Antigua Charter Yacht Show 2022

11 images

Credit: Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

Antigua Charter Yacht Show: Celebrating 61 years of success

16 December 2022 • Written by Georgia Boscawen

Set in the deep narrow bay of English Harbour at Nelson’s Dockyard, beneath the vertiginous Antiguan hills, the Antigua Charter Yacht Show is a superyacht showcase like no other. In its 61st year, the event was attended by more than 30 of some of the world’s most impressive charter vessels, with a combined LOA of more than 1,500 metres docked at Falmouth Harbour, Antigua Yacht Club Marina and Nelson’s Dockyard.

A combined LOA of more than 1500 metres docked at the show
Credit: Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

Over the course of six days from 4 to 9 December, charter brokers, destination representatives, captains, managers, and a variety of vendors stroll between Georgian-style naval buildings in English Harbour enjoying access to the yachts, their crew and a full social calendar. Attendees included Lürssen's recently refitted Coral Ocean, the first Amels 60 Come Together and the venerable Sherakhan

Networking is at the very heart of the show; an element which is palpable around the docks, at each of the parties and events and on board the yachts themselves. “It is networking in a relaxed and friendly environment, and seeing great yachts,” says Paul Deeth, chairman of the Antigua Charter Yacht Show, as we sit on the terrace at the Admiral's Inn beside the towering sail loft pillars – a reminder of the area's rich maritime history. “It remains one of the biggest charter shows and full of industry people that are focused on charter.”

Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms
Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

The show offers a rare opportunity for brokers to get better acquainted with vessels in the charter fleet, from their only central agency and beyond, and discover what each vessel has to offer with unprecedented access to captains and crew.

This becomes apparent while touring Arkadia, the 50 metre Heesen that joined the fleet in 2021. “Pretty much the entire crew are water sports pros,” says charter manager, Sioned Williams of Y.CO. And it is true, primed for even the most avid water sports enthusiast, the crew enthusiastically recall some of the experiences they’ve had on board kitesurfing, wakeboarding and diving with the yacht.

Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

“What brokers are doing here now is thinking of the future, so they’re looking at boats here for next summer in the Med for example or elsewhere,” adds Deeth. “I think all charter brokers count it as a must in the year, and it’s a nice place to come and do that.” For the charter brokers and managers, getting a feel for the fleet on show is done with flair throughout, including decadent lunches on board showcasing each chef’s culinary talents, or evening drinks parties hosted on board 70 metre Sherakhan and 99 metre Christina O.

99 metre Christina O anchored at the AYCM 2022
Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

“What has always been a plus for us here is that you don’t just see European boats, you see a great combination of yachts that probably don’t go to the Mediterranean,” adds Deeth. This can be easily observed when walking among the vessels in each of the three marinas, which have accommodated yachts flagged with international charter houses, including Fraser, Burgess, Worth Avenue and Ahoy Club.

Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

Lunch for 26 on board 70 metre Sherakhan is laid up on the yacht’s vast dining table, which sits in a seven-metre-high atrium beneath a chandelier. “You can actually switch that to a blacklight for a cool evening set-up,” says Sherakhan’s captain Kevin Ven Luijn. A spoiling starter of Caribbean prawns dressed with dushi-garlic butter, followed by stuffed pollo prosciutto paired with a crisp white, is designed to impress. “We’re here in Antigua to show off the beauty of Sherakhan,” says Captain Ven Luijn. “It’s a fantastic way to do that and illustrate what this yacht is really about.” For captains and management alike, entertaining on board in this fashion is the best way to paint the whole picture and encapsulate what each vessel is all about.

Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

But food at the show isn’t only for those attending. It is also the setting for the coveted Concours De Chef Competition, which is in its 22nd year. This year's competition was centred around the guest charter experience and participating chefs were tasked with creating a three-course dining experience. Each chef was then given one 50-gram tin of Royal Ossetra Petrossian Caviar and two mystery ingredients supplied by Shore Side Support, each of which must be showcased in at least one of the three dishes.

Judged on appearance and presentation, taste, creativity, execution and overall appeal, chefs prepared to wow the panel of judges, headed up by Chef Elizabeth Lee of East Yachts, over a 30-minute period. But the pressure isn’t exclusively on the chefs as the interior team also has the tablescaping competition running alongside, which judges the appearance, presentation, creativity, originality and overall impression of the setting.

A tablescape on board 74 metre Lady E

Split into three separate categories by vessel size, it was chef Ryan Squires of 73 metre Coral Ocean, chef Russell Alley of 44.8 metre Audaces and chef Suzanne Trice of 37 metre Radiance that stole the show, winning each of their respective categories in the 2022 Concours De Chef. And it was chief stewardess Rachel Elliot of 74 metre Lady E, chief stewardess Simona Dobreva of 47 metre Mirabella and chief stewardess Leigh Da Silva of Oceanus that triumphed in the tablescaping competition.

Rhoderick Grimes-Graeme | Aquafilms

Beyond the boats, there is also an informative side of the show comprising various seminars aimed at both the visiting crew and the wider industry. Held at The Copper & Lumber Store Hotel each morning, topics included VAT and customs rules when chartering in the Med with Easy Tax International, the future of maritime communications with Axxess Marine, Speedcast and ACYM, and incredible Cuban itineraries with Cuba Luxury Expeditions 

Part of the charm of the show is the way in which participants come together, whether it is discussions over breakfast at The Copper & Lumber Store Hotel, lunch on board one of the attending yachts, or sundowners at Boom Restaurant across the water. This is the core of the Antigua Charter Yacht Show; it is possibly one of the few that places such emphasis on networking and entertainment, with a view to truly getting to know the fleet on show. 

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