing catamarans and Nimbus day boats have been solid since the brands joined the dealership’s widening portfolio in mid-2020 and late 2021 respectively.
“Galeon remains our anchor brand, followed by Bali and Nimbus, while Swan and Silent are complementary because they’re focused on different but growing segments,” says Noyel, who founded Asiamarine in March 2013. “However, Galeon still feels very new and there are still many markets around the region to break into.”
For starters, Asiamarine sold and delivered its first Galeon in the Philippines last year, with the 460 Fly followed by a 325 GTO later in the year. Thailand welcomed its first 500 Fly, Galeon’s iconic ‘transformer’ model that made the brand a household name, while Singapore welcomed its first new 500 Fly in late 2021.
Asiamarine showcases Galeon yachts in Hong Kong
Recently, the first new Galeon bought in Taiwan, again a 500 Fly, was sold by a new dealer appointed under Galeon Asia, which is managed by Vietnam-based Michel Joly, Asiamarine’s Regional Dealership Manager.
To date, Asiamarine has sold over 60 Galeon yachts into the region, including a 640 Fly in Hong Kong. Noyel believes the current network of satisfied clients, primarily in Hong Kong, are creating a widening circle of influence that he believes will be replicated in other markets.
“Galeon has been focusing on quality and innovation, and it’s paying off. Compared to some very famous brands from Italy and the UK, Galeon is still a new name in Asia, but now there are enough clients who have shown they’re happy to buy a Galeon motor yacht from Poland,” he says.
A Galeon 640 Fly (left) in Hong Kong
“Once you have a few owners and role models who own Galeon boats, then people tend to follow. We have some really good, reliable, trustworthy clients who have their circle of influence and so the brand is growing gradually. People who have been on board a Galeon know the quality, so I think most of the groundbreaking has been done.”
Galeon has collaborated with UK-based Tony Castro Yacht Design for over two decades and is best known for its iconic ‘beach mode’ models popularised by the 500 Fly and its drop-down wings, waterside bar and transformable outdoor areas. It was followed by the 460 Fly, 640 Fly, 400 Fly, the 440 Fly last year and the 560 Fly that debuted at this year’s Miami International Boat Show.
However, Noyel is most excited about the brand’s new flagship, the 800 Fly, which debuted at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last October. The Frenchman has been aboard and believes the Category A boat would make a strong impression in Asia.
Galeon’s new flagship 800 Fly
“The boat is massive, and the quality of the interior styling has gone up a lot. It’s a really nicely executed 83ft yacht and competitively priced. It’s also a Category A boat, so you can take it offshore, which makes it stand out from most of the competition in that size range,” says Noyel, who believes the model is priced at least 20 per cent below competitors.
“It’s a great boat for Asia and a very good first ‘regional’ model for someone who wants a longer range and to explore other countries. It’s in a size sector where other brands have a long history, so I’d like to have a first one here to show the difference. Once we have one, it can show its own merits, which are plenty. I think the first one in Asia will be very appealing.”
GALEON, NIMBUS DAY BOATS
At the other end of the size scale, Galeon is growing its GTO range of Grand Touring Outboards, which started in early 2021 with the 325 GTO, a model sold in Hong Kong later that year by Asiamarine Yacht Broker Candy Li, while last year units were delivered to the Philippines and Singapore.
Galeon’s new 375 GTO Fly
Last year the builder launched the powerful 375 GTO, which has not one but two side decks and is a fun-packed, transformer day boat, with flexible, multi-functional furniture again a dominant theme.
“The 375 GTO is interesting because it has balconies on both sides, so that really extends the platform. It’s only 5ft longer than the 325 GTO, but it feels like a much bigger boat, substantially bigger,” Noyel says.
“Now that we have the 325 GTO in Hong Kong, Philippines and Singapore, this style of fun day boat is starting to gain traction. However, I think these models may have more appeal in Southeast Asia than in Hong Kong, where there’s still a strong preference for flybridge models.”
Nimbus T11 in Hong Kong
Noyel echoes this sentiment for the range of boats from Nimbus, which it represents in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The historic Swedish builder was founded in 1968 and its lines include Tender (T8, T9, T11), Commuter (C8, C9, C11) and Day Cruisers including the 305 Drophead, Weekender 9 (W9) and the Weekender 11 (W11) due to launch this year.
Nimbus’s portfolio is headed by its Coupé Cruisers including the 305, 365 and 405 Coupé models, 405 Flybridge and flagship 465 Coupé – also a flybridge model – due to launch in 2024. Asiamarine’s Singapore office recently sold a T9 X-edition, the company’s first sale of an X-edition model.
A Nimbus T9 X-edition was sold in Singapore
“It’s the same for Nimbus as it is for Galeon’s GTO range, as we see them growing in popularity in Southeast Asia. We’ve sold all our models in Singapore, all our models in Thailand, but it has been slow in Hong Kong. I think people who buy those boats in Hong Kong are younger and probably go for more ‘show off’ brands, which have a similar boat with a bit less quality but more colourful paint!”
FROM BALI TO ASIA
Bali represented Asiamarine’s entry into the world of catamarans and the dealer has sold over a dozen units to date, a decent return considering its first order arrived in late 2020.
Bali catamarans at the Asiamarine show at Marina Cove
The entry-level Catspace, which debuted at Boot Dusseldorf in January 2020, is the brand’s best-selling model in Asia followed by the flagship 5.4 and the 4.2, with the dealer recently hosting an Open Day (click for article).
To celebrate a landmark birthday, Noyel commissioned his own customised 4.8, Happy Fifty, featuring Minotti upholstery and furniture, and a hard top, using it in the Med before bringing it to Hong Kong. As with Galeon, Asiamarine is still entering new markets with the brand, with the first unit in Singapore, a Catspace, arriving in late 2021 and the first sale to Thailand arriving in the past year.
Asiamarine staff at the Bali 4.2 Open Day in April
However, it has been tough for Bali to keep producing boats as fast as it sells them, with the French shipyard among many doing their best to keep up with orders in the Covid era.
Olivier Poncin only founded the leisure cat brand in 2014 as an offshoot of his Catana Group, yet the brand soon gained attention because of pioneering features like the signature ‘Bali door’, a full flybridge on smaller models, a forward saloon door and solid foredecks.
Following the release of the flagship 5.4, the company quickly unveiled five new models within two years from 2020. The Catspace, 4.2, 4.4, 4.6 and 4.8 cover a core size range from 40-48ft and huge sales of each model have positioned the brand as a genuine competitor to long-established market leaders like Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot and Leopard.
Asiamarine broker Jacqueline Lee (left) at the Bali 4.2 Open Day
“Bali has had rapid growth. Five or so years ago, it was making only a couple of dozen boats a year, so it has been quite a transformation, while logistics and supply-chain issues have also not helped. We’ve had some delays in deliveries, but the sales have gone up nicely,” says Noyel, who is eagerly awaiting the brand’s full-scale release of its power catamarans, another sector he believes is growing significantly.
SAILING WITH SWAN
Following its moves into catamarans with Bali and day boats with Nimbus, Asiamarine has moved into the world of sailing monohulls with Swan, one of the industry’s most iconic brands.
Asiamarine’s appointment as the brand’s representative in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam followed its appointment in mid-2022 as the dealer for the Swan Shadow, the first motor yacht produced by the builder since it was founded in Finland in 1966.
The Swan 48 by German Frers is the Finnish brand’s entry model
The appointment came in time for Asiamarine staff to attend this year’s edition of Boot Dusseldorf, where Nautor Swan debuted the Swan 48 MKII and announced details of the upcoming ClubSwan 43, a cruising-friendly addition to the builder’s range of one-design racing yachts.
Noyel, who grew up sailing in the south of France, is excited about the potential of the premium brand, which builds sailing monohulls across three series: Swan Yachts (Swan 48-Swan 78), Maxi Swan Yachts (Swan 88-Swan 128) and ClubSwan Yachts (ClubSwan 36-ClubSwan 125).
“My hopes for Swan are huge. Firstly, because I think the sailing market is coming back to life very strongly. The ratio of sailing yachts versus motor yachts has increased for the first time in over a decade and that applies across all sizes including superyachts, which we know through Fraser,” he says.
The Shadow is Swan’s first motor yacht
“Secondly, the Swan brand has an immense following among experienced sailors in Asia who know it from its international reputation. Swan has been a bit quiet in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, but I anticipate the brand will catch up in two to three years.
“It will take time to build momentum as it requires an investment on our side in getting people to experience the brand, explaining why it’s different and building on the large number of people who know the brand in mature sailing markets, which includes Hong Kong.”
THE SILENT ERA
As if that wasn’t enough, Asiamarine is also taking its first steps representing Silent-Yachts in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.
Founded by Austrian Michael Köhler, the builder is a pioneer of solar-electric powercats and is currently producing its new range of Silent 60, 62 3-Deck, 80 and 80 3-Deck models across its own facility in Fano on Italy’s east coast and in Turkey’s VisionF shipyard, where the flagship Silent 120 is also in build.
Silent 60 in Mallorca
The first few units of the Silent 60 were built in Thailand and have been delivered to Europe and the US, and although other builders have moved or are moving into the sector, Asia is still awaiting its first solar-electric catamaran. That is until 2024, when Noyel says the first Silent 62 3-Deck will be delivered to this region.
“I think solar-electric powercats are going to be very much in demand so in anticipation of that, we wanted to work with Silent-Yachts,” he says. “Like Swan, it’s brand-new for us and still in the ‘cooking’ stage. We only started a couple of months ago, but we have a lot of leads of our own and from Silent Yachts. People are curious and the interest is there.”
Following the initial builds of the Silent 60, almost all subsequent orders of the 60 series are for the 62 3-Deck, which – like the 80 3-Deck – offers a full flybridge in either an open or enclosed version.
The Silent 62 3-Deck has a larger flybridge
While Noyel is confident of the appeal of solar-electric propulsion, a 60ft flybridge catamaran is a significant ‘starter model’ for a market such as Hong Kong where wide-beamed catamarans of that size are still a minority. Furthermore, the starting price can appear quite steep, although Noyel says they’re “worth every penny” due to the almost total absence of fuel costs and reduced maintenance.
“I think solar-electric yachts have a good future, but 60ft and 80ft catamarans are still quite big for Hong Kong marinas. Technically, I think Silent-Yachts is producing the most advanced solar-electric propulsion system, although it might be interesting to discuss working with an interior designer to customise models for the local market.”
FRASER REVIVAL IN ASIA
Asiamarine has represented Fraser since 2018 and has secured an average of three to four annual sales of superyachts during its best years. However, Noyel admits that 2022 was tough, but also that Fraser Asia has started the new year strongly, as people in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia welcome an almost total relaxation of travel restrictions.
“We’ve done as much business in Fraser in the first couple of months of this year than we did all of last year,” Noyel laughs. “For us, it’s still a very volatile market, which depends on a small number of very big deals. The superyacht business feeds off our regular new build, brokerage and charter businesses, and is what I call our ‘bonus business’.”
Benjamin Tabuteau of Fraser Asia sold the 86ft Sunseeker Maxxx
Noyel is delighted that more Asiamarine staff have recently become qualified Sales Brokers for Fraser including Phuket-based Benjamin Tabuteau, General Manager of Asiamarine’s Thailand operation, who last year secured his first superyacht sale, the 86ft Sunseeker Maxxx.
Raphael Sachs, Asiamarine’s Bangkok-based Regional VP Sales New Boats, is also a registered Sales Broker for Fraser.
“It really helps to have a team of Sales Brokers for Fraser, while all our other Asiamarine staff can help them when they have a lead or yacht to sell,” Noyel says. “Now, we’re better integrated into the Fraser network, use their resources more, and are increasingly interacting with other Fraser offices and brokers.
“For example, if we have a client in Asia who wants to buy a yacht in Europe, but they want to deal with a Monaco or Florida broker, then we help ensure they deal with a Monaco or Florida broker. These dynamics are growing nicely.”
Noyel says the strong start to 2023 for Fraser Asia extends to its charter business, which had been almost non-existent in Southeast Asia during a couple of years of strict travel restrictions in the region.
Laura Verbrugge, who has been with the company since January 2018, and Sum Lo are Charter Brokers for Asiamarine in Hong Kong, while Verbrugge is also a Charter Broker for Fraser.
Asiamarine staff at Club Marina Cove
“A very positive development is the resumption of international charter, which had disappeared for many of our clients,” says Noyel, whose Fraser clients target the Mediterranean and Caribbean as much as Asia-Pacific. “We did more charter bookings in January and February this year than we did across 2021 and 2022!”
If its start to the Year of the Rabbit is any indication, Asiamarine has a lot to look forward to in its second decade.
Note: The original article appeared in YACHT STYLE Issue 70