How has the Superyacht Industry Been Affected by the Pandemic?

23 September 2021

Ahead of the Monaco Yacht Show, top experts and waterfront property specialists share insight into how the superyacht industry is recovering

With the Monaco Yacht Show returning from September 22-25, those in the superyacht industry are taking stock of how it has been affected by the pandemic—and their conclusions are resoundingly positive. While COVID-19 almost brought superyacht charters and sales to a standstill in 2020, recovery has been spectacularly rapid according to Jonathan Beckett, CEO of Burgess, one of the world’s largest yacht brokerages and charter management firms.

“In 2020, we were battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst, but in the past year we’ve seen an enormous increase in sales and new orders placed with shipyards,” says Beckett, who is planning to show eight boats in Monaco—vast beauties measuring well in excess of the 50 meters (150 ft) that define a superyacht. He adds that the firm is preparing for a winter charter season in the Caribbean as busy as the summer it enjoyed in the Mediterranean this year.

The C2 is one of eight superyachts Burgess will have on show in Monaco. Measuring 85.6 meters (280.8 ft), she was refitted in 2019 to include a main deck aft pool and a feature beach club, and can accommodate up to 31 guests.

“It has all been very surprising, as we were expecting a very rough time after the thin pickings of last year,” Beckett adds. He believes that 2021’s unexpectedly bullish recovery is due to the lifting of restrictions for Americans travelling to Europe. “Their presence has been vital for a good summer season.”

New Adaptations and Trends

A smarter, more digitally-focused approach towards marketing has become the name of the game for both superyacht brokers and their colleagues based in harbor and marina destinations. “Now we aim to reach clients directly in their pocket via their mobiles,” says Laurent Locchi, director of Miells, an established Monaco real estate agency based in the heart of Monte Carlo. And Beckett notes that Burgess has switched almost entirely to digital promotion following a “forensic” financial analysis of its business.

Cecil Wright & Partners, yacht brokers specializing in craft built in Northern Europe at the top end of the market, were well placed to communicate remotely with both clients and colleagues even before the pandemic, says co-founder Chris Cecil-Wright. “We’ve been using Skype since we set up the business,” he explains. “Our office can be anywhere from a hotel in Shanghai to a yacht in the Caribbean.”

La Masquerade, one of the superyachts Cecil Wright & Partners will bring to Monaco, is described as a “true pedigree yacht” and boasts a sundeck unrivaled by almost any 55-meter (180 ft) yacht in the global fleet.

While Cecil-Wright acknowledges the hit that the charter side of the business took in 2020—“all the lights went out when lockdown hit”—he believes boat lovers who usually charter a craft are now more minded to buy one.

He says sales of pre-owned craft have also been strong, “because people now increasingly feel safest in the company of those they know, on their own yacht rather than one shared with others. That shift will make a dramatic difference to the industry in the long term.”

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Herculina and La Masquerade under contract with Cecil Wright & Partners

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Superyachts La Masquerade and Herculina under contract with Cecil Wright

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Superyachts on display at the Monaco Yacht Show 2021

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