Owner: Eric Noyel happy on his customised Bali 4.8
Naming his birthday present Happy Fifty, Asiamarine owner Eric Noyel says his customised Bali 4.8 is a very comfortable fit for a man content with his place in life.
Happy Fifty is Noyel’s first sailing boat and catamaran
For a man who named his new yacht Happy Fifty, Eric Noyel appears to be living the dream. His Asiamarine dealership is going well but he also gives the air of someone who has found peace and is happy to share his good fortune with family and friends.
Noyel ordered the luxuriously customised Bali 4.8 as a 50th birthday gift for himself and since the 49ft sail cat arrived in Hong Kong late last year, he looks to have been enjoying his new present. And I’m not just taking his word for it.
The French entrepreneur is happy to share a video of himself and his wife on the boat having an alfresco breakfast on a sunny morning in Deep Water Bay, surrounded by sailing boats and superyachts, with early-rising rowers in the distance.
Noyel at the helm of Happy Fifty, his birthday present to himself
All around the bay, the sea is clear and calm, as Noyel pans the camera to show some of the toys he plans to use that day, including a kayak and a tender. It’s peaceful, quiet, relaxing and enough to make you want to dive into the screen and take a swim.
“I am very serene right now,” admits Noyel, who founded Asiamarine in 2013, having sold his previous company. “I just enjoy this boat. I enjoy sleeping on board and I enjoy diving into the water.
“I bought it because I wanted a boat that I could use myself and we use it pretty much every weekend, mainly in Deep Water Bay. We often invite friends over – so far, no one has rejected my invitation.”
Happy Fifty is the first Bali 4.8 fitted with a flybridge hardtop
The three-cabin Bali 4.8 is Noyel’s first sailing boat and first catamaran. His previous boats were all motor yachts and included three large models from Numarine and a Wellcraft speedboat, as well as a couple of mid-sized Galeons for a period to kick-start his representation of the brand.
“I was tired of having big boats. I had a 78-footer, a 105-footer and I was tired of having a lot of crew around. I like this Bali because I like being closer to the sea, more connected to the water. You can be less connected to the water on big boats. I also wanted to start sailing again, although I haven’t sailed too much so far. It’s more like a weekend house.”
SAILING AND HYPNOTHERAPY
Noyel grew up sailing in the south of France, where he said he was “a typical French kid”, learning the sport with other schoolmates, moving from Optimists to Lasers, 420s and later Hobie cats.
Noyel founded Asiamarine in 2013
A graduate of the ESSCA School of Management, he stopped boating when he began a career that brought him to Asia. As he started to gain some momentum in the business world, he returned to boating when he sought to charter boats to entertain clients.
“This was 15 years ago, when it was very difficult to charter a boat in Hong Kong. I always wanted to have a boat, but was more interested in fractional ownership and sharing costs. I was earning money, but I didn’t quite have enough …. yet I wanted a boat so bad,” he smiles.
After eventually selling his company, Noyel did have enough to buy himself a Numarine 78 Hardtop that was delivered to Hong Kong in 2013.
The Bali 4.8 can be skippered on Hong Kong’s Grade Two licence
Although he would later represent the Turkish builder, his initial vision for the yacht was not to start a dealership but to use the boat as a base to practice hypnotherapy, rather than receiving clients in an office.
Having studied hypnotherapy on and off for seven years, he named the boat Hypnotist and ordered the hull in purple because “the colour of the unconscious mind is purple”.
With enough money to not have to rush back into business, Noyel spent a lot of time and nights on the boat, eventually creating Asiamarine to charter the boat, which did 100 days of business in its first year.
Guest accommodation on Happy Fifty
“The business caught on and people started chartering it. I probably spent 100 days on the boat, sleeping overnight and living on board with a full crew including a very experienced French captain,” he says. “This period taught me a lot of things about maintenance. I became very hands on, so that was my apprenticeship, my boating university.”
ADJUSTMENTS AND LEARNINGS
Noyel eventually sold off the 78 HT in shares. Having realised flybridge motor yachts were more in demand in Hong Kong, he next bought a Numarine 62 Flybridge, which he again sold off in shares, although the yacht remains in Asiamarine’s charter fleet. Noyel’s third boat was a Wellcraft outboard he kept in Thailand, where he drove the speedboat himself and used it for fun day trips.
Noyel and Asiamarine have represented Bali since 2020
Having ‘downgraded’ twice, Noyel then embarked on a massive upgrade by buying a Numarine 105 Hardtop, Dolce Vita, which had four permanent crew including an Italian captain and up to six when it was chartered. Bought with his wife and another partner, the yacht was in Thailand for two years before later being sold.
It was around this time he secured the Galeon dealership and self-financed the purchase of a 500 Fly stock boat. The iconic model with the drop-down wings, portside bar and rotating cockpit sofa was used to launch the brand in Hong Kong in early 2017.
Happy Fifty is available for charter through Asiamarine
Noyel also dug into his own pocket to buy a Galeon 460 that was kept in Thailand, but the investments have since paid off, with Asiamarine selling over 40 units of the brand in the ensuing years.
“Everything was adjustments and learnings,” says Noyel, whose business has since grown steadily with the growing popularity of the Galeon brand, representation of Fraser since 2018, and the additions of Bali, Tige and Nimbus to the portfolio over the past two years.
“I feel Covid has helped give our sales a push, although we did not experience crazy growth. We sold seven Galeon yachts three years ago, nine two years ago and 11 last year, so it’s all fine, especially as we took advantage of this time to acquire new brands.”
Key Bali features include the solid foredeck, which increases social space
The company sold over 50 new and brokerage boats last year and has recently hired senior sales staff for its Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand offices, as well as a hugely experienced aftersales manager in Hong Kong. The company also has satellite offices in Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.
CUSTOMISING AND CRUISING
It was against the backdrop of Covid that Noyel ordered his Bali 4.8. Although his business was steadily gaining speed, he was looking to slow things down on the water when he ordered the brand’s second-largest sailing catamaran.
“After owning several boats, I understand very well the cost of maintenance, so I wanted a low-maintenance boat. I didn’t need speed, but I wanted space and to take my time sailing to Vietnam or Philippines or elsewhere in Southeast Asia.”
Happy Fifty heads into the Hong Kong sunset
Noyel focused on the 4.8 after assessing it was the largest model he could own and operate in Hong Kong with a Grade Two licence for skippering boats up to 50ft. Yacht Style reviewed the Bali 4.8 in Issue 59, but Noyel’s version is a cut above the standard model. For starters, Happy Fifty is the model’s first hull ordered with a hardtop above the flybridge, although the main changes are inside.
“Bali came from charter and has already made incredible improvements in the interior. They’re now doing even more, making huge efforts to make their boats more luxurious,” says Noyel, who wanted a completely customised interior in terms of furniture and furnishings, featuring brands like Minotti.
“However, I wanted something special, so I went shopping from the famous interior brands. The whole interior has been customised and includes some brands we don’t even have at home.”
Noyel sailed Happy Fifty along the Cote d’Azur with friends after receiving the boat from Bali
Noyel took delivery of Happy Fifty last summer at the Bali factory in Canet-en-Roussillon on the south coast of France. It was a nice starting point for a trip with childhood friends as they explored the Cote d’Azur, taking in the likes of Marseille, St Tropez and Nice before the boat was fine-tuned by Bali ahead of shipment from Genoa to Hong Kong.
Since arriving in Hong Kong, the yacht has been added to the Asiamarine charter fleet, although Noyel had no plans to charter it until colleagues convinced him.
In fact, Happy Fifty is extremely charter friendly with a catalogue of toys including a semi-rigid tender, underwater scooter, mini diving bottles with compressor, eFoil electric surfboard, paddleboards, kayak, snorkelling masks, inflatables, rackets, balls, frisbees and fishing gear.
Noyel said his Bali 4.8 is an ideal fit at a time of life where he’s more focused on ‘being’ than ‘having’
For her owner, though, they’re all just part of a package allowing him to enjoy life on the water with the people most important to him.
“I think there are phases in life. In psychology, there are two defining modes that structure our thinking: to have and to be. For some of my yachts, it was more about the excitement of owning the yacht, having it, but maybe with the Wellcraft and definitely with the Bali, it’s about being.
“I just enjoy being on it. Maybe I’m moving into the ‘being’ philosophy because I’m older, but honestly, I’ve never been happier.”
Note: The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 64
The regional dealer has strengthened its sales teams in Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.